Spotlight on customer relationship management tools in healthcare
Accenture predicts that by the end of 2019, more than a third of appointments will be self-scheduled through digital interfaces, such as web forms and apps. As our health system moves closer towards a value-based care model, the need to empower patients is imperative. Through the use of customer relationship management (CRM) tools, patients can be provided with a powerful way to streamline services and improve their overall experience.
What do we mean by customer management tools?
Customer or patient management tools are technologies that help medical practitioners provide health services more efficiently. Before the rise of patient management systems, such as appointment tools, common tasks like scheduling appointments were likely to cause bottlenecks. This inevitably lead to more cases of poor patient satisfaction.
What is a CRM?
One of the most common tools in patient management is a customer relationship management (CRM) system. A CRM is a customer database that manages numerous workflows, including sales, marketing and customer support.
CRM systems can help businesses become faster, more reliable, agile and responsive – all areas where patients are expecting growth in their care.
In health, a CRM is sometimes referred to interchangeably as a patient relationship management system (PRM), however CRM is the more commonly used term.
A CRM is used to store customer information and manage the relationships your organisation has with different stakeholders (patients, suppliers, etc). It’s also capable of tracking all interactions you have with customers, both current and potential. A CRM should act as a central source of truth for businesses to:
- Store and update contact details and patient data
- Manage accounts and bookings
- Safely store treatment or clinical notes
- Gain insight from reports (e.g. the number of cancelled/no-show appointments)
- Track interactions with your organisation
- Create targeted marketing campaigns.
A CRM’s purpose is two-fold: to enhance relationships with your customers and provide better, more efficient service. When these intended outcomes work in tandem, they result in better engagement, easier patient retention and more new-customer attainment.
What can this look like?
A CRM has the potential to improve the patient experience and streamline practitioner involvement, making health service delivery more efficient.
A simple task like booking an appointment can have serious implications for both the practice and the patient. For patients, wait times can undermine their experience and make them more likely to not show at their next appointment.
Technology can help to mitigate and minimise no-shows. Better scheduling efficiencies are key to improved patient experience. Some common scheduling tools include:
- SMS/email reminders
- Online bookings
- Self check-in kiosks.
What are other health businesses using?
CRM technology is a mature market that’s been available for over 20 years. As such, there are plenty of CRM applications available.
Yet, finding the right CRM for your organisation will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- Business size
- Cloud connectivity
- Integration with other systems (e.g. accounting software).
- Your individual requirements.
With that in mind, we’ll highlight two popular options for healthcare practitioners in Australia.
Cliniko originated in Australia and is a popular CRM used by thousands of healthcare practitioners in over 70 countries.
Its features include:
- An easy-to-use, flexible appointment system that’s usable across multiple locations and patients, and enables repeat appointments, privacy mode and automated appointment confirmations
- Secure online health records – including advanced features such as body charts and customisable treatment note templates.
- Transactions – you can manage invoices, expenses, payments and product inventory
- Performance reports to track performance
- Business management – better enable staff communications, data management, internal messages and more.
Cliniko has a free 30-day trial period. For regular subscribers it costs $45 per practitioner, per month.
coreplus is based in Melbourne and is another CRM system designed specifically for healthcare providers.
Its feature include:
- Powerful appointment booking functionality
- SMS & email reminders
- Secure case notes
- Letter templates
- Patient engagement integrations.
CorePlus has a free, untimed trial for new users. Regular subscribers have a few options to choose from, with plans starting from $5 per month. Custom quotes can be made for larger organisations.
How to choose the right CRM for you
When it comes to selecting the right CRM system for your practice, keep it simple. Think about your service offering and your patient needs, and build from there.
Some things to think about are:
- What is my service?
- What are my patients’ needs?
- What features would make life easier for patients and staff?
- What features are nice to have, but not essential?
- Can I upgrade if my business grows?
- Who can I call for support?
Most CRMs have free trials. This gives you the power to try out each system and their features before you make a decision. Conduct online research and consider seeking advice from professionals for guidance on the right CRM for your business.
What outcomes should you expect?
Studies into how CRM technology solutions have improved overall patient satisfaction are limited. However, the Journal of General Internal Medicine’s peer-reviewed article outlines how healthcare can join other industries benefiting from its use.
ResearchGate’s recent study reviews 10 years of research of CRM in healthcare organisations between 2005 and 2015.
The study outlines how CRMs are used to achieve the following outcomes:
- Learning more about patients
- Delivering highly personalised outreach across multiple channels
- Providing the right information at the right time
- Tracking patient’s results, and adjusting where necessary
- Building good relationships with patients.
What should you look out for?
When looking for a CRM provider, consider if their platform is designed for the unique needs of healthcare.
To set yourself up for success, it’s also important to be beware of rushing into one platform without research. Instead, make sure you seek professional guidance to test which CRM technology is the right fit for you and make a smooth transition.
Hospitals, allied health, health start-ups, medical practices and MedTech can all benefit from using a CRM.
If you’re unsure which CRM system is right for you or how to smoothly integrate it into your practice, we’re here to guide you. Tadashi focuses on delivering great digital outcomes for healthcare practices.
To learn more about CRMs and Tadashi’s full suite of digital capabilities, get in touch with us today.