Quality Care

Healthcare CRM: Redefining Models and Optimizing Relationships

Positive provider-patient interaction thanks to healthcare CRM

Traditional business to business (B2B) organizations have used the capabilities of customer relationship management (CRM) to acquire and maintain new customers by identifying business challenges and proposing systems and services to help resolve those challenges—in more effective ways than their competitors.

In healthcare, the concepts of acquiring new customers (patients and consumers) and maintaining those relationships is equally important. However, the traditional acquisition of customers is often done in concert with other healthcare providers through a system of referrals—meaning the traditional model needs to be redefined for healthcare organizations to optimize relationships.

Generally speaking, there are three potential functional components: operational, analytical and collaborative. These components are important to understand because they drive the design of a fully functional system for both B2B and healthcare environments.

Expanding the Definition of CRM for Healthcare

For healthcare, it’s important we expand the definition of what CRM is and what it can do—this requires an organization-wide strategy for managing the various interactions with patients, caregivers, providers, suppliers and employees.

Healthcare CRM seeks to optimize the way organizations establish and nurture impactful and relevant relationships designed to enhance patient experience, engage patient support networks, reduce the silos of unshareable information, improve population health, reduce costs and enrich the work-life balance of healthcare providers. Healthcare CRM ultimately leads to increased confidence in the provider team and an enduring relationship with and confidence in the care organization's brand.

Traditional components can extend to the needs of healthcare CRM in two ways: to help a healthcare organization stay in contact with their 1) patients and 2) referring organizations.

An effective system can help health professionals approach the process of outreach strategically, helping them automatically target certain segments of patients or referral agencies. This multi-channel approach can be tough to measure and manage without the benefit of a support mechanism like healthcare CRM. These systems can also provide visibility to the complete patient journey.

By mining the value of existing relationships, the cost of marketing becomes much lower than the costs of attempting to attract new relationships. This also helps build meaningful relationships through targeted communication which increases repeat business and positive word-of-mouth, driving new associations.

Generally speaking, the three original components remain, but their focus and benefits change when framed around the needs of healthcare.

RELATED: CRM Solutions in Elder Care Case Study


Designed to automate the marketing, sales and service components of an organization, this can help define the best methods for offering products and services to potential and existing customers, and help you stay better connected with your referring partners.

It is designed to optimize the marketing spend and ROI by examining the various channels used to reach potential and existing customers. This extends to sales where automation helps to optimize and standardize the sales process around both new customers and existing customers. In healthcare, organizations can prove marketing effectiveness by tracking ROI down to the procedure level and integrating financial performance into your EHR dashboards.

It can also help organize information around customer and prospect needs so that those needs can be efficiently satisfied. At the point of service, healthcare CRM can enable support of existing customers by building relationships that allow up-selling and cross-selling of additional products or services. By automating follow-up and nurturing relationships in healthcare, you can communicate with consumers seeking health information and stay top of mind. It encourages a human touch in the relationship between an organization and its customers.

A patient-focused operational healthcare CRM is designed to maximize the experience for a broader group of beneficiaries whose need for information will be based on their role in the healthcare continuum.


This component helps senior management determine the best way to acquire new customers and serve existing customers. The main purpose of this component is to provide analysis of any collected data.

As healthcare organizations seek to make use of their data to inform decision making, an analytical component can potentially add value by storing information in one location and identifying at-risk audiences in need of care services using predictive models. With this component, healthcare providers can connect with patients before they even know they need care through the use of wearable devices.


Sometimes referred to as strategic CRM, this component enables an organization to share customer information across various business units. It facilitates sharing of data across teams, which opens new opportunities with customers who share a common challenge.

The collaborative component has the greatest potential for changing healthcare’s approach to managing relationships between patients, patient support systems, providers, suppliers and employees, because it enables an organization to share information across various units.

Healthcare CRM Driving Value

The use of healthcare CRM has a number of potential benefits for healthcare organizations—it helps build trust and security, improves referrals and increases patient confidence. Its use can create a more intentional and informed journey as a patient moves through the system, assuring that everything a person touches is pulled into one place allowing the ability to speak back to those persons with one focused voice.

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.

Discover the Power of Interoperability

Help advance interoperability and standards-based health IT systems that lead to meaningful health information exchange.

Join the Interoperability & HIE Committee