Software Solutions/EHR

Use EHR System to Data Mine Your Patient Base

By Mary Anne C. Murphy, OD

Use your electronic health record software to extract information about your patients and refine your marketing efforts.

Optometrists today compete not only with other local ODs but with national corporate chains and online optical retailers. ODs with EHR systems have a tool to help them better compete by enhancing marketing campaigns. With OfficeMate and ExamWRITER, I am able to extract data of all sorts for marketing purposes. I can pull lists of patients based on something as simple as their zip code or something as complex as those with more than three diopters of cylinder who have a certain insurance and have been in for a full exam within the last year.

Mary Anne C. Murphy, OD

Front Range Eye Associates

Broomfield, Colo.

Practice Launched
Cold in 2006

Last year moved from a 1,400 square foot starter location to a 4,000 square foot office, and adding a second doctor.

Patients in Data Base
75 percent seen in the last year

Annual Revenues
$1 million

Target Patient Needs
The options are limitless! All you have to do is be creative. For instance, in September, we like to market to all of our potential refractive surgery candidates with the help of our local laser surgery co-management center. So, we isolate a list of patients whose prescription is ideal (Sphere power -1.5 to -4.00, Cylinder < 2.00), who are in the ideal age group (25 – 55) and have a flexible spending account (FSA) account (we track this like an insurance company). We send out targeted marketing materials to these folks so that we only focus on reaching those who should consider it. While we don’t reach everyone, those we do reach are a perfect candidate pool. It saves us money and customizes and personalizes the level of care we can offer. This becomes apparent when we hear, “My wife received a card and I did not. Why?” We use these opportunities to reinforce our ability to provide highly customized care.

We also used data from our EHR in cooperation with our contact lens and frame vendors to isolate certain types of patients based on prescription and previous lens wear. We can reach out when we are having a trunk show to those patients who have previously purchased from specific frame vendors to advise them that we are showing their favorites.

We reach out to those who work for a certain employer when we will be at their offices for a health fair. This year, we will take it a step further and reach out to parents of children at certain schools just to let them know we are in the neighborhood doing education. We also plan to do more marketing around birthdays.

ROB editors’ note: Patient names and information are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your vendors can sponsor mailings, but they must not have access to your patient names or information, including contact information.

Segment Based on Patient Spend

We have been using EHR since we started five years ago. We have just over 8,500 patients in our database. This includes 75 percent of those whom we have seen in the last year and 25 percent for whom it has been longer than three years. Every practice defines their ‘active’ patient in a different way. We do different direct marketing campaigns to different segments. We might reach out more aggressively to someone who has not been in for three years compared to someone who comes annually. Moreover, we might reach out more aggressively to someone who spends an average of $550 per visit compared to someone who spends $200. This is the beauty of directed marketing.

Input Detailed Data Into EHR

To effectively use your EHR system to extract patient data to enhance marketing, you must get the information you need in the first place.

Collect as much data as possible from the very beginning. Customize your EHR patient record fields to get the data that you need and desire. Work with your vendors to seek ways to best utilize the data you have.

With EHR Versus Without

Marketing prior to electronic records was like fishing for a needle in a haystack. Doctors would blanket their entire patient database with marketing that may or may not pertain to their particular scenario. In other cases, the efforts seemed so costly, it just would not get done. Marketing was left out of the budget entirely. By contrast, after extracting the needed data from our EHR, we convinced a contact lens vendor to bear the cost of sending out postcards to our patients. With our ability to reach their target market, they would spend less reaching a smaller number of patients but would gain more because those patients would be perfect candidates for their lens. In a recent campaign for a new multifocal lens, we sent out only 250 postcards. We stayed with a very small number because the lens was new so we only wanted to try it on perfect candidates until office doctors and staff were comfortable with the lens. After the mailing, we scheduled more than 25 appointments. Of these 25,some 15 purchased an annual supply and others purchased smaller amounts. Given that the contact lens company took care of the fee for the customized postcards and the postage, all we did was enjoy the revenue!

Using your EHR system to data mine patient records allows you to create more powerful marketing campaigns. Your enhanced marketing efforts will give you more profit for the money you spend, enabling you to target the right patients for each campaign.

13 Activity Categories to Use to Segment Patients

Dave Ziegler, OD, senior partnerof ZieglerLeffingwell Eyecare inWestAllis, Wis., and founder of Visionary Resources, segments his patient base according to the following 13 activity categories. Dr. Ziegler finds this 13-point segmentation improves the results of marketing campaigns.

1. Fitness/aerobic-running, biking, dance, walking.
2. Fitness/water- swimming, scuba, snorkeling.
3. Fitness/snow-skiing, snowboarding, skating, ice fishing.
4. Fitness/ball- softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, golf.
5. Fitness/martial arts- karate, judo.
6. Fitness/Extreme- rock climbing, blading, skateboarding.
7. Sportsman-hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, NASCAR, motorcycle.
8. Crafts- sewing, cross stitch, stamping, scrapbooking, ceramics.
9. Computer- internet, gaming.
10. Music- piano, horn, conducting, string instruments, singing.
11. Outdoor leisure- gardening, landscaping, travel, photography, sports spectator.
12. Indoor leisure- cooking, reading, shopping,TV.
13. Home/car repair- restoration, remodeling, decorating.


Click HERE to download a marketing piece Dr. Murphy’s practice sent to patients segmented via EHR.

Related ROB Articles

Cut Labor Costs with EHR Systems for Co-Management

Combine EHR System and Recall Software to Make Patient Recall More Effective and Profitable

Use EHR to Optimize Billing and Coding Process

Mary Anne C. Murphy, OD, is the owner of Front Range Eye Associates in Broomfield, Colo. To contact her:

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