One of the many services Vital Interaction provides is helping our customers craft emails and text messages that will reach and engage patients.
In addition, we also assist our customers with setting up systems and workflows that will help ensure their messages actually make it to patients’ inboxes.
In fact, one of the most important things we do for our customers is streamlining the delivery of their messages to patients.
And a key—yet often overlooked—part of ensuring emails, specifically, are successfully delivered is taking steps to avoid patients’ spam folders.
A Closer Look at Email and Spam
Email is one of the most popular forms of communication—and for good reason.
Though emails are not as timely as text messages, for example, they’re arguably the best way to deliver detailed, meaningful content—especially to groups of people.
And for healthcare providers, in particular, email can serve as an excellent opportunity for expressing their practice’s or clinic’s voice.
Related: Optimizing your practice’s email appointment reminders
However, emails can be marked as spam—unsolicited, irrelevant, and/or inappropriate content—if they don’t meet certain requirements.
While email has been evolving and growing in popularity over the years, spam has, too. What was once a mere annoyance is now a criminal enterprise.
The implications of spam
Over the years, the government, as well as many major email service providers (ESPs), like Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, and MSN/Hotmail, have taken significant strides to combat spam.
The CAN-SPAM Act was signed into law in 2003, establishing the various requirements for commercial messages and the high penalties for violations. (It’s very important for all businesses—medical practices included—to familiarize themselves with this law and takes the necessary steps to comply with it.)
And many ESPs have put a number of spam filters in place and continually refine them.
As if all that weren’t serious enough, when your emails are marked as spam, your patients do not receive pertinent health and/or appointment information, a fundamental component of quality health care.
In short, spam threatens the wellbeing of both your practice and your patients.
And, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for well-meaning organizations, like a medical practice, to end up in patients’ spam boxes. In fact, it may come as a surprise to learn that roughly 90 percent of all email is spam.
The good news, though, is that there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re both compliant and actually reaching your patients.
Related: How to engage hard-to-reach patients
Tuning Up Your Email Settings to Avoid the Spam Folder and Improve Delivery Success
If you’re one of many medical practices who heavily uses email to communicate with patients and are highly focused on successfully delivering as many emails as possible, we typically recommend the following:
1. Setting up a Domain Name that matches the “From” email address
When sending emails for your practice, you want your sending address to match your website domain—and ensure that domain has all the appropriate records to prove ownership and control.
For example, when we send out emails, we incorporate our domain (vitalinteration.com) into our email addresses (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).
In addition, it’s ideal for any links in the email to also match the domain.
If you want this in place for your account, please contact Support, and we can work with your IT group to set up a specific domain used only by you to send emails. (Please Note: We may charge a small additional fee for this service.)
2. Ensuring emails appear correctly before sending
Because patients read your emails on a number of devices (e.g., phones, computers, tablets), we strongly recommend using services like Litmus, Email on Acid, or something similar to ensure your messages are uploading and displaying accurately.
We are happy to do this for your practice’s emails—just let your Account Manager or our Support team know you’re interested in this service. (If you send any additional emails out on our own, though, we still recommend testing their appearance, too.)
3. Making sure an Unsubscribe link is included
Not only is it ethical to give your recipients the choice to unsubscribe from your emails, it’s also legally required by the CAN-SPAM Act.
What’s more: If you don’t include an Unsubscribe button/link, many ESPs will filter your email and automatically mark it as spam.
If your email somehow makes it past the filters to a patient’s inbox and they see that there’s no way to opt out, they are much more likely to click on the spam complaint button.
4. Including a text version, if you’re using/sending an HTML version
Not every recipient on your list will be able to view HTML, so it’s always a best practice to include a text version, too.
5. Having a dedicated IP address
You can help further ensure your messages are successfully being delivered by getting an IP address only for your use. (Please Note: We may charge a small additional fee for this service.)
Our team handles virtually all other aspects and processes in the background for you.
If you’d like to learn more about best practices and increasing your deliverability, check out this more detailed guide.
To learn how our patient communication solutions can help you reach more patients in meaningful, efficient ways, while saving valuable staff time, call (512) 487-7625 or visit our website.