Patient [Customer] Relationship Management

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What it is – What are it’s Goals

[By DeeVee Devarakonda, MBA]

Patient or [Customer Relationship Management] can help healthcare organizations and medical practices achieve their business objectives while addressing today’s increasing competitive challenges.

Conflicted Meanings

In the last few years P-CRM came to mean different things to different people. First CRM, and then P-CRM, became a general buzzword, which often meant an expensive initiative that costs thousands of dollars, with not so great, to non-existent-results. Not true!

Due to various reasons including lack of clarity around business, doctor vision, inadequate requirements gathering, inappropriate software, vendor selections, messy and expensive implementations, P-CRM acquired a negative image which need not have been the case; especially for the intimate relationships needed in the healthcare space.

A Business Philosophy

P-CRM is a medical business philosophy. It is a cultural mind set that healthcare organizations need to cultivate in order to design, develop and operate organizations around patients in a way that is mutually beneficial. This is the mindset needed for healthcare organizations today. It is as true for a two-employee privately held healthcare clinic or medical practice; as it is for a mega medial corporation spanning several states with multiple services and product lines.

P-CRM Goals

P-CRM allows you to:

  • Develop single and consistent view of your patients
  • Find and keep your best patients
  • Improve patient satisfaction and retention
  • Gain competitive advantage
  • Develop long lasting and profitable relationships with your patients
  • Improve sales and marketing effectiveness
  • Improve your downstream business operations and quality
  • Augment ROI


P-CRM efficiently helps healthcare organizations differentiate themselves from their competitors through superior patient relationships and streamlined business operations with all stakeholders – patients, suppliers and partners. So, what is your P-CRM strategy and how have you implemented it?

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3 Responses

  1. CRM and Medical Marketing

    The following poem was written by Bob Schmetterer, in Cannes France – circa 2000. It was not about medicine at all! The added parenthesis is my own. Nevertheless, it does seem appropriate for this topic.

    With all the possibilities of media;
    all the possibilities of digital TV;
    all the possibilities of new media;
    and all the new content of pipes and wireless;
    with all the possibilities of integrated marketing services;
    with all the strategic planning we are prepared to deliver;
    with all the interactive connectivity and one-to-one marketing finally a reality;
    we should be in the midst of a new creative revolution…
    a new definition of (medical marketing) creativity.

    Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.
    Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

    Related Information Sources:
    Practice Management:
    Physician Financial Planning:
    Medical Risk Management:
    Healthcare Organizations:
    Health Administration Terms:
    Physician Advisors:

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  2. Role of Technology in Healthcare CRM and Marketing Campaigns

    As Dr. Marcinko and DeeVee mentioned in the above post, there is no technology silver bullet for CRM. But, privacy enabling a medical practice marketing or CRM campaign is paramount. So, here are some salient steps for secure data management that might affect the technology selection choices of the practice:

    Privacy-compliant database development – Healthcare organizations have to “listen” and record what patients are saying and if and how they prefer to be contacted or not at all. All these details will have to be stored in a secure database, which is regularly refreshed with the outcome of company’s communications with patient. This will be the central repository that the company will draw upon to design and execute consistent and privacy enabled patient communications.

    Enterprise data management – Protect the data across the organization, from group 2 group and from network 2 network .It is not enough for healthcare organizations to protect data from external intruders, but also from internal data abusers. It is not enough that patient data is secure during transmission at the patient touch point. It also needs to be safe where it is stored. It is not unusual to have patient data stored or lying around where it is accessible by internal intruders.

    Always remember, it is imperative for healthcare organizations to go beyond traditional firewalls to have multi-layered security at the data level.

    Clark Davis
    [Medical Clinic CIO]


  3. More on Customer Service

    What matters most when you’re choosing the stores or service providers you want to do business with? Ask several people that question and you’ll get a variety of answers. One common factor, though, will probably be customer service.

    It seems to make no sense, then, that I have recently switched from an airline that provides excellent customer service to one that doesn’t.

    I travel frequently on business, almost always by air. I also live in Rapid City, South Dakota, which is not exactly a major transportation hub, so my airline choices are limited. For years I’ve flown Delta (Northwest). Their representatives are friendly and accommodating. The company also offers several services that make travel easier.

    Two of these perks are early boarding and a dedicated phone line for frequent fliers. The early boarding makes life easier for people like me who carry on their luggage. If a flight is cancelled or delayed, the quick access through the dedicated phone line can make the difference between getting on a different plane today and not finding an open seat until tomorrow.

    The downside with Delta has been slightly higher prices and more challenging schedules than United, the other major airline serving Rapid City.

    Recently, as I was planning my travel for the next few months, I did a direct comparison. This research showed I could save about ten percent on travel costs by switching to United. Even more important, United’s superior scheduling would allow me to spend more time in the office and with my family.

    The decision should have been a no-brainer. Yet it wasn’t. As I interacted with a number of employees from both airlines, those from Delta were consistently pleasant and helpful. Those from United were almost uniformly rude and unaccommodating. I found myself wondering, if this was how they treated prospective customers, how did they treat customers they already had?

    I finally decided to switch, but with reluctance. It just felt wrong to reward the company with the worst customer service.

    Yet what finally drove my decision was the realization that customer service has two essential components. One is giving customers what they want. This includes courtesy, friendliness, respect, and acknowledgement. The other is giving customers what they need. This usually boils down to providing the product or service that best meets their requirements at the best price. Because United’s lower prices and better schedules offered more of what I needed, I reluctantly decided to give up the better service that I wanted.

    The best companies, of course, offer both. Ideally, those are the companies we are able to give our business to.

    But as potential customers, it’s important to pay attention to both these aspects of customer service. Sometimes good service matters most, even if it costs more. This is one reason some locally-owned businesses can compete successfully against retail giants.

    Sometimes price or convenience is the deciding factor. You may be perfectly happy getting your prescriptions from an impersonal chain store if it saves you a couple of hundred dollars a month.

    Once in a while, the warmth that appears to be good service is just a mask hiding incompetence or even fraud. Con artists, after all, are some of the superficially friendliest people you’d ever want to meet.

    Am I suggesting courtesy and customer service don’t matter? Absolutely not. If we receive bad service, we should speak up. And whenever possible, we should give our business to companies who value us enough to treat us well.

    But, sometimes we can’t get what we want. Sometimes the best decision is to settle for getting what we need.

    Rick Kahkler MS CFP® ChFC CCIM


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