According to the Protenus Breach Barometer healthcare data breach report, healthcare suffered 477 Protected Health Information breaches, with more than 5.5 million patient records stolen in 2017. What does that have to do with a discussion about customer relationship management (CRM) solutions? Plenty.

CRM systems help healthcare facilities build and maintain stronger ties with patients and consumers, but there's another aspect of CRM systems that are often overlooked: How they can help healthcare operations meet regulatory compliance and data security requirements.

Required Vendor Safeguards
Without a CRM system, your marketing staff would be reliant on Excel spreadsheets, web forms, email folders, and marketing automation databases to store and track consumer information. Those methods, though, leave your organization vulnerable to data loss or compromise by an unauthorized employee, data theft, or cyber attack.

While a CRM tool by itself won't ensure complete PHI protection, it does improve overall security. Vendors who create CRM systems specifically for the healthcare field understand the compliance issues healthcare facilities face, and they design systems to overcome the problems of unprotected medical records, risky data storage procedures, patient-restricted medical record access, and unclear record-removal processes.

Providers of healthcare CRM systems are required to follow federal and state legislation to avoid financial penalties for unlawful data storage and patient information mishandling. Software that handles PHI needs to account for the Administrative Simplification rules in HIPAA Title II, particularly the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule. Vendors who offer cloud-based solutions also have to account for the physical security of their servers and the administrative policies determining who can access them and when.

Furthermore, there are four general responsibilities outlined by the Security Rule that users of healthcare CRM systems must meet:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all electronic PHI they create, receive, maintain, or transmit
  • Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information
  • Protect against reasonably anticipated impermissible uses or disclosures
  • Ensure compliance by their workforce

Those requirements right away create tighter security for your consumer and patient data. Beyond these mandated safeguards, there are additional security benefits that can be gained by using a CRM system.

Desired Features
With CRM tools, data can be funneled from social media directly into the CRM interface, where team members may have a lot more control over how it's used — which means enhanced privacy to help meet compliance issues.

A healthcare CRM system should digitally store, protect, and remove HIPAA compliant data from your system in a safe, lawful way. It can protect against cyber attacks by encrypting sensitive data and allowing backups to restore it after a malicious attack. Organizations can also introduce access control so that only pre-approved health or marketing specialists can retrieve particular patient information, creating a wall against an unauthorized employee compromising the data.

Furthermore, by creating CRM workflows, you can ensure your staff will follow compliance measures when handling, changing, dispersing, or removing sensitive patient information from your system.

Moving Beyond Compliance Worries
With the compliance and security risks being absorbed by the CRM system, healthcare marketers can focus more on the growth and success of their marketing programs, and clinical teams can focus on using the data for value-based care initiatives.

Want to learn more about healthcare-specific CRM solutions and how to maximize your investment? Download our Definitive Guide to Healthcare CRM.