Healthcare CRM in the Pandemic and Afterwards

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Technology in the hands of businessmen

By Inga Shugalo

It may seem that with the pandemic shaking healthcare systems globally, customer relationships become a low priority. However, this is not the case. 

The increased patient flow requires fast and efficient decisions for solving day-to-day tasks, and this is where healthcare CRM may be of help. Besides, analysts don’t rush to bury customer relationships either. For example, Markets and Markets predict a two-fold increase in the CRM market value for healthcare by 2023. 

Let’s explore potential applications of healthcare CRM solutions during and beyond the current crisis.

Reducing exposure risks

In the pandemic, CRM systems may come in handy for reducing the risk of virus exposure for patients and clinicians.

Frederick Health from Maryland employed their CRM system to solve a range of COVID-related tasks efficiently. At first, the team organized a rapid drive-through COVID-19 screening to monitor the state of health of their employees. However, when it came to patients, the process lost its efficiency due to the need to scan test results and upload them to the EHR system manually. The hospital then improved its screening process with a Salesforce Health Cloud app that automatically analyzed the symptoms and detected if a person needed a COVID-19 test immediately. What’s more, the tool put an end to the obsolete manual test result processing as test result scans could be added to patients’ EHRs in a click. 

CRM systems have an important in-built component — secure messaging. This feature allows setting up remote patient triaging with no need for excessive personal visits. This mode of care delivery helps medical staff cope with the increased call volume with no harm to the customer experience. 

Some providers took a comprehensive approach, solving several pandemic-related challenges at once. VillageMD located across Illinois and Arizona united the powers of their CRM and a custom-built analytics tool. This strategy allowed them to stratify their patients by age, chronic conditions, and location and identify risk priorities for them. Besides, employing their CRM, the provider managed to put the patients who reported COVID-19 symptoms under monitoring, urging them to take the test and providing quality educational materials in only two days. This way VillageMD managed to reduce exposure risks for vulnerable patient groups. 

Streamlining workflows

Healthcare CRMs have good potential for optimizing clinical workflows and administrative tasks, especially in turbulent times when paperwork tends to pile up intensely.

To deal with it, Piedmont Healthcare, a large network from Georgia, leveraged the Salesforce Health Cloud CRM to deploy a specific call center for COVID-19. The center was equipped with detailed call scripts and automated workflows. It helped clinicians to direct patients to a suitable care level through evaluating their symptoms and exposure risks. Surprisingly, the team managed to set up the call center in only three days.

Keeping customers in the know

Quality care is not the only thing customers are looking for during the crisis. Up-to-date information on the virus and the epidemiological situation in the vicinity is also at a premium. Logically, customers turn to the sources they trust — medical providers. 

To meet customers’ need for trustworthy information, Piedmont created a dashboard that displayed a set of real-time data on each customer from symptoms and outcomes to the number of calls and travel destinations. With that data at hand, Piedmont’s clinicians can inform these patients about the current situation and their risks. 

The dashboard meets both customers’ and provider’s needs. The latter can assess the demand timely and prevent staff and inventory shortages. What’s more, the dashboard reflects changes in critical data on the go, which can streamline clinical decision-making for better patient outcomes. 

Retaining customers

With the pandemic in the US winding down, providers have started considering full-scale post-COVID reopening. However, the effort may be challenging: according to Sykes, 87% of the surveyed wish to continue using virtual care for non-urgent visits. At the same time, any provider has vulnerable groups of patients who need regular on-premises visits for adequate condition management. Deprived of regular visits, such patients may feel disappointed and overlooked. So how to bring them in safely? CRM systems may help here, too.

In Piedmont, for example, clinicians started taking proactive measures to reconnect with patients who had their surgeries canceled or care routines interrupted due to the virus outbreak. BayCare Health System, a large provider from Florida, introduced a new CRM amidst the pandemic. Their CRM system is integrated with standing care management plans. The tool offers multi-channel communication with phone and video calls, patient portal messaging, emailing, and more to power highly personalized contextual interactions in a patient’s preferred environment. This may facilitate providing a positive patient experience.

After the pandemic turmoil, such systems may help restore the relationships with chronic-condition patients. With time, providers may design tailor-fit campaigns for regular customers, too. 

Healthcare CRM: a memo

CRM systems are powerful assistants in troublesome times. However, they work this way only when the data they host is relevant. Unfortunately, outdated CRM data is one of healthcare institutions’ plagues. To avoid it, clinicians can be urged to update patients’ EHRs without delays. It also makes sense to have their CRMs cleaned regularly either by in-house IT specialists or by qualified service providers.

Summing up

As we can see, CRM systems can mitigate various issues efficiently in times of crisis. They can assist with solving urgent tasks like informing customers about the epidemiological situation on the fly. They also prove efficient in addressing continuous healthcare challenges, such as patient engagement and resource management.

Nevertheless, there is a point that often slips healthcare professionals’ attention. It’s CRM data quality. The system is efficient only when the data it hosts is up-to-date. Otherwise, the insights the CRM system offers may be erroneous and even harmful for patients.

Inga Shugalo is a Healthcare Industry Analyst at Itransition, a custom software development company headquartered in Denver, Colorado. She focuses on Healthcare IT, highlighting the industry challenges and technology solutions that tackle them. Inga’s articles explore diagnostic potential of healthcare IoT, opportunities of precision medicine, robotics and VR in healthcare and more.

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