Log in

What is a healthcare CRM? How to manage patient relationships

What is a healthcare CRM?
What exactly can a healthcare CRM software do?
What are the big-picture benefits of implementing a healthcare CRM?
What are the must-have features of a healthcare CRM?
What could a healthcare CRM do for your practice?

The Global Healthcare CRM Market is expected to reach $28.89 billion by 2026. This is due in large part to a growing need to prioritize patient relationships and engagement, as well as increasing demand for structured data without losing out on security.

Investing in a healthcare or medical CRM solution helps you to easily locate your patient’s medical, payment and behavioral history, which you can use to personalize messaging, improve follow-up care and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Focusing on patient engagement and communication is especially important in the face of ever-changing insurance coverage rules that cause unrest and confusion, not to mention the added pressure that comes from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The healthcare industry is years behind the global standard when it comes to adopting effective digital communication channels to keep up with consumer-driven demand for a better customer experience. The challenge is to use innovative technology to increase personalization through marketing automation without losing the human touch and increasing the risk to security.

With a medical CRM, you can do just that, while also streamlining your practice’s administrative tasks, optimizing patient care and patient management and improving medical sales and marketing initiatives. In this guide, we will explain exactly why a healthcare CRM can benefit your business and how to pick the right one for your needs.

What is a healthcare CRM?

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a platform that logs and tracks your customer relationships. This includes contact information, previous interactions such as calls and emails, how much money someone has spent on your product or service and which services they prefer.

Medical CRM software does the same, keeping track of your patients’ personal and medical history, patient notes, preferences and interactions with your practice or healthcare business.

Here’s a snapshot of what a healthcare CRM system can log:

  • Contact information
  • Contact history (phone calls, emails, SMS)
  • Patient forms (patient intake, content forms, etc.)
  • Insurance and billing history
  • History of past appointments
  • Upcoming appointment reminders
  • Patient notes (whitecoat syndrome, anxiety, phobia of needles, etc.)
  • Pre-existing and/or chronic conditions
  • Current and past medications and/or treatments
  • Allergies

With a healthcare CRM, you can track and update these details for all of your patients within a single platform. This not only gives you a comprehensive view of your patients and their preferences, but also keeps you and your team from bouncing between multiple platforms to log information.

Storing information like this and being able to access it at your fingertips is critical to the patient experience. In a survey conducted by Surescripts, 55% of patients reported that their medical history was incomplete or entirely missing when they visited their doctor. Patients also reported that they were spending the majority of their visit filling out paperwork and note that they feel doctors who use a digital system are 70% more organized, 40% more innovative and 33% more competent.

Beyond easy-access to patient medical histories and digital intake forms for new patients, CRMs come with communication tools like email, SMS and phone platforms that allow you to put the bulk of your medical practice’s marketing and data entry on autopilot. This gives you and your team of healthcare professionals more time to actually talk to patients and build relationships.

In fact, according to the same survey, healthcare practices that have adopted software solutions to replace manual data entry and administrative tasks such as sending emails and scheduling feel 68% more relieved, 65% more confident and 55% more comfortable in their roles.

Leslie Kelly Hall, Senior Vice President of Policy at Healthwise and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation told Surescripts:

“It’s clear that patients are willing and able to play a more active role in managing their care, and with improved access to technology and information sharing between doctors and patients, the entire healthcare system will benefit.”

Healthcare CRM is poised to be the next big thing as providers strive to personalize care and improve how they manage and nurture patient relationships.

Free templates to track sales

Before spending a cent on CRM tools, try out this 100% free and effective sales tracking template.

What exactly can a healthcare CRM software do?

Let’s examine some specific ways a CRM system can help your healthcare practice.

Follow-up with patients on appointments and future treatment

Approximately 20% of Americans haven’t been to a doctor within the past year. Meanwhile, 46% of UK patients miss at least one doctor’s appointment per year.

No-shows and missed appointments are bad news for patients and providers alike. Not only are patients potentially missing crucial care, but practices are likewise missing out on business.

By setting up reminders and notifications via a healthcare CRM, all of your patients’ future appointments are logged and scheduled. Integrating with your marketing tools, you can send regular email, phone, or SMS confirmations without having to dial out to your patients manually.

Check-in with patients to guarantee satisfaction

The more you can learn about your patients, the better. The internet has made it easier than ever for people to shop around between healthcare providers and do their homework before making a decision on who to use. This speaks to the importance of guaranteeing patient satisfaction by asking for feedback and ideas about how to provide better service.

Here’s an example of a patient satisfaction survey from Formstack, giving patients an opportunity to speak their minds and make suggestions.

With healthcare CRM software, you can both automate the feedback process and log patient details at the same time so you know how to better serve patients in the future.

Discover trends among patients

Every business should make decisions based on data rather than guessing. Healthcare providers are no exception.

Best-practice is to enter patient or client information into your CRM as soon as it becomes available. This way, your team won’t ever need to play catch up or risk misplacing key information. There are also certain data points that can be pulled into your CRM automatically, such as the contact information from an email.

Once inputted, gathering patient data from your CRM can help clue you in on data points to inform your patient retention and marketing efforts such as:

  • Who is (and isn’t) responding to your marketing messages
  • Which types of marketing channels are most effective
  • How patients discover your practice (search engines, word of mouth, etc.)
  • Patient demographics
  • No-show rate
  • How long your typical patient lifecycle is

In short, your CRM can highlight how to improve the patient experience based on actual data.

Uncover opportunities for better treatment

CRM makes it a cinch to keep your patient records up-to-date as you explore new treatment options based on their histories and preferences.

A CRM system also represents the modern hybrid of your patients’ health records as well as your business and marketing data. Keeping all of this data confined to one platform gives you a comprehensive view of your patients’ journey and helps you understand how and when to message them about new treatment opportunities.

For example, if you have a patient that is suffering from migraines, they may need to try various treatments before landing on one that actually works to prevent and relieve them. Keeping a detailed digital history of what treatments they’ve tried, how effective they were and what’s next on the list will make it much easier to track your patient’s journey.

With a CRM, you can also set a notification to email this patient whenever a new migraine treatment becomes available to ensure they stay abreast of the latest options available to them.

Track the business success of your practice

At the end of the day, medical practices need to stay busy to keep their doors open. It’s important for providers to have a constant pulse on how they’re doing business-wise.

For example, are you successfully retaining patients? Is your practice actually growing? Beyond paying attention to your individual customers, a healthcare CRM allows you to forecast revenue and ultimately understand whether you’re meeting your business’ goals.

What are the big-picture benefits of implementing a healthcare CRM?

For the majority of healthcare providers, investing in CRM is a matter of when not if.

According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the experience vs. expectation gap in the healthcare industry leaves an “opportunity sweetspot”. Survey respondents cited that a positive customer experience in the healthcare industry is more important than in any other industry mentioned. Yet, survey respondents reported a 25% difference in the customer experience they had in the healthcare industry vs. the one they hope and expect to receive.

PWC Healthcare CRM

How can the healthcare industry improve their customer experience? It starts by equipping employees, both physicians and staff, with the tools and information they need to close the expectation gap and elevate the customer journey, from scheduling and intake to all patient and staff communications and touchpoints.

Adopting a system might seem daunting at first glance. Below are some reasons why doing so is worth it and why leveling up your practice’s technology should be a top priority.

Increased patient retention

The negative impact of no-shows is well-documented. Even a single missed appointment can potentially result in the long-term loss of a patient from your practice.

Athenahealth healthcare CRM

Much like businesses that thrive on repeat business and long-term customers, practices should strive for the same when it comes to patients. Your CRM is central to reminders, notifications and follow-ups that keep patients coming through your door.

More accurate record-keeping

As mentioned above, a report by Surescripts found that over half of patients reported that their medical history was incomplete or entirely missing when they visited their doctor. The survey goes into more detail about exactly what was missing from their medical histories and records:

  • Doctor does not know the existing medical condition (40%)
  • Doctor’s office is missing personal information (40%)
  • Insurance information is not on file at the doctor’s office (38%)
  • Doctor isn’t aware of recent surgeries, hospitalizations, or visits with other doctors (44%)
  • Doctor isn’t aware of their allergies (61%)
  • Doctor isn’t aware of which prescriptions they’re taking (49%)
  • Patient needed to physically bring test results, X-rays or health records with them to the visit (29%)
  • Patient had difficulty accessing their own medical records (40%)

This isn’t just inconvenient for patients—bad record-keeping also results in wasted time and resources.

Inputting your patient data directly into a CRM from a form entry reduces the chance of your staff making a manual error. It also puts the patient’s records and history right at the physician’s or healthcare professional’s fingertips, making it an accurate and up to date resource for them to refer back to throughout the appointment.

Less time spent doing manual data entry

A staggering 38% of healthcare costs go into administrative overhead. Thankfully, updates and automation via CRM can eliminate tasks such as scheduling and patient follow-ups.

Whether you’re performing these tasks in-house or outsourcing them, reducing time and money spent on tedious tasks is a plus. Chances are your staff’s time could be better spent elsewhere with patients and clients, such as having meaningful conversations and building relationships.

Personalized outreach and marketing

Your patients and clients deserve personalized care and attention rather than standardized messages and marketing blasts. With a CRM, you can segment your patients based on their medical histories and treatment options accordingly.

For example, John Smith may be a patient whose blood work shows that he’s on the line of having abnormal thyroid numbers. When it’s time for Mr. Smith’s follow up appointment, your CRM can help you to easily pull up his patient information to help craft a personalized email stating that it’s time for new blood work tests to check for any thyroid abnormalities. A simple personalized message like this can go a long way in making your patients feel taken care of and looked out for.

Emails like this can even be automated to make this process seamless and less time-consuming. Ultimately, this will help to boost engagement and hopefully generate positive word of mouth marketing for your practice.

Less chaos for your staff

Healthcare is a high-stakes field and stress levels are often high as well. Anything you can do to make life easier and more organized for your staff is a point in your favor.

This means less bouncing between software platforms, or between software and electronic health records (ERM) for starters. Your healthcare CRM helps rein in the chaos by keeping all of your patient data in one cohesive space rather than across multiple systems.

A medical CRM can also help organize your staff’s day-to-day activities by assigning certain activities to various staff members and prioritizing tasks by level of importance. For example, it will most likely be a higher priority to send a patient’s prescription to a pharmacy over sending out a marketing blast about upcoming flu shots.

CRMs make it easy for your staff to collaborate on tasks. If one of your staff members gets sick and needs to leave halfway throughout the day, their colleague can easily open the CRM to see what they were up to in their list and take over.

What are the must-have features of a healthcare CRM?

There are tons of options out there in terms of CRM solutions. That said, providers and practices need to consider the specific features of a healthcare CRM before investing in a platform.

Data security

Protecting patient privacy should be a top priority for both your patients’ well-being as well as legal compliance. Double-check the security certifications of any CRM or other healthcare software solutions prior to adoption.

Real-time EHR/EMR updates

For the sake of convenience and saving time, your patient and staff intake forms should fire off directly to your CRM system. This again reduces data entry and ensures accurate records. Intake software and HIPAA-compliant forms (like this one from Jotform) can do a ton of the legwork when it comes to logging your patient data.

Integrations for patient engagement

Although a CRM is a powerful tool by itself, integrations with other marketing, sales and communication tools are what make a CRM an all-in-one platform.

For example, the team at Eye Hospital Denmark take advantage of tools like Zapier to create automated workflows and scale their sales.

Kristian Mejlvang, Eye Hospital Denmark’s Marketing Manager, notes:

“We have many auto-generated reminders for our staff, which are valuable for us as we are dealing with different segments and different treatments. One example is that the auto-reminder provides a ’double safety’ for procedures like ordering the right lenses for the right treatments. In fact, the failure rate of this very important task is at 0%!

Activity tracking

Healthcare and medical organizations typically have massive to-do lists, meaning it’s important that staff members are both on top of their schedules and accountable for their daily tasks. Ideally, your CRM should be able to highlight action items such as follow-up calls or outreach.

For example, CRMs keep users from second-guessing “what’s next” by specifically spelling out activities that deserve someone’s attention.

Patient segmentation

According to research by athenahealth, factors such as age and chronic conditions impact how often patients need to be seen and how likely they are to no-show appointments.

Healthcare CRM Athenahealth

A healthcare CRM solution is the perfect tool for tagging and segmenting patients based on their needs. For example, you can set up a workflow for patients with particular conditions who might need more frequent appointments. This is another example of how software can be used to provide more proactive care.

What could a healthcare CRM do for your practice?

A CRM system is transformative to any healthcare practice that is looking to improve patient communications and internal processes. Ultimately, a healthcare CRM elevates the customer experience and helps you to retain more patients.

In an increasingly competitive healthcare space, building stronger relationships and staying connected with patients are both top priorities. With the help of a CRM solution that can be used to securely manage sensitive data and is HIPAA compliant in the US, you can take your practice to the next level by doing both at the same time.

Free templates to track sales

Before spending a cent on CRM tools, try out this 100% free and effective sales tracking template.

Driving business growth