Intake marketing is often the first set of communications that a new patient receives about your practice. Have you reviewed and tested your practice’s intake marketing process? Is your staff trained to adapt to different scenarios? Have you solicited feedback from new patients, typically after their first appointment, about their intake experience? It is critical that those initial touch-points between the patient and your office are important, memorable, and positive.
PT intake marketing process
Receiving an appointment request either from the patient directly or from a physician referral.
Calling the patient to confirm the appointment and verifying contact information, insurance etc.
- If a referral, you should also call the doctor’s office to confirm that any appointment was booked and to inquire as to any feedback that doctor might have regarding the patient’s diagnosis and treatment
During the confirmation call, the office staff should:
- Verify only the essentials: name, phone number, referring physician and insurance provider
- Ask the patient if they are familiar with your website and encourage them to review the content and complete the new patient forms (which should be clearly listed in the site’s primary navigation or homepage)
- Ask the patient how they prefer to be contacted
After the call, start marketing to the patient
At the first appointment
- Confirm that patient’s full contact information (address, email etc.)
- Include a checkbox on your new patient form for opting-in to receive email marketing and communications
- Explain your incentive programs, such as a referral bonus
- If your clinic is running more than 3 referral programs, choose the top 1-2 that you think a new patient might be interested in. It can be overwhelming to listen to 5 programs and try to remember the details.
- Give a brief overview of your routine marketing. This should be a <2 minute run down of the communications you will be sending: newsletters, email updates, incentive postcards This warms up the patient to your intake process and gets them prepped for future marketing.
- Once the patient is checked-in, enter their full information and add them to your distribution lists. If the patient has asked not to receive a specific communication, such as please do not call or please do not mail, note that clearly in your system (or do not add them to your campaign specific lists).
Now you might be wondering why “Ask the patient how they prefer to be contacted” is called out in the intake process. Most practices automatically add the patient into their records system and update their contact methods: phone, email, and address into all marketing systems. Therefore, the patient might receive a call, a text, an email, and a mailed letter that all provide the same information. This can be helpful for some patients but can be frustrating for others.
Example intake scenarios
Jenny is a busy working mom. She really only wants to receive emails about her appointments, but wouldn’t mind reading the monthly newsletter. However, if your intake process doesn’t ask for a preferred contact method, Jenny might receive a call, a voicemail, a text, and an email about her first appointment. She might feel overwhelmed or frustrated that she is getting multiple notifications. She also might think that the details are changes due to the multiple communications. Instead, send her an email with a link to Click to Confirm her first appointment.
Edith is an 80-year-old retiree. She has a cell phone. But, it is often turned off. She has an email address, but only checks it once a week. She wants to receive calls to the house phone and would enjoy being mailed promotions and monthly marketing. If you call her cell phone, send a text, and an email—she might not read the communication for several days. Edith will call the office to ask why she received the call, text, and email and might be confused or stressed by the experience.
You probably have had a patient fall into each of the scenarios above. Your staff has dealt with the annoyed professional who is getting too many communications or the senior citizen who panics because they think they have missed something due to marketing to underused channels. Solving for the preferred contact method will streamline your intake process and ensure that patients have an ideal experience when they first come to your PT practice.