Quality Care

Customer Relationship Management Technology and Improving the Patient Experience

Creating a positive patient experience with CRM technology

Improved patient experience, captured through metrics of engagement and satisfaction, is a universal goal for healthcare providers, organizations and payers alike.

Improving the patient experience is one of the core aims of the quadruple aim; numerous research centers and healthcare startups are dedicated to understanding how to improve experience, and hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles are published on the topic every year.

Despite the large amount of time, research and resources healthcare organizations devote toward improving patient experience, numerous barriers continue to inhibit their ability to do so. Some of these barriers include:

  • Misalignment of value-based reimbursements and incentives
  • Additional time required to engage with patients
  • Complexity of determining who, when and how often to engage patients and by which medium the engagement should occur

Customer Relationship Management as a Tool to Improve the Patient Experience

A potential solution for improved patient experience may lie within the adoption of customer relationship management (CRM) technology. HIMSS defines CRM in healthcare as, “An organization-wide strategy for managing an organization’s interactions with its patients and their supporting infrastructure, suppliers, providers, and/or employees using CRM technologies.”

Why are we excited about the potential for customer relationship management technology? It has a successful track record. Outside of healthcare, CRM technology has been transformative in the enhancement of customer experience, relations, revenue and improvement of internal communications and optimization of marketing. Trillion dollar corporations use the successful integration and utilization of customer relationship management technologies to help describe, predict and prescribe products and features which enhance the customer experience.

So why shouldn’t we apply this technology in healthcare to produce similar results?

Understanding the State and Direction of Customer Relationship Management Technology in Healthcare

HIMSS released a survey to better understand the current state of CRM technology in this era of interoperability and value-based care as well as attitudes toward the use of CRM in healthcare.

After analyzing the results, three primary findings stood out:

  1. Vendors are the most common audience to report use of CRM technology as a part of their standard practice, while patients are the most commonly reported group to be targeted for engagement with CRM.
  2. Outreach and marketing is broadly considered the most important use case for CRM to support organizational goals.
  3. The biggest concern respondents highlighted was the interoperable abilities of CRM systems, and the necessity for information to transfer across a variety of disparate systems that contain patient health information.

Is Healthcare Ready to Adopt CRM Technology Solutions?

According to the survey, the potential is there.

Surprisingly, there is a limited body of scientific research regarding how effective CRM technology solutions are at improving patient satisfaction within healthcare settings; this evidence is critical for key decision makers at healthcare institutions to make informed decisions. Much of the peer-reviewed studies that do exist are from hospital systems or organizations outside of the United States such as, Taiwan, Iran, Spain and Korea.

Within the United States, a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine is an often-cited article that speaks to the potential for CRM technology in healthcare, and the patient version of CRMpatient relationship management. The authors argue that because many services offered by the healthcare sector are shared across non-healthcare industries which have benefited from CRM technology, healthcare may also benefit from its use.

The potential for customer relationship management in healthcare is bright and it will be exciting to see what comes next. If CRM technology can do what it has done for other industries, it will have an impactful and clinically meaningful influence on the patient and provider experience in the healthcare industry.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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Originally published December 26, 2018; updated November 17, 2019