How CRM Technology is Driving Healthcare Transformation

How CRM Technology is Driving Healthcare Transformation

Many people don’t think about CRM technology when they consider healthcare and how to make the system work better. But CRM can and is playing an important role in healthcare transformation.

The United States health care system is complex and, some would argue, broken. Two key factors are its age and size. Medicine in America didn’t start to become organized until the mid-1700s, more than 200 years after Europeans were colonizing the continent. The first American medical degree wasn’t given out until 1770. Nursing wasn’t professionalized until the late 19th century.

To this day, critical patient information can be stuck on old, outdated paper filing systems despite the fact that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 threatened penalties for doctors who didn’t switch over to electronic health records (EHR) by 2015.

EHRs contain patients’ medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results.

However, even with the EHRs, many physicians aren’t completely sold on their usefulness. They require a significant time investment in terms of data entry. Moreover, for doctors, if they’re spending their time looking at a screen, that means they aren’t examining their patients. They can’t do their job.

The core issue comes down to the fact that EHRs are a great improvement in documentation, but that’s really all they are—documentation. They’re an important piece of the puzzle that can become transformational when it works smartly with an intelligent software.

According to a report by Microsoft, when health care companies integrated a CRM with their EHR system, patient satisfaction increased by 18 percent, care team productivity increased by 28 percent and their return on investment was expected to jump by 391 percent over the course of five years.

The report goes on to note that there are three distinct CRM capabilities that can’t be managed by using electronic health records alone—this is a key reason for the use of CRM. These reasons include key insights into patient health, personalized care plans that lead to better actions on the part of the caretakers, and better care team coordination to reduce errors.

CRM Technology Grants Better Patient Insight

As noted, EHRs are excellent documents. But EHRs are static tools, and doctors aren’t very fond of them, according to a Becker’s Health Review report. A significant amount of time is required to keep them up to date and accurate. One physician stated that they can cause a 30 percent drop in productivity, if not more. Another issue is that EHRs are not a great representation of the people who need care.

When a doctor looks at a patient’s EHR, they get a list of symptoms, ailments, and treatments. They aren’t fully engaged with that person. EHRs are distinctly impersonal, and they are also limited in terms of what data is contained.

The best doctors understand what constitutes proper care, meaning they interact with patients to get a sense of what’s wrong beyond only the clinical information. Studies have shown that clinical care makes up just 20 percent of overall health. There is far more to treating patients than raw data.

As such, while electronic health records are excellent at documenting symptoms, the role of the CRM is to understand people. Combining the power of both—and understanding their roles—greatly increases a medical staff’s ability to treat the people in their care. All-in-one CRMs like Agile CRM can give health professionals a true 360-degree view of their patients while incorporating raw data.

All Patient Information in One Place

The other benefit of using CRM technology in the healthcare setting stems from being able to use a single platform to house and access all available patient information. Customer resource management software by its nature functions with a centralized database.

The point of a CRM is so that every department—marketing, sales, operations, medical staff, etc—has access to the same information and records in real time—those not restricted due to regulation. It’s one of the key reasons that CRM software stands to benefit and help revolutionize the health care industry.

Using a CRM greatly decreases the chances of a patient’s information being misplaced or lost. A patient’s file will never be destroyed by fire or flood. A doctor, nurse or another medical professional will never be able to wander away with a patient’s file and leave it somewhere by accident.

Team coordination gets a boost with CRM implementation as well. Doctors, nurses and other medical staff can see who is caring for which patient within the software platform itself. Notes and memos added to contacts keep the entire team up to date about what has happened and what needs to happen.
CRM technology also offers better privacy and security. A good system will allow you to limit access and enforce clearance levels. You may want members of your sales team to be able to access patient contact information, but not allow them to edit personal details or symptoms. A CRM helps with that—and it does that without neutering your sales team’s ability to work because the team can still if so desired by you, add notes to patient files inside the CRM.

Personalized Patient Messaging

Everyone has gotten letters or emails from a care provider–be it a dentist or a general practitioner–which feel exactly that way: general, with no sense of personality. CRM technology changes that.

It is true that CRMs need to be comprehensive to be effective tools, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor your patients’ experience with a more personal touch. A CRM allows you to manage relationships with complete datasets and multi-channel communications.

Marketing automation is an important component of that. Comprehensive CRMs like Agile CRM give you the ability to develop broad campaigns to identify and target patients and still manage more vulnerable populations in need of greater caretaking. With marketing automation, customers and patients don’t receive generic form messages from your company. They get customized messages suited to them.

Live chat should also be considered a part of your CRM strategy. Few things reassure patients and customers more than knowing they can reach out to your team any time they need to, and your team can respond immediately through the CRM.

Social marketing is another way you can reach out to patients and customers in new ways. You can engage with them on your social pages directly from the CRM. It’s an excellent form of customer outreach and one that highlights your willingness to interact with those who need your health services.

The American health care system remains complex and difficult to manage. It is a many-armed industry that is only recently beginning to adopt digital changes to increase the quality of the care patients receive and the comprehensive information doctors, nurses and other medical staff need to do their jobs. It faces many challenges, both internally and from policies being crafted by Congress.

While EHRs are a step in the right direction, they are not a cure-all for the issues faced by both those in need and the health care industry. For the health care industry to be both revitalized and revolutionized, it needs to embrace CRM technology.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

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