Since the beginning, our practice has sent letters to patients for their birthdays and, especially, for hearing aid warranty renewals, since many of manufacturers will renew warranties through five years. After the manufacturer warranty renewals expire, we still send reminders for annual exams and then introduce incentives to upgrade. When the manufacturers’ warranties are no longer available, third party hearing aid insurance companies may be used.
Recently, I have been approached by several such insurance companies who want to produce the warranty letters, printed on their letterhead, and then send them out from their office. They claim they are providing a marketing service to help practices maintain better contact with their patients, especially for those who may not have the staff to provide this service at all. However, these third party companies actually want to send letters to your entire database, giving them direct mail access to all of your patients!
From a private practice perspective I think this choice would not be wise for my offices. First, it brands another company to my patients, which may interfere with my relationships with my patients. Second, the manufacturers’ direct warranty service for loss, damage and repair is significantly better than processing through third party warranties. Third, I worry about HIPAA compliance if the companies have access to my entire patient database.
It is a smart move though, for the third party insurance companies to find those offices that do not currently market to their own patients. And for a private practice without the software or support staff to do this on its own, these letters can be a service as well as a marketing strategy. If you choose this method, monitor your list, make sure your office is prominent in the letter material, and be sure you are comfortable with what the letters say. Food for thought!