GreyMatters 2016


Email Remains Relevant for Marketers; Can Help With Improving Patient Care

emailEmail marketing has been around since the latter part of the 1990s. Yet, despite advances in digital technology and strategy over the ensuing years, email remains a viable tool on the marketer’s tool belt. In fact, email engagement has increased over the past year. And a recent study found that email can be effective in improving care in patients with chronic conditions.

A recent report from Experian that looked at email performance during Q3 2015 says that email volume rose almost 25% year over year while email engagement rates met or exceeded the engagement levels for Q3 2014. This result belies the conventional wisdom that increased email volume leads to decreased engagement. The report also revealed that 37% of brands showed a “significant” increase in transaction rates and revenue per email. In addition, unique open rates were 1% higher than the same quarter in the previous year.

Spencer Kollas, VP of Global Deliverability Services at Experian Marketing Services, said, "The fact that several brands experienced a significant increase in transaction rates despite the increased volume means that they are properly segmenting their audience based on product and price, and delivering relevant messages and campaigns.”

A new study from Kaiser Permanente, reported in The American Journal of Managed Care, found that one-third of patients with chronic conditions who used email to communicate with their providers said that the communication improved their care. The study involved over 1,000 Kaiser Permanente (KP) patients who used the organization’s patient portal. Additional findings from the KP study include:

  • Just under 50% of the respondents used email to ask for medical test results while 40% needed information on a new medication. The respondents said about 75% of these communications received a response within 24 hours. 
  • About 93% of respondents used email to contact their PCP, while 34% used email to communicate with specialists.
  • Most of the respondents (85-91%) who used email as a first point of contact said they would use telephone communication if email wasn’t available.
  • Patients whose out-of-pocket copays were higher tended to use email more often to contact a provider about a health concern.
  • One-third of the respondents said that email reduced office visits and phone calls.

The study's lead author, Mary E. Reed, said, "As more patients gain access to online portal tools associated with electronic health records, emails between patients and providers may shift the way healthcare is delivered and also impact efficiency, quality and health outcomes."

Does your organization still use email for marketing purposes? If so, how are your results?


Different Voices for Various Social Media Platforms

social_mediaIf your organization has been active on social media for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that each social media platform requires a somewhat different approach, and as a result, you have tailored your social strategy accordingly. Just as you probably behave differently with different groups of people (e.g., an outing with your kids is different than a girls’ or guys’ night out with your BFFs), your behavior (so to speak) should vary among social media.

If you’re struggling with your social strategy, here are some basics to consider about communicating via the top social media platforms.

  • Facebook. Facebook’s popularity and ease of use make it a desirable platform for marketers. It’s better suited for more general, “lighter” content, such as campaign promotions, health promotions and screenings, health information, community engagement and employee engagement. Think about how individuals use Facebook: they post selfies with their families, friends, pets and food; they share funny videos, recipes and content related to their passions; and they follow various people and organizations to stay connected with them. Keep that in mind when planning your Facebook strategy.
  • Twitter. Twitter is great for spontaneous content, such as responding to an occurrence that affects your organization or community directly. With its current 140-character limit (although there are reports that the limit will be increased in the near future), Twitter requires you to be concise and to the point. Adding a trending hashtag to your Tweet can help with exposure. Adding an image to your Tweet helps to draw attention to it, although be aware that adding an image will take subtract from the character count to some extent.
  • LinkedIn. LinkedIn is more of a business-oriented platform. It’s good for reaching industry colleagues, as well as current and prospective employees. LinkedIn is a good place to post news and breakthroughs from your organization as well as from broader organizations. Boost your LinkedIn engagement by posting images – these can increase the comment rate by as much as 98%.
  • Instagram. Instagram is a visually-oriented platform for telling stories, ideally suited for images and videos. Millennials are a big audience for Instagram (almost three-quarters of Instagram users are age 15-35), so it’s an excellent platform for content related to that age group.

In addition to considering how each platform is used, you also need to pay attention to metrics to see what is and is not working for each platform. Do some experimenting and take a few risks to see what works best for your organization’s social media efforts.

Does your social strategy need some tweaking? Greystone can help! Contact us for more information: call 770.407.7670, email or complete our contact form.


Look for Expanded Facebook Features in 2016

facebookFacebook continues its quest to make itself indispensable to consumers and businesses alike. For several of its most recent additions, Facebook has incorporated features from various other social media platforms. Here are some features that have been newly added, given expanded capabilities or will be fully available in 2016.

  • Facebook Live Video: With studies showing that native videos on Facebook outperform videos on YouTube, Instagram and most other social media platforms, it’s not hard to see why Facebook would capitalize on the popularity of video. Facebook Live Video is Facebook’s answer to Meerkat and Periscope. No additional app is required for live-streaming on Facebook. The gradual rollout of Live Video began last summer and will continue into 2016.
  • Facebook Professional Services: Think Yelp or Google Reviews. Have you noticed that when you check at a location or tag it, Facebook asks you for a review? Facebook wants its users to become a source for recommendations for businesses, products and services. Due to an unheralded soft launch in 2015, few people are aware of this function, and it’s currently only available on the desktop version of Facebook. So it’s definitely a work in progress at this time.
  • Facebook at Work: We’ve been hearing about this platform since 2014. Now finally in beta, Facebook at Work is Facebook’s version of an enterprise social media solution, but with a look and feel that’s familiar to millions of Facebook users. Initial reports from beta testers indicate that Facebook at Work compares mostly favorably with competitors such as Yammer or Slack.
  • Improved search. From 2010 until late 2014, Facebook utilized Bing for its search function. However, the platform rolled out its own search function this past October in order to make public posts more accessible to Facebook users. Users who search Facebook should also begin to notice improvements in personalized search suggestions and finding posts about specific topics.
  • Instant articles. Instant articles became available for iOS last May and for Android in December. It allows publishers to host content directly on Facebook, rather than linking from a Web article. This means that content gets to readers more quickly and leads to increased sharing. Instant article publishers have the option of letting Facebook sell ads on the content and split the revenue with Facebook, or selling the ads themselves and keeping the revenue.
  • Facebook Events. Although the Events feature has been around for a while on Facebook, it hasn’t been very popular. Facebook has updated Events with more functionality, such as browsing invitations, accepting/declining invitations, buying event tickets, checking in and posting photos.
  • Nonprofit crowdfunding. A “donate” button has been available for a period of time on Facebook, but with the new fundraising tool, the button has been improved. Donations to charities and nonprofits can be made without leaving Facebook.


Improved Patient Experience Leads to Overall Organizational Improvement

satisfactionThe concept of “patient satisfaction” has been around since Press Ganey was founded in 1985. As measurement of satisfaction and outcomes has progressed, the concept has since evolved into “patient experience.” With reimbursement and financial incentives more closely connected to patient satisfaction, healthcare leaders are finding the need to improve performance throughout their organizations, as those organizations with higher satisfaction score tend to also be more profitable.

In an article in Executive Insight, RJ Salus of El Camino Hospital in California’s Silicon Valley writes that the importance of patient satisfaction goes beyond financial considerations. Among the additional reasons cited by Salus for focusing on patient satisfaction are:

  • There is less employee turnover when patient satisfaction scores are higher
  • Organizations with higher satisfaction scores tend to be market share leaders
  • Increased institutional efficiency

Strategies to improve patient experience at El Camino Hospital include a patient-centered communication system, which comprises:

  • Leadership rounds utilizing mobile technology
  • Implementation of a real-time patient feedback tool
  • Inclusion of leadership with hospital staff rounds
  • Tracking issues referred to departments to ensure fast resolution

When performance improves across all departments, hospitals grow their reputation and goodwill in their communities. Excellent care and the best possible patient experiences help to form connections with patients and providers and other healthcare staff. Connections are important to patients, as studies have shown that they want a sense of connection with their healthcare providers. No matter who the interaction is with – nurses, physicians, therapists, admission clerks or housekeeping staff – a positive interaction leads to a lasting, positive impression which in turn can lead to a continued relationship and positive word of mouth.

What is your organization doing to improve patient experience? Is your strategy working?


Digital Adoption in Healthcare

digitalIt’s fairly common knowledge in the industry that healthcare tends to lag behind other industries when it comes to digital adoption. A recent study found that healthcare’s digital adoption status is currently where banking’s status was in 2013.

The study, performed by Apigee, included 1,000 US Smartphone owners age 18 and older. Additional findings include:

  • 69% of survey respondents expect Smartphones and apps to affect how people manage their healthcare.
  • 80% expect that crucial services will be available via apps and offered by their doctors within two years.
  • Overall, a little over one-third of respondents (37%) reported having a healthier status due to a Smartphone or apps. However, when broken down into more specific groups, the percentages increased.
    • 66% of respondents using wearables or apps for health management felt healthier.
    • 78% using both wearables and apps felt healthier.
    • 48% of Millennials felt healthier.
  • 49% of overall respondents expressed a desire for their doctors to use data from their fitness trackers and/or health apps, while 53% of Millennial respondents desired this.
  • 28% of Millennial respondents want their doctors to use wearable and app data regularly in their practice.

Healthcare digital adoption is expected to reaching banking’s current adoption level in 2017.


Podcast: Kathy Divis Discusses Solving Health Care Providers’ Pain Points

kathyIn late December, Kathy Divis, President of Greystone.Net, joined Jared Johnson of Ultera Digital to discuss three key digital marketing challenges in health care: silos, limited resources, and managing change. Follow this link to listen to their talk via podcast: