Use Electronic Health Records (EHR) to Supercharge Your Marketing

Posted on 5 Feb, 2018 |comments_icon 0|By Elizabeth
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EHR can be a powerful secret weapon for marketing. But to properly deploy this tool, you must narrow down the mountains of data to get the info that’s useful for your agency’s unique marketing needs.

The quality of data you can extract from your EHR is only as good as the data you feed it. If you’re not collecting many types of data about your patients, start today. Figure out what data is most important to collect and make a concentrated focus to do so. Healthcare consultant John McDaniel advises that ask yourself questions like: What data are you not consistently collecting? Is there any potential value to collecting it? What is the cost of collecting it?

What Data Should You Collect?

Most EHRs contain three types of useful data that answer three kinds of questions essential to your agency building efforts:

  • Demographics: Who are your patients? Aside from basic information like name, age, address, gender, and insurance, you might also collect data like their friends and family members, employers, hobbies, and referral sources.
  • Clinical Data: Why are your patients there? What’s going on with your patients’ health, what concerns them, and how you are treating them? Data includes exam findings, medical histories, procedures, appointment history, and much more.
  • Agency-Level Data: What is your agency doing? Revenue per visit, caregiver, and even day of the week. The key agency performance indicators your electronic health record tracks are nearly endless.

Why is This Data Important?

It’s called internal marketing, and it’s the lifeblood of your agency. New patients are essential, but they’re also expensive. It takes more than five times the resources to replace an established patient with a new one, notes McDaniel.

Internal marketing is the easiest to implement, gets results, and offers the biggest return on your investment. Furthermore, if your internal marketing isn’t up to par, the new patients you bring in may not become loyal customers. There is no faster way to burn through your marketing budget than by attracting one-time-only patients.

Your recall system and other internal marketing needs to be as good as it possibly can be, and it needs to be well defined with scripts, assignment of specific roles, and accountability, advises McDaniel. “It’s clear that [agencies] need to win here,” he says. And the more you segment your internal marketing, the more successful your marketing becomes.

This is where all that data comes in. Once you can quantify who your patients are, why they’re using your agency, and how you’re treating them during a home visit, you’ll begin to see opportunities. You might also see gaps in your client base, and discover how to better target your external marketing to fill those gaps. Overall, you’ll be able to better direct your marketing dollars, increasing your ROI.

Create a data map for your system. This is a list of all the data points you enter for each patient and for your agency. Your EHR vendor should be able to provide it, either free or for a fee (depending on your contract).

Next, develop protocols for collecting the desired data, along with checks for verifying that it’s actually being collected. Make sure everyone’s on board, from schedulers to caregivers to techs. For example, when a new patient arranges a visit, the scheduler should always ask “How did you hear about us?” They may have to follow up with specific questions to coax from the caller the name of a publication (if an advertisement prompted the call), or the name of a referring patient (if a friend or family member recommended your agency).

Make the Data Work for You

The amount of EHR data you can collect and the number of reports you can run can be overwhelming. Start with a question or assumption, McDaniel advises. Do this for your variables where you have an interest, but not too many at first. That is death by a million cuts, he cautions. “The biggest hurdle for most people is working with the software to generate the reports/data you want it to spit out. The best advice I can give you is to work with the vendors,” McDaniel says.

Below is his 4-step data analysis process:

Step 1: Describe. You need to know what you want to do with the data before you figure out how to do it. Failure to plan what you want to measure ahead of time ensures that you’ll either lack the data, or lack reasonable access to the data, says McDaniel. Start simple with single items to see how they look. Think about variables like the age of your patients, or the number with and without insurance coverage.

Step 2: Understand: Start to combine variables to get more interesting and detailed measures. The EHR data will help you create specific patient groups that you can market to and track. For example, an eye care practice could segment patients that are myopic, wear contact lenses, and are over age 42; then, send them a reminder or promo card for back-up glasses.

Step 3: Predict. This is where you’ll plan marketing campaigns based on your interpretation of the data uncovered in steps 1 and 2. Accurate predictions of what will and won’t work come from repeated data extraction and analysis, says McDaniel. But he cautions with a few caveats:

  • Be very selective about what variables you routinely look at. The number of combined variables should never exceed 10, or you’ll muddle the data.
  • Ensure you’re looking at the exact same variables every time. Changing even one can skew your results significantly.
  • The frequency with which you should look at the data is longer than most people think. Monthly is convenient, but often too short to be useful. To get the most reliable and valid data sets, quarterly is as frequent as you should get.

Step 4: Control. When you control your data, you’ll be able to introduce interventions with an eye towards the direction and amount of impact on the results, according to McDaniel. Not surprisingly, this takes the longest time to achieve. “Marketing works, and it works very well—over time,” he says. “Marketing segmentation and targeting priorities [are areas] where the game has changed drastically.”

Learn More

Rely on the TCI experts to walk you through a step-by-step marketing plan that’s easy to understand and follow. In the Home Health Marketing Planner, we’ve pulled together our best resources and tailor-designed them for practical, effective home health marketing tactics proven to attract and retain patients and ensure that your home health agency continues to thrive.

For more on patient portals—and to learn how to leverage your data for financial growth—pick up a copy of Unleash Your EHR’s Superpowers.

Author

Elizabeth


Elizabeth works on an array of projects at TCI, researching and writing about modern reimbursement challenges. Since joining TCI in 2017, she has also covered the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity, compliance with federal laws, and how to tap into the advantages of telehealth services.

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