Editor’s Note: Rob Grant is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President at Evariant, a healthcare CRM platform provider where he is responsible for advancing the company’s market strategy, fostering new key business relationships and growing its customer base. He is a veteran of the healthcare and technology industries, with more than 20 years of executive experience in leading innovation, business strategy, new business development, sales, marketing, finance and operations.
In today’s healthcare industry, patient engagement is critical for hospitals and health systems to acquire and retain patients to stay competitive, drive revenue, and improve profitability. In 2015, it has been reported that 96% of hospitals have electronic health record (EHR) systems. Naturally, after such massive investments in this technology, hospitals and health systems have looked hopefully to their EHR systems and related patient portals to drive patient engagement.
However, EHRs were built to be systems of record for clinicians, and not interactive tools to engage consumers or patients. True patient engagement is about creating a relationship between a patient or consumer and the healthcare system over the course of a lifetime. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, however, help address this need. CRM platforms help enhance patient relationships by providing continuous interaction between consumers/patients, driving proactive health management and loyalty with contextual and relevant content.
What is Patient Engagement?
True patient engagement is about creating a trustworthy relationship between a patient or consumer and the healthcare system over the course of a lifetime and not just during the point of care. This type of relationship leads to sustainable growth for the healthcare facility. While EHRs and patient portals are decent tools for patients to access their personal health information or to schedule appointments, they are not designed to engage patients in pre and/or post-care conversations, and generally remain agnostic to individual preferences.
Patients who have trusted relationships with their providers often stay loyal to the organization as a result of having better experiences. These corresponding providers are more likely to be involved and invested in how their patients maintain and monitor their health. However, in order to engage patients and consumers more effectively, hospitals and health systems must respect the secure and intimate nature of this relationship, and consequently recognize the need for contextualized and personalized content across communication channels.
Effective patient engagement starts with a comprehensive focus on consumer behavior, including but not limited to clinical propensities, preferred communication channels, logistical challenges and personal goals. EHRs simply weren’t made for that. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, however, help supplement this need by enhancing patient relationships through continuous interactions, and then tracking and analyzing activity patterns to shape future correspondence that ultimately improves clinical dynamics. CRM platforms help hospitals and health systems deliver a seamless thoughtful experience at every touchpoint while improving the quality of care.
CRM and Its Role in Patient Engagement
In other industries including retail, hospitality, and finance, CRM has been used successfully to increase revenue and sales through deeper relationships. As healthcare becomes more consumer-focused and patients begin to weigh their healthcare options, similar to the way they do when making big investments, hospitals and health systems should leverage CRM to facilitate adoption, satisfaction and retention.
By leveraging data to gain a better understanding of consumer interests, habits and activities, this technology helps empower organizations to deliver personalized and appropriate outreach to each patient, resulting in deeper relationships with current and prospective patients. When trusted relationships are built between patients and the health organization, patients are more likely to come to back to their facility of choice for other services and even share their positive experiences with friends and family. Building these relationships give hospitals and health systems the opportunity to generate 50 percent higher margins than their peers when they offer superior patient experiences.
Why EHRs Are Not Enough
While EHRs are critical in improving patient care and lowering healthcare costs, they are not consumer-friendly and do not depend on patient participation. Additionally, they are only accessible to current patients and do not provide a channel to acquire new patients. In order to nurture the relationship between patients and healthcare systems, CRM platforms can provide patients with continuous education on how to proactively manage their health through targeted and personalized information while physicians are able to be more informed of their patients lifestyles beyond the point of care.
In order to foster true patient engagement, EHRs and CRM systems are both necessary. CRM systems are not recreations of EHRs, but rather, systems that are complementary to EHRs and can help fill the patient engagement gap that continues to plague the industry. EHRs are important to CRM systems as they provide clinical data necessary to help create a holistic view of each patient and household, from why they visit to how often they visit.
When integrated with EHRs, CRM systems can pull selected personal health information data out of the EHR to perform trending analysis that helps deliver the right information to the right patient at the right time, so they can make an informed healthcare decision, enabling transformational patient engagement.