Does getting buy-in for customer relationship management (CRM) software from your health system executives feel like selling a trip to the moon? Your C-suite colleagues have never gone there, never climbed into a spaceship, and don't know how it works, but it sure looks expensive.

Marketing and IT teams for a health system understand the importance of tracking and engaging customers on an ongoing basis. But making that point in the boardroom can prove challenging, especially in an industry that is, all too often, slow to change.

To bring the abstract world of consumer segments, sales pipelines, and integrated campaigns to life, build some case studies that paint real-world pictures of your proposed solutions coming to the rescue of your organization.

While some case studies are based on real stories, it's perfectly acceptable to create a “fictional case study" featuring a hypothetical organization and event, so long it sounds realistic and you're up-front about its fictional nature. So, let's put on our creative hats and write a story!

The Problem
XYZ Health System is a loose, sprawling network of clinics, labs, and administrative offices spread over several counties, operating under a single corporate umbrella. Many of them joined the system via mergers and are still more or less self-contained, maintaining consumer records separately from one another. Sharing detailed consumer or clinical data between facilities would require a peer-to-peer request, followed by trading bulky paper or spreadsheet files.

Focused primarily on patient care, XYZ wants to expand its research credentials and grant opportunities by participating in clinical trials. To recruit test subjects, often a difficult task under the best of circumstances, it relies mostly upon individual doctor referrals plus a few social media ads. Thus far, results have proved mediocre.

XYZ management explored how using CRM software on a system-wide basis might improve trial participation rates. Such a project could also act as small-scale test of the feasibility of using such software for all of its customer management tasks.

The Process
To help structure the software package, XYZ drew upon a list of twenty "use cases" and seven "strategic goals" for healthcare CRM.

It was determined that, first and foremost, the software must be able to:

Inform patients about clinical trials. (Use Case #14)

While this might sound like stating the obvious, actually stating it brought up an interesting question — who, exactly, are these “patients?" Any given trial will list the basic health and demographic qualifications for an acceptable test subject. However, XYZ had no convenient way to comb through its decentralized customer records in search of qualified patients. So, they added a second software requirement:

Execute targeted service line campaigns for very specific sub-segments of the population.(Use Case #4)

Additionally, management knew that the system's doctors could provide an important source of test subjects, via patient referrals. However, many of XYZ's doctors had expressed a reluctance to refer their patients, complaining that they received only rudimentary information about the trials and had little control over how it would affect patient care. This lead to a third requirement:

Introduce care team collaboration. (Use Case #18)

This would allow trial clinics and patient care clinics to work together for the success of the trial and the welfare of the patient. Collaboration, of course, requires sharing information. In a health system, this calls for software robust enough to share large, complex data sets, such as protected health information (PHI). This led to a fourth requirement:

Create a single repository to gather and sync PHI across multiple departments and facilities. (Use Case #1)

Finally, sharing PHI in a company-wide online database presents security issues, an especially sensitive issue given federal HIPAA rules. So, they added the requirement:

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance & Data Security (Strategic Goal #6)

The Solution
To meet these criteria, XYZ selected a CRM software package with the following features:

  • Can record highly detailed customer (patient) information, using input forms that are not “off-the-shelf," but designed specifically for use by health systems.
  • Can segment customers into narrow demographic and clinical categories, which can be added or deleted as new trials begin or existing trials end.
  • Includes a comprehensive campaign module that can push marketing content promoting upcoming trials via email, text, voice, or printed letters.
  • Includes robust team collaboration features, including the ability to upload and share data file, reports, user notes, and messages.
  • Includes an up-to-date data security protocol that includes password-only access, different levels of access, data encryption, secure backups, and HIPAA awareness.

After implementing the software and training users, XYZ launched a successful new marketing campaign for some upcoming trials.

First, management instructed its clinics to begin copying customer records into the CRM database. As it gradually grew in size, the marketing department began sending introductory messages to qualified customers promoting the trial. Analyzing responses, it periodically revised and improved content and adjusted channel mix for each new batch of introductory messages, increasing response rates.

At the same time, XYZ's doctors and nurses trained to use the software as a team collaboration tool. Patient care clinics started learning more about upcoming trials and took a more active role in recruiting test subjects. Trial clinics discovered that they could outsource to the patient care clinics routine tasks, such as administering medicines.

Eventually, all relevant customer records were transferred to the database, allowing XYZ to expand its use of CRM to a wide variety of marketing, service, and billing functions.

There you have it, a realistic fictional case study that you can revise, adapt, or use as a template. In a nutshell, if can you identify some in-house problems that your executives can relate to, you can write a story or paint a picture that will make the moon shot seem like walk in the park.

Want to learn more about building a business case for healthcare CRM? Download our Definitive Guide to Healthcare CRM.