A well-written message sent to a patient can greatly reduce the likelihood of them needing to phone in and ask about appointment details, lab results, or other information relevant to their health care visits. On the other hand, a poorly-crafted message may leave patients with more questions than answers.
To ensure your patients receive the right information and the right forms every time, we have compiled a list of best practices for crafting effective patient messages:
- Clearly identify your clinic as the sender
The first step in an effective email is ensuring the patient recognizes who the sender is. When using Ocean for patient messages, emails are sent from “firstname.lastname@example.org.” However, you can easily customize the “From” name on your messages so patients can see where the message is coming from before they even open it.If your clinic has its own email domain, you can go one step further and by changing the “Email ‘From’ Address” within Ocean’s administrative settings (this requires an update to your DNS settings).
- Ensure that your subject line is clear
Many people view email with suspicion and will only open emails that look relevant to them. The best way to establish this upfront is with a clear subject line. Incorporating the name of the clinic is a good way to do this. For example: “Important Message from Main Street Clinic Regarding Your Appointment.”
- Make your email content concise and provide context
What is this message about? Is this for an upcoming appointment? Are you asking your patients to complete Ocean forms through a secure link? It is important to let patients know why you are reaching out to ensure they feel confident clicking the Ocean link to view any secure content or complete forms. You can also include patient-specific information using keywords that automatically display helpful information like the date and time of the patient’s next visit and the physician’s name. You can learn more about using keywords here.
- Keep sensitive PHI in the “Secure Message” section
In the Ocean message template, you can access a secure area to include personal messages or PHI. Patients are required to click a secure link and identify themselves to access this content, ensuring that it doesn’t accidentally end up in the wrong hands (eg. if there is a typo in the email address on file).
- Include your contact information
A clear and concise signature at the bottom of your email templates will help to give patients greater peace of mind when clicking on an Ocean link. We recommend including the clinic’s contact information, such as a phone number or an email address at the end of every message in case a patient needs to get in touch or has concerns about receiving an email. If the message includes an appointment reminder, it’s also helpful to include the location of the clinic.
- Proofread & test messages and templates
It’s important to ensure the content of your messages appear the way you want them to, and that there are no errors that might lead a patient to accidentally dismiss the message as spam. When creating a template or group message, always send a test message to yourself using a “dummy” patient account to ensure things like keywords are properly displayed before sending to real patients.
- Use templates for quick access and consistency
By using message templates, you can pre-populate the contents of the message with minimal manual input and ensure you are incorporating the components of a strong message every time. Templates are also a great time saver, helping make your clinic more efficient. Any admin user can create templates, and Ocean does not limit the number of templates you store in your Ocean site.
If you have any other questions, please let us know or contact our support team directly at ocean.tips/support.