3 Mailings Are Better Than 1 for Health Network

Community Health Network has found mailing three communications to be more effective than sending only one in its efforts to acquire patients who have relocated to its service areas, the network said yesterday.

Ranked among the nation's top 40 integrated healthcare networks, Community Health Network, Indianapolis, has more than 60 sites of care throughout central Indiana. These include Community Hospitals East, North and South in Indianapolis and Community Hospital Anderson; Indiana Heart Hospital, a dedicated heart hospital; MedCheck urgent-care centers; Indiana Surgery Centers; more than 70 primary-care physician practices; home health services; nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

The health system gleaned this data thanks to a customer relationship management database marketing solution and a new movers' direct mail campaign developed, with Community Health Network's help, by CPM Marketing Group, a relationship management solutions provider for the healthcare industry based in Middleton, WI.

Looking to expand upon the success of its existing new movers program, Community Health Network conducted a champion/challenger test to see whether adding follow-up communications would influence more individuals to choose the network when the need for healthcare arose.

The one-year experiment was designed so that a random sampling of those receiving the organization's welcome package also got second and third mailings.

The messaging strategy was based on knowledge of how individuals commonly enter its system for care. Community Health Network sent color postcards to the randomly selected households with information on finding a primary-care physician or a specialist 30 days after the initial welcome package. The same households then were mailed color postcards 30 days later with information on the system's urgent-care centers. Using dynamic printing technology, the network customized the third mailing for recipients, printing a photo appropriate to each recipient's age and a map to the urgent-care center nearest the recipient's home.

From December 2003 to November 2004, 39,977 households were mailed the welcome package only, while 12,171 households were sent the welcome package and accompanying postcards in the same period. Households receiving the welcome package alone responded at a rate of 20.74 percent, while those getting the welcome package and follow-up postcards responded at a rate of 25.36 percent.

Both groups were compared with a control group, which was measured to utilize services at a rate of 19.79 percent. The control group analysis found the welcome package alone drove an increase in service use of 0.95 percentage points, or 380 patients, to seek services. The welcome package and follow-up postcards, however, drove an increase in service use of 5.58 percentage points, or 679 patients, to seek services.

Based on the results, Community Health Network established the three-step program as its new standard, expanding to send follow-up communications to all households that relocate to the area.

“Operating in a highly competitive market, we have to spend our marketing dollars smartly,” said Debbie Kenemer, Community Health Network's interactive marketing manager. “CRM enables us to implement, measure and then refine our marketing so that we achieve the greatest return in both volume and revenue.”

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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