This is the third post in a series of four that discuss why hospitals and health systems must look beyond the Electronic Health Record (EHR) in order to cultivate richer patient engagement and boost patient loyalty, and how a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, when integrated with your EHR system, can help you interact and engage with your patients in more meaningful ways.
Read our first post that defines patient engagement and explains why it’s so important in fostering trust between a patient and his or her healthcare system. Our second post discusses why health systems need more than just an EHR to successfully engage their patients, and the fourth post shares how a CRM, when integrated with your EHR system, can help you interact and engage with your patients in more meaningful ways.
CRM systems have been in use for at least 30 years in other industries. In fact, more than half of users adopted a CRM within their company’s first five years in business, and two-thirds of companies had at least 100 customers when they first purchased a CRM. In 2015, worldwide CRM software totaled $26.3 billion, up 12.3 percent from $23.4 billion in 2014.
Until recently, healthcare organizations have been slow to adopt CRM systems for a variety of reasons, one of which is that they have been focused on and committed to EHR implementations.
A CRM solution is used by hospitals and health systems to create richer engagement and build deeper relationships with current and prospective patients. CRM systems weave together multiple sources of data (including patient demographics, psychographic, social, behavioral, clinical, financial, website, call center, provider credentialing, and other disparate data sources) to provide a comprehensive view into patient and consumer habits and activities. A layer of predictive analytics enables precise segmentation and targeting so that a healthcare organization can interact with patients on a more personalized level throughout the entirety of their healthcare journey — from anticipating patient needs and building awareness, to checking in on and following up with patients during care and after treatment.
CRM systems enable hospitals and health systems to track all patient interactions throughout the healthcare continuum in one place, and communicate with patients according to patient preferences, including channel, personalization, frequency, and relevancy. When the right message is sent through the right communication channels to the right audience, patients are more likely to listen and engage with their healthcare providers.
The number one goal of a CRM system is to engage, acquire, and retain consumers and patients — from first click through discharge and over the course of lifetime care — to enhance patient relationships, improve brand recognition, and grow the bottom line.
The benefits of a CRM system to a healthcare organization are to:
- Create continuous interactions with consumers to generate business
- Analyze and segment consumer and patient populations
- Turn consumers into patients
- Offer patients relevant information and education to improve loyalty and influence how they can proactively manage the state of their health
- Measure the success of engagement tactics
- Improve patient satisfaction
- Introduce a single comprehensive view of a patient
- Increase market share and grow revenue
A CRM system can positively impact your patients by providing them with:
- Continuous education on how to proactively manage their health
- Relevant, targeted information based on geography, age, gender, etc.
- Information about the services your healthcare organization offers
- More satisfying, personalized interactions with their healthcare providers
So, the question now becomes: how does a CRM system interact with patients to continuously engage them?
A CRM System Bridges the Patient Engagement Gap
A CRM system is not a recreation of the EHR. Rather, a CRM system is a centralized hub of consumer-oriented information that includes consumer and patient data — both internally- and externally-sourced — and clinical information that comes from your EHR.
The EHR is an important complement to a CRM solution. CRM systems are not designed as a primary source for clinical information, but can be integrated with your healthcare organization’s EHR system to get this kind of data. The clinical data within the EHR — PHI, medical records, doctor’s notes, prescriptions, appointment scheduling, and so on — can be used to understand why a patient visits, how often they visit, and other related behaviors.
By incorporating EHR data with its own diverse data around consumer and patient demographics and interactions, the CRM system can create a holistic view of each patient. This insight allows healthcare organizations to personalize outreach/communications to each individual, almost guaranteeing higher engagement levels.
When EHR and CRM systems are blended together, the CRM system can pull selected de-identified PHI data out of the EHR to perform trending analysis and create models that help improve messaging and targeting.
For example, let’s assume you want to generate more revenue for your orthopedics service line. Based on an analysis of selected EHR data, you determine that most current orthopedic patients that you treat are men over the age of 65. With this information, your team can then develop an engagement campaign targeting men over 65 years of age with a specific message that resonates with that certain group. Because you are targeting the right segment with the right message, your campaign has a greater chance of success in terms of reaching and connecting with patients. Without this data, you have two choices when running this type of campaign. One, target everyone with an imprecise “spray and pray” message, or blindly guess as to what segment of the population you want to target.
In addition, by building a data integration path between your EHR and CRM systems, you can automate communications to each patient that are triggered by clinical interactions derived from your EHR. Once triggered, your CRM system can generate and send a variety of consumer-friendly, personalized messages, such as appointment reminders, appointment follow-up notes, and post-discharge communications, to your patients, helping foster positive patient relationships.