Driving CRM Value in Healthcare

Sept. 1, 2007

Deploying intuitive CRM options can produce greater ROI and enhanced patient and caregiver experience.

For those that know customer relationship management (CRM)—but not necessarily healthcare—CRM seems like the perfect solution to many of the healthcare industry’ s key problems. Need to improve efficiency and manage patient records? Track patients’ progress electronically. Need to improve patient care? Use metrics and analytics to evaluate those records and identify areas for improvement. Need to maximize quality of care while minimizing cost? Adopt CRM to track and manage patient satisfaction.

Deploying intuitive CRM options can produce greater ROI and enhanced patient and caregiver experience.

For those that know customer relationship management (CRM)—but not necessarily healthcare—CRM seems like the perfect solution to many of the healthcare industry’ s key problems. Need to improve efficiency and manage patient records? Track patients’ progress electronically. Need to improve patient care? Use metrics and analytics to evaluate those records and identify areas for improvement. Need to maximize quality of care while minimizing cost? Adopt CRM to track and manage patient satisfaction.

 Unfortunately, the challenges many other CRM adopters have struggled with in the past that thwarted success and slowed the delivery of CRM value are arguably even more present in healthcare:

 User adoption: If you think salespeople are difficult to train and motivate to use new software, try doctors.

 Multiple data sets in multiple systems: Particularly with merger and acquisition activity in healthcare organizations, and departmentalized data warehousing efforts, few healthcare organizations have a single integrated view of all their data.

 Customer data confidentiality concerns: Many other sectors view this as a customer confidence issue, but in healthcare, customer data security and confidentiality is not only important, it’ s critical—and regulated.

 IT budget challenges: As healthcare organizations have looked to cut costs and improve efficiencies, investing in broad IT initiatives has not been a common practice.

 Many CRM vendors have targeted healthcare as a key opportunity area. However, given these challenges, it’ s not surprising that most CRM vendors have won more customers in pharmaceuticals, health testing, and other related fields than at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Despite this, healthcare organizations that have explored investments in improving customer relationship management have delivered ROI while visibly improving patient care, both by learning from others’ mistakes in key CRM success areas and by looking beyond the old-school definition of CRM technology. What follows are a number of key strategies for success.

Look Beyond the CRM Label

 Many CRM vendors provide customized solutions for the healthcare vertical market and many implementation partners provide vertical-specific expertise in making CRM applications work in healthcare. Despite this, it’ s important to remember that a number of technologies and not just those with the CRM moniker can deliver value as part of a broader strategy to support CRM in healthcare. We’ ve analyzed a number of cases where content management from various vendors enabled companies to improve patient management and patient care by providing better access to information for both staff and patients.

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 Another key technology area supporting CRM improvements in healthcare is data analysis. Business intelligence or predictive analytics tools that fall more on data analysis than ” pure” CRM may present better short-term ROI opportunities than a broad investment in case management. For example, some CRM tools are designed to provide all employees with dashboards and reporting to monitor patient care metrics while others provide predictive analytics, used to predict outcomes for better proactive management.

Think Before You Move Data

 No matter whether it is CRM, content management or analytics, taking a close look at all three can help you leverage data to improve patient management. But it’s also a good idea to look before you leap. We’ve found most healthcare organizations have, at best, fragmented data stores, multiple record-keeping systems and inconsistent data entry processes. Before you start paving over cow paths, you should take a closer look at what you have.

 As an example, a medical testing company that we evaluated recently had deployed a CRM solution. During the deployment, the testing company had imported information from its legacy billing system directly into the application. It found that incomplete data and lack of a clear understanding of the data structure required additional changes to make the deployment successful.

Don’ t Ignore On-demand Options

 On-demand CRM has been a disruptive and positive force in the market. It is no longer just a strategy for the midmarket or departmental CRM need, nor is it out of the hands of IT. By building a developer community and an on-demand development language, on-demand can support more complex requirements than it could just months ago. It can also be an opportunity for internal developers to build customized CRM solutions and then outsource the ongoing support. Continued innovation and growth of new marketing, sales and service applications in the on-demand marketplace will force the on-premise players to continue to innovate as well.

 Some have been concerned about security and integrity of data when deploying on-demand CRM for healthcare. However, reviewing the data security measures that on-demand vendors employ to ensure the security of individual customers’ data may reveal that it’ s more robust than your internal measures.We should all be watching to see if Google’ s recent acquisition of Postini, a messaging security service, drives its expertise in security and compliance even further. Adopting on-demand can also help you to accelerate CRM deployment. If you wish, you can then migrate some applications or user accounts back on premise to reduce the burden on IT and capital risk while delivering significant benefit.

Involve Users From Day One

 The most successful CRM deployments utilize end-user input in the decision, design, and development process for greater buy-in and usability. For example, a number of employees of one hospital organization resisted having to find the information themselves because they were accustomed to requesting information from an internal team. In order to counter this resistance and maximize adoption, the deployment team regularly held focus groups with employees to help them understand that the deployment would actually enable them to complete their jobs. By sharing their preferences and requirements with the deployment team during these meetings, users became more invested in the process, which reduced their resistance.

 Web-savvy end users and greater usability are beginning to replace training as the key to CRM adoption. Casual CRM users in particular will benefit from making CRM intuitive and linking it to the natural users’ desktop. For example, companies that provide Microsoft Office Outlook desktop integration, can ease adoption and increase user productivity. Additionally, more and more vendors will deliver vertically-customized solutions that already reflect some business processes and best practices. Looking to these solutions can help reduce deployment time and eliminate the risk of being the first to test usability.

Phase Adoption and Training

 Starting with an initial pilot that allows you to identify and articulate benefits can help build momentum for your project. Additionally, phasing adoption and training can help you leverage initial experience to ease adoption with each new department or area of functionality you add to your CRM technology strategy.

 An example would be a hospital that first deployed a system to manage emergency room records and is now expanding the system to support broader patient record management across the hospital. This has given ER doctors the advantage of ” getting their feet wet” and see the benefits of the system while avoiding the initial capital and political cost of pulling doctors away from patients to put them through extensive IT training.

Conclusion

 CRM can deliver ROI to healthcare, and if you’ re considering a CRM project today, you can take advantage of the previous experience of both healthcare and non-healthcare organizations to accelerate benefits and reduce risk. Since healthcare is a key target market opportunity for many CRM vendors you can leverage your position to your advantage. Both your vendor and implementation partners should compete to win your business by showing both their experience in meeting similar needs and their willingness to make an investment in ensuring your success.

 Finally, to ensure success you’ ll want to make sure that you have a clear business case that is based on solving the key business problem you plan to solve; the benefits you expect to achieve, as well as how and when they will happen; and, milestones for the project to ensure you’ ll achieve the projected ROI. This will help you to articulate and validate the project with management, focus on the greatest areas of benefit when you deploy, and manage any potential scope-creep with a clear roadmap for CRM success.

Rebecca Wettemann is vice president of research
at Nucleus Research.
She can be contacted at
rwettemann @nucleusresearch.com.
.

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