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Perspectives

Connecting with the Consumer

A CRM expert shares how health systems can use customer relationship tools to improve health outcomes.

Susan Collins, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Salesforce

2/10/2019

Consumers expect more from their health care experiences. A personalized experience for the consumer is quickly becoming the norm and an active driver in preference and choice. With these attitudes guiding consumer decisions, health care institutions are implementing and learning to use tools that enable them to best understand, care for and retain patients and customers.

Customer relationship management (CRM) technologies help deepen relationships and manage interactions with customers (and providers) by connecting more information than ever about patients and populations. CRM also opens opportunities for better care engagement for clinicians, supplying them with actionable insight at the point of care. A CRM system goes beyond health data to provide insights on how a consumer may best engage in their health and care. This is information that has historically been a challenge to capture, but an important piece to the puzzle as the industry shifts to a more connected, value-based approach. 

As the Magic Quadrant leader for Customer Engagement for the last 10 consecutive years, we’ve learned that CRM technology goes far beyond being just a sales tool. In health care there are many reasons to use a CRM system — measurable marketing efforts to attract new patients, care management strategies such as reminders to a specific patient group to seek follow-up care and personalization of the call center experience, to name a few. A CRM combines a person’s clinical data with their preferences, behaviors and how they want to interact, to provide a truly holistic view that enables providers to further elevate their care. Following are five key components that expand on what makes up a clinically-informed CRM to help advance consumer engagement in health care.

  1. Use across an enterprise

A CRM system can connect information generated from consumer interactions across varying departments and functions that haven’t historically been connected, including clinical delivery and care management, service operations, provider network management and marketing. This formerly disconnected data, now pulled together by CRM systems, facilitates tailored and enhanced consumer and provider engagement opportunities — getting the right information to the right people for desired outcomes.

  1. Collection of all data – clinical and consumer

Clinical information is critical, but it’s also only part of the story. We don’t deal with disease or injury in isolation; rather, we deal with it in the context of the rest of our lives. CRM technology is how we can synthesize information — such as physical environment or an individual’s behavior — to better understand customers’ goals so we can best serve them. To get the most value, a CRM system should combine consumer engagement data and social determinant information with a consumer’s longitudinal health record. A longitudinal record consists of disparate sources, such as electronic health records (EHRs), claims, pharmacy and self-reported data, organized into a coherent view for each person. This clinically-informed CRM provides the basis for giving the care team (including the consumer), the whole picture of a person’s health and well-being, status or if there are alternative care options.

  1. An omni-channel approach

Giving a person the ability to choose how they prefer to engage drives loyalty and positive, connected relationships. CRM enables the orchestration of communication and connected interaction across channels – email, phone calls, texts, videos, virtual messaging and more – which allows consumers to engage based on preference and convenience. Organizations are yielding positive outcomes by approaching consumers through the channels they want to use. This is why we now account for almost 40 percent of worldwide customer service applications.

  1. Tracked behaviors and preferences

The closed-loop system continually brings in new data to refine and better understand which engagement strategy resonates most. Other industries, such as retail, have applied these tactics for decades and have made strides in understanding how an individual’s preferences evolve over time and in different life stages. Bringing this strategy to health care means that we can continuously layer in new inputs about a person to identify the engagement strategies that motivate them as their preferences evolve.

  1. A personalized experience

CRM supports health care organizations in providing a personalized experience to their consumers, while also closing gaps in care. CRM offers providers the ability to create personalized care protocols based not only on what their patients say, but also on what they do or how they behave. The information housed in the CRM provides a holistic view of a person, enabling health care organizations to elevate their standard of care.