For the Chief Marketing Officer: how to implement or upgrade an HCRM

This article is the second in a series that discusses the value of healthcare CRM. In the first article, we looked into how HCRM technology and HCRM vendors have evolved. The second article provides a guideline for chief marketing officers who are looking to implement a new HCRM system or upgrade their current one.

As healthcare consumers’ care needs evolve, so do healthcare marketing tactics. In a highly personal industry such as healthcare, it’s no surprise that consumers want to be treated as an individual who is recognized and valued by the organization. This desire for more personalized, targeted experiences demands the adoption of new enterprise technology, such as healthcare CRM (HCRM) and engagement center solutions.

An HCRM supports healthcare marketing efforts by aggregating many data segments – including demographics, psychographics, social, behavioral, clinical, financial, and more – to create 360-degree customer profiles. These profiles support smarter patient acquisition and retention strategies with targeted and personalized multichannel outreach. Knowing the value HCRM can provide, marketing leaders need to dedicate time and resources to implementing and upgrading this technology.

Let’s first review how executives should think about implementing or upgrading an HCRM:

Advice for How to Think about your HCRM Journey

There’s so much you can do with HCRM and the rest of your marketing tech stack, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

We advise creating a 2-5 year roadmap. Understand where you want to get to, and identify the milestones and step needed to reach maturity. Your thinking may change over time, but this exercise structures your approach in a more digestible way.

As you mature in the journey, the marketing department will evolve from the perception of cost center to a system enabler to a high-yielding growth machine. Marketing should be seen as a strategic asset, because it is. But there’s no jumping from the beginning stages to the end, ideal state overnight. You need to crawl before you can sprint. There are important milestones and learning that must occur along the way. Your marketing team will also have to mature within a new model.

The health systems we work with realize the most value in the shortest time period when they follow a “crawl, walk, run” maturity process. This model creates structure, a roadmap for competencies and investment, and ways to measure success. That being said, it’s important to show the rest of the organization why this “CRM thing” is a strategic asset. For that reason, marketing departments should start running digital campaigns while implementing a HCRM. Be thoughtful about the service lines that will have the most impact, gain internal champions, and show value quickly. Nothing beats having service line leaders championing how their business is up as a result of a new integrated patient acquisition approach.

From there, the incorporation of encounter data from your EHR will help your team and others understand what happens to marketing-generated “leads”. It will also help you and your team understand if where there is a “leaks” might exist in your funnel due to a follow up issue, access issue, or something else entirely. This is a critical step, and these data feeds into the HCRM are a requirement.

Finally, you need to evaluate what the data says is working and what activities have the most impact on organizational growth goals.
• Do we really have an outmigration issue? Across which service lines? To which competitor sites of service?
• We ran these targeted campaigns and achieved a 65 percent commercial payer mix. What did we do to get this mix, which is 40 percent more commercial than our typical payer case mix?
• How do we improve on these results more broadly?

The HCRM implementation journey will reveal eureka moments where new solutions to old problems take shape. For example, many don’t think about IVF as having an 18-24 “buying cycle”. With the “buying cycle” in mind, marketing to these consumers through the use of marketing automation and drip nurturing campaigns is a great idea. The question is now, how do we then apply this technology to searching for patients that came to the ER that don’t have a PCP? This information when captured can trigger a campaign that leads to PCP referral requests.

The other common maturity moment we see is with the need for the call center to evolve into a strategic patient engagement center. Even though marketing is running digital acquisition campaigns, a sizable percentage of those consumers call into the health system rather than submitting an online form. It doesn’t matter that they came to the website from a Google search. Those consumers, sometimes as many as 80% of them, want to talk to someone about their healthcare needs. Introducing an HCRM-enabled call center solution, or Engagement Center solution, into the process allows the marketing call center agents to better guide patients to the care they need through a more personalized experience that converts more consumers into patients.

As the HCRM basics are covered and understanding grows, so too will the results and ideas for how to evolve the marketing strategy and tactics.

Advice for Leaders Evaluating HCRM Solutions

Our first suggestions for implementing a new HCRM are to make sure your organization has a clear understanding of your HCRM needs and strategy, and to find a vendor solution that meets those needs and can help guide you, at the right pace, for your organization.

Think of HCRM technology as an iceberg – Most of what matters is below the waterline. Ask a lot of questions to understand what is under that waterline, such as:

• Can the proposed solution scale as you mature in your use cases?
• Are the vendor’s disparate technologies actually integrated? Can they integrate with your existing enterprise technology stack?
• Ask to see a demo, and ask for references about data integration successes.
• Understand what it means to integrate to systems like EPIC – is the integration an ETL feed that is exchanged monthly or is it an API or streaming near real-time data exchange?
• Does the HCRM vendor really integrate and ingest client data?
• Can the HCRM vendor show real downstream revenue from an initial click to an actual procedure?

Look for a vendor partner whose business model is built around establishing a true partnership. It’s not just about the technology – the people also matter a great deal. You want a vendor partner that will understand your business and provide a deep level of expertise in healthcare marketing.

Lastly, it’s important to look beyond what you are doing now and understand what your ideal future state looks like. If the HCRM doesn’t integrate with other critical systems (EHR, RCM, Marketing Automation, Content Management Systems, Call Center, etc.) your strategy will be obsolete quickly and you’ll be starting the process of finding a solution and going through implementation anew. Ask for a maturity assessment and growth plan in your evaluation process. In fact, a maturity assessment should be something that happens on a regular cadence to track progress towards your stated maturity goals and use cases. We often client success accelerated with this sort of regular check-in approach – quickly becoming a revenue driver for the organization. You need a solution that can adjust to a myriad of future ideas and requirements.

Growth Impact for the Organization and your Career

In a consumer-driven healthcare landscape, technology and its associated data helps identify gaps in the patient experience and keeps consumers and patients actively engaged throughout the entire patient lifecycle. Data analysis and insight available through a healthcare CRM allow marketers to identify qualified prospects, create personalized and informative messaging, and deliver this messaging through multiple online and offline channels.

Ultimately, these personalization and engagement efforts can have a measurable impact on patient satisfaction, health outcomes, your organization’s revenue and your job. After implementing HCRM, one client’s bariatric campaign delivered an 18:1 return on investment (ROI) and exceeded the lead goal by 500 percent.

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