Healthcare News & Insights

Another use for electronic records: Marketing data

Much has been said about how electric health data can help hospitals improve their care. But there’s  another area in which it might also be beneficial: 


Hospitals are beginning to use patient records in order to develop campaigns to attract new patients, according to a recent USA Today article.

For these campaigns, hospitals use patient records to determine the profiles of people who are most likely to be in need of a particular service, such as cancer screenings or heart care. They then match those with local residents, who are added to direct mail campaigns.

An estimated 20% of hospitals use this strategy, the story says, and more are likely to start as electronic health records become more common.

The hospitals contend that what they’re doing is legal and that they’re promoting services that people need, but some observers are critical of organizations for using profit-focused strategies, such as targeting higher-income people with private insurance, rather than those with Medicare.

Also, while the practice is legal, some are questioning whether patients would want their information shared with non-medical personnel, even if their name isn’t attached.

According to the hospitals mentioned by USA Today, this new way of marketing to potential patients is effective. Officials at one hospital said direct mailings led to more than 50,000 patient visits and contributed nearly $600,000 in revenue.

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