Google Keep for HIPAA-compliant client relationship management

What is client relationship management?

Client relationship management (CRM) refers to your processes for taking a client from initial contact through the natural (and preferably happy) end of your working relationship.

Most aspects of the CRM in a lactation practice are handled by your cloud-based charting platform, such as:

  • scheduling

  • intake

  • charting

  • secure messaging

However, most charting platforms aren’t set up for the more advanced features you may want to incorporate into your practice, primarily related to marketing like:

  • sending customer satisfaction surveys

  • automated birthday reminders

  • marketing emails for your other services

  • upselling clients to an online course

Why you can’t just pick the popular platform recommended by your favorite online guru

If you’re someone who loves shiny new digital toys then I feel your pain. There are so many amazing tools just begging to be played with, promising to take your business to the next level by giving your clients a dazzling experience.

The sad truth is that if you are in the US, you just can’t really use any of these platforms with your clients, because you need your services to be HIPAA-compliant.

Sure, you could ask your clients to opt in to your marketing emails (and I’ve got attorney-reviewed wording you can use that does just that), but wouldn’t it be best if ALL your clients could be moved through a client experience that makes them feel cared for and shows off your practice in all its greatness? Letting them know about your classes, your drop-in group, and your online support community. Sending them a note when their baby turns one, or making sure they get a follow up check in email a certain point after the visit?

You can totally DIY your CRM with a tool you already have, FYI

I have a feeling that more and more cloud-based charting platforms are going to be incorporating more marketing tools in the future. Practice Better is already headed that way, and I bet Acuity rolls out more CRM-type features

But if you don’t want to wait, or if you don’t want to pay, think about using Google Keep. It’s bundled with G-Suite, which I hope you’re using in a HIPAA-compliant way, and won’t cost you a penny more than you’re already paying. G-Suite can be used under PIPEDA and GDPR making it a powerful tool for running your infrastructure. Set up a G-Suite account with code JCETJ66YQ4PCNVP for 20% off the first year.

Setting up Google Keep for CRM

I said this was going to be DIY and that means no automations. If you’re not paying with money, you have to pay with time. If you have a super busy practice this might be too time-consuming, though it would make a great task for an admin or intern.

Make your master template

After you launch Keep, create a new Note with the title Master CRM. In the note itself, start a list of all the marketing emails you want to send to your clients. Here’s a sample list:

  • Post-visit follow up email

  • Checking in email

  • Client satisfaction survey email

  • Happy first birthday email

  • Invitation to my support group

You might know that Keep has checkboxes but don’t do those yet—we’ll get to those in the next step.

Create your email templates

Head over to your G-Suite email account. In Settings, choose Advanced and then click to enable Canned Responses, then scroll to the bottom and Save Changes.

Click Compose and write the generic version of the email you want to send.

Then click the 3-dot action menu in the bottom right corner and hover over Canned Responses to bring up that menu, where you’ll choose New Canned Response. Give your template a name, then you can close out of the email without saving it or sending it.

Set up a client

Now that you have your master checklist and email templates, let’s add a client. Copy the text of the list in your Master card.

Create a new card with the client’s name, email address, and the baby’s date of birth. Now, click the 3-dot action menu and choose “show checkboxes.” Paste the list into the client’s card, and you’ll see how it magically adds fun little check boxes. Click the little bell icon at the bottom, and set a reminder for yourself to perform the first task on the list.

Managing the client

Use the pushpin icon to pin your active clients to the top of your Keep account. Copy their email address and then from Compose in G-Suite email, click the 3-dot action menu to bring up the canned response you want. Paste their email into the “to” field, personalize the subject line and contents, and hit send.

Once you’ve completed that task, check it off the list by clicking in the box. Change the alarm to go with the next item on the task list.

Once all the boxes are checked off, click the archive icon (looks like a box with an arrow inside) and the client will no longer be on your priority list.


This workflow might not be sexy, it might not be automated, but it gives you the power to keep track of those emails that you want to send to your clients.

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