Another system?  Really?

This is the common reaction I get when broaching the subject of considering a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with my clients. It’s natural given the state of system fatigue within the healthcare arena due to the intense focus on records management in recent years.  

I understand, and have grown to expect this reaction.  Please stick with me. 

Let’s start with a little background on CRM.  Then, I’ll provide three reasons why you should consider a CRM… or at least have the idea on your radar. 

What is a CRM? 

Well-respected technology research and advisory firm, Gartner, provides this formal definition:

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a business strategy that optimizes revenue and profitability while promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty. CRM technologies enable strategy, and identify and manage customer relationships, in person or virtually. CRM software provides functionality to companies in four segments: sales, marketing, customer service and digital commerce. 

To simplify things bit, I view a CRM system as a hub for:

  • Capturing non-medical data about patients
  • Documenting patient interactions
  • Managing outreach, satisfaction, and retention campaigns

Additionally, today’s CRM systems provide capabilities that transcend sales and marketing efforts.  For example, many now include robust workflow automation engines that can be leveraged to better support operational activities. 

With this backdrop, let’s now lightly dive into three reasons to consider one for your healthcare organization.     

Reason #1 – Know more about your patients

Learning as much as possible about your existing patients and their regular habits puts you in the enviable position of being able to attract more of them.  For example, a CRM can help you understand the correlation between items such as likelihood to open an email, appointment cancellation rate, and timeliness of invoice payments.   Such analysis can lead to powerful breakthroughs in understanding the value and behaviors of different patient segments.  

Knowing the look of your most valuable patients allows you to actively go after attracting more of them to your practice in a very targeted fashion.   Not to mention, knowing your existing patients more intimately, helps your team serve them at a higher level.

Reason #2 – Position for the uncertainties of CMS 

The already cloudy future of quality measures from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is bound to only get murkier with a new team in play.  However, through that uncertainty, I believe one thing remains certain – quality measures are here to stay and will be even more of a focus in the years ahead. 

As these measures bridge into greater provider responsibility for population health management, I believe it’s fair to assume that engagement expectations will increase.  By this, I mean the effectiveness and timeliness of getting your patients in the clinic for preventative activities.  To meet quality measures, your organization is likely to be highly engaged in outreach campaigns in the years ahead.

Reason #3 – Your EHR vendor is not the answer

This reason is the most straightforward – your Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is not designed to be a CRM.  Your vendor may claim that with a few small tweaks, you can make it work.  Please proceed with caution.  EHR systems are great at managing health and medical records.  They’re not so great at managing your on-going patient relationships, marketing campaigns, and operational workflows.

In addition, choosing a non-EHR centric marketing and automation tool can be quite the freeing experience.  It frees your organization to look at best of breed options in the CRM space.  Similarly, it grants flexibility in regard to your EHR solution.  If the preverbal eggs aren’t all in the same basket, it’s far easier to move to another EHR vendor in the future, should the need arise.

My professional advice?  Find the right tool for each unique need.  

And yes, that may mean investing in another system with a three-letter acronym.  Really!

Always here to help,