Customer Relationship Management: A New Frontier for Providers

Health care and market reforms are creating new dynamics that require hospitals and providers to think more strategically about how they manage and engage consumers and patients.

Cynthia Kilroy, SVP, Provider Product Strategy, OptumHealth

New public and private reimbursement, care and business models require providers to take on more clinical and financial risk. Integrated within all the Medicare payment reform strategies – value-based purchasing, meaningful use, hospital avoidable readmission and ACOs – are capabilities that support patient engagement, such as two-way communication with physicians and patient satisfaction measurement. To be successful in this new world, providers will need to influence the health and wellness of the population, better manage chronically ill patients and coordinate care across health care providers.

In today’s health care system, it is the payer who manages the customer relationship, while the provider manages the patient relationship. As the system evolves, providers will need to manage more of the customer relationship. This means that they will need to think about how to attract, advise, connect and follow-up with the individuals and populations they manage.

In order to do this, hospitals and providers can use customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and capabilities to create loyalty and brand awareness for health care consumers. Some of the strategies they should consider include:

  1. Definition – Develop an organization-wide definition of customer and patient relationship management that includes guiding principles and goals.
  2. Integration – Define an integrated CRM approach that supports the overall brand across all initiatives, processes and investments.
  3. Segmentation – Know your customer through customized information, such as literacy, activation levels, demographics, health status and patient activation level.
  4. Focus – Centralize the CRM team to ensure alignment and maximization of resources.
  5. Analytics – Define a framework to evaluate and measure effects.
  6. Education and Engagement – Effectively motivate consumers to get involved in their purchasing and health care decisions.

By incorporating these strategies, providers may be able to achieve a number of goals, such as increasing market share and revenue, improving outcomes and patient engagement, developing brand loyalty and making the most of investments in population health management services.

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