CRM in Healthcare
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Finding a Fit: How the CRM Can Transform Healthcare

The EHR is to Clinical what the CRM is to Consumer.

The CRM can listen to, interact with, and otherwise engage people when they aren’t in your building. Before they become a customer/patient they are a healthcare consumer. Between visits, they generate all sorts of data and have all sorts of questions that may not be clinically relevant at the time, but may become relevant at a later date.

Listening to your consumers will inform your strategy and priorities. The voice of the consumer will hone your investments, hiring, and organizational makeup. A health system without a properly-implemented CRM is essentially deaf to the world around them.

Let’s talk about where the CRM fits into healthcare and explore the possibilities.

The Basics

There are a few simple ways that the CRM can help improve your health system. If you want to listen to your consumers, start at the most basic, foundational level. You’d be surprised by what you learn.

Collect and Share Information at Touch Points

Every healthcare CIO should take a half-day this week and go answer phones at your call center. This could mean scheduling lines, billing inquiries, nurse advice lines, and whatever other phone contact centers you have set up.

If you do, you will probably find that each agent has 6 to 12 applications open. Even still, it’s likely that they are frustrated at being unable to access a complete history of the patient’s interaction with the health system.

Once you are done taking calls on the desk, sit down with the staff. Ask them what the consumers are looking for when they call in. You’ll probably hear that they want to be known, they want empathy, and they want help with their problem. This is a tall order for an agent when the information needed for their interaction is strewn all over the digital landscape.

This is why the CRM should be integrated at each touch point within the system. That way, the scheduling agent and HIM personnel each know that Mrs. Jones has been having trouble getting her billing question answered.

Listen to Your Community at Large

I’ll save you a little time here, if you’re wondering what the most common thing is that’s posted about your health system on social media. Consumers are talking about bad customer service and the hospital food.

Your customer is trying to communicate with you. Are you listening?

It’s hard to develop a relationship when one of the members in the relationship isn’t listening. Luckily, CRM tools have social listening capabilities. This makes it easy to hear what they’re saying, and start an ongoing relationship with your consumers.

Intermediate Applications

Now, let’s dive a bit below the surface.


Every Major League baseball stadium is littered with signs from the local healthcare provider. I’m sure there was a study on the effectiveness of this approach at one point in the 90s. In the digital age, though, this has to be the lowest ROI on the marketing dollar out there (if it’s even being measured at all).

How about marketing your diabetes program to diabetics? Direct your labor and delivery marketing to potential mothers. Oh, and directly showcase benefits for employers to the one actually selecting the healthcare plans for the company.

Brand awareness has its place, sure. But at the end of the day, targeted placements are where you’ll find the ROI. CRM analytics can be used to inform your marketing buy.

Outreach and Non-Patient Touch Points

I would pay a local health system money to track my health stats, provide me feedback on my progress, and answer some questions from time to time. I’m 50 years-old and have a history of heart issues in my family, yet I have more people looking at the stats of the car I drive than are looking at my heart.

I recently visited Human Longevity in San Diego for a complete body scan, genome, and biome mapping. The company’s business model is helping you gather data which can allow you to take a proactive approach to your health.

My point is that there is a market for more than just sick care. Creating a dialog — a two-way communication with your community — will help you identify new service lines. Can I get a bulk of this from FitBit? Sure. But I’d rather get it from Hoag Health System.

Advanced Terrain

Finally, let’s talk about some of the more advanced ways that the CRM can transform your system.

Integrated Mobile Application Experiences

Healthcare is too narrowly focused on the EHR. Rolling out an EHR vendors’ portal has been a dead end for over a decade.

The name is PORTAL!  Yet you can view some of your health record, but not all of your health record. You can share it with some health providers, but not all health providers. You can access some services, but you will have to open a different application to access other services.

If you interact with the health system through the other application, some of that information may make it into the health record. Still, none of the information will make it into a CRM. Your interaction will be hidden from the health system as a whole.

Stop developing or implementing stand-alone applications and portals. This is a touch point and, as we discussed earlier, it is imperative that each touch point that generates information be captured in a way that can be communicated to other touch points within the organization.

Non-integrated technology is the enemy. CRM platforms can have a record of every interaction with your consumers and patients. It is the only place that will have such, in fact, since the EHR doesn’t know a person exists until they become a patient. Ideally, you want to start the relationship well before they become a patient.

Personal Experiences

Imagine you were just referred to the local hospital for a procedure. You get a personalized email that remembers your preferences from the last visit.

Bill, I recall that you liked these meals and didn’t like these. Here are our recommendations. We noticed that you had a concern during your last visit on the noise in the room at night. So, we wanted to make you aware of our change in the equipment that’s utilized in the rooms to reduce the noise level for the comfort of our patients. You rated Judy on the call center high so we assigned her to your upcoming visit. She will be reaching out to you in the next week to discuss your visit to our facility.  If you would like to reach out to her prior to your visit, please call her at this number…

Nothing communicates “You matter to us” more than individualized communication and service. Let your customers know you care by listening, taking notes, and creating experiences that they value. That is where the CRM fits within healthcare.

Hope this helps. Please follow me on Twitter @ThePatientsCIO, connect with me on LinkedIn, or reach out at [email protected] if you wish to discuss further. Thanks for reading.