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CRM in an ACO World: Hospital Marketing’s New Tools of Engagement

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

colorful animated 3D stick figures standing in color-coded groups, blue group on targetNot long ago the folks at Krames StayWell checked-in with us about how healthcare Customer Relationship Management—hospital CRM in particular—is recalibrating its mission for greater engagement and improved outcomes in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) world. Many of the “old rules” are changing.

They’re out now with an insightful report about CRM in an ACO world titled, Mission: Engagement. It’s one of those exceptionally informative documents that taps industry thought-leader perspectives, including (we’re pleased to say) Healthcare Success Co-Founder and CEO Stewart Gandolf.

By definition, the concepts of accountable care organizations, medical homes, care coordination and others require a new perspective. The resulting report from the Krames organization is both enlightening and instructive.

Accountable care organization: A group of health care providers (including primary care, specialty care and inpatient care) that have a formal agreement to deliver the full spectrum of care to a group of patients. The provider’s payment is based on achieving health care quality goals and outcomes.

In a new world of accountability, the healthcare marketing and advertising mission increasingly shifts to engagement and “getting to know patients better, helping them manage their health, improving health outcomes, and establishing life-long relationships.”

Comprehensive CRM interactions are no longer exclusively for the marketing team. Medical staff physicians and marketing departments can partner to use data to improve the health and care of their patients.

For one thing, Stewart points out that “working closely with physicians is more important than ever before as hospitals move to an employed-physician structure. In the past, hospitals directly employed no more than a third of the medical staff; the rest maintained their own private practices. The next couple of years, he says, will turn those proportions on their heads, with employed physicians outnumbering private practice docs.”

For hospital administrators and marketing executives, he continued, “an ability to talk to and relate to doctors, to understand the issues is crucial. When somebody comes to the table really understanding the strategy, thinking strategically, talking about data and citing other resources, [doctors are] more likely to listen to you.”

In the broader perspective of accountability and the ACO model, hospitals are concerned about the health and wellbeing of an entire population. The Krames report discusses how a next generation of CRM tools can identify groups by health risk, condition or other criteria, and deliver the precise messages that engage and benefit those in the group.

The new breed of CRM tools, Krames observes, “brings together more data points than ever before so that health care organizations can get a clearer picture of the health of their communities. Along with the demographic and psychographic data [the system] also uses the concepts of behavioral economics and predictive models to analyze and synthesize data points.”

This type of information, according to Gandolf “allows the hospital to think strategically about how to reach certain groups of patients. For example, “you can identify patients that statistically are going to be more likely to be high users [of emergency services] because of chronic conditions, age, lifestyle, behaviors and other facts. You can spend more energy where it’s most likely to be successful.”

Surprisingly, even with the present and future benefits that are possible with a Customer Relationship Management database, Krames reports that only 15 percent of hospitals have a CRM system. We’d like to hear from you on this. How is your hospital using CRM? And if you don’t have one presently, what is the prospect of having a system in place soon?

The complete Krames StayWell document is available online here (free with registration).

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