You need a HIPAA Compliant Patient CRM to be serious about medical marketing. There are no two ways about this. You cannot depend on your EMR for managing patient relationships – our call center, revenue cycle management center, marketing teams have tried in the past and failed. EMRs were created to move patient data away from paper copies to software – they were never built to be used for patient engagement, acquisition, retention, relationship management etc.
Who needs a healthcare CRM
Your marketing department needs it.
Your call center needs it.
You can try being serious about medical marketing with your frontdesk staff. You will fail. That’s a guarantee.
Front desk staff are needed to handle patients and the daily crisis that come up every day while tending to patients. They do NOT have the bandwidth to do marketing for you.
This is a back office responsibility. You need to build or hire a call center for this.
We’ve written about the need for a centralized call center and how to use a healthcare call center software before. Even a healthcare call center cannot operate at maximum productivity without being tied directly and deeply into a HIPAA compliant patient CRM.
We’ve also written about using your EMR to generate more patient appointments. That’s also VERY difficult to do without a patient CRM.
Healthcare marketing involves phone calls, SMS, faxes – we have written about using proper tools for that because, again, this is a high volume business. It will be really difficult for you to proceed without using a SMS Texting tool or a FAXING tool or a call center software. It becomes a nightmare without these tools.
Why you need a healthcare CRM
Your patients are being treated like “kings and queens” by ecommerce companies. They are treated with white glove, personalized service by all vendors out there. That has permanently changed the perception of your patients.
Your patients are now educated consumers. They want to feel valued, treated as an individual.
Healthcare is a high volume business. As long as the current reimbursement model of fee for service exists, it will remain a high volume business.
Even when the transition to value based care and value based payments happens, episodic care volumes will need to transition to preventative care transactional volumes.
How do you handle a high volume business with spreadsheets? Sure, you can get started with spreadsheets, but if you are serious about retaining patients in the long run, you need a regimented approach.
You need systems, processes and the tools / technologies to achieve your goals of finding and keeping patients for life.
To successfully manage a patient population – not merely document care that occurs during a visit – i.e., what occurs within an EMR – a tool analogous to a customer relationship management system – a patient relationship management system is needed.
Such a tool would be centered around the care plan for the patient and facilitate structured, pertinent communication between providers and patients. It may also help the practice market its services to likely future patients. It will also, as many portals do, allow patients to request appointments, pharmacy refills, and view their record.
In many respects, this ought to be the next evolution of patient portals – it will be a more interactive tool that does more than a few administrative functions; rather, to fully embrace patient relationship management, tools will be needed to better enable shared decision making which, as studies have shown, increases patient engagement.
Many initiatives such as Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) and value-based payment arrangements have put a strong emphasis on shared decision making.
Logistical and scheduling issues make it difficult to keep having the patient come in for visits; moreover, patients are resistant due to higher cost-sharing and scheduling difficulties – e.g., work, transportation, etc.
A software tool that could engage patients in making collaborative decisions about with their health with their provider would likely increase their satisfaction and, furthermore, such a tool would likely increase the chance that the patient adopts and follows-through with the care recommendations made.
- HealthLoop/GetWellNetwork, for example, offers solutions to help remotely monitor patients and to enable more efficient interventions to reduce complications. Their product line has shown effectiveness in numerous cases – especially in targeted scenarios such as orthopedic procedure where intelligent procedures and quick interventions can reduce readmissions and complication rates. As bundled arrangements continue to grow, this will be an increased focus within the patient-provider relationship.
- SolutionReach, however, takes a different focus and offers tools to allow a physician practice to grow their market and more effectively manage patient satisfaction. They have tools that allow for self-scheduling, waitlist notifications, patient-provider texting, appointment reminders, and care adherence – a tool that uses a patient’s preference to reach out to them for care reminders. SolutionReach also offers numerous marketing tools to help identify patients likely to provide positive reviews, e-mail management, and social media management.
Both tools – and there are others out there as well – offer practices with a different take on relationship management; for those that are more ambitious and ready to fully jump into patient relationship management, a tool such as SolutionReach offers a comprehensive suite of products to begin managing the process of retaining patients and acquiring patients that are likely to be satisfied with one’s medical practice.
For those looking more at this from a standpoint of only providing better care and would rather not engage in more marketing, a tool such as HealthLoop/GetWellNetwork might work better.
When do you need a HIPAA compliant CRM
Simply put – if you are investing time and money into marketing, you need a patient CRM (and possibly a provider CRM as well). Here are the ways we use a healthcare CRM for medical marketing.
You can achieve the same using spreadsheets as well. However, managing patient relationships using spreadsheets only adds to manual data entry overheads.
You didn’t join the marketing team to do donkey work of data entry, did you?
You need a healthcare CRM if you are investing time and money in any of these:
- Paid ads (Facebook, Google etc)
- SEO (your website)
- Sending patient satisfaction surveys
- Marketing new services to patients (e.g. telemedicine line of service)
- Using patient education to retain patients
- Increasing patient volumes by calling patients that never showed up
- Increasing patient appointments by recalling patients
- Increasing patient visit volume by reappointing no shows
- Asking patients for referrals
- Marketing for physician referrals via physician liaisons
- Marketing for physician referrals via faxes or phone calls
- Marketing to neighboring communities via cold calls or postcards
- Print and media advertising (newspapers, radio, TV).