Healthcare CRM: what it’s made of and how it benefits providers

16.01.2020
10 min.

Healthcare organizations are focused on improving patients’ health and optimizing their internal processes. At the same time, they still rely on legacy systems, which hinders innovation. This approach proves inefficient as today’s patients are looking for an easy access to healthcare and personalized treatment. A comprehensive CRM system tailored to these needs can solve this problem by offering exactly what both patients and hospitals are looking for.

Many healthcare organizations started to recognize the value of CRM and adopt this software. The global healthcare CRM market was valued at $8.8 billion in 2018 and is forecasted to reach $17.4 billion by 2023, according to MarketsAndMarkets.

A look inside a CRM healthcare solution

Healthcare CRM is a customer relationship management system specifically designed for healthcare organizations. Its main goal is to help retain existing patients as well as attract new ones. It aggregates different data such as patients’ demographics, interactions with the organization’s website and call centers, financial and other relevant details to create a comprehensive profile.

For example, a CRM in healthcare can help identify new care opportunities. Enriched with data analytics, it can point to the patients who could benefit from particular healthcare services. It can also spot “forgotten” patients—the ones who need regular follow-ups and tests but have been skipping their appointments.

The benefits are not limited to patient-facing practices. CRM can also contribute to improving internal processes of healthcare organizations. One example of such an improvement is automating the billing process and resource management.

What to expect from a healthcare-oriented CRM

Every version of healthcare CRM software on the market has its own unique set of features, some as many as a hundred. Those features range from regular automated data backups to offering a customized view of the follow-up list.

These features can be grouped into the essential components for a CRM tool to cover today’s healthcare needs:

  • Comprehensive patient management: CRM software can do more than just store patients’ contact details. Using CRM, medical staff can manage appointments, prescriptions, notes, and other patient-related data. Additionally, there should be an option to create and maintain a comprehensive and detailed patient profile that can be used for follow-ups and direct mailing.
  • Dashboards and reporting: CRM software should be able to analyze data and create customized reports that tap into the organization’s business intelligence. There are different types of reports that can benefit a healthcare organization. A simple example is an open issues report, which organizes all the external issues (such as patients’ complaints) and internal issues (such as equipment malfunctioning).
  • Interoperability with existing caregiving tools: it is essential to integrate the CRM system with your existing care-delivery tools, such as the appointment calendar, radiology information system, and HR management tools. This helps avoid the need to enter the same information twice.
  • Ability to run on multiple devices and platforms: using a CRM system cannot be limited to the office desktop computer only. When doctors are doing rounds and checking on patients, they should be able to access patients’ records and enter information using their smartphones or tablets without running back to the office. Taking paper-based notes and typing them later into the office computer is never a desirable option.
  • Possibility of direct communication with existing patients and prospects: a CRM tool needs to be able to support mailing campaigns. For example, automatically sending an introductory “welcome to our clinic” email to people who have visited your website. Another example is reminding parents about the necessity of a pre-school vaccination for their children, and how they can get one at your facility.

Salesforce Health Cloud

Health Cloud is a comprehensive CRM solution offered by Salesforce, targeting healthcare organizations that want to differentiate themselves by offering a superior patient experience. This CRM tool helps healthcare clinics establish one-to-one relationships with their existing patients and attract new ones.

Health Cloud allows creating extensive patient profiles and gaining an in-depth picture of a patient’s condition using Einstein-based analytics. For example, it is possible to view real-time data streams from a glucose monitoring device from the patient’s profile page.

The tool also facilitates segmenting patients into groups based on their health conditions. Additionally, Health Cloud offers a secure platform for storing patients’ electronic health records and making them accessible to all authorized parties.

In order to customize the system to their needs better, some providers choose to turn to Salesforce consulting.

Intuitive Surgical increases sales with Salesforce CRM

Intuitive Surgical is an innovative healthcare organization that introduced the da Vinci Surgical System in 1999. As the company was growing rapidly, their existing customer management system based on spreadsheets was not viable anymore. Intuitive Surgical started looking for more efficient alternatives to manage their sales and plan for a better future. This is when they turned to Salesforce.

For the organization, Salesforce CRM became a robust system for storing and analyzing different types of patient-related data and delivering valuable insights in real time. Furthermore, Intuitive Surgical gladly adopted the Chatter option that allowed secure and fast communication between its sales people.

[With Salesforce CRM] we’ve been able to raise our productivity up to about 350 procedures per clinical sales rep per quarter, almost a 50% increase.

Christopher Hoster

High-level overview of Health Cloud modules

The Health Cloud functionality can be divided broadly into the following four modules.

Task management module

The task management part of the CRM allows the clinical staff to add and delegate tasks, assign priorities, etc.

Below is the screenshot of a task manager’s view of Health Cloud. (1) shows the number of patients a particular doctor oversees, including new ones. (2) displays a progress bar on daily tasks. (3) presents all the tasks which are overdue and due today. (4) is a daily feed that updates every staff member on what the colleagues are up to. This feed supports a chatting functionality, and offers a secure and centralized place for conversations with colleagues, other providers, and patients.

Salesforce Health Cloud Modules

Communication module

The CRM tool aims to offer a secure environment for communication inside the healthcare organization and with patients. This includes scheduling appointments, tracking formal interactions by phone and email, and simply chatting with colleagues about useful books and seminars.

Salesforce Health Cloud Chatter

Reporting module

This module is responsible for generating custom reports, such as a patient’s adherence to the treatment plan, campaign ROI, and referral patients’ dashboard.

Salesforce Health Cloud analytics

Patient profile management module

This module allows healthcare staff to create patient profiles and update existing ones. The patient profile contains contact information, demographics, description of medical conditions, past and scheduled appointments, etc. Below you can see different views on a patient’s profile available in Salesforce Health Cloud.

A patient’s general information
A patient’s network
Data from the patient’s glucose level monitoring device

CRM software creates new opportunities

Healthcare organizations are cautious about publicizing their use of CRM, since it is a well-known sales tool and healthcare organizations avoid to be perceived as salespeople. However, CRM can bring many benefits, helping healthcare facilities to organize their internal processes, improve their relationships with patients, and attract new patients.

Benefits for patient-facing practices

Nowadays, customers are expecting to receive a personalized service every time they are dealing with providers, and those in healthcare are no exception.

Enhancing patient experience

Personalization: According to the studies by Intrado, 57% of patients expect doctors to send them reminders about medication intake and appointment scheduling. CRM allows you to store and retrieve valuable patient information such as birthdate, gender, profession, etc. This facilitates sending patients happy birthday wishes, discounts on relevant medical treatments, reminders about medication intakes, and newsletters including health tips designed for particular patient groups. CRM also automates appointment reminders and allows immediate rescheduling if the patient cannot make it on time.

Providing support 24/7: Medical care staff is not always available to answer phone calls and emails, even though patients might have such expectations. CRM can be augmented with an intelligent chatbot that will be there 24/7 responding to patients’ concerns and reassuring them.

Automating post-discharge support: It is tempting to end the communication with the patient after discharge if the treatment was successful and the patient did not request a follow-up appointment. However, CRM offers several opportunities to stay in touch with the patient and improve their engagement in their own health management. A CRM system automates medication intake reminders and follow-up emails with health tips and healthcare services relevant to the patient’s condition.

Attracting new patients

Resuming care for referral patients: When a general practitioner redirects a patient to a specialist, there is no guarantee that the patient will actually get there. If the patient decides to skip the consultation for some reason, this might result in health complications for the patient and financial loss for the clinic.

CRM tools facilitate tracking and management of referral patients. If a CRM detects that there is no input from the specialist (meaning the patient hasn’t arranged for an appointment), the tool will notify the healthcare facility to reach out to the patient and resume the interrupted care.

Attracting new patients: Clinics can use CRMs to attract new patients by means of targeted campaigns. A CRM tool can be configured to send useful content to targeted groups of prospective patients. One example is segmenting a group of soon-to-be mothers and sending them breastfeeding tips, or offering discounts on prenatal yoga sessions.

Facilitating feedback collection

Healthcare CRM can automatically send post-appointment feedback surveys to patients and analyze the gathered data. This will help you evaluate the quality of your services and win dissatisfied patients back by taking an appropriate and timely action.

Additionally, examining patients’ feedback closely and implementing relevant changes will allow your organization to become truly patient-centered and thus gain a competitive advantage.

Benefits of CRM for internal processes

Ensuring security and compliance

Security is a major concern in the healthcare industry and the one that leaves room for improvement. Until this day, some individual practitioners and even healthcare facilities keep transferring patient data in ways which are not HIPPA-compliant.

Healthcare CRM software can solve this problem as it allows incorporating different security mechanisms to protect patients’ health information. A well-customized CRM includes data encryption, multi-level authentication, digital signature, HIPPA-compliant data storage, and more.

Facilitating internal and outbound communication

Poor communication is a problem in healthcare. There is poor communication between doctors and patients, where patients need to refill their medical history several times at different providers and redo the same tests. And there is poor communication among healthcare staff where doctors and nurses need to wait for a long time to receive a response.

In some situations, medical staff is using their private mobile phones for work-related communication, while those devices are not secure and easy to hack. Messengers such as Skype and WhatsApp are not HIPPA-compliant and cannot be used to transfer medical data.

A CRM in place can remedy these inefficient and non-secure communication workflows. This tool serves as a well-protected centralized hub for transparent record-keeping that is synchronized across touchpoints.

Improving the billing workflows

Healthcare CRM can collect and update a patient’s payment details and generate bills. Furthermore, it includes analytical tools offering real-time tracking of the payment and allows the healthcare facility to schedule automatic reminders if the payment is not through on time.

Automating resource management

Schedule management: a custom-implemented CRM can take care of doctors’ schedules, for example by finding the most suitable appointment slot considering the location and the nature of the appointment. This functionality expands to rescheduling appointments and sending notifications.

Automating HRM functions: CRM can be complemented with an HRM module managing employees’ vacations and sick days as well as the payroll. This is a big relief for large healthcare organizations.

It’s time to invest in a CRM

If approached correctly, a CRM can be very beneficial for your healthcare organization. It can help you better understand and serve your patients, reconnect with existing patients, and attract new ones. Additionally, it can automate some of your internal processes and provide an easy and secure communication and data exchange environment for your staff.

There are several reliable CRM vendors, Salesforce being one of them. Before contacting them, there are a few things to consider, though. First, you need to establish your business case and set out particular goals that you want to achieve using the CRM tool. Otherwise you might end up wasting your budget on features that do not add value to your practice. Second, you need to make sure the new CRM tool can replace or be integrated with your existing caregiving applications, in a way that does not result in duplicated data and efforts.

Finally, be aware of the necessity to train your staff on using the new system. Healthcare professionals are busy fulfilling their job duties and might not be excited to learn about the new technology on board. Make sure the learning process is easy and convenient for them.

CRM is a complex system requiring time and budget to be implemented and extra time on organizing seminars and training sessions for users. However, given the benefits mentioned in this article, it is worth the investment. Just make sure you approach this investment with a good understanding of your organization’s needs.

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