How to Keep Patient Outreach Automation from Feeling (Really) Impersonal

Let’s face it, the age of the automated robot overlords is creeping nearer and nearer by the day. Yet despite the fact that machines may soon overcome man, we still try to automate all of the tedious and time consuming tasks we perform daily.  While we can only hope for a peaceful existence with our future robot dictators friends, in the short term we can at least be grateful for the fact that Amazon will send us toilet paper once a month without having to lift a finger.

In the business world, automation can be a tremendous cost saver, productivity driver, and all around good idea.  But in healthcare, automation can be a bit scary.  By its very nature, healthcare is about as personal of a business as it gets, so it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions I get when talking to our customers about StriveHub Reach involves the clear dichotomy between personalized care and process automation—

“Won’t automating my patient outreach efforts feel really impersonal?”

The answer to this question is yes, if you don’t use the tool correctly.  Any type of process automation is about working smarter, not harder – but it requires careful planning. Use the following as guidelines in order to prevent your patient outreach automation from becoming highly impersonal.

1. Build smarter lists by developing personas

To prevent coming off as impersonal, always insure that you are providing relevant information to each patient. If you do nothing else when designing a patient outreach campaign, think closely about the patient population you treat every day and then try to come up with more than five but less than ten different patient personas (sets of stereotypes that make up a common presentation). Have fun with this! Give all of your personas names, ages, genders, health conditions, comorbidities— as much detail as you’d like. Once you have these personas, you’re ready to segment and well on your way to sending relevant content to your patients.

2. Carefully consider when to send

When something shows up in a patient’s inbox can significantly impact whether it is opened or not. While there are best practices about what time of day to send content, think first about when in a patient’s course of care you should be reaching out. Perhaps you’re looking to target low back pain patients. If you were going to send them an article called ‘The 5 Best Ways to Prevent Chronic Back Pain,” it would likely be more helpful for that patient to receive the article around a time when they are likely to fall off the wagon with their home exercise program, perhaps four or so weeks post-discharge (as opposed to day one). By targeting not just what the patient receives but when the patient receives it, you are that much more likely to provide relevance to the patient and therefore decrease your risk of seeming impersonal.

3. Think twice before sending to “All”

As a rule of thumb, it’s almost always a bad idea to send content to all of your patients at once. If you find yourself sending a piece of content to a large percentage of your patient list, you should probably think about segmenting your patient list further. Improved segmenting will bring more relevance to the patient and enhance their overall satisfaction with your clinic.

4. Track it

Understand opens, clicks, page views, unsubscribes, and other engagement metrics. They are your friend when trying to understand what might be happening with an outreach campaign. There are a number of commercially available tools that will provide you with this type of data. Tools like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and StriveHub Reach all do a great job of helping you understand what happened after you pressed send. Here are some signs of success and some signs that you might need to think a bit more about your efforts.

Doing great:

Open Percentage:  >  60%

Click Percentage:  > 20%


Needs work:

Unsubscribe Rate:  > .5%

Open Percentage:  <  25%

Click Percentage:  <  3.5%

By following these tips you’ll be a master of automation in no time. Remember to always plan carefully before starting any automation campaign, monitor results, and make changes when you feel you have a solid understanding of what’s happening. You still have some time before all the robots take over, so you might as well provide high quality care in the meantime.


Interested in learning how StriveHub Reach can help your physical therapy clinic’s marketing automation efforts? Click below to find out more!

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Scott Hebert PT, DPT

Physical Therapist, Software Developer, CEO & Founder of Strive Labs, Inc. Lover of Buffalo Chicken Pizza.