The term CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. As the name indicates, the term is associated with the way companies approach building a relationship with their customers. Although software for managing customer relationships is a newer concept, the idea of developing bonds with customers isn’t new.
Industries like aviation and hospitality have long since invested significant resources into showing how much they value frequent customers. Airlines have been doing it in frequent flier miles, which offer generous perks to returning customers; hotels have been offering various benefits to repeat guests. There are numerous examples of industries innovating newer ways to retain the preference and loyalty of customers.
A software platform for CRM provides a powerful tool for companies from many industries to develop strategies for building lasting relationships with customers. CRM software helps organizations collect data on their customers and assess previous interactions. Such platforms help to take a scientific, informed approach to develop campaigns for retaining customers.
Without a coherent strategy, it becomes extremely difficult for large companies with thousands of customers to develop customer loyalty. That’s a major reason corporations and medium-sized businesses from every industry have been investing diligently into CRM applications, and Healthcare is no different.
Healthcare as an industry sees millions of customers every year. From large hospitals to smaller ambulatory care centres and pharmaceutical companies, the healthcare industry has no shortage of customers. So, it makes sense to have a dedicated CRM platform solely for the healthcare industry.
2. What Is Healthcare CRM Software?
The benefits of a CRM platform have been well established in other industries. It’s about time the medical sector woke up to its benefits. In this section, we try to understand a healthcare CRM platform better and discuss how it would help providers and patients.
As the name indicates, healthcare CRM software is a digital platform to help manage customer relationships for the healthcare industry. Such a solution assesses multiple data sources about a customer, such as demographical information, health history, insurance payers, social and behavioural data, and so forth. Analysing this data provides useful insights into patient habits and patterns. These insights, in turn, will help healthcare organizations to know their patients well so that they can create unique strategies to engage with each patient. Such a scientific way of interacting with people helps organizations cement lasting relations with people since they feel that the interaction is happening on their terms.
It does not take much to realize that the best way to develop loyal friendships is to understand people. When you get to know someone well enough, you can interact with them accordingly, eventually developing fruitful bonds. A healthcare CRM software empowers medical organizations to know their patients better personally.
Knowledge about each individual helps to formulate unique ways of interacting with them. Such a personalized approach to interacting with each person helps build bonds with them. That’s the power that CRM software can give to companies.
3. What are Common Types of Healthcare CRM Software?
Healthcare CRM is a general term that describes a type of software. The types of CRM for the medical sector really depends upon where it’ll be used and the organization’s outreach goals. This section elaborates the types of CRM platforms.
Although the goal of customer relationship management software has been established, this type of software platform is a collective one. These solutions can undertake various roles like business data analytics, operational support, data aggregation, and so on.
It would be more accurate to say that healthcare CRMs are mainly of three types – Analytical, Collaborative, and Operational. Each of these types has its functionalities for an organization’s operational requirements. Let’s look at each one of them closely –
This type of healthcare CRM software mainly collects data about the customers and stores it for future analysis. Such assessment yields vital clues about many different aspects of each customer. Based on their demographic information, history of medication, allergies, substance abuse, family history of the disease, etc. This helps the organization take a highly focused approach to interact with customers. Customers are more likely to respond positively if they know that they receive specialized treatment from their healthcare provider. This goes a long way in fostering a lasting relationship between healthcare organizations and customers.
As the name indicates, collaborative CRM software for healthcare fosters lasting collaborations. It is especially helpful for large corporations that have multiple divisions managing various operations. A collaborative healthcare CRM software helps every division handle multiple communication channel with the entire base of customers.
Establishing lasting communications with customers is done through phone calls, messaging, emails, festive greetings, information about new developments, newsletters, and so forth. Subsequently, the data collected from these multichannel communications are analysed by the collaborative CRM software to understand the nature of the customers. This information is vital since it helps companies craft personalized communication strategies to suit the preferences of every customer. Such an approach goes a long way in retaining customers.
Operational CRM software helps bolster an organization’s operations. Activities like marketing, lead generation, conversion, pre-sales, etc., involve their workflows and tasks. An operational healthcare CRM helps streamline and automate many of these activities to empower teams to achieve more with existing resources. It saves enormous time and effort as employees won’t have to do laborious, repetitive tasks and focus their energy on the core competency.
By helping to boost mission-critical tasks that attract and retain customers, this type of CRM solution for healthcare helps organizations maximize their productivity while consolidating workflows and reducing overhead.
4. What Can a Healthcare CRM Software Do?
A platform for customer relationship management in the medical industry delivers many benefits. If you’re a healthcare professional unable to decide whether or not you need a CRM, this section outlines everything that such a solution can do for you.
A healthcare CRM can help a medical practice management and a larger hospital in many ways. Repeated studies and research have shown that patient engagement is instrumental in improving the overall patient experience and clinical outcomes. Engaging with patients in a meaningful way is what a healthcare CRM platform can do best.
A. Prevent Missed Appointments
In the United States, nearly 20% of physician appointments are missed by people due to various reasons, and research shows that it costs the industry nearly $150 billion. In addition to that, patients who suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure often experience worsening of their conditions due to a lack of regular consultations. A timely scan or an important blood test delayed by a few months could have severe consequences on the health of patients at higher risk.
A healthcare CRM empowers hospitals to set up automatic reminders of the immediate next appointment and all future appointments. The reminders are in the form of emails, phone calls, and also text messages. The best part – everything is automated, and the hospital staff only needs to enter relevant patient details once in advance, and the software platform takes care of the rest.
B. Patient Feedback
The internet has made it easy for everyone to voice their opinions on just about every matter. A CRM platform helps healthcare providers garner valuable feedback from patients and know how the patients feel. This helps doctors and hospital administrators alike improve any number of services and boost patient experience in the future. A healthcare CRM automates sending out feedback forms and collecting them.
C. Patient Patterns
Perhaps the biggest advantage of a CRM platform is its ability to help organizations understand customers better. A healthcare CRM can help clinicians identify and highlight every patient’s behaviour and know how they might reach out better.
A healthcare CRM software identifies patterns such as the sincerest patients, most regular or irregular patients, rate of no-shows, how patients find a physician, which outreach channel is most effective, etc. All of this information tells doctors how they might interact with each patient better to deliver better care.
5. What Are The Advantages of Using a Healthcare CRM?
Healthcare administrators who are unwilling or unable to decide if they want to implement a CRM solution in their organization risk missing out on several benefits. This section elaborates all the advantages that a CRM offers.
Just as industries like fast food, hospitality, and tourism have benefitted significantly from understanding their customers better, healthcare too can derive many advantages from knowing their patients better. Let’s look at some of how it can help clinicians –
I. Superior Patient Records
Patient records management are extremely important when it comes to treatments. Whenever a person goes in for a consultation, their health history reveals a great deal about their physical condition and helps doctors make informed decisions regarding treatments and medication. However, surveys had revealed that close to half of the patients found out that their medical histories were incomplete or even missing when they went in for a consultation.
Important aspects like prevailing health conditions, past surgeries, and treatments, allergies, insurance information, demographic information were either absent or not updated. But a healthcare CRM offers a centralized repository for healthcare providers to store vital patient information and then retrieve it with a few clicks. Such a platform streamlines the process of data entry, ensuring that all the information about the patients is up-to-date.
II. Personalized Patient Interaction
A patient’s needs depend upon their medical history. This would include allergies, previous treatments, medication, a genetic predisposition for diseases, history of substance abuse, trauma, depression, etc.
Doctors cannot hope to build lasting patient relationships by interacting with everyone. If interactions with patients are tailored to suit their needs, they are far more likely to feel comfortable coming back to the same doctor. This is what a healthcare CRM can achieve.
By accepting individual patient data and assessing the same, a CRM platform can help doctors customize their approach to engaging with every patient. This would reflect in the emails sent, newsletters recommended, and educational material sent to make patients better aware of their condition to manage their health appropriately.
III. Reporting the Success of Patient Interaction Strategies
Not every interaction with patients is going to be a success. A healthcare CRM tool would help clinicians track the progress of all outreach campaigns and gain important clues about them. This highlights which yields greater leads and loyal customers and which ones don’t.
The importance of reporting in healthcare CRM is that it tells medical administrators and doctors where they need to improve. This function also shows where they’ve been successful so that they might learn valuable lessons and apply them elsewhere. Such valuable insight helps marketing and outreach plans to evolve according to patient preferences and have a greater impact in the long run.
IV. Lower Administrative Overhead
Reliable estimates show that close to 40% of the healthcare costs are sucked up by administrative overhead. A healthcare CRM platform enables the non-clinical staff at medical organizations to automate many mundane, repetitive tasks. This minimizes the chances of making mistakes and boosts the team’s productivity.
The best part? Automating quantitative work frees up time and energy for the staff to focus on other critical activities. Moreover, healthcare automation also reduces staffing requirements. In other words, a healthcare CRM enables higher productivity, fewer mistakes, reduce staffing needs, and lets teams achieve more with fewer resources. All of this translates into lower overhead for the company and higher revenues.
A medical CRM also aggregates all of the patient data into one place. Such a platform can organize a team’s activities by helping with assignments and monitoring each member’s progress. A team may also prioritize certain tasks over others when the need arises, leading to better collaboration and highly optimal use of company resources.
V. Better Patient Relations
Previously, doctors would speak to patients during visits, prescribe medication, outline some general guidelines on healthy living, and that would be it. It was up to the patients to follow these instructions. However, not all patients share the same level of awareness regarding self-care and wellness, where effective patient engagement comes into play.
A healthcare CRM lets doctors engage with patients meaningfully long after the consultation. Doctors can use the CRM platform to help people manage their health better by making them more aware of their conditions and advising them about improving their lifestyles.
Since a healthcare CRM contains all the health information on a patient, medical staff can program automated messages to each patient to remind them about tests, follow-up consultations, diet, habits, and lifestyle. This goes a long way in empowering patients to manage their health better and builds a rapport between them and doctors. Such a bond encourages more people to reach out to physicians who clarify doubts and lead healthier lives.
VI. Effective Marketing
CRM stands for customer relationship management. As the name indicates, software for CRM helps optimize marketing efforts to derive better results. For healthcare, such a platform would help clinicians target every patient individually with customized messages, emails, and newsletters about the latest research, treatments, insurance plans, and so forth.
When a patient feels that they have been specifically targeted for their condition, they are more likely to respond positively. A healthcare CRM empowers medical staff to do this for hundreds of patients, and each patient would feel like there’s something special in it for them. Such an individualized approach to every patient establishes a good rapport and generates more leads than a generalized approach for all people.
6. Important Features of a Healthcare CRM Software
There are numerous companies that have established a reputation for some of the leading CRM solutions. This section outlines the most important features would help organizations up their game when it comes to customer acquisition.
If you’re a healthcare professional looking for CRM software, it might get overwhelming to see numerous options available from multiple companies. While each one would have its own merits and drawbacks, it depends on your organization’s requirements. But there are a few important features that you need to watch out for in any healthcare CRM software –
a. Healthcare Automation
Healthcare CRM software simplifies administrative operations management and improves workforce efficiency via healthcare automation of the entire system. Medical CRM solution companies can help your clinical practice be more productive and handle more patients. Patient engagement systems can also fasten medical billing and payment processing, reducing the lag period for receiving healthcare payment reimbursements.
b. Third-party Integration
CRM systems in healthcare offer third-party software integrations that can save money and time. This can help make virtual care services, including telehealth, more efficient. CRM systems for healthcare make it easier to use different applications without switching between them. CRM software solutions automatically sync data and accounting software, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Healthcare CRM solutions also back up and sync data with cloud-based systems.
c. Data Analytics
CRM vendors provide healthcare data analytics which gives detailed insights into patient data. CRM in the medical sector enables doctors to visualize patient data to understand the potential health risks. It can help physicians make informed decisions and diagnose cases early on. Medical CRM software provides reporting and dashboard tools to view patient statistics and health status. Additionally, healthcare CRM software enables viewing profit and loss data to estimate the ROI returns.
d. Patient Data Management
Healthcare CRM software enables to manage the large volumes of patient engagement data automatically. Healthcare CRM solutions can help physicians to obtain real-time data from various sources. A healthcare CRM solution allows the analysis of cases and provides patient knowledge through efficient data management. Physicians can use this data to visualize cases and prepare customized reports with healthcare CRM software.
Physicians utilize healthcare CRM software to monitor patients, manage medical billing and healthcare payments, streamline workflows, report cases, and increase patient engagement. Patients may not be willing to share their medical records and make them widely available. Moreover, patients have a legal right to their health data security and privacy. Since CRM in healthcare deals with storing sensitive patient data, they must comply with HIPAA regulations. While selecting HIPAA-compliant CRM systems, make sure it offers data access safeguards, scalability, and automated data backup.
f. Healthcare CRM platform- A case study
A healthcare clinic in the US was struggling to increase its ROI, and its goal was to generate more profits through its core services. The clinic decided to implement healthcare CRM software and launch campaigns to increase patient outcomes. With CRM technology, launching and managing campaigns became convenient, and they generated more than $15M in net profit in a short period. This highlights that CRM solutions in healthcare can drastically improve patient reach and revenue generation.
g. Patient Categorization
The underlying benefit of every CRM software is its ability to understand customers better. In other words, organizations can leverage a CRM platform to assess information about their customer base to know which customer prefers what, and accordingly, devise personalized marketing strategies to grab their attention and hold it. This benefit is of enormous value to professionals in the healthcare industry since it helps them know their patients and categorize them.
Every patient has different needs. People with diabetes would need a different kind of treatment compared to those who have cancer, fractures, infections, etc. By classifying patients according to their age, disease, severity, or even history of substance abuse, marketing efforts can better suit medical needs. It is possible because a healthcare CRM also acts as a repository of patient data, allowing clinicians to know each patient well.
In-depth knowledge of every patient allows them to be categorized into appropriate divisions so that each division with relevant marketing content. Things like breakthroughs in medical tech, newer drug research, novel diets, exercise regimes can be marketed to the relevant people as per their medical conditions. This is one of the biggest benefits of being able to classify patients.
h. Platform Agnostic
Healthcare CRM software needs to be compatible with PCs, Android smartphones, and iOS-based devices. Different stakeholders in healthcare would use the CRM platform differently. Sales teams would rely on smartphones as much as laptops, and marketing content creators would have to rely on PCs and laptops.
Applications to track the progress of campaigns, obtain patient assessments, read reports, etc., would all be included as features of the healthcare CRM. When medical professionals use these features, it would be vastly better if the software is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and computers running on Windows, iOS, and Android operating systems.
i. Task Tracking
The bigger an organization gets, the greater its promotional activities would grow. The key to successful marketing and promotions is a rapport established with customers. Building this rapport takes elaborate advertising and outreach strategies implemented over some time. Each member of the advertising department would need to carry out certain tasks as part of the larger campaign.
The best part of a CRM would be to track every task and report on its progress across a time frame. This allows for superior management and modification of marketing strategies since their progress and results can be tracked.
j. Patient Portal
This is one feature of a healthcare CRM that is almost entirely patient-focused. Since a CRM platform is meant to develop better relationships with patients, it is good if such a solution features a patient portal. People can log in to the patient portal from any location and look at their health information. The medical CRM would enable physicians to enter the latest patient information from consultations, test results, and scans.
The latest information about their health makes people better aware of their condition and participate more in treatments. Moreover, it is bound to improve the collaboration between patients and their doctors, which is the whole point of a CRM.
7. Common Myths about Healthcare CRM
There are a lot of unanswered questions and half-baked stories about customer relationship platforms in healthcare. This section dispels some of the most widespread myths surrounding healthcare CRM solutions.
Although CRMs in healthcare have penetrated the industry significantly, some common myths are prevalent about such platforms. Healthcare administrators looking for a customer relationship management solution must not let these factors affect their decision in choosing a solution.
1. CRMs Are Only for the Sales Department
Healthcare CRM software solution does more than automate the daily operations of your clinic. Online CRM system improves the overall performance of your health centre and enhances practice management. Hospital managers can understand ways to interact with and stimulate better communication between patients and providers than the sales team. Healthcare staff is well-equipped with the measures to increase patient satisfaction using CRM information systems. CRM IT system is not just a responsibility of the sales department. Cloud-based CRM for healthcare involves the entire medical team, including the staff.
2. CRM Easily Fits into an Existing Infrastructure
This is a common myth about healthcare CRM software among practices that are newly adopting CRM. In reality, integrating CRM software solutions into an existing medical practice has its own set of challenges. Healthcare data forms a core component of healthcare CRM software, and medical records of patients from various sources are collected, analysed, and entered into healthcare CRM systems. You need to remember that current patient portals must be reviewed to avoid process redundancies while introducing CRM in the health industry. Integrated healthcare CRM solutions can occur smoothly and effectively with the appropriate planning and decision-making.
3. CRM Is Not Needed When the Healthcare Already Has Many Systems
You may assume that CRM patient relationship management is unnecessary when there are already many existing systems. However, this is highly incorrect. CRM for healthcare adds different value that other systems may fail to offer. Custom healthcare CRM platforms can be created, and these can be designed to include particular features you need. You can add specific features in your healthcare CRM solution lacking in the other systems.
8. Steps to Have Your Own Healthcare CRM Built
If you’re a healthcare professional who has decided to implement a customized CRM solution for your organization, you’d benefit from knowing what to look for when making important decisions about the development process.
A customer relationship management software can be pre-built or customized to suit individual requirements. On the one hand, off-the-shelf software would be cheaper and save time for purchasing and installation. However, the chances are that it wouldn’t meet organizational requirements completely.
On the other hand, a healthcare CRM platform custom-built for an individual organization would serve its requirements completely. It can be developed to match organizational workflows to remove any burdens on the staff. Here are things to know if you’re going to have a customized medical CRM built for your organization –
I. Find the Right Company
Several medical software development companies offer a wide range of healthcare applications. They might include solutions for telehealth, remote patient monitoring, practice management, healthcare informatics, or healthcare analytics solutions. But it’s important to know if they’ve had significant experience developing CRM solutions for healthcare.
Just because a company might have a reputation for certain types of medical software doesn’t mean that they’d be among the leading providers of medical CRM. It takes a certain level of experience to cultivate a reputation in the industry, and a company’s track record speaks volumes about its proficiency. Make sure you check out a company’s previous medical CRM projects before you decide.
Analysis of a company’s previous work would reveal the quality of its products and give clarity on what to expect. Such clarity would further help in the overall decision-making. Also, watch out for companies that have been awarded for their work, and industry awards are an excellent indicator of excellence. Even though award-winning companies might cost more, they would be well worth the additional expense.
II. Finalize the Features
Every custom-built software needs to have features that would help the organization optimize its workflows and bolster productivity. It depends upon the goals of the company and its future roadmap for growth. A healthcare CRM could have numerous features, as mentioned earlier. But which ones you choose completely depends upon your organization.
A small ambulatory care centre would have different goals than a large hospital or a smaller physician practice. To understand what features might be suitable for your healthcare centre, it might be better to hire a separate IT consultant or have a technical expert from the CRM development company size up your organizational workflows, operations, plans for scale, and staff strength before deciding on which features, you’d want to have included.
III. Finalize a Budget
Every corporate decision ultimately boils down to how much money can be spent. Custom CRM software will take a fair amount of speculation to develop according to an organization’s needs. The budget for development must also consider the possibility of scaling in the future since the software may need to step up to match an organization’s evolving needs.
After deciding the company and the scope of your marketing and customer relations operations, it’s time to sit down with the company experts and decide the expenses. The budget would largely depend on the number of features that will be included.
The budget must always be looked at as an investment rather than an expense. It might be years before this investment pays off, but that’s the nature of advertising for building customer relations. Any corporate expenditure, whether it’s hiring new staff, consulting with a business development expert, or opting for digital solutions to automate workflows, the value of the money spent is only going to be realized going forward.
After the company develops the healthcare CRM software, it is important to test it. The development process might take months, but it’s worth the wait. The testing should be carried out according to parameters that would suit the organization that the solution was developed for. It would have to involve the healthcare administrators and the CRM developer team to ensure that the solution meets stated requirements.
If there are bugs discovered during testing, they are documented, and the development team will fix them. Later on, the platform is re-tested, and if it meets requirements, it moves forward for being implemented. Implementing would probably take little time, but making sure that the staff gets accustomed to it might take a few weeks. This is expected when moving from a traditional workflow to a digital one.
9. Common Questions about Healthcare CRM
It’s natural to have questions about CRM platforms, especially if you’ve planned to implement one in your organization. In this section, we try to answer some of the most common questions about medical CRM solutions.
Purchasing a healthcare CRM is a major decision. So, it is natural to have some questions before paying for a digital solution that will affect your advertising efforts. Let’s explore some of the most common questions that clinicians and healthcare administrators usually have before they opt for a CRM platform –
A. How Does a Healthcare CRM Help Measure ROI?
A CRM solution for healthcare can review, track, and monitor multiple marketing campaigns simultaneously. It provides a 360-degree view of the entire campaign and detailed reports of individual aspects of it. Advertising teams can check in real-time the amount of money spent on each activity, in addition to how many leads they generate, patients acquired, and revenue projections from them.
The benefit of real-time tracking is that the CRM solution empowers teams to map the responses of every advertising outreach plan. This lets them know which of their plans are generating a positive response from customers and which ones aren’t. A scientific approach to measuring the success rate of customer interaction provides valuable insight into planning and strategizing campaigns. In other words, a CRM solution helps to lower the costs of finding new patients and retaining them. This is so because a CRM solution makes it easy for marketing teams to know the ideal people to reach out to – the ones most likely to respond positively – and target them with content suitable for their needs.
By providing detailed reports of everything mentioned above, a healthcare CRM offers reliable revenue projections for the foreseeable future. This gives an accurate picture of ROI for a given period.
B. How Does a Healthcare Stimulate Customer Loyalty?
A healthcare CRM allows marketing teams and top-level management to have a complete view of the customers – in this case, patients. Since such a platform stores all patient information in one place, making analysis of this data easier, which in turn provides a total understanding of each patient. Healthcare organizations can customize messages and targeted content to personalize them as per patient preferences.
A patient recovering from heart surgery can be targeted with content relevant to cardiac care and recovery. Such content would include dos and don’ts, advice on diet and exercise, ideal lifestyle changes, etc. On the other hand, a patient recovering from serious physical injury could be advised certain measures to help them manage their lifestyle for faster recovery.
In this way, every patient would feel valued and likely stay in touch with their physician long after the treatment. Moreover, such patients are also likely to re-visit the same physician for future consultation, in addition to recommending them to their friends and colleagues. In other words, when each patient feels that the physician is there is for them throughout the care journey, it is bound to generate a degree of rapport and lasting loyalty.
C. What are the Factors to Be Considered Before Implementing a Healthcare CRM
All the benefits that a healthcare CRM can offer are based on the data that it can access. In light of this, it matters what the data sources are. Having multiple sources like an EMR, a clearinghouse, a contact centre, etc., would be beneficial. Having a successful CRM is all about understanding patients better. More knowledge about patients, better the understanding of their needs, and consequently, greater the relevancy of the targeted content in advertising.
Data on customers drive relationships with them. So, this is a major factor to consider before opting for a CRM. Another parameter would be the goals of your organization. The goals of a physiotherapy centre would be vastly different from those of a dental care clinic. The goals go on to define which features are needed for the CRM.
Every industry has been investing aggressively in developing CRM capabilities. So much so that CRM software has become a major force to be reckoned with within the broader software industry. Physicians and researchers have agreed upon the importance of patient engagement for driving better clinical outcomes and improving patient experiences. In light of this, it only makes sense for healthcare organizations to view CRM solutions as necessary investments for their growth and the lasting wellness of patients.
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Written by Riken Shah
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.