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Client Spotlight: Ascension Michigan

The work we do at Tea Leaves Health is all for our clients, and we love learning more about the people we partner with. Each month we’ll feature a new client here in our Client Spotlight, so you can learn more about the CRM initiatives currently happening in the industry. This month we’re featuring Louis Martin, Manager, Brand Strategy for Ascension Michigan.

  1. Tell us your title, what organization you work for, a quick description of your role and a little bit about yourself.

Louis Martin; Manager, Brand Strategy, Ascension Michigan.

I am currently the brand strategy manager for Ascension Michigan. We’re working to make a difference in the lives of those we serve by helping people know who and where we are in the community.

For the last eighteen years I’ve worked in several aspects of healthcare marketing; including brand and advertising, physician marketing, marketing research, media relations and public relations. My previous background includes marketing work in the both the public and private sectors; including government relations and advocacy work, and a wide variety of media production experience.

Since last year when Ascension Marketing and Communications became one team across the organization, I have been a liaison between our Michigan-based Marketing team and other Marketing teams across our system.

  1. What would you say is your department’s biggest challenge, and what are you doing to overcome that?

Simply stated, our biggest challenge is to deliver a resonating message to the right people and inspire action. We must continually stand out from the abundant message clutter in people’s daily lives and find the consumer segment within which our message has significant meaning.

To accomplish this, we are always focused on smart segmentation, research-based messaging and campaign measurement. As a department we regularly compare learnings with our counterparts across Ascension.

  1. Why did your organization decide to implement the Patientology solution?

Marketing leadership across Ascension collectively determined that having a solution for direct marketing segmentation and reporting capabilities made sense for our organization. We began with seven of Ascension’s markets adopting Tea Leaves Health Patientology.

Today, Ascension has 13 markets leveraging Tea Leaves Health for both direct mail and email marketing campaigns. We have also created our own system-wide Tea Leaves users’ group. This group shares best practices, determines how we can leverage one campaign across multiple markets, and looks at how we’ll use the product to meet our strategic marketing needs.

  1. What kind of campaigns are you currently running with Patientology/Tea Leaves Health?

Ascension Michigan is a collection of five health systems across the state of Michigan, so as you might guess, we run many campaigns concurrently. A wide variety of campaigns are now running in Michigan and across Ascension that range from promoting consumer screenings, to supporting the launch of new services, sites of care and new physician providers.

  1. What advice would you give other Tea Leaves Health clients?

Your Tea Leaves database has many capabilities that can and should be used. Resist the outdated marketing urge to use standard demographic segmentation and order lists. When you’re at the wheel of a Ferrari, don’t drive it like a Pinto wagon.

  1. What’s been the most surprising thing about working with Tea Leaves Health?

In addition to having our Ascension user group as a best practice resource, the Tea Leaves staff is always available for refining campaigns and direct consultation. Their support for our projects is real-time and consistent.

Over the years I have become suspicious when vendors claim to have healthcare experience; but the Tea Leaves staff really does. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my Tea Leaves representative has a deep understanding of I/P and O/P care including physician and consumer perspectives. This is a very valuable resource as we shape our campaigns.


Contact us to find out how Tea Leaves Health can help your organization
reach the right people with a message that resonates.


What does the name Tea Leaves Health mean?


We’re frequently asked this question, so read on for an explanation of the name Tea Leaves Health:

The Macmillan Dictionary defines “reading the tea leaves” as, “{looking} at the tea leaves in the bottom of a cup for a sign of what will happen in the future”.

This practice, known as Tasseography, interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds or wine sediments. It’s all about using the information you have to make a prediction about what’s going to happen in the future.

This is exactly what we do in healthcare; hence the name, Tea Leaves Health. Our enterprise software platform interprets a large volume of consumer and medical data to deliver business intelligence solutions to the healthcare industry.

We bring clarity to chaos and highlight the trends our clients’ information reveals; enlightening them with data-driven insights to make informed decisions. Our applications and predictive models help hospitals and health systems see what their patients’ highest risks are, so they can communicate with them appropriately and plan strategically.

Being successful in healthcare today means being prepared for constant change. It means seeing next steps before the shifts occur. Need to know what’s next for your organization? Simply read the Tea Leaves.


Back-to-School Physical Promotions

The school bells have just recently stopped ringing, but its not too early to start planning your back-to-school physical campaigns. Promoting back-to-school physicals is a simple, cost-effective way to reach current patients and prospects in your market who are parents of school-aged children. In order for students to be eligible to play sports during the upcoming school year, they need to have their physicals completed before the summer ends. Many high school athletes need them done even sooner to participate in summer activities.

Execute your campaign by first identifying the best candidates to reach. Tea Leaves Health makes this easy via our Primary Care – Back to School Physicals Tea Select. Our Tea Selects are pre-built queries that include industry best practices and trends to aid you in targeting individuals who need these services. Our Tea Selects are also completely customizable to help you meet the goals of your campaign.

Direct mail and digital campaigns offer you the ability to connect with the parents of those children eligible for screenings. Try including topics like tips for age-appropriate back-to-school sleep schedules and food allergies in your digital and print communications to reach your audience with the most relevant information. These touches should be personalized and include multiple communication channels whenever possible.

Also ensure your calls-to-action are easy to understand and even easier to follow. Include calls-to-action on your pieces that direct recipients to a website or call center to schedule appointments, or even to the patient portal to direct book. Consider utilizing click-to-call numbers for email creative as well as your online appointment scheduler for screenings.

Further engage your target audience by contacting us for information on how to build awareness about your back-to-school physical services. We can provide expertise in targeting this special audience of mainly minors; often muddy waters to navigate. We’ll show you the most effective ways to gain ROI.



Palomar Health, a healthcare organization located in North San Diego County, California, needed a unique strategy to acquire new patients. The marketing team decided to execute a campaign around the annual Open Enrollment time period that would promote their services and encourage prospects to select doctors in the Palomar Health network.

The team at Palomar Health turned to their partners at Tea Leaves Health to help execute the campaign and make their strategy a reality. They targeted the friends and family person type only – so individuals who weren’t considered patients of the organization, but had some sort of touch point with it – they attended a class, filled out a web form, were a spouse of a patient, etc.

Palomar Health used the Patientology™ application to hone in on a select audience, and sent a total of 44,850 direct mail pieces out to friends and family of the organization. They utilized digital variable printing to send three different versions of the campaign with a variety of photos resembling each of the following age ranges: under 35, 35-54 and over 55. 3,140 people received both direct mail and email with attractive creative and messaging that highlighted Palomar Health’s expertise, its outstanding local hospitals and high-quality, expert care. The call-to-action urged recipients to visit a website or call a phone number to choose a Palomar Health network physician.

As a result of the campaign, Palomar Health is experiencing acquisition results above and beyond expectations:

  • Acquired 14,485 net new patients in 6 months
  • 32% response rate
  • Total revenue to date: $21M
  • Average charge per person: $19K



Palomar Health

North San Diego County – Escondido & Poway, CA

Download a copy of the Palomar Health Open Enrollment case study here.


Using CRM to Meet Your Meaningful Use Objectives

With reimbursements hinging on Meaningful Use compliance, your organization can’t afford not to communicate with patients about interacting with you via your patient portal. Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Final Rule issued in October of 2015 has reduced the complexity of the HER Incentive Program, it is still imperative to complete and attest to the program objectives.

You are likely well aware that getting your patients to comply with Meaningful Use is a necessity, but you may not be sure how to use a strategic growth platform to make it happen. Tea Leaves’ clients have not only reached their Meaningful Use goals – but have received the associated incentives – as a result of our Meaningful Use campaigns.

We’ve broken down executing a Meaningful Use campaign into three simple steps:

  1. Gathering Your Information

First, determine which patients: a) have not registered for the portal, or b) have registered for the portal, but have not yet participated in a transaction. Review your current list of individuals who have registered to use your portal and compare that to your roster of current patients who have recently visited your hospital or clinic(s). Then identify those who are patients but who are not registered for your portal.

Then, take another look at your registered users and determine those who’ve only registered, versus those who have registered and completed regular interactions. Once this information is compiled, you should be able to send it to your CRM system via a marketing list. You can the pull the information from the database, identify exactly which patients fall into which group, and assess the utilization rates.


  1. Communication

Once your audiences are defined, reach them with a multi-step campaign with targeted messaging tailored to their particular situation. Create a campaign with two parts and two separate calls-to-action. The first part of the campaign should reach patients of your organization that have not yet registered to use the portal.

Develop messaging for both direct mail and email that informs the individual that the portal’s available, that it’s secure, and that it offers the most convenient method of interacting with their provider, requesting appointments or scheduling medication refills. Make sure the messaging explains how it will benefit them. Offer them an incentive to register that may also further motivate them. The call-to-action in this scenario is to simply register for the portal.

The second part of the campaign would reach individuals who have a username and password for the portal and have signed in, but haven’t used the portal at all to engage with your organization. In this case, the messaging will be slightly different. This call-to-action should serve as a reminder that the portal is the most convenient method of managing health and should reiterate its benefits. Remind this audience again that with their registration, they can easily make appointments, view test results, pay bills and pose questions securely all within the portal.


  1. Measuring Results

Then after the campaign has been in the market for some time, use your system to periodically assess the number of new users and the number of users who are now interacting more. Keep in mind that attesting for Meaningful Use requires three steps: 1) patients must register for the portal, 2) they need to view, download and transmit information, and 3) your organization has to respond to the transmitted communication in order to complete the transaction and make it count in your Meaningful Use reporting.


For more information on using strategic growth platforms to reach your Meaningful Use goals, download a copy of the full white paper, “Using a Strategic Growth Platform to Meet Your Meaningful Use Objectives” here.


Think Outside Standard Production Formats

You’ve most likely received the standard 6”x 9” postcard. While this format works great in most cases, in some instances we see clients experience stronger response rates and results if they think outside the standard production formats.


So when is it more appropriate to mail a letter vs. a standard size vs. an oversized direct mail piece? Often, when clients are trying to solicit funds for a foundation campaign, they opt for a more formal option – a letter. This tends to be a more personal format, so recipients receive it differently from a postcard. Another example would be if you were sending sensitive information that you wouldn’t want on a postcard that the public could see, such as a bariatric or weight management message. Standard sizes are great for triggered service line campaigns that go out on a regular basis. If you’re mailing often, it keeps the costs down to mail the standard size in bulk, but of course we can always mail other sizes for trigger campaigns too.

But if you really want to stand out – for example if you are hosting an event like an open house for a new facility or a heart healthy cooking class, and you want to ensure your message gets recipients’ attention, then it might be best to send an oversized postcard.

We also frequently see magnets placed on ED or Urgent Care campaigns, as magnets are great ways to communicate your phone numbers, hours and locations for your emergency facilities in a convenient fashion as they can be easily referenced on individuals’ refrigerators.

At Tea Leaves Health we offer various standard postcard sizes, such as 4.25” x 6” and 6” x 9”, but we also carry other sizes that may stand out more, such as 6” x 11” postcards, large and small mailers with multiple flaps/folds, magnets, letters and envelopes.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to your direct mail creative. We can work with our print vendor on a wide variety of sizes, formats, paper weights, stocks and dimensions.

Contact us today to discuss the options.