Four Reasons You Should Ditch the Recare Postcards
**This is first in a series of articles about improving patient recare for healthcare practices. The introduction to the series can be viewed on our blog here.
It’s a lot cheaper to reactivate the patients you haven’t seen in a while than it is to market to new ones, but having an effective patient recare system is also important for practices that aren’t concerned with the bottom line. Even if your schedule is chock full, active patients are healthy patients. After all…isn’t that the point?
The purpose of this series is to give healthcare professionals solutions for creating a successful recare plan. Before we discuss the things you should be implementing, let’s address the methods you should reconsider.
In the past, the most popular method of contacting patients for recare has been via postcards. In the last ten years, however, the effectiveness and practicality of the postcard method has been rapidly diminishing. So, the first recare tactic to reconsider: postcards.
4 Reasons to Ditch the Postcards
1. Your patients care about the environment (and so should you.)
For the sake of keeping this about your patients and your bottom line, let’s avoid the whole “going green” argument. It is beneficial, however, to think about the possibility of alienating environmentally aware patients, since there are more and more of them.
2. The ROI is pitiful.
Here’s the deal: the ROI for postcards was only 9.6% in 2012, and that number is continually decreasing. The cost of sending a postcard keeps going up, and the effectiveness keeps going down (more on that in a minute.) You’re paying for the cards, the ink, the print service, and the postage.
You’re also paying your staff; sending postcards requires a lot of staff involvement.
Even if you have an abundance of marketing cash just burning a hole in your pocket, it’s just not a wise business choice anymore.
3. Your staff has better things to do.
It could be engaging with the patients in your waiting room, it could be updating your social media, it could be creating a patient newsletter or writing in your practice blog…whatever priorities you have for your front desk staff, spending time sending ineffective postcards shouldn’t be one of them.
4. They don’t work (the postcards, not your staff.)
Obviously, this is the big one. If they worked, the ROI wouldn’t be ridiculous and the time would be well spent. Sure, you’d still be ticking off Mother Nature, but it might be worth the risk if patients were paying attention, scheduling appointments, increasing your revenue, and staying healthier.
Hurdle #1: The Mailbox is now a Trash Box.
Bills are paid online or through autopay, statements go to your email, letters have been replaced with Facebook messages, and even cards are sent via animated GIFs. The only things to pay attention to are packages and the occasional wedding invitation, which is pretty easy to spot.
The rest of it is garbage. If it even resembles a solicitation (which, let’s face it, postcards do), it goes into the recycle bin with the rest of the junk mail.
Hurdle #2: It’s not just Mondays that are “manic”, anymore.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they get home and check the mail. Maybe they aren’t wondering why anyone sends paper mail anymore. Maybe they read your carefully drafted reminder or promotion. Maybe they think, “Oh yeah… I should probably call and schedule an appointment.”
What happens next? They walk inside, throw it on the counter, and intend to call the next day when the office is open. When the next day comes, though? They get busy, and forget.
“Busy” doesn’t necessarily mean they are slammed at work, or running around after five kids. It doesn’t even mean that they are doing important things. Often, they are “busy” reading Facebook, texting their friends or playing Cut the Rope.
Regardless - and here’s the kicker of this hurdle - whether they are caught up with important meetings or making plans for Friday night…
picking up the phone and calling the office is a task that gets pushed behind every other thing that we have to occupy our attention.
Postcards aren’t just expensive. They aren’t just time consuming. They aren’t just environmentally unfriendly.
They don’t work anymore.
Postcards are the way practices have done recare for decades, so… what’s next?
Stay tuned to our Improving Patient Recare series. We will keep evaluating the hurdles and pitfalls involved in forming a successful plan for recalling your patients for preventative, continued care, and follow up visits to your practice…and then we’ll distinguish the best ways to vault over them!