Posted: November 28, 2017

Healthcare CRMs have become a mainstay of many hospital marketing departments, but the rise of trends like data integration and the use of enterprise data platforms has greatly expanded their usefulness in improving patient and audience engagement. For this reason, in fact, Smith and Jones named the expanded use of CRMs as the top hospital marketing trend of 2017.

As healthcare organizations set out to widen the scope of their CRM programs, however, it's important to ensure their strategies meet the goals of the organization as a whole. Here are a number of questions that healthcare professionals should ask themselves to determine whether their CRM can accomplish any and all of their strategic objectives.

Can your CRM unite system-wide data in a single location?

The main benefit of using an advanced healthcare CRM system is that it can combine disparate sets of data from anywhere in your organization, giving not only marketers, but clinical teams, the opportunity to draw from the richest possible data as they work to improve engagement. While traditional marketing CRMs are used to capture strictly marketing data, healthcare-focused CRMs can draw from health data sources of almost any variety: patient medical histories (or EHRs), marketing data, administrative and financial data, patient outcomes, health surveys, call centers, and more.

Breaking down traditional data silos, the CRM thus becomes a centralized data repository, enabling your organization to reap the full value of its data. If a CRM is unable to integrate data in this way, it will limit the ability of your CRM strategy to grow. Connectivity and integration that allows your healthcare CRM to act as a connection point to collect and enhance data from all across your organization is now essential to long-term success.

Does your CRM keep sensitive data protected?

Along with the integration of hospital- and system-wide information comes the need to safeguard protected health information (PHI) — which isn't always the case with pure-play marketing CRMs. So, in addition to securing against unwanted access or malicious data breaches, your CRM should also provide a number of privacy rules to ensure that anyone who isn't authorized to view PHI may not do so. This could include marketing teams building targeted campaigns or call centers using data for outreach, for example. A well placed CRM strategy must ensure compliance while protecting against confidential information becoming leaked.

Can your CRM help you engage both your prospective healthcare consumers and existing patients?

A CRM should not only provide insight that helps you better reach your audience, but it should also help you better engage, manage, and educate your current patients. A robust CRM program should, for example, give you the ability to launch and automate disease-specific care management campaigns, send patient discharge instructions, send medication or appointment reminders, or relay guides to help patients with bill pay. In other words, a successful CRM strategy not only helps you reach an audience initially but also helps retain them as satisfied patients. Moreover, strategies like sending discharge instructions by phone have been shown to reduce readmissions and improve patient education.

That said, your CRM strategy should greatly support the marketing team's goals as well. Because you can combine your existing marketing information with clinical data (anonymized patient medical histories, demographics, behaviors, preferences), you can much more easily segment your audience into targeted groups for whom you can craft highly tailored, relevant marketing content — making your audience much more likely to respond and seek the care they need.

Does your CRM track full-spectrum consumer engagement and true ROI?

Marketing efforts can only achieve their strategic goals if their performance is closely tracked, which is why a CRM should measure the full lifecycle of a patient's engagement — from their first touch with a campaign channel through the moment they schedule an appointment. Naturally, those steps in the consumer journey should be discernibly tied to measures of ROI, such as improvements in leads, appointments, and billable procedures. Not only this, but the CRM should be able to track engagement across every marketing channel, in real-time, enabling marketers to nimbly redirect their budget to support campaigns that are working, adjust those which aren't, and justify their efforts to executives with demonstrable metrics.

All in all, a CRM should not only be a means to leverage marketing and non-marketing data to continually learn about the behaviors of consumers and patients, but it should also act as a hub connecting and integrating disparate groups across your hospital and health system.

Want to learn more about effective CRM strategy and use cases? Register for our webinar, Getting Started with Healthcare CRM: A How-To Webinar for Modern Marketers.