CRM Platforms Drive Proactive Patient Care

When used in healthcare, CRM software holds the potential to improve patient access and outcomes, strengthen relationships with operational stakeholders

Customer Relationship Management

When we talk about healthcare delivery, we usually view our systems and providers in a reactive role. The quality of our outcomes depends on how quickly patients recognize their need for and seek care. Unfortunately, far too often, this doesn’t happen quickly enough to guarantee the best possible outcomes.

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But what if healthcare systems could anticipate patient needs and immediately connect patients with care, well before the problem becomes dire?

At Cleveland Clinic, this is no longer a question but an emerging reality, thanks to the IT Department’s adoption of Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) software.

As COVID-19 began to sweep the U.S. last spring, routine and even urgent visits declined drastically. As a result, our patient population became sicker, including for reasons aside from COVID-19. To address this critical situation, Matt Kull, Chief Information Officer at Cleveland Clinic, decided now was the time to pilot CRM software to help boost patient engagement. CRM platforms comprise data-driven tools, techniques and strategies employed by businesses to engage and retain customers. While historically used within the sales industry, CRM platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics hold the potential to dramatically improve patient outcomes and rapidly transform how we deliver healthcare.

Better access, healthier patients

“As Epic is our clinical record of truth, the CRM system is our engagement record of truth. Anytime you can think of consistent engagement, that’s where you can see the CRM system coming into play,” says Beth Meese, Executive Director of Digital Health & Enterprise CRM at Cleveland Clinic. When applied to a healthcare setting, CRM tools including chatbots, text messaging, emails and phone calls represent a centralized and automated way to gather and track patient engagement data. Every caregiver and clinician who encounters the patient can view and leverage this information to create the highest quality, most personalized and compassionate experience for the patient.

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While CRM adoption is still in its preliminary stages at Cleveland Clinic, multiple pilot initiatives integrating Microsoft Dynamics have already resulted in significantly improved and sometimes lifesaving outcomes.

Using the CRM:

  • Patients with unfulfilled orders for three procedure types over six months old were contacted. Thirty-eight percent scheduled a visit as a result, including 30% of unfulfilled colonoscopies and 51% of unfulfilled mammograms.
  • We were able to directly text over 137,000 patients that they were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • We were able to send an automated mobile text exchange to 1000 patients one week prior to their scheduled virtual visits. The exchange offered technical assistance to patients, to prepare their personal devices for the visit, and 139 of the patients responded and were able to resolve their issues through the automated exchange.

Meese is particularly excited about the rollout of the CRM system’s role in the current Patient Service Center initiative. Headed by Lisa Yerian, MD, Chief Improvement Officer at Cleveland Clinic, alongside a multidisciplinary team of enterprise leadership, the initiative aims to boost patient satisfaction and create a personalized experience, the moment patients call for an appointment.

“Typically, when a patient calls, we play this game of back and forth, plugging in dates and locations until something works,” says Meese. “With this initiative, when patients call in, the appointment center representative will now be able to see in your record that you are due for a mammogram, or that your medication hasn’t been refilled in three months or that there’s an opening at the COVID vaccine clinic, and it looks like you haven’t gotten your COVID vaccine yet. The representative will discuss all of these items with you and also be able to view your scheduling location and time trends and offer relevant options. So by the time you end the call, you feel like you’ve resolved everything outstanding with Cleveland Clinic. You are prompted to take a survey and if you’re really happy, a record of your satisfied sentiment also gets saved to your record. This way, we can see that you were satisfied with what we did, and we can make sure to repeat those actions the next time when you call.”

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Dr. Yerian agrees. “We’re seeing a huge appetite from patients to interact with us digitally and connect with care. We’ve shifted the paradigm from reactive — answering when a patient calls us — to proactive and engaging patients when we can see that they need care. We’re developing a unified strategy to orchestrate the patient’s journey across a lifetime of care and thousands of patients are already seeing the impact.”