Posted: August 17, 2017

Health systems have more of a need than ever to effectively attract, retain, and manage consumers. But amid an increasingly complex and dynamic marketplace, this has become harder than ever to do.

Cue the healthcare CRM, an application more and more health systems are using to improve their consumer relations efforts. While many organizations initially adopted CRMs to help improve their print campaigns, this marketing technology can offer much, much more: namely, the ability to accurately identify patients in need of care, add true personalization to marketing efforts, and closely track the performance of multi-channel campaigns. For this reason, Smith & Jones has named the CRM the number one hospital marketing trend of 2017. If you're not getting these benefits from your healthcare CRM, here's how you can improve your efforts.

Consolidate your clinical, financial, and behavioral data
In order to pull rich analytic insights from your healthcare CRM, you must feed it rich data — the better the data, the clearer the picture of your consumer audience and their behavior. In general, this means pairing your existing marketing data with clinical information (patient historic data like past procedures and condition type), consumer financial data, and demographic and socioeconomic data. Combined, this information will help pinpoint the consumer segments that are most likely in need of specific healthcare services. Although combining these data sets can be a technical challenge, the use of standards-based APIs can smooth the transfer of data from numerous systems into a single CRM database, and from there into any number of marketing automation systems.

Create segmented populations based on condition and service line
With this wealth of information at hand, you can begin to carefully construct audience personas by analyzing the features of the patients you currently serve, based on particular service lines and procedures. By teasing out the defining attributes of your current patient populations — their behavior, demographics, location, health literacy, and the like — you can begin to get a much clearer sense of what their corresponding audience populations look and how they behave out in the world.

This allows you to create lists of highly segmented groups of consumers you can craft highly personalized content for. Once you understand the needs and concerns of these groups (similar to your own patients), marketing to them in ways that are likely to generate an emphatic response becomes much simpler. In other words, the power of a CRM is in the ability to take the information you already know about consumers (in the form of data throughout your organization) and leverage it to dramatically increase the accuracy and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Add to this insight the fact that today’s CRMs can help you learn from what’s working by incorporating real-time lead management. You can use tracking to see what works for a particular customer in a particular market and for a particular service line. Old-school CRM formulas or recipes were static, built for one-size-fits-all. Today’s segmenting and identification needs to include this added layer of lead management so you can move forward based on data.

Deploy and continually optimize numerous marketing channels
One of the chief advantages of a CRM is that it enables you to launch and track any number of campaigns, on any number of channels, simultaneously. Beyond traditional print campaigns, health systems are branching out to digital channels like social and search. Digital channels allow you to identify audiences based on their online behaviors and histories, rather than by their physical address alone. Advanced CRMs also enable you to track the ROI of individual marketing channels in real-time, so you can automatically adjust your spend to fit your most successful channels and content strategies.

Ensure HIPAA compliance and PHI security
When dealing with consumer data in this manner, it's important to keep in mind that you have to maintain regulatory compliance and keep patient data safe. For example, you must ensure that protected health information (PHI) can't be viewed by people who are not authorized within the organization, and moreover that it's kept secure from any form of cyber intrusion. Meanwhile, while running marketing campaigns, you must ensure that both content and images used remain HIPAA compliant.

While healthcare organizations have only recently started using CRMs widely, it's clear that many have the opportunity to wield them with significantly more power. By taking the right approach to your data, however, your health system can lead your marketing efforts with grounded analytic insight — ensuring that relevant content always matches the personal needs of consumers, on the right channel, at the right time.

What comes next
The real beauty of today’s data-integration capabilities for CRM is that you can now find use cases for the technology outside of marketing. With the inclusion of clinical data, with PHI protected by user role or need, CRM can be leveraged for customer service improvements, patient engagement campaigns, call center applications, and population health initiatives. Having a flexible integration and transparency in data is key to expanding the role of CRM beyond marketing and into the entire consumer experience.

Want to learn more about maximizing your consumer engagement efforts? Request a free Healthcare Marketing Assessment.