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Editor's Note: This blog was published prior to the transition to WebMD Ignite.

Frequently asked questions: What is a healthcare CRM?

A healthcare CRM is a customer relationship management system designed specifically for use in the healthcare industry. Healthcare CRMs weave together multiple sources of data (consumer and patient demographics, psychographics, social, behavioral, clinical, financial, website, contact center, provider credentialing, etc.) to provide a comprehensive view into patient habits and activities. The primary goal of a healthcare CRM system is to engage, acquire, and retain patients.

Benefits of a healthcare CRM

  • Get a centralized repository for consumer and patient data that integrates with that is platform agnostic and integrates with many types of healthcare technology, such as contact center software and healthcare websites.
  • Pinpoint top growth opportunities and associated population attributes to accelerate strategies and planning.
  • Measure the success of engagement tactics using configurable reporting, allowing you to focus on the metrics that matter most.
  • Create a 360-degree view of consumers, patients, and households by integrating data from sources like the EMR, contact center, and more.
  • Measure and track indisputable ROI from multi-channel marketing tactics (email, direct mail, SMS, social).
  • Allow departments across your organization to share, view, and contribute to your consumer and patient profiles.
  • Access consumer and patient insights on multiple devices using a cloud-based CRM, making it simple for authorized users in your organization to view insights at any time.
  • Ensure HIPAA compliance by using a solution designed for the healthcare industry.
  • Enable dynamic, highly personalized outreach to target populations across channels through granular insights into patient needs and behavior.
  • Use embedded predictive analytics to hyper-target patients mostly likely to need specific high-value services in the next 12 months.
  • Identify who would be most interested in specific classes and events based on prior engagement and medical history.
  • Identify and close gaps in your engagement strategy, helping you improve patient satisfaction and retention.
  • Automate tedious administrative activities like daily task management, helping you focus on patient engagement.

Common healthcare CRM questions

How can healthcare CRM be used to promote patient engagement?

A healthcare CRM creates a holistic view of each healthcare consumer and patient. With these 360-degree audience profiles, healthcare organizations hyper-personalize outreach and communication by sending a variety of consumer-centric messages based on communication preferences, such as wellness advice, appointment reminders, follow-up notes, and post-discharge communications. To further enrich the insights available for personalizing the patient journey, a healthcare CRM should integrate EHR data.

These types of personalized communications exponentially strengthen relationships and improve patient engagement with their health. When they receive personalized service, patients feel as though they are valued members of healthcare communities, rather than anonymous numbers to large corporations. Patients prefer to interact with organizations that differentiate to their particular needs and will gladly interact with and remain loyal to these types of organizations.

What should I consider before implementing a healthcare CRM?

It’s important to understand your goals before selecting a vendor. What are your main use cases? What specific functionalities are required? What is the driving force behind a healthcare CRM purchase? For example, a solution that supports API integrations with core marketing systems, such as marketing automation and a content management system, are important pieces if your goal is to create truly personalized experiences in a scalable, measurable way.

Another consideration is what your data sources will be. In other words, where will the healthcare CRM be pulling information from? Say you have an EHR system, a contact center, and a credentialing system – your healthcare CRM will be integrating data from those sources, as well as from more indirect sources like website traffic and subscription opt-ins. Identifying your data sources early allows you the opportunity to assign responsibility for exporting data to the CRM, as well as to choose a CRM with the capabilities to integrate with multiple tools and offer the needed data governance process.

How can a healthcare CRM demonstrate marketing ROI?

Because of the complexity of calculating return on investment (ROI), you cannot rely on manual math; you need a healthcare CRM that allows you to plan, implement, and review marketing campaigns. A healthcare CRM tracks marketing progress throughout the campaign lifecycle, giving real-time information on performance. Healthcare CRMs also produce detailed reports, attributing revenue to specific campaigns and tactics. In this way, healthcare marketers see which campaigns (and specific aspects of those campaigns) are not just generating leads, but acquiring patients and generating profitable growth for the health system.

Since a healthcare CRM system can “track” and “tag” each engagement campaign tactic, it can report on response to outreach efforts in detail. Attribution is further linked to clinical conversion and related financial data so that health systems measure the efficacy and ROI of their campaigns.

A CRM also improves a hospital’s bottom line by lowering patient acquisition costs. Since they’re aware of the best people to reach out to, what kind of service or product to reach them with, and the best way in which to reach them, hospitals’ efficiency in outreach is increased overall, and they don’t have to spend money trying to engage others.

For physician alignment: A provider relationship management solution tracks all physician relations and/or physician liaison outreach activities (including recording field responses and setting follow-up actions) and enables detailed claims-based referral tracking. With the power to tie changes in physician loyalty behaviors directly to physician relations/physician liaison actions, hospitals and health systems directly measure the impact of outreach efforts and affirm or course-correct the growth strategies they have put in place.

What should I look for in a healthcare CRM vendor?

There’s a cost to not having the right CRM tool for your use cases. When evaluating partners look at CRM offerings that understand healthcare, as opposed to “generalists”:

  • A database specifically designed for healthcare
  • Built-in segmentation or modeling that can quickly target the right people for specific campaigns (the ideal target is likely to need the service in the next 12 months)
  • Reports that can easily answer questions, from targeting to tracking ROI
  • Contact center functionality to truly provide a unified patient experience
  • Ability to provide robust, accurate, and latent data
  • Product configurability and flexibility, understanding that goals and priorities can shift quickly and/or unexpectedly
  • Staff that are healthcare CRM experts
  • A number of reference-able clients and case studies