The evolution of the healthcare CRM

Healthcare marketing isn’t what it used to be. Consumers are more informed than ever and expect highly personalized care experiences from their providers. Like all corners of the health system must adapt to meet these changing dynamics, the marketing department must also adjust to better serve their community.

To support this evolution, the right tools and technology need to be implemented. The number one system required: a health analytics and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform.

CRM technology has the ability to reach consumers with relevant information through the communication channels they prefer. In a data-driven industry, a healthcare CRM (HCRM) can parse through the wealth of patient and consumer information to deliver actionable intelligence that helps healthcare marketers deliver personalized experiences while optimizing growth through smarter patient acquisition and retention strategies.

HCRM isn’t new. It’s been around for a decade. Let’s take a look back at the evolution of HCRM technology and vendors.

A History of Understanding HCRMs

Seven years ago, the industry did not understand the term “CRM”. Many used to comment that healthcare has patients, not customers, and believed that CRMs only helped with targeted direct mail outreach. At that time, marketing teams were not staffed to use the technology, and healthcare-specific CRM vendors were maturing in their understanding of key requirements for the healthcare market.

Fast forward, and CRM has evolved to being a well-known term, but the impact of the technology, what they needed to budget to realize the potential ROI, and the team structure and go-to-market strategy needed can sometimes still be a black box. It’s no surprise then that other departments (IT, Service Line Leaders, Administrators) didn’t understand the impact of a CRM and how a digital marketing approach could drive service line volumes and, ultimately, revenue.

Many believe CRM is a contact management system – a database of names. However, HCRM is so much more – it’s both a technology and a strategy. HCRM supports precision marketing by pinpointing the consumers in a market who are likely to need a health system’s services at a procedure level. HCRM can also help with population health as the data on the population and the predictive models on the population’s future health can reside within the HCRM to support robust targeting and segmentation efforts.

Aside from confusion around terminology and technology, leaders set unrealistic expectations for HCRM solutions, wanting an immediately fix for a litany of issues. Transformative new technologies like HCRM require time to fully implement, comprehensibly understand, and evolve. On top of that, adoption requires partnership and collaboration with other departments at the healthcare organization. For example:

• IT plays a critical role in access and integration of data from other systems.
• Collaboration from finance is needed to validate revenue generated and how they calculate return on marketing investment (ROI).
• Service Line Leaders and Operations commit to follow-up and access timelines with their insight into service line capacity.

HCRM helps make sense of all disparate data feeds and translates it into actionable intelligence marketers can use for smarter acquisition, engagement, and retention of consumers and patients. When data is consolidated into the HCRM, a 360-degree profile of each individual can be created. This, in turn, enables marketers to coordinate with operations to improve the entire customer journey, identifying gaps in the process where patients drop out of their care journey, and help keep them engaged and motivated.

The ability to create truly personalized experiences with quantifiable revenue results is available to marketers, but it does require work. Technology alone is not going to solve these challenges.

How HCRM Vendors Have Evolved

Today’s healthcare marketers need more than a stand-alone CRM. The business expectations for chief marketing officers now dictate the need for a robust platform that includes (and integrates) Healthcare CRM (HCRM), Electronic Health Records (EHR), Content Management Systems (CMS), marketing automation platforms (MAP), call centers, and a content rationalization system (CRS). Real-time or near real-time data is a requirement.

The best HCRM platforms create a single, comprehensive view of the consumer that allows marketers find, guide, and keep patients for life though personalized their experience, not just before the first encounter, but throughout the patient lifecycle. These solutions are not just about patient acquisition. Marketing should play a significant role at touch points across the care continuum.

At Evariant, we have responded to these needs by advancing our APIs, overall integration capabilities, product functionality, and by adding services that help support healthcare teams. Having a partner that gives you a “deep bench” as VCU Health’s chief marketing officer has said, is important. There is a lot to know and do and, for most healthcare leaders, implementing, managing and evolving an integrated technology platform is not in their job description.

Final Thoughts

In today’s healthcare market, customers want personalized care experiences. In order to achieve this, health systems must find ways to collect, store, and analyze the vast amounts of data that help marketers personalize each customer interaction. By employing an HCRM – specifically one from a vendor that meets your organization’s needs – health systems can provide patients with experiences that will delight and retain them for years to come.

The next post in this series shares how to implement and upgrade an existing HCRM system to deliver optimal result.

Bio: Gary Druckenmiller, Jr. is Vice President, Customer Success at Evariant. He functions as lead strategist, digital marketing thought leader, and C-level executive sponsor for all Evariant enterprise clients, primarily focused on advising health system leadership of opportunistic methods to improve their digital presence and interactive growth potential.

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