Posted: May 4, 2017

Relationships matter. Relationships add meaning and texture and a whole range of emotions to our everyday lives. Especially in healthcare, where sensitive and difficult diagnoses bring our emotions to the forefront, the quality of a consumer's relationship with a provider or healthcare organization can make the difference in how easy it is to handle challenges. And though using technology to "manage" this type of relationship may seem counter intuitive at first, the possibilities of reaching more people and relating to them more effectively grow with using a healthcare customer relationship (CRM) system.

A little background
CRMs in healthcare are fairly new. For the past decade, electronic health record (EHR) systems have seized the spotlight among IT initiatives at healthcare facilities. Nearly all non-federal acute care hospitals now have certified EHRs in place. However, amid the transition to value-based reimbursement, CRM systems have begun to offer complementary technology for capturing data on consumers, patients, and non-patients.

CRM systems began as a tool to help organizations improve their print campaigns to find new patients. Next, they evolved to serve population health efforts, a capability that's still underutilized. Sophisticated health systems use CRM systems to provide wellness services, “care traffic control," and loop closure — essential elements of quality/outcomes-driven risk contracts under value-based care. To date, the value of a CRM has been to offer functions EHR systems couldn't, mainly around finding patients in need of care.

Where CRM is headed
Translating CRM capabilities to a customized healthcare consumer experience requires robust and scalable personalization rules, just like in the retail industry. And with the growing push to provide better patient experience, finding a CRM solution that can accomplish this is becoming more critical.

Recent analysis from Research and Markets predicts just this kind of growth in CRM investments, projecting double-digit growth for the global healthcare CRM market through 2025. To find the most future-proof CRM, you should look for component capabilities such as:

  • Leveraging digital audiences as well as audiences from just a physical address
  • Advanced targeting recipes to find not just unknown patient populations but unknown populations with specific risk factors or demographics
  • True multi-channel campaign execution, across digital channels like search and social, email, and print
  • Real-time data updates
  • Relationship management

Additionally, a separate study from Grand View Research predicts advancements in mobile and social CRM components, further accelerating healthcare industry growth.

Practical application
With hospitals striving to make care more convenient and effective for both caregivers and patients, CRM systems have to evolve to integrate marketing data and insights with care data. In turn, that data will play a key role in chronic disease management. Socio-economic factors, health literacy, social support, and other non clinical data should be organized and accessible for caregivers and providers in order to positively affect outcomes.

The savvy health system will look for a CRM that integrates well with other technology investments, including patient portals and marketing platforms. These integrations will facilitate a customer-centric approach to connections with patients and health plan members as well as new prospects. Looking to retail and other industry leaders who are winning in consumer engagement, like Amazon or Netflix, healthcare organizations need to evaluate how their consumers interact with the health system as a whole, what their preferences are for communication and interaction. The consumer part of the equation needs to be factored in as well as the clinical, medical data.

Rising to the challenge
Consumer engagement, and the personalized approach to segmentation it requires, mean CRM systems are set to become a more influential component to healthcare marketers, especially with the increasing focus on real-time analytics. But healthcare-specific concerns around privacy and care coordination must stay top of mind to protect both your organization and your population.

Providers must learn to manage diverse sets of data and stay current with wide-ranging trends in health status and social factors. Advanced CRM systems will help in this regard by leveraging search, social, and mobile marketing targeting capabilities — with built-in modeling and analytics that can work with data from both traditional and digital sources.

The goal is “a living, breathing database" derived from a real-time feed of active marketing lead data. With the expansion of the audience to include new multi-channel sources for finding patients, tracking and managing these consumers from click to lead to qualified lead to appointment and procedure, all the way to measurable ROI, becomes an essential function for the next iteration of healthcare CRM.

To learn more about how an intelligent CRM system can help your organization create and maintain more loyal relationships, download our white paper, Evolving Healthcare CRM.