Care Transformation Center Blog

CRMs: Not just a tool for marketers, but care managers as well


Anna Yakovenko

Anna Yakovenko is a senior consultant with the Marketing and Planning Leadership Council and leads the firm's research on primary care strategy.

The Care Transformation Center recently sat down with Anna to learn how organizations are successfully using customer relationship management software (CRM) to more effectively communicate with patients.

Q: Why should population health managers and their teams be thinking about using CRM-based approaches for their patient populations?

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems improve and facilitate communication with patients through patient segmentation, message tailoring, and outreach automation. A CRM system can be a valuable resource to personalize educational and motivational messaging to better engage patients.

Q: What are some results that organizations have realized by using CRM approaches in managing populations?

The Cleveland Clinic sets system-wide reactivation triggers in its CRM system to identify patients who have gaps in utilization. All patients receive a mailing after 12 months of inactivity, and those with any one of 275 chronic conditions may be targeted for more frequent follow-up.

For example, although pre-diabetic patients with stable A1C levels receive a standard 12-month reactivation letter, Cleveland Clinic’s CRM system monitors patients’ A1C levels between appointments and contacts those with increases after only six months of inactivity.

Kaweah Delta Health Care District’s CRM system uses behavioral triggers to reduce inappropriate ED utilization. The system scans discharge data for diagnoses that constitute an inappropriate ED visit and generates a personalized letter to the patient, explaining appropriate ED use and alerting them to the nearest Kaweah Delta Urgent Care Center. After a third inappropriate ED visit, the CRM system alerts Kaweah Delta’s Bridging Care Program staff to reach out to the frequent ED user to connect patients to community resources as needed.

With these programmed triggers, Kaweah Delta’s CRM system can send reminders at pertinent times for individuals rather than as one mass mailing, thereby creating a more engaging patient experience and improving continuity of care.

Q: Where is a good place for beginners to start?

First, meet with the marketing department to find out whether your institution has a CRM system, and how to use it to reach populations.

Second, coordinate between the population health management teams and the marketing and planning leaders. As institutions take on more risk, the population health management team should be working with the marketing and planning teams to make sure both are working towards the same population health management goals.

In particular, the marketing leader is an important partner to bring to the table. With expertise in understanding patient behavior, marketing leaders can help brainstorm patient engagement ideas, coordinate campaigns across services, and more cohesively implement your population health management communication strategies.

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