Customer relationship management platforms (eg. Salesforce, Hubspot, Base, etc.) have begun to revolutionize the way healthcare system administrators approach patient acquisition, engagement, and retention.

Now that more robust EMRs integrate with the CRM, administrators and physicians are suddenly capable of possessing a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the patient’s journey, from the first phone call, to diagnosis, to treatment, to follow-up, to long-term care, to the last check-in. They can simultaneously track contact preferences, phone calls, emails, payments, everything.

CRM platforms, combined with EMR, have the potential to completely transform the patient experience. As with any other tool, that potential depends on the imagination of the wielder. To that end, this article explores some of the ways healthcare systems large and small can wield a CRM to transform both the business, and the patient experience.

First let’s state the obvious: while the EMR manages HIPAA-protected medical data, a CRM organizes business-facing data, and streamlines workflows. The chief purpose of using a CRM is order. Every patient’s entire transaction story is available in one clean interface, every email and payment.

Workflows are cleaner too: The CRM can automate touchpoints like appointment reminder messages and billing notices, and securely store payment information. On the patient’s side, that means far less chance of falling through the cracks, of missing an appointment, of being forgotten in the hubbub of a busy practice.

But CRM can and should be doing more.

Increase patient engagement

Even automated touches are still touches. Every email and text message triggered by a CRM and passed through a third-party platform is one step closer to keeping the patient where they need to be – up to date with their treatment plans. Carlos Ariza reports for Health Data Management, “Engaged patients are more likely to follow their plan of care, reach out to care teams earlier when they have questions or concerns, and as a result are more likely to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and reduce overall expenses.”

Engaged patients are healthier patients, and a CRM makes regular engagement doable, at scale, even with personal preferences accounted for.

Increase patient satisfaction

“Healthcare CRM improves communications between patients and medical staff, reduces waiting times and delivers essential medical information — all of which can boost patient happiness.” – Toolbox Tech

In a world that bases its life-or-death decisions on Yelp and Google reviews, hospitals have to be just as aware of their net promoter score as software companies do. If a CRM can make the patient experience more satisfying and less frustrating, that’s a win. Any improvement in patient-to-practice communication is a step toward a longer, more productive relationship (and better reviews online).

Personalize health education

When the EMR is dialed into CMS, all kinds of new education flows become possible. Families with young children can automatically receive age-appropriate wellness tips in their email accounts. Seasonal allergy sufferers can receive environmental warning texts on high-pollen days. Patients can view a quick YouTube video of their own doctor giving a two-minute talk on diabetes prevention. That extra level of personalization not only makes patients more likely to view the content their provider sends; it also makes them more likely to achieve the treatment outcomes they’re looking for.

Streamline patient acquisition

CMS is was built for sales and marketing, and that’s still what it does best. When it’s linked with healthcare marketing software, it becomes the best measure of which patient acquisition tactics are working, and which ones aren’t paying off. It also allows healthcare administrators and marketers to ramp up the channels and messages that work quickly, so that they can reach prospective patients faster, and reactivate the ones that have gone radio silent.

Speed population-based research

Perhaps the most powerful application of all: Combining de-identified EMR data with CRM data offers the most comprehensive view of environment, population, and health in history. Imagine what will become possible as researchers sift through all the correlations treasured up in that trove of data. These high-powered connections between data management systems are very likely the source of meaningful future progress in healthcare.

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