In recent years, healthcare has been paying closer attention to CRM (Customer Relation Management) as a promise to manage, organize, and coordinate care in new and innovative ways. The belief is that CRM systems can increase patient engagement and relationship management for organizations who are expected to increase loyalty, create a more trusted partnership, and increase patient satisfaction. Research continues to support the effects of individual communication, which can lead to improvements in physical, mental, and chronic disease health outcomes. Unfortunately, healthcare has been late to adopt CRM systems and service models, and as a result, patients often feel confused in trying to navigate the complexities of our collective healthcare systems.
Expanding into Healthcare
CRM solutions within healthcare are becoming a key IT component for most population health, value-based care, and ACO strategies. Even though CRM solutions have been around since the early 1990s, healthcare has been very slow to adopt these platforms. Growth in CRM adoption and implementation will include payers, providers, and even life sciences companies.
In the payer space, CRM includes the patient, and for providers it includes hospitals along with ambulatory practices, clinics, and specialized facilities such as hospice care and long term care. In the life sciences realm, pharmaceutical, biotechnological, and even clinical research organizations (CROs) are adopting CRM. One of the key benefits of CRM is the ability to centralize operations, while at the same time, increasing customer loyalty, satisfaction, and overall quality of service.
The Vendor Market
The CRM applications market is expected to reach $25.2 billion by 2020. Although these systems vary in terms of service offerings, typically CRM platforms include applications for sales and outreach automation, marketing and campaign automation, customer service and support management such as email, text messaging or phone outreach automation. Interestingly, Social Media Management, Customer Experience Management, Activity and Participant Management are among some of the newly available CRM applications available via cloud offerings. Many healthcare organizations are thinking about leveraging these advanced CRM feature sets to more proactively engage with the growing digital consumer bases. Currently, several leading vendors dominate the CRM space, including Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, Adobe Systems, Microsoft, Genesys, Verint Systems, and Nice Systems, and several others.
Specific to healthcare CRM solutions, many new entrants are quickly coming to market, and I expect this space to get very crowded over the next 1 to 3 years.
Also of note, Open Source CRM solutions are gaining traction in healthcare, as some organizations are opting to build versus buy. Current leaders in the Open Source CRM solution space include: SuiteCRM, CapsuleCRM, Insightly, Really Simple Systems, FreeCRM, Bitrix24, Raynet, vTiger, ZohoCRM, and Zurmo.
I would also consider checking out SugarCRM and SplendidCRM.
Benefits of CRM in Healthcare
Many healthcare organizations have identified population health as a pivotal strategic priority for years to come, and most are realizing a CRM platform will be a key ingredient in achieving success. CRM system can streamline and standardize clinical and operational workflow designed to proactively identify, connect, engage, and measurably influence patient behaviors, which in turn can benefit the core principles of the Triple Aim (improve patient experience, health outcomes, and cost). I believe this will be a key strategic differentiator for all population management programs and strategies. Below is a list of key benefits of adopting a CRM system:
- Enhanced Patient Experience. CRM systems can help automate initial and follow-up contact workflows, intake, and referral processes, along with speeding up both in person and call wait times. CRM also has the ability to automatically deploy, or prompt, patient experience and satisfaction surveys, which can be utilized to help segment populations and gather insights into how to improve communication and outreach programs. Best of all, these systems can send initial and follow-up appointment reminders with embedded treatment, care plans, medical educational materials, and can even include current or upcoming clinical research trial options.
- Patient Marketing Campaigns. CRM allows for the ability to plan patient marketing campaigns related to healthcare information, forums, or upcoming health screening events. These systems can be utilized for periodic and targeted outreach programs specific to a patient’s condition, chronic disease, or quality measure sets which are required for managing care and improving outcomes.
- Physician Engagement. A physician’s ability to understand their own network and reference all the primary care and specialists within their preferred network can help drive efficiencies and help organizations determine the overall strength of the network itself. The ability to gain deeper insights into referral patterns, in and out of network traffic patterns, referring patterns for physicians who are owed verses non-owned can benefit both the provider and patients.
- Patient Acquisition. The ability to strategically identify, target, and reach out to patients for health plan services allows for advanced data capture tied directly to anticipated acquisition metrics and year-over-year trends. These insights can help determine what types of messages and media get the best reaction and response rates. When customer preferences are known, group or individual outreach programs can be effectively created and automated.
- Patient-Centered Connectedness. CRM provides a much deeper level of insight into various patient demographics and groups. The ability to communicate with a targeted group or type of patient, create clinical care pathways and programs for specific conditions or disease states, enroll patients in virtual care programs like telehealth or telemedicine, and allow for advanced workflows to support the approval process for newly approved medications and procedures will make all patients feel engaged and supported in new and innovative ways.
- Compliance. CRM systems can store, protect, and even remove PHI and HIPAA-compliant data in a safe and consistent manner. Creating repeatable CRM operational and clinical standard workflows ensures all staff will follow all the same sets of repeatable procedures, which can lower an organization’s overall risk profile. As opposed to vast amounts of patient information being stored in separate and disparate systems, having a single enterprise CRM solution can more easily and effectively meet all compliance and regulatory requirements.
Building a CRM Business Case
The methods that have been used by CRM solutions to provide business value in other sectors can be applied within healthcare. Some of the quantifiable business advantages are as follows:
- Increased Operational Margin. CRM systems allow an organization to target efforts on the most profitable and beneficial customers, which in turn can lead to improved engagement and satisfaction levels for patients, providers, and the broader community. Marketing campaigns and outreach programs can more easily scale allowing for more advanced communication channels which can be directly tied to overall customer growth and profit margins.
- ROI. CRM systems allow an organization to track the return on investment of all existing and newly acquired patients and providers, along with any increases in service utilization which were specifically marketed by type or geography. Direct customer acquisition costs related to all engagement efforts, specific marketing campaigns, and administrative or clinical programs can be directly tied to overall process and outcome measures and total organizational revenue and margins.
- Increased Brand Awareness.With CRM, organizations can gain insights into sending the right messages, to the right people, at the right time, thus encouraging patients to better engage in their own health and wellness. Creating brand awareness and loyalty will be critical for success in a highly competitive healthcare consolidated market.
- Propagate Community Health.CRM can also be utilized to send information regarding community programs offering health, lifestyle, or wellness programs.
CRM will become a part of healthcare’s future. By incorporating CRM into your strategic plan, organizations will be able to more effectively engage with the communities we all serve.