By Michael Sengbusch
From retail to banking to hospitality, progressive industries are embracing advanced customer relationship (CRM) technologies to create positive and personalized experiences for consumers. Due to its overwhelming success, particularly in recent years, the CRM industry is booming with no sign of slowing down. In fact, according to Gartner, the CRM software market is expected to reach $36.5 billion this year, up from $26.3 billion in 2015.
While healthcare has traditionally been slower to adopt technology focused on improving consumer engagement, it’s quickly becoming apparent that consumers are expecting the same experience they receive from the retail and hospitality industry when they’re making health care decisions. Despite these expectations, however, the healthcare industry has yet to fully embrace the consumerism of healthcare for various reasons, including resistance to change, skepticism and a lack of clarity. Fortunately, executives across hospitals and health systems are beginning to realize the need for advanced consumer and patient engagement tools.
The first State of Consumerism in Healthcare report found that two-thirds of healthcare professionals consider insights into patient behaviors, needs and expectations a priority, but less than a quarter of them have the capability to gather and analyze patient data. The same report, due to be published annually, found the patient experience to be the highest priority, but only 18% of respondents use advanced means to understand and improve the patient experience.
While a step in the right direction, provider organizations must implement innovative tools that gather the right information to provide value and improve the healthcare consumer experience — capabilities at the heart of CRM. Specifically, to be successful in today’s consumer-centric market, provider organizations need a CRM that’s both holistic and custom-built for healthcare.
Providing Value and Personalization
According to Gartner, “Paying attention to the consumer and providing high-quality experiences in health care are rising business imperatives.” By taking on a health care consumer-first approach, provider organizations that deliver timely, relevant and personalized information build trust, loyalty and, ultimately, top- and bottom-line improvements. However, in the effort to move quickly, many provider organizations are implementing CRMs without ensuring they manage the right data and offer the best features to create and measure value.
Let’s face it, healthcare organizations face privacy, security, and data collection challenges unique to the industry that horizontal marketing technology doesn’t address. Further, healthcare consumers are a much more dynamic audience with different needs than retail consumers. As such, a standalone, generic CRM doesn’t give providers the health-related information they need or the analytics necessary to determine actionable insights. To truly make the most out of consumer engagement and bring value to both prospective and current patients alike, hospitals should consider a healthcare-specific CRM.
The Need for Healthcare CRM
While the consumerism of healthcare certainly creates challenges for marketers, clinicians, executives, and IT professionals, digital and healthcare-specific solutions available today can meet the increasingly high expectations of health care consumers through personalized communications and omnichannel experiences. By integrating, cleansing and enriching consumer data, healthcare organizations can develop a more comprehensive view and understanding of each individual consumer and their unique healthcare-specific needs. With such quality patient analytics, provider organizations can personalize information and reach leads in the right place, at the right time.
Many healthcare organizations who proactively adopted early healthcare CRM (HCRM) systems likely experienced the frustration of both a tedious implementation and sluggish delivery of results. The good news is that, despite the past hindrances of traditional HCRMs, contemporary HCRMs are easy to launch and support today’s demand for real-time, cross-channel campaign reporting covering everything from impressions to calls, to appointments, procedures, and revenue. With an advanced HCRM, users receive real-time data regarding in-flight campaign performance, long-tail financial performance data including scheduled appointments, completed procedures, and bottom-line contribution margin to accurately measure the true return on marketing investment.
A modern-day, comprehensive HCRM uses powerful analytics coupled with a comprehensive marketing database that includes demographic, clinical, financial and behavioral data to help organizations create targeted groups of consumers most likely to need and respond to an organization’s marketing campaigns. Specifically, today’s HCRM enables healthcare organizations to communicate with consumers on their preferred channel, whether through social media, direct mail, email, the organization’s website or mobile app. Healthcare marketers can identify right-fit consumers and deliver a personalized message tailored to their specific needs. Further, connecting the consumer-specific data to marketing automation systems, web content management systems, content center applications and other marketing systems allows healthcare marketers to personalize content and offers, as well as track and measure the campaigns’ performance.
Through personalized communications, omnichannel access, and technology structured specifically to provide value to patients, healthcare-specific CRMs can set health care providers up for success and empower them to create meaningful, loyal and lasting relationships with their consumers.