The Cost of Not Having Healthcare CRM:

An Important Investment for Your Health System’s Future

HEIDI SCHULTE, MBA
Vice President, Enterprise Platform Engagement
Healthgrades

Healthcare organizations have a lot in common. They’re all concerned about getting and keeping patients. They’re all increasingly focused on finding cost effective ways to connect with patients – current and potential. And they’re all worried about whether or not their marketing efforts are having an impact.

What they don’t all have in common is the right customer relationship management (CRM) system to underpin their efforts. In fact, some don’t have a CRM system at all! Whether you’re delaying the decision to move away from an ineffective CRM system or hesitating to invest in one at all, you should know that your indecision has financial implications for your health system.

Big benefits from CRM systems

“The healthcare industry is accelerating the adoption of CRM systems,” according to analysis by Gartner.1 Providers are also starting to deploy CRM to develop and manage relationships with individuals, resulting in an increased rate of conversion into patients. Leaders within all healthcare organizations envision engaging consumers at levels commensurate to the highly consumerized retail, hospitality, or travel industries.

CRM systems are nothing new — they’ve been around since the 1990s2 — but, their functionality has changed immensely since then. Even those healthcare systems that were early adopters are likely sitting on systems that pale in comparison to those currently in the market.

A modern CRM system system can help you:

  • Gather and maintain information about consumers in one location, with the ability to store a vast amount of data
  • Identify at-risk audiences in need of your services using advanced predictive models, and connect with them before they even know they need care
  • Enhance communication with patients, helping you stay top-of-mind and avoiding the need to collect the same personal information over and over again
  • Vastly improve your customer service; agents have immediate access to the information they need to serve patients most effectively and personally
  • Automate follow-up and nurture with consumers seeking health information so your sales and business development staff can focus on closing leads and providing great service
  • Support the shift from volume to value by engaging consumers in population health programs across the wellness spectrum
  • Prove the effectiveness of your marketing efforts – track ROI down to the procedure level and integrate financial performance into your dashboards
  • Turn marketing from a cost center to a profit center by knowing where to focus to capture high margin growth

One more big benefit: your CRM can help you identify those patients who may be most inclined to give back in monetary ways in gratitude for the exceptional care they, or loved ones, received at your facility.

CRM systems don’t cost, they pay

An effective CRM system represents an investment, not an expense. An investment in both capturing and keeping patients as more shop around for healthcare services.

The lifetime value of a single patient has been estimated at more than $1.5 million for hospitals and more than $1.0 million for physician practices according to U.S. Census Bureau data reported by Physicians Weekly!3 This is the amount of revenue you are at risk of losing by:

  • Failing to capture new patients
  • Failing to keep existing patients – cross selling

Also consider that U.S. healthcare spending is on the rise. According to CMS, “spending increased 4.3 percent to reach $3.3 trillion, or $10,348 per person, in 2016.”4

With healthcare spending on the rise, driven by an aging population (who will need more care for a longer period of time) and an increase in chronic disease, the lifetime value of a patient is guaranteed to increase. The question is, will your bottom line benefit, or will potential or existing patients choose to receive care elsewhere?

Can you afford not to have a well-functioning CRM system that can help you not only analyze the make-up of your current patient population (to reach out to others like them), but also more finely focus your marketing efforts to cut costs and improve results? Can you afford not to stay in touch with your existing patients by leveraging the abiity of a CRM system to target, connect with, analyze, and track interactions?

The opportunity cost of not incorporating a CRM system

Attracting new patients

In marketing, the concept of cloning a customer base has been in place for years. It simply means analyzing your existing customers to identify common traits and then looking at your target market area to find potential new customers to reach out to. Historically, as you might imagine, this could be a very time- and labor-intensive process. CRM systems solve that problem, making it economical and relatively easy to target key market segments with varying types of messages, and to analyze these efforts to determine which are most cost effective.

  • Which zip codes are driving the most traffic to your system?
  • Which tools are yielding the highest response rates?
  • What is the ROI on an individual marketing effort or an integrated, multi-channel campaign?

A CRM system can help you answer these questions and more, driving costs out of your budget and turning marketing from a cost center to a profit center.

Mining the value of existing patients

According to a Harvard Business Review article: “Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”5 So why is it so common for healthcare (and other) organizations to spend significantly more time and effort trying to attract new patients than they do staying connected with the ones they have?

Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

The old saying “out of sight is out of mind” is apt in the healthcare industry. It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is roiling from a rapidly changing environment — internally and externally. There are plenty of fires to put out, plenty of new opportunities to explore, but, unfortunately, not plenty of time to do either. The patients and issues that are top-of-mind are those that are likely to get attention, leaving some patients to languish for months, even years, without a connection from their healthcare provider — or an offer to seek care.

An effective CRM system can help you approach the process of outreach strategically, helping you automatically target certain segments of patients with communications across multiple channels — traditional and, increasingly, digital. This multi-channel approach can be tough, if not impossible, to manage (and, most importantly, to measure) without the benefit of a CRM system. CRM systems can also provide visibility to the complete consumer and patient journey, facilitiating communications and nurture along the way.

CRM systems help you mine the value of existing patients, making the cost of marketing to them much lower than the costs of attempting to attract new patients. Treat them right and you’ll be doubly blessed with their repeat business and positive word-of-mouth, which can in turn drive new patients through your doors.

What’s holding you back?

As we work with healthcare organizations to help them navigate the CRM selection process, we often hear pushback like:

“I don’t think we can afford this...” - OR - “I don’t know if we’re ready...”

Our response: “You can’t afford not to!”

You can’t afford to continue to rely on outdated, manual marketing efforts that cost far too much in terms of both staff time and cash outlay. You can’t afford to continue taking a broad approach to marketing rather than a laser-focused one thats available with CRM. You can’t afford to lose touch with patients in your system that are increasingly at risk of seeking services elsewhere.

You can’t afford to make a bad decision when choosing a new, or updating an existing, CRM. There are a wide range of considerations to keep in mind, such as workflow management, usability and the user experience (UX), platform requirements, security and compliance and — of course — pricing. With real limitations on staffing and FTEs, it’s also critical to understand what a CRM partner can bring to the table to fill gaps and extend your marketing team.

We can help.

Not making a decision is a decision. Now is the time to begin investigating the right CRM system to meet your needs in capturing a greater share of growing healthcare expenditures.

For over three decades, Healthgrades has helped consumers and providers make meaningful connections. We know what it takes to drive patient loyalty. We know what works. Healthgrades CRM can help you reach consumers where they want to be reached, know what channels they use, watch how they engage with your messages, and learn from our powerful data science and predictive models to make more strategic decisions about how to use your resources.

  1. Gartner, Hype Cycle for Healthcare Providers, July, 2018, https://www.gartner.com/doc/3882882/hype-cycle-healthcare-providers
  2. https://www.crmswitch.com/crm-industry/crm-industry-history/
  3. https://www.physiciansweekly.com/alienating-patients-cost/
  4. U.S. health care spending increased 4.3 percent to reach $3.3 trillion, or $10,348 per person in 2016.
  5. https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-value-of-keeping-the-right-customers

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