Tea Buzz




A large Midwestern healthcare network was updating their marketing plan, exploring ways to maximize their direct mail and email outreach. They successfully built an organic email marketing list that was mainly comprised of patients – but they had exhausted those contacts. They set a goal to implement marketing options that allowed them to further expand their customer base for outreach, drive new business from non-patients and maximize their marketing budget with an approach that leveraged both email and direct mail.

The healthcare network decided to increase their potential patient base and reach more prospects by purchasing email appends to supplement their existing list. To purchase this list of email addresses, they turned to their partners at Tea Leaves Health. Tea Leaves’ process of sending emails goes beyond sending to addresses on a list, and the organization wanted to utilize their unique capabilities.

To ensure the email addresses were for profit-driving consumers, only emails with a positive payer score were purchased. Once the email addresses were purchased, they were matched to individuals in the Tea Leaves Health database and then appended with hundreds of variables to give the health system’s team a total understanding of their consumers’ needs, preferences and behaviors. This included demographics, health conditions, lifestyle interests, over the counter and prescription drug usage, and more.

Then, proprietary predictive scoring models were applied to the email addresses to identify the consumers most likely to need the promoted services. The organization began sending more targeted email campaigns to all person types on the newly-purchased email append list, including not just patients but also friends & family and non-patients (prospects) toward the end of January, 2017. They continued to use the email list throughout 2017.

After using the email list for over a year, the healthcare network evaluated the success of the purchased appends. They needed to justify the cost of the supplemental email list by demonstrating its effectiveness in achieving their goals. They evaluated who opened the email campaigns they sent out; specifically focusing on how many of those opened were actually appended email addresses.

They discovered more than 28% of their total opens were coming from the purchased email appends. Below is a breakdown of who opened the email appends, by person type:

2017 Person Type Breakdown of Open Email Appends

  • Patients – 41%
  • Friends & Family – 25%
  • Pure Prospects – 34%

The addition of the email appends allowed the organization to quickly expand their customer base. The open rates for patients, are well over double the industry standard for email open rates (19.66%, according to Constant Contact). More importantly, the organization was able to communicate with prospective patients via email, which they weren’t previously able to do until they purchased the email appends from Tea Leaves Health. The high open rate for friends & family and pure prospects proved email is a formidable channel for driving new business among non-patients. Through the purchase of email appends, the healthcare system was able to successfully maximize their outreach efforts.

Contact us to explore how you can reach more of your customer base through email appends.

Download the Case Study Here


OSF HealthCare Taps CRM to Drive Portal Usage and Qualify for Meaningful Use Incentives

May 10, 2018 – eHealthcare Strategy & Trends

// By Lisa D. Ellis //

Judy Winkler, strategic marketing director at OSF HealthCare

Judy Winkler,
strategic marketing director at OSF HealthCare

Health systems today are looking for ways to engage patients, and one important way is through electronic health records (EHRs) and patient portals. To spur organizations to expand their use of EHRs and improve patient engagement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the EHR Incentive Program in 2011.

This program has been rolled out in a multistage process. It is designed to encourage organizations to establish electronic medical records systems, use them to deepen their engagement with patients, and track improvements in quality of care, efficiency, and health outcomes. To receive incentives, qualifying organizations must attest to meaningful use as defined by each stage. CMS reported that “more than $24.8 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments have been made between May 2011 and January 2018.”

Judy Winkler, strategic marketing director at OSF HealthCarebased in Peoria, Illinois, shared her organization’s experiences at Greystone.net’s Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) in October 2017. She was joined by Jennifer Baker-Grogg, lead client strategist for Tea Leaves Healtha Welltok company, OSF’s CRM provider. Winkler and Baker-Grogg discussed the strategy and tactics OSF used to drive increased portal engagement, and also provided a blueprint for other groups looking to tackle similar challenges. The results to date reveal that this strategy is making a difference — particularly in one specific age group. Hint: It’s not millennials.

Patient engagement is the key to solving healthcare’s most challenging problems, and technology tools such as patient portals close the gaps between in-person encounters, helping patients stay connected with providers and more effectively manage their health. The EHR Incentive Program is designed to support health systems with their patient engagement efforts. Is your organization taking advantage of this program, which generates additional revenue, and solidifies your relationship with patients? 

Comprehensive 3-Step Plan

OSF HealthCare wanted to attract more consumers to its patient portal and the features the portal offers, such as viewing test results, making appointments, and messaging providers. Its approach was to create an automated messaging campaign through its CRM to target key demographic groups with communication tailored to four different life stages. The goal was to expand use of its portal to more patients, and find ways to get already enrolled patients to use the portal more consistently. By doing so, OSF hopes to increase efficiency for both individuals and physicians, as well as increase the organization’s bottom line.

Jennifer Baker-Grogg, lead client strategist for Tea Leaves Health

Jennifer Baker-Grogg,
lead client strategist for Tea Leaves Health

Here are some basic steps to guide other organizations on this journey: 

Step 1. Identify Target Groups

The first step is to break consumers into segments depending on their interaction pattern, Baker-Grogg explains. She recommends comparing the list of people who have engaged with the system recently with a list of those who have registered with the portal. The target group, Group A, is patients who have been active in the past year or two but have not yet registered for the portal. Group B is patients who have registered but have not actively used the portal. “[CRM] is a great tool to be able to re-touch those who have not responded so they can take that step to register, or execute a transaction,” says Baker-Grogg. “It is important to have a follow-up strategy, and determine how success will be measured overall.”

Step 2. Personalized Messaging

The CRM helps you understand your audience so you can speak directly to them through personalized communications that are relevant based on their age, gender, and ethnicity to move them to action. 

Step 3. Track Results and Follow Up

The CRM enables you to follow up with people who haven’t signed up, or who have registered but have not used the portal. “We know as marketers that we may need multiple touches to get people to convert, and also to keep active users engaged,” Baker-Grogg says. “Most important, it’s about measuring success. You want to make sure that you’re increasing the number of people who are registered for and actively using the portal.” 

Putting It Together

For OSF HealthCare, the initial goal was to focus on increasing overall portal sign-ups. Winkler and her team worked with Tea Leaves, incorporating email into the CRM in June 2017 to accomplish this objective. OSF MyChart had about 250,000 active users. “But when we looked at our portal and our CRM, we still had about 100,000 to 125,000 people who were active patients who had not activated their MyChart account,” Winkler says.

The team used CRM data to make its efforts more targeted. The first step was segmenting the larger group into four age categories: 18-34, 35-54, 55-64, 65+. They created custom email communications tailored to recipients’ specific interests and life stages. In addition, they deployed a mix of social media, digital, radio, billboards, and print ads. OSF’s own employee base was another target group. “We also did internal messaging for our Mission Partners, which is what we call our 19,000 employees, to remind them that we have this portal,” she adds.

The results have been encouraging. “There were 537 sessions of people who clicked from the email, representing 294 unique users. They viewed 4,989 pages, an average of 9.29 pages, and spent 7 minutes and 46 seconds on the site,” says Winkler.

Email results for “Group A,” defined as people who engaged with OSF Health recently but had not yet registered for the portal.

Breakdown by Age Category

Delving deeper into the results, it was clear the efforts had the strongest impact on the oldest group.

  • For the 18- to 34-year-olds, the rate of people who signed up for MyChart was .5 percent.
  • For the 35- to 54-year-olds (the largest age group), the sign-up rate was 1 percent.
  • The 55- to 64-year-old group had a 1.3 percent sign-up rate.
  • The best group was the 65+, which had a 2.2 percent rate. 

Lessons Learned

One of the biggest lessons learned was that email is really cost-effective. “We were able to do the design work for these files — we have our own graphic design department. We sent out 120,000 emails and it cost a little bit less than $1,000. Why not send, when you can touch that many people for that kind of money,” Winkler says.

Additionally, the drive to increase portal registrations and usage demonstrated to the IT department that marketing involvement moves the needle. The IT lead for OSF’s portal emailed her and said, “Judy, I am reviewing some MyChart numbers from the previous quarter and in almost 100 percent of the categories, we saw a significant bump in utilization. It’s hard to directly tie back to your marketing efforts, but I’ve got no reason to think it would be a result of anything else.”

Down the road, OSF Health plans to use this platform for other types of messaging. “We’re really trying to increase colon cancer screening, mammography screening, and pneumonia shots, and we will definitely be using email for that [65+] age group because with our ACO and those numbers, those are things we really want to track,” Winkler says. “We’re just getting our feet wet, but it’s been a great learning opportunity.”

Lisa Ellis is editor of Strategic Health Care Marketing, the sibling publication of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends. She is a journalist and content development specialist who helps hospitals and other health care providers and organizations shape strategic messages and communicate them to their target audiences. You can reach her at editor@strategicHCmarketing.com.

Find the article here: https://ehealthcarestrategy.com/osf-healthcare-taps-crm-to-drive-portal-usage-and-qualify-for-meaningful-use-incentives/?access_code=9005


The Impact of Healthcare Reform on Physician Relations

It’s widely known that healthcare reform and health insurance changes have affected relationships between many physicians and the healthcare institutions that employ them. But what about the individuals who work with the physicians? How has healthcare reform affected the physician liaisons that work hard to ensure seamless interactions between providers and hospitals?

  1. Roles and Responsibilities Have Changed

Two decades ago, healthcare organizations typically employed a single individual to handle all of the physician relations duties. As the healthcare system has grown infinitely more complex, so have the objectives of most physician liaison programs.

No longer can one person manage the expansive list of duties, such as: retaining and re-educating physicians, providing a high-level of customer service and issue resolution, understanding and influencing community physicians, as well as staying abreast of healthcare policy changes and updates.

Today, it takes an entire team of individuals with different roles and responsibilities to accomplish these objectives. According to Kathleen Harkins in her Becker’s Hospital Review article, “Some of these objectives require very different sets and levels of skills, knowledge, expertise, understanding and experience. Therefore, different, multiple roles are needed within the physician relations field team. We can no longer envision a one-size-fits-all physician liaison who performs all duties of physician interaction.”


  1. New Tactics are Required

In this new world the old way of doing business has morphed into a more sophisticated approach. Traditional sales tactics and pitches are no longer effective when interacting with physicians. Today’s approach focuses on relationship and rapport building. Direct selling stifles more personal interactions; therefore, sales communication tactics like Healthcare Consultative SellingÔ have become more of the norm.

Liaisons are also being required to shift their focus toward delivering tangible results. Stakeholders need to know that the efforts of their physician liaison teams are contributing to the bottom line. This is where the physician relationship management (PRM) system comes in. Dann Lemerand explains in Health IT Outcomes that, “Hospitals and health systems can get a more substantial return on investment from their physician outreach initiatives by leveraging PRM systems.”

He goes on to share that, “By using claims analytics in conjunction with the right PRM system, healthcare organizations can gain a comprehensive view of every physician and their patients in their organization as well as in their markets. This combination will enable hospital leaders to strategically develop sound strategies that empower physician liaisons to maximize the impact of each interaction.”


  1. It Has Made Liaisons Indispensable

One thing is certain: the changing healthcare landscape is only reaffirming the need for physician liaisons. As population health continues, care becomes more coordinated, quality increases and facilities decrease, competition between systems is rising. Harkins mentions in her article, “The need for a strong physician relations function is likely to be with us for years to come.”

Lemerand echoes Harkins by saying, “As the industry continues to evolve under health reform…these relationships are more important than ever. With increased demand for coordinated care, new organizational structures, and value-based payment models, strong physician engagement has become a non-negotiable imperative. Building strong physician engagement is critical for health organizations to achieve the triple aim: quality, cost, and population health initiatives.”

In light of all the changes as a result of healthcare reform, the demand for robust physician liaison programs will remain in our industry well into the foreseeable future.


Harkins, Kathleen (2013, April 16) “The Growing Value of Physician Relations in an Ever-Changing Health System.” Retrieved from: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/the-growing-value-of-physician-relations-in-an-ever-changing-health-system.html
Lemerand, Dann (2016, June 29) “Leveraging PRM Systems To Get Real Results From Physician Relationship Management Programs.” Retrieved from: https://www.healthitoutcomes.com/doc/leveraging-prm-systems-to-get-real-results-from-physician-relationship-management-programs-0001
Harkins Associates “Healthcare Consultative Selling.” Retrieved from: https://www.harkinsassociates.com/index.php/services/training-overview/training-for-sales-staff-level-i-and-ii1/


Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention

As we move into May the days get longer and the sun gets stronger. Now is a great time to reach out to patients and prospects in your service areas about Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness. Through this campaign, you can reach a wide audience and encourage people to get their skin checked by a PCP, which can be a great entry point into your system.

Sun bathing

Communicate to recipients about the symptoms of skin cancer, the risk of the sun’s rays and how they can prevent Melanoma and other types of skin cancer through screening and prevention. Identify the best audience for this campaign, and then remind them to do the following this summer to help prevent skin cancer:

  • Find shade during midday hours.
  • Wear protective clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Wear a wide-brim hat to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Avoid tanning indoors via tanning beds, booths or sun lamps.

For maximum impact, don’t forget to use a combination of both direct mail and email when executing this campaign. Ensure your call-to-action is easy to understand and follow. If the goal is to drive volume through appointment scheduling, include the phone number or website for your call center directly on the piece. Consider utilizing click-to-call numbers for email creative as well as your online appointment scheduler. Also, be sure to capture demographic information via web forms, event attendance lists and class registration lists as ways to continue the conversation with patients and consumers in your service area beyond these campaigns.

Encourage your audience to enjoy the impending summer months safely and comfortably. Contact us to get this campaign started today.


Data Security Download: Third Parties’ Security

If you follow the media at all, then you’ve likely heard about the massive Facebook fallout. Millions of people across the United States were made aware that their personal data (in most cases unknowingly) had been shared with the political data firm Cambridge Analytica. The news has caused consumers to have a much deeper concern around data security and sharing practices.

In no industry is data security more important – and more scrutinized – than in healthcare. As breaches continue to occur, complying to the rules and regulations around personal health information (PHI) can’t be stressed enough. Patient data is an extremely sensitive matter, and how you handle it can make or break your organization.

Having diligent data security practices in place is critical in order to foster trust and loyalty with patients. Real people are behind the data, and breaches greatly affect both the individuals whose private information has been compromised, as well as the reputations of the healthcare institutions involved.

At Tea Leaves Health, we pride ourselves on our hyper-secure process to protect our clients’ patient information. Below are 10 data security best practices we follow – and recommend you follow – to prevent an incident:

  1. Evaluate all third parties’ security
  2. Make passwords complicated and change them often
  3. Use firewalls and Anti-Virus software
  4. Control physical access to PHI
  5. Protect information on portable devices
  6. Protect the network by limiting access
  7. Secure wireless networks
  8. Eliminate unnecessary data
  9. Educate staff members and create a security culture
  10. Have data backup, recovery and breach response plans in place

Over the next few months, we’ll elaborate on each of these points in our Data Download Blog Series. If you’d like more detail on each point now, download our white paper on Data Security Best Practices. For purposes of this post, we’ll elaborate on the first point.

As data breaches become more and more commonplace, we’ve seen many of our clients shift their marketing dollars back to print – a much more secure avenue over digital marketing – when it comes to the protection of patient data. Consumers are appreciating direct mail marketing more than ever as they become weary of how their online activities are being mined, sold and used by retail marketers.

If you’re also considering this shift, then it’s important to take into account the way your patients’ data is handled by third parties – such as your printer. Your organization isn’t the only one that needs to secure patient data – anyone you work with that handles that data also needs to remain HIPAA compliant.

Putting your patients’ information into the hands of a third party can create a number of new risks. Therefore, be sure to diligently vet the security of vendors or any other third parties you contract with.

Your print vendor is considered a Business Associate and they are required by law to secure and manage access to any and all PHI data that is delivered to them (i.e. any list that is generated from patient data). You should have a signed Business Associate Agreement (BAA) between you and any vendor you work with that will handle PHI. If you are unaware of what the requirements are for print production (or if you’re unaware that downloading a list of patient information and sending it to a printer can put you at risk for a HIPAA violation), we strongly recommend you review your BAA chain and ensure that everyone in your chain is complying to all regulations.

You are required by law to send all information to your Business Associates through secure channels. Sending information across an open network can be disastrous, so be sure you are always sending the information over an encrypted channel. Do not ever store unencrypted PHI unless it needs to be unencrypted for a very specific reason. PHI should be either be delivered as an encrypted list to the end user (and that user should have the proper role permissions to receive such a list), or the information should be rendered as a complete mail piece and delivered to the printer/mailer with the contact information already within the indicia of the piece.

These, among hundreds of other controls, are put in place by Tea Leaves Health to ensure all PHI is protected within our networks, systems and partners. We have followed all of the necessary steps to guarantee that our print vendor is compliant with all HIPAA requirements, so your patients and prospects stay educated about their healthcare choices and your data stays secure.

If protecting your patients’ data is of the utmost importance to your organization, then contact us to boost your data security.


The Decisionology TOP 10 Advantages

Know your market, leverage the full extent of your data and track growth through the only platform that provides what it promises – a proven solution others can’t deliver.


Below are the top 10 advantages Decisionology has to offer:

  1. Report filters – Intuitive filters on the Decisionology dashboard let you drill down into campaign service lines to easily measure the success of service line initiatives.
  2. Enterprise patient tracking features – View where new patients enter your system. Have the ability to follow individuals over time as they interact with you. Track downstream utilization and revenue of specific, client-defined patient cohorts. Measure revenue generation potential of campaigns targeting specific populations or services. Assess the lifetime value potential of patient acquisition – find out how much a new primary care patient is worth; or a new mother, a cardiac CT scan, etc.
  3. Ad-hoc reports – Designed to support mid-level ad-hoc analysis and data export needs, the reports allow you to select and filter on a list of relevant dimensions, measures and date ranges to create custom reports and data downloads.
  4. Customer segmentation – Segment by age, gender, patient type, care settings, geographic markets and utilization history to get very granular views of which demographic segments are growing.
  5. Next-generation operational trend analytics – Analyze micro-level growth trends and visualize what factors drove growth trends up or down across multiple dimensions: Patients, locations, providers, financial classes, demographics, etc.
  6. Enterprise-wide view of your market – Fully leverage the value of your data submission efforts and our processing expertise. Decisionology gives you an enterprise-wide view of where growth is happening and why.
  7. Multi-dimensional reporting – Reports that span the spectrum of users and use cases. Get access to complex cross-sections of encounter data to support internal analysis. View and download multiple utilization and financial metrics by facility, patient type, payer, service line, multiple clinical codes – without ever writing a query.
  8. Visual BI dashboards – Help executives spot opportunities in historic trends and growth forecasts by slicing-and-dicing reports, providing analysts with “raw” data access, and exporting growth, strategy and operational analytics reports.
  9. Patient and prospect population trends – Analyze macro-level patient and prospect demographic trends to support opportunity assessment and strategic development.
  10. Claims data analysis – View “Us vs. Them” report to determine market and service line potential and analyze service line capture at multiple levels – from large competitor groups to individual providers.

Contact our Decisionology experts for more information!