Between traditional healthcare challenges and ones the pandemic entailed, the healthcare industry strives to contain operational costs. In the midst of accelerating digitization, patients no longer evaluate providers based on medical outcomes alone, instead seeking a pleasant overall patient experience.
As they become more engaged across channels and more involved in the process, healthcare marketing strives to innovate in return. It is in this context where all the benefits of healthcare CRM can truly shine, as we will devote this article to finding out.
Traditional CRM versus Healthcare CRM
Initially, it is worth distinguishing between regular CRM and healthcare CRM, or HCRM.
Notably, the latter often sees such terminology as Patient Relationship Management (PRM) instead. Some argue the two terms are distinctly different, but the core foundation remains; healthcare CRM applies CRM principles to healthcare.
General CRM typically offers core features such as a customer database, lead management tools, and marketing and sales automation tools. These features, as well as additional ones that vary among solutions, focus on the titular “customer”. To do so more accurately, they divide CRM into 3 main subsets, namely:
These subsets aside, CRM solutions see industry specializations for enhanced effectiveness. Thus, one may find relocation CRM, restaurant CRM, and so forth, with each specialization focusing on an industry’s unique circumstances. It is here where healthcare CRM emerges and why some argue for the PRM label; healthcare CRM addresses the patient. It does so by applying CRM’s principal functions to healthcare, such as by leveraging automation to enhance a patient’s medical interactions. This is where the benefits of healthcare CRM primarily stem from, as we will cover below.
CRM database accuracy and maintenance
That said, general and healthcare CRM share some key best practices. That is because the two differ in application but share fundamental technical and other similarities. For the sake of text economy, let us briefly highlight the most substantive one; database accuracy and maintenance.
Among the most common oversights of all CRM users, regardless of industry, lies data accuracy. Whether it’s one of customers, donors, patients, or any other interaction group, maintaining the database in peak condition is vital toward ensuring efficiency. Practices to assist one in doing so include:
- Clean data input. The two typical oversights here include improper entry formatting and incomplete data. To address them, businesses and organizations should emphasize their importance and regularly monitor their database for such errors.
- Deduplication and cleanup. Should such mistakes still occur, duplicate and redundant entries may find their way into the database. In this case, deduplication is vital, as is the cleanup of inactive entries.
- Contact information validation. Either by mistake or deliberately, contacts may provide inaccurate contact information. Requiring email and/or phone number validation addresses this concern.
Other technologies that aid patient relationships
Finally, to reap the benefits of healthcare CRM, one may consider other technologies that also share the goal of aiding patient relationships. This is a key reason why, regardless of industry or focus, CRM users should prioritize integrations. Some such technologies may offer minimal overlapping, but many will lend themselves to synergistic approaches.
Such technologies include, among others:
- Telehealth. Virtual clinics continue to improve and offer seamless integrations with other digital solutions. Moreover, they offer a practical alternative for locations with challenging patient-to-physician ratios, as FierceHealthcare reports indicate.
- Patient portals. Similarly, patient portals further expand the options for relationship digitization and monitoring. Perhaps most notably, they leverage the increasing adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs), as NCBI finds.
- Wayfinding. Finally, while digitization does reduce the need for them, physical visits remain an integral part of the patient experience and thus patient relationships. Here, such technologies as Purple’s Wayfinding can enhance the patient experience through digital maps and blue-dot navigation, all while collecting location analytics for further operational refinements.
The benefits of Healthcare CRM
With the above context in mind, let us now explore healthcare CRM’s benefits in specific terms. For conciseness and text economy, we will be consolidating them down to 5.
#1 Storing and managing patient information and data
The initial, fundamental benefit of healthcare CRM lies, understandably, in better, safer patient data management. This benefit, stemming from the core CRM database functionality, finds a plethora of uses in healthcare settings, such as:
- Medical records. Fields that traditional CRM may use for lead management may find use as medical records. Consider allergies for a general example, or G6PD enzyme deficiencies for a specific example. Here, swift access to such records may prove invaluable, especially in cases of emergencies.
- Patient records. Medical factors aside, general patient data is valuable as well. Personal contact information, emergency contacts, billing addresses, and other such information can be stored in CRM databases for swift access.
- Data security. Finally, all such data should understandably remain secure at all times. Encryption and storage on cloud servers typically minimize the chance for data losses, leaks, or thefts, in turn helping to foster trust between patients and physicians or healthcare institutions.
#2 Enhancing the patient experience
The second overarching benefit of healthcare CRM lies in enhancing the patient experience. This broader benefit will, of course, span across the entirety of patient interactions and will differ depending on CRM applications. Nonetheless, the primary ways in which it achieves this are the following:
- Personalization. The fundamental CRM perk of interaction personalization finds ample use in healthcare settings. From simply accounting for patients’ special occasions, such as anniversaries and birthdays, to having past interactions inform future ones, swift access to patient data offers to help craft a truly personalized experience.
- Better communication. Similarly, healthcare CRM can leverage such technologies as chatbots and automated appointment reminders for more streamlined communications. In doing so, it can decongest direct communications and expand patient support options to the benefit of both parties.
- Interaction efficiency. Finally, as regards in-person interactions, healthcare CRM offers the aforementioned appointment reminders, wayfinders, and similar options. In leveraging them, it can help reduce waiting times and improve the patients’ experience within a physician’s or institution’s premises.
#3 Integrating with other technologies and assets
Notably, the benefits of healthcare CRM expand to seamless integrations with existing technologies and assets. This extends to solutions across different departments, always maintaining the goal of an enhanced patient experience. The 3 major examples of such integrations are:
- Medical. Healthcare CRM is, fundamentally, a healthcare-focused asset. As such, it typically offers integrations with EMR and other medical-oriented solutions for better patient management efficiency.
- Marketing. In addition, CRM’s core marketing functions also find applications in healthcare contexts. Such wealth of patient data can inform email marketing campaigns and other marketing outreach, augmented by CRMs’ built-in lead management features.
- Analytical. Finally, CRM analytics can highlight patient interests, needs, and likely behaviors such as referrals. As such, they can factor into revenue forecasts, provide insights into operational efficiency and patient satisfaction, and more, allowing for more data-driven decisions.
#4 Streamlining internal processes
Healthcare CRM’s benefits overlap with general CRM ones as regards streamlining internal processes. In doing so, they help guarantee better operational efficiency, which in turn benefits patient interactions throughout their journey. Examples of this substantial benefit include:
- Internal communications. A specialty of Collaborative CRM, healthcare CRM solutions may offer features that benefit internal communications. These may include channel consolidation and management, automated email notifications, and more. Such features reduce the chance of oversights and hasten processes that require multi-person communications, ultimately benefitting their experience.
- Scheduling and task delegation. Similarly, basic appointment tracking aside, healthcare CRM may expand to administrative scheduling and task delegation. Typical examples of scheduling challenges include drug disposal, equipment maintenance, which CRM can allow administrators to monitor more efficiently. In turn, built-in CRM task delegation features ensure all staff remains productive and informed of their duties.
- HR. Finally, the healthcare industry faces arguably notorious HR challenges, such as scheduling vacations and leaves and reacting to schedule changes. In this regard, too, CRM offers definitive help, especially if a given solution focuses on HR concerns. Should it not, and underperform for this specific purpose, it may still offer integrations with dedicated HR solutions.
#5 Monitoring analytics
The final, and perhaps most often noted benefit of healthcare CRM comes in the form of analytics. A specialty of Analytical CRM, analytics in healthcare contexts can span across such areas as:
- Marketing and sales performance. The definitive focus of CRM, most such solutions will offer marketing and sales monitoring tools. While mostly actionable for relevant departments, personalized marketing outreach, and proper lead management, do inform a patient’s overall satisfaction.
- Staff performance. Patients aside, CRM databases will often offer managers a clear overview of individual staff performance. Such insights can help inform such interventions as training and penalties, as well as rewards of appropriate types. Understandably, such operational benefits also directly enhance patient interaction quality.
Patient satisfaction and feedback. Finally, between patient records and lead records, healthcare CRM offers definitive analytics on patient satisfaction. Moreover, it may offer integrations with chatbots and contact forms, allowing for excellent feedback collection for deeper patient insights.
In summary, the benefits of healthcare CRM begin with patient data collection, consolidation, and management. From this fundamental function and affinity for integrations with other technologies, they expand to personalizing the patient experience, enhancing internal and external communications, streamlining internal processes, and more.
Finally, this abundance of data offers actionable analytics, from marketing and sales forecasts to HR, to the ultimate benefit of the patient themselves.