Dynamic Chiropractic – July 1, 2014, Vol. 32, Issue 13

Communicating With Patients in the Digital Age

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

I recently sent my 32-year-old son an email asking him to do something for my wife. A day later, my wife asked if he had done it. "Not yet," I said. "He hasn't responded to my email."

At that point, I was unmercifully scolded: "Why did you send him an email?" she demanded. "He doesn't respond to those for days ... if you need an immediate answer, you have to text him."

There it was. I had committed the unpardonable sin. I had emailed a person who responds primarily to texts. How could I have made such an obvious mistake?

The answer (at least in my mind) was simple: "How am I supposed to know (and keep track of) who responds better to texts, emails, tweets, social media and (apparently old-fashioned) phone calls?" Is there some type of new software that will constantly remind me which form of communication is preferred by each friend and relative for which topics?

Whether you realize it or not, you face the same issue as you attempt to communicate with your patients and the consumer community around you. Here are some stats about email and social media to give you some perspective:

  • As of 2013, there were 3.6 billion email accounts worldwide.1
  • More than 4 billion (4.2 billion) people access social media sites via mobile devices.2
  • Nine out of 10 consumers (91 percent) check their email daily.3
  • More than 95 percent of Facebook users log into their account daily.4
  • The average worker spends 13 hours of their workweek in their email inbox.5
  • More than one-fourth (27 percent) of total U.S. Internet time is spent on social networking sites.6

When looking at communication channels, there are some generalities you can make based upon the age of your patients. For example, younger patients in their teens and 20s are less likely to read email, and more likely to read texts, tweets and their Facebook page. Patients in their late 30s and older are still most responsive to email. Older patients (age 55 or older) are also less likely to use social media and texting.7

There are also some rules about when to mail / tweet / post. Many people check their accounts each morning when they first get up. Communicating to them late the night before or very early in the morning can make your information front of mind as your patients begin their day. The best days to communicate are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, rather than on weekends. Another tip: Ensure that what you send works on smartphones as well as laptops.8

The obvious reality is that you need to communicate through all of the currently popular communications channels. (Yes, there will likely be more added to the list as technology progresses.) Email is still the highest ranked channel for service (chiropractic) introductions, learning about a service (chiropractic) and post-purchase follow-up.9 But your patients and your community are using several channels to get the information they need to live a healthier life. That means you have to be on all of them – or at least the most used ones.

Before you think of throwing in the communications towel, you should know that communicating effectively with patients is a lot easier than you think. Several chiropractic companies even offer websites that include tools and libraries which allow you to blog, tweet, and post to your Facebook account automatically. You can see an example of this on my blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. I post wellness information to the blog and the program automatically copies it to Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to join, follow or friend me on all three of these mediums (see links below).

In order to grow your practice, your job is to communicate consistently the information you want to share with your patients and your community. Keep your communication consistent with your philosophy, practice image and how you relate to your patients. This will help establish you as a knowledgeable DC who has much to offer.

Technology will continue to make it easier to reach our patients and communities, but we will have to work a little harder to do it. In the end, the additional effort will be rewarded.

Technology in Action


  1. Email Statistics Report, 2012-2016. The Radicati Group, Inc., April 2012.
  2. List of Social Networking Websites. Wikipedia.com.
  3. "91% of Consumers Use Email At Least Daily." ExactTarget Marketing Blog.
  4. 5 Surprising Social Media Statistics for 2013. Social Media Today.
  5. "The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies." McKinsey Global Institute.
  6. Experian Marketing Services Reveals 27 Percent of Time Spent Online Is on Social Networking." Experian Marketing Services.
  7. The 2012 Channel Preference Survey. ExactTarget.com.
  8. "Mind the Marketing Gap." Survey by the Economist Intelligent Unit, March 2013.
  9. "The Ultimate Mobile Email Statistics Overview." emailmonday.com

Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/wrblog/. You can also visit me on Facebook.

Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.


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