February is American Heart Month, recognized and honored by an annual presidential proclamation that began in 1964 with President Lyndon B. Johnson, who suffered five heart attacks throughout his lifetime. The healthcare observance is widely recognized by agencies including the American Heart Association and National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI) — but how about medical practices? Which are best suited to spend their communication efforts recognizing American Heart Month?
We think it’s appropriate for just about every healthcare practice. It’s arguable that virtually every medical specialty has a direct correlation to the heart, one of the body’s most powerful organs.
Let’s get more specific. If you run a family medicine, internal medicine, OB/GYN, cardiology, or pulmonology practice, and don’t address American Heart Month in some way, you’re missing out on an opportunity. By highlighting the many risks of heart disease, and the virtues of being heart healthy, you educate and connect with patients about a health topic that impacts nearly every person at some point throughout their life. Even dental practices can observe American Heart Month to help patients understand the often-overlooked correlation between gum disease and heart disease.
Creative ideas for recognizing American Heart Month at your medical or dental practice
Be festive and informative. Bring awareness to American Heart Month through visual cues such as banners (both on your practice website and in person), signs, in-office TV displays, point-of-service handouts, and festive decorations.
Use your social media channels and blogs to provide information that encourages a greater understanding of cardiovascular risk factors, how your practice can help identify or address these factors, and any related services you provide. Similarly, segmented email campaigns allow you to communicate directly with patients at greater risk for heart disease, or other targeted audiences (i.e. by age or gender).
This allows you to share customized messaging that feels more personal and relevant. Research shows these segmented messages often have greater open and click rates than broader messages aimed at a general population.
Offer a token or takeaway. Everyone loves a giveaway or free tchotchke. Put your practice brand (name, logo, or both) on items such as heart stress balls, magnets, pens, or even heart-healthy snacks such as almonds or dark chocolate. Any will make great takeaways that your patients will appreciate.
Pair these with a printed reminder for patients to keep an eye on their heart health. Include a heartwarming message from your practice to foster loyalty and drive patient retention. Be sure to direct patients online to your practice website for more information, and to schedule any related services.
Show your love. You can use American Heart Month as a great excuse to send a heart-themed email campaign to let your patients know how much you appreciate them, value their opinions, and respect their time. Here are a few content suggestions:
- Provide heart-related education, while reminding patients of your gratitude for their business.
- Highlight existing or new services, and point out any offerings that improve the patient experience such as extended office hours, online scheduling or digital registration — the gift of convenience.
Let patients know you care what they think. Send a patient satisfaction survey — if they haven’t recently completed one — and pledge to use their feedback to continue improving their experience.
American Heart Month: communication strategies for patient retention and good health
No matter how you choose to align your practice communications with American Heart Month, be sure to include a clear message that encourages patients to take a desired action. Whether it’s scheduling an annual physical or a dental cleaning, getting a cholesterol check, or signing up for an email newsletter, you’ll be able to track progress and determine the effectiveness of your campaign. You’ll know what worked and what didn’t, giving you business insight to refine your strategy for future campaigns.