According to a 2011 survey by Consumer Reports, a majority of physicians agree that “forming a long-term relationship with a primary-care physician is the most important thing a patient can do to obtain better medical care," with 76 percent saying it would help “very much."

And in a more recent survey by the Society for Participatory Medicine, 88 percent of the patients surveyed believed working with their providers as a partner would help with their health, a belief physicians shared, as well.

In today's overburdened healthcare environment, though, building those relationships can be difficult. But a customer relationship management system (CRM) can greatly ease the way.

Build better relationships
While other tools are effective for engaging patients, a CRM leads the way with its combination of data and personalization capabilities. A CRM can give you a better picture of who each patient is by integrating data from your website, electronic health records, patient registration systems, third-party demographics databases, health screenings, wearable technology, marketing automation platforms, and notes from past visits.

By collecting demographic and socioeconomic information not traditionally documented in a patient’s health records, along with his or her personal preferences and medical conditions, hospitals and healthcare systems gain powerful insights. Physicians can use that information to better connect with patients to help cultivate engagement in the care process.

Encouraging better health beyond the clinical setting
In fact, a CRM can help throughout the range of care to drive better outcomes:

  • Outside the walls: Leveraging a CRM system, healthcare marketers can use targeted marketing to push out appropriate messages to individual patients and prospective patients, encouraging a healthy lifestyle between visits. These communications can be emails, newsletters, direct mail, and more based on condition-specific groups or general demographic groups. The more times consumers hear the message, the more likely they will act.
  • Follow-up: Patient follow-up is difficult and time-consuming with traditional clinical systems. A CRM system automates this function, sending out e-mails, texts, or similar communications to patients at the prescribed time. The message may be as simple as a reminder to take medication, or it may be much more complex. Those automated messages may not be as personal as a phone call, but they are much more likely to reach the patient at the best time because busy nurses and administrators have other priorities, and the calls get made when there's time. With the CRM system handling the day-to-day contact with patients, not only do providers spend more time with patients, the patients themselves are kept well-informed and encouraged to take an active role in their healthcare between visits.

Personalized care = increased patient satisfaction
With the creation of ratings websites where patients rate their doctors and leave reviews, healthcare providers have another layer of accountability in the provider-patient relationship. Now, it's easier for people to shop around for the provider they think will be best for them. Patient rating scales also determine scores for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Those CMS scores determine government reimbursement rates for hospitals and other healthcare organizations.

When a hospital or healthcare system reaches out to patients with personalized messages, the patient will feel well-cared-for and understood, which increases their satisfaction. Even if those personalized messages are automated, they have the same effect: most patients view CRM system–pushed communications positively, seeing them as a sign the hospital and provider are doing a better job of delivering care.

Building better relationships with patients isn't just about getting better ratings on websites, of course. A healthy provider-patient relationship can lead to more engagement, more trust, and better outcomes. That trust helps patients feel more confident about communicating their medical problems and keeps patients coming back to their healthcare providers and referring friends and family.

To learn how to successfully implement a CRM system, download our white paper, The Definitive Guide to Healthcare CRM: A Practical Guide for Successful CRM Selection, Implementation, and Value Creation.