Think your customer relationship management (CRM) solution can handle the healthcare vertical? Think again.

You may be relatively new to thinking of potential patients as consumers, but they're not. They've spent years being trained by other industries to expect relevant, consistent, personalized marketing across websites, social platforms, search, and more. So when it comes time for them to find a doctor or seek out a facility or service, they're looking for an organization that can deliver this kind of engaging experience ... all while keeping their personal health information secure and private.

This puts healthcare marketers in a unique position — one where you need CRM functionality precisely tailored to the challenges you face, meaning industry-agnostic CRM solutions just can't get the job done. You need a CRM built for healthcare marketing.

Features that address the challenges unique to healthcare aren't just “nice to have." They're vital in navigating today's healthcare marketing landscape.

Security is Everything
To best target your healthcare consumers, you're working with rich data sets — data that supports myriad use cases ranging from National Change of Address data in new mover campaigns to Social Security Death Master files to avoid contacting deceased consumers. You're even bumping up against HL7 standards when diving into condition-specific analytics to power your re-targeting and education campaigns. All those initiatives mean that you're waltzing with the question of healthcare security and that your CRM needs to be prepared.

Even at conservative estimates, to hackers, patient records can be worth hundreds of times as much as other types of consumer information, and sometimes more. Security is an industry-wide concern, and if your CRM isn't on the cutting edge, it's not ready for your healthcare marketing goals.

To keep up with healthcare security standards, you'll want to look at essential CRM features like:

Role-Based Views: To control who in your organization can access and utilize CRM information

Healthcare Consumer Data Models: To make sure your data is properly stored and organized

Web Forms Integration: To maximize follow-up with both prospective and existing patients, your healthcare CRM should be able to ingest and work with data from completed web forms, and it should be able to do that securely.

Contact Center Automation and Integration: From kiosks to IVRs and SMS, your consumers are engaging with multiple points of contact. Real CRM success requires integration across all of these (most ideally through a consumer data platform architecture), but also a level of security that seals up these vulnerabilities from hackers who are looking for any crack or crevice to access PHI.

Healthcare is a Complex Service
Targeting retail consumers can be complicated but doesn't hold a candle to the intricacies of healthcare.

Healthcare marketers are navigating not only preferences but also wildly varying conditions, needs, sensitivities, and possibly even life-threatening situations — and all those factors compound with one another. This adds up a level of complexity that CRMs built for the relatively simple worlds of retail and banking just don't understand.

You should be aiming to effectively target and market to your consumer demographics based on their current conditions as well as the likelihood that they'll want to access specific service lines you offer in the future. Targeting at the precise level healthcare marketing needs requires a CRM with features like:

Predictive Analytics: This is the foundation of getting in front of healthcare consumer behavior. Machine-learning algorithms allow you to study your consumer data and predict the needs and behaviors of your consumers so that your marketing efforts are precisely aligned with their behaviors as healthcare consumers.

API Access: Sophisticated targeting requires integration with other martech, so you'll want to make sure all of your platforms are talking to maximize your CRM capabilities.

Lead Tracking and Management: Optimization is a must when marketing to healthcare consumers, so you'll want to be able to measure the success of your marketing channels in real-time as well as determine high-quality leads and manage them by role and territory.

Real-Time HL7 Data Feeds: For truly effective targeting, you'll need to connect with data from your EHR and clinical systems and make sure that information is feeding into your CRM as close to real-time as possible.

Never forget that choosing a healthcare-specific CRM is about stretching your budget in the long-run. Yes, you're targeting much more narrow audiences, but they're also more likely to respond. Make sure your CRM is advanced enough to keep up.