Once a week your Chief of Staff probably sits down with service line leaders from across your health system to share any variety of news:
- The new DaVinci® is online in the OR.
- Be sure to replace all powdered latex gloves with nitrile.
- Several spots in the doctor’s parking lot are now reserved for visiting practitioners.
Service line leaders then convey it to their teams by word-of-mouth. When the head of cardiology runs into colleagues in the hallway, he passes it on. But the cardiologist on call that night may not hear about it for days. Whether the news is critical or mundane, it typically follows the same path: There is little opportunity to be reminded of important developments, and even less ability to track how information is distributed across departments.
Heavy caseloads, changing schedules, and large, geographically dispersed facilities make it hard for service line teams to communicate in-person. That’s why many health systems are developing email programs to improve internal communications.
Reach All Relevant Practitioners
When you use email to communicate with physicians, mid-level practitioners, and nurses, you can be sure everyone has the information they need in a timely and efficient manner. A high-quality database provides email addresses for all the practitioners you need to reach – whether they work in your hospital, at other facilities in your system, or in partner organizations.
Every address should be accurate and up-to-date, and the database should clearly indicate which address each provider checks most often. Sending meaningful content to a physician’s preferred address increases the chances that it will be opened.
Customize Your Message
An authenticated email database also allows you to segment providers by a variety of criteria including:
- claims data
- referral pattern data
- practice location
Once you’ve clearly defined your audiences, you can create unique email messages for each one. This is essential to maintaining physician engagement over the long-term.
If you send one all-encompassing news update to everyone on your list, physicians may begin to disregard your messages. But if every email you send contains content that is relevant for the recipient, medical staff will learn to rely on your messages as a source of critical information.
Know Your Email Was Received
Unlike the word-of-mouth approach to internal communication, email is trackable. When you send health system updates via email, you’ll know whether or not the message arrived and was opened. You can check click-through data to determine if physicians are responding to your calls-to-action. And if you’ve implemented audience identity management technology on your health system website, you can even track what pages physicians view after clicking through.
Experiment to Find the Best Format
Refining an email campaign is relatively simple, especially compared to modifying traditional printed materials. By A/B testing your content, design, deployment schedule, and audience segments, you can optimize your approach over time.
One service line may respond best to no-nonsense, weekly updates in a text-only format, while another may prefer a more elaborate monthly newsletter or a digest with links to supporting content on your website. Careful analysis of email data will determine what is most effective for each service line and ensure that all practitioners are up-to-date with health system news.