Can CRM help you get healthier?

Tom Boyle, Healthcare Industry Consulting at Informatica - Print  | 

While Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools have their foundation in sales automation, they have advanced well beyond the traditional opportunity management tools that enterprise sales reps used.

Yes, they still have the features needed for a sales rep to keep track of their interactions with a prospect but we now have the view that every customer "touch" needs to be tracked and analyzed and assembled so that the enterprise has a deep view into the prospects behavior. It is only with that deep insight built on that collected data that we think we can truly "engage" the customer.

Why? Because we believe that by tracking every aspect of that prospect we can detect the "tells" that indicate they are considering a purchase, or, alternatively, that the loyalty of an existing customer might be flagging. With analytics we seek to identify when and how to engage to deepen the relationship with that customer. And we want everyone within the enterprise to have visibility so we never miss a chance to capture insight and build a more robust view of the customer.

But to understand its attractiveness it is worth considering just what "engagement" is. In this context engagement is about using collected and inferred data to facilitate a behavior change. In sales and marketing that means finding a way to influence a prospect to become a customer or cause an existing customer to deepen their loyalty to us or our brand at the expense of our competitions' brands. It is worth considering that if the act of purchasing was completely logical there would only be 1 or perhaps 2 companies in every industry. After all, if only logic was applied then only "the best" would ever be purchased. So finding ways to develop a relationship that is based on insight into behavior gets to be critical if we hope to be competitive.

So what does this all have to do with your health? Historically, in the healthcare industry when you heard "engagement" it was with that same sales and marketing context – "How do I enlist more physicians to accept my insurance plans? To practice at my hospital?" or "How do I attract consumers to my hospital? My Practice? As an Insured member of my plan?" But we are starting to hear more about the healthcare system – Payers, Providers, Life Sciences – looking to engage with consumers in new, more meaningful ways. They are looking to "engage", not with the traditional goal of ensuring a revenue stream, but with the goal of "using collected and inferred data to change behavior" and help the member/patient/consumer make changes in order to comply with their therapies or to modify behavior in order to develop a healthier lifestyle.

As the healthcare industry recognizes that patient behavior is a critical lever in managing costs, they are looking for new ways to collect and absorb data to not only identify those trigger events that indicate a negative trend, but also to support the community's shift towards decisions that support a healthy lifestyle. There is general acceptance that the scourge of chronic disease directly correlates to lifestyle choices, that poor disease management exacerbates symptoms, and inadequate therapy compliance post-acute care increases re-admissions. These all come back directly to the need for behavior change!

As we look to develop new, impactful ways of intervention, the industry is looking to innovative devices that can monitor – aka "collect data" – in unobtrusive ways. We are also looking for ways that we can intervene in more subtle ways that are not confrontational. After all, just like none of us like that sales guy who is in your face telling you that you really need to make that purchase right now because the price is only going to go up or supply is limited or we need to keep up with our neighbors, we also tend to just nod our head when our physician tells us we need to lose that 20 pounds or that we need to be sure to take those meds as prescribed. This all comes back to our healthcare enterprise, the complex systems with which we interact, needing to engage with us across the spectrum of our own individual care continuum. To do this requires that the data being used is accurate, interoperable, current and robust.

In the same way that enterprises look to modify the behavior of its customers and prospects and deepen the relationship so that there is continuing and sustainable business by assembling multidimensional data, the healthcare industry seeks to help each of us change our behavior in order to achieve a sustainable lifestyle. A data platform able to ingest new and diverse data sets, whether batch, streaming or event initiated, and able to share that data across a wide variety of existing and new analytical platforms is key to making this a reality. Perhaps we can start to achieve the goal of patient management by rethinking how to apply existing methodologies and technologies?

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