Choosing the CRM That’s Right for You

If you’re ready to put your organization at the forefront of the industry, it’s time to invest in a CRM solution.

Healthcare marketers keeping up with technology trends know that the use of customer relationship management systems is on the rise.

A robust CRM system will aggregate data across multiple sources, providing a single source of truth on consumers in a market. This allows health systems to develop strategies that anticipate consumer needs and to create a holistic healthcare experience along the entire consumer journey. When you use data to better understand individuals in the market, crafting personalized communications that increase engagement with a healthcare system becomes easy. These customized messages strengthen relationships between consumers and their healthcare providers, resulting in a proven return on investment for the organization.

If you’re ready to put your organization at the forefront of the industry, it’s time to invest in a CRM solution. In this buyer’s guide to healthcare CRM, we’ll discuss exactly what CRM is, the benefits of using a CRM solution, tips for implementing a CRM solution, and how to navigate your CRM vendor options.


Overview: What is CRM?

Customer relationship management refers to the strategies and technologies organizations use to collect and assess customer data and how they use insights from that data to drive deeper engagement. The main goal is to build stronger consumer relationships that have a measurable impact on growth and ROI.

Specifically, hospital marketers can use CRM to identify future patients, strengthen existing physicianpatient relationships, and keep patients engaged in their health. With CRM, hospitals and health systems can gain a better understanding of the full range of consumer healthcare needs and target individuals wherever they are on their journey, thus building brand affinity and loyalty in support of the overall business strategy.


Why do health systems invest in CRM?

From a business standpoint, many health systems consider CRM to be one of the most efficient marketing tools at their disposal. A robust CRM solution can not only collect and assess information in a single database, but also acts as the platform to execute communications across channels, including email, social media, and other consumer touchpoints. This method of reaching the right consumer at the right time allows health systems to identify fresh ways to increase revenue, acquire new patients and retain existing ones, and improve overall efficiency. With the right marketing strategy, a CRM solution can enable an organization to:

  • Drive growth-oriented marketing, ensuring that marketing programs and resources are focused on maximizing patient acquisition, engagement, and retention

  • Lead the shift to a consumer-centric engagement model, riving a holistic understanding of the full range of consumer healthcare needs

  • Make data a core marketing competency, enabling more effective, data-driven decisions

  • Understand and engage consumers at the individual level, illuminating why an individual needs care and targeting them where they are on their journey

  • Execute insights across channels, with a native digital marketing platform and automated tools to reach the right consumer at the right time

  • Prove the effectiveness of marketing, with concise views into marketing performance, contribution margin, and ROI across channels

  • Make the most of resources, staffing and talent, with built-in templates, segmentation models, and planning tools and the proper support from a CRM partner

All of these benefits add up to a return on investment when the right strategies are put in place. Health systems invest in CRM systems because those systems help them drive growth for the organization.


What does a best-in-class CRM solution provide?

When choosing a CRM platform, you should consider all aspects of the solution. The following core components will help improve overall efficiency and effectiveness, and lead your organization to the greatest success.

1. Data management

  • Provision of third-party data with a high level of accuracy, including consumer data, behavioral data, demographics, psychographics, web activity, and more

  • Ability to ingest data at a high rate of frequency to enhance consumer and patient profiles

  • Ability to merge all data sources into a single source of truth with maximum data integrity; incorporation of functions like de-duplication/merger, householding, and organization

  • Ability to manage automated data feeds from all sources to make data available and usable as quickly as possible

2. Data science

  • Clinically based propensity models in categories such as clinical risk, payer type, channel mix, messaging, calls to action, and relationships

  • Incorporation of deep network learning, and testing of model effectiveness to understand statistical validity and set performance expectations

3. Integration

  • Open architecture and cloud extensibility so you can leverage your existing marketing tools and integrate new third-party technologies

  • Ability to build connections between CRM and other platforms/environments for purposes of data collection, opportunity analysis, and real-time personalization

4. Opportunity identification and analytics

  • Out-of-the-box reports and analytics to identify market opportunities in areas like patient engagement, population health, patient acquisition, and market expansion

5. Targeting

  • Ability to easily identify patients and prospects in need of communication for purposes of patient acquisition, improving population health, or driving incremental utilization

6. Marketing automation

  • Full suite of marketing automation functionality for developing automated patient engagement strategies (e.g., lead nurturing and drip campaigns) in a relevant, timely, and personalized way

  • Tool set to enable digital marketing such as email, web form and landing page development, web tracking, funnel management, and performance reporting

7. Real-time marketing and execution

  • Ability to drive trigger-based marketing outreach and continuously optimize to decrease the cost of patient acquisition and yield the optimal ROI

  • Full breadth of execution capabilities for multichannel communication initiatives including email tools, SEM, display and retargeting capabilities, SEO, content management, direct mail, and marketing fulfillment center

8. Vendor expertise and experience

  • A CRM partner with healthcare specific experience and a solution that has been in market and continuously improved for 30 years or more

  • A large, diverse health system client base and active user community that can be tapped into for best practices

9. Performance monitoring and reporting

  • Executive dashboards that give you a built-in 10,000-foot view of your performance metrics across your system, facility, service line, and marketing channels

  • Ability to easily share performance data across your organization, with the tools and flexibility to analyze performance from any vantage point

  • An omni-channel reporting methodology to measure the true incremental effect of your communications, dividing credit for conversions among touch-points so you can determine how much ROI any touch point generates

10. Rapid implementation

  • A “quick start” approach that allows you to implement and use your CRM software within 30 days to get the most out your investment

If you are currently thinking about investing in a CRM platform, find out if any of your options include ALL of these components. Ask questions of your vendor to find out what capabilities their solution offers and how you can take the most advantage of each of them. Ask these questions in the beginning of your assessment to save time and to ensure that the solution you are looking to invest in comes with knowledge and advice from experts in healthcare.


Choosing the right CRM partner

Based on the specific goals you have established to guide program development and drive results with your CRM system, you should take time to research potential vendors to assess their expertise in healthcare-specific marketing. Once you have a better idea of what to expect from a CRM provider, you can better identify whom you are willing to partner with based on how they can benefit you most.

The ideal partner will have the healthcare-specific tools, experience, and expertise to help bring your marketing vision to life. Beyond features and functions, make sure the following capabilities are high on your list of criteria:

  • Depth of data and robustness of data platform. Look for a partner that has access to a comprehensive repository of U.S. consumer healthcare data, real-time intelligence on market demand, and data on clinical outcomes. Find out what data sources will be available to you to create in-depth, precise profiles of consumers and market opportunities.

  • Healthcare-specific predictive models and behavior analytics. Invest the time in understanding a potential partner’s expertise in clinically based propensity modeling and how it is used to derive insights that will help you personalize engagement and nurture your campaign.

  • Support when you need it. Determine where you need support the most and choose a vendor whose support model can fill the gaps. You’ll want access to healthcare-specific data scientists, strategists, market analysts, and account professionals who can recommend strategies and tactics that are backed by data. Find out if the vendor has in-house services for multichannel campaign execution.

  • Experience. Things are easier with a partner who knows the industry landscape. Assess the healthcare experience and length of time in the market of a potential partner. Find out the size and composition of their client base. Ask how best practices are delivered through the CRM platform and services.

  • A modern, responsive, scalable platform. The right CRM platform will let you harness your data to drive growth-oriented marketing. The platform you select should help you integrate digital with traditional marketing tools to drive a more holistic experience for the consumer. An open architecture will give you maximum flexibility with your data and tool sets, as marketing technology moves at lightning speed.

An Invaluable Resource:

From opportunity identification and prioritization to strategy development and performance reporting, a CRM platform is an invaluable tool to bring your marketing strategy to life. And if that skill set happens to be one of the gaps you have identified within your marketing department, look for a partner that offers an extensive team of data scientists, analysts, and strategists you can tap into as part of the CRM agreement – at no additional cost.


Organizing for CRM success

CRM can drive powerful benefits for your entire health system and should be thought of as an opportunity to transform your team into data-driven marketing gurus. These are some key organizational imperatives to help health systems pave the way for success:

1. Organize and master your customer data

Understand what data you have available within your marketing department. What sources of consumer and customer data are available? Where is it, and how do you access it?

Identify other data sources outside of marketing that you may be able to integrate to better understand customer and market opportunities. Then reach out to these groups and get them on board. Key players may include:

  • Strategic planning

  • Finance

  • Population health

  • IT

  • Human resources

  • Medical records

2. Lead the cultural shift to a data-driven, consumer-centric orientation

Assemble a broad team that reaches across the organization (including the groups above), gain buy-in on the benefits of sharing data, and get all the players speaking the same language. Let data drive every decision the organization makes, and use it to develop a holistic understanding of the consumer’s healthcare ecosystem and experience. Determine how your system will engage with consumers and patients across the entire spectrum of their ecosystem – not just when a health need or episode arises.

3. Transform your marketing team

Use CRM as a catalyst to drive the shift from traditional marketing to growth-oriented marketing, from communications to engagement, and from cost center to profit center. Build the core competencies needed for success as you make this transition. These include:

  • A strategic orientation: identifying opportunities, prioritizing targets, measuring and optimizing results

  • An analytical mind-set: the ability to become an expert in your data and constantly mine it for actionable insights

  • Holistic thinking about consumers and their touchpoints; develop personas and drive more personalized engagement and interactions

  • Critical thinking and a performance orientation: it’s not just about getting the communication out, but tracking that back to activity, revenue, contribution margin, and ROI

  • Subject-matter expertise across all marketing channels – both digital and traditional

Organizations that embrace these strategies will be positioned for success with CRM and beyond by deeply understanding and anticipating consumer health needs and uncovering new opportunities to drive revenue and growth – before their competitors do.


Tips for implementing CRM

Once you’ve decided which CRM solution best fits your organization and have a strategy for building broad organizational support, you’ll need a specific plan for implementation. Here are some fundamental tips for a smooth implementation of CRM:

1. Choose a project manager

A project manager can help square away the necessary details and keep the team on track. This individual can assist with securing internal IT resource needs, driving milestones, removing roadblocks, and more. You may consider more than one person to drive the team if necessary.

2. Communicate your goals to the team

Make certain the team is on the same page before you start the implementation process. State the goals you want to meet as you transition to the healthcare CRM system and how it can work to make the business processes more efficient and successful. As part of this, establish scope by identifying what data sources will be integrated as part of the implementation. This can help you clearly communicate your goals to your team members by putting all necessary information out on the table.

3. Secure resources early

After determining the data sources that are in scope for the project, it’s important to identify who your resources are. This should be based on how they can best assist the team. Clarifying who is needed for extracting data from the system and securing their time to dedicate themselves to the project is critical.

4. Schedule training before, during, and after implementation

All departments should receive training before, during and after the implementation process. This allows everyone to get used to the system before it goes live and remain comfortable afterward as you optimize processes and workflow.

5. Monitor and report on an ongoing basis

After implementation, continue to monitor and report on the system's efficiencies on an ongoing basis. If you notice an issue that keeps you from accessing metrics, ROI, and other indicators as expected, reach out to your vendor immediately to assess the problem.

6. Keep in touch with your vendor support team

You chose your specific vendor for a reason, so keep in contact with them during and after the implementation process. This organization will have the information you need when you have questions and can provide insight on best practices and other suggestions to most efficiently use your CRM system.



It’s important for health systems today to stay ahead of customer needs and preferences. But in an increasingly digital world – where customer data is highly fragmented, low-quality, or incomplete – it’s challenging to get a step ahead of consumer preferred choices and behaviors.

Arm yourself with the tools you need to master your disparate data and deeply understand and anticipate consumer health needs. Use this data to uncover new relationships and drive effective patient engagement across a multichannel ecosystem. Seek out the best platform for your organization, ensuring that you’ve chosen a partner that can lead you through an exciting transition to create meaningful connections for consumers and providers, and that will give you the greatest return on your investment.

Find out more about how Healthgrades Consumer Intelligence Platform can meet your CRM needs.