Promoting Trust and Loyalty with Customer Relationship Management Technology in Healthcare

By Sean Kennedy, MS, PMP, MPH, senior director, Industry Solutions & Architecture, Healthcare & Life Science, Salesforce; chair, HIMSS Exploring CRM Technology for Healthcare Task Force

Sean Kennedy, MS, PMP, MPH

I recently read the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation’s (NEHI’s) book, Health Care without Walls: A Roadmap for Reinventing U.S. Health Care. On the concept of innovation enablers, they say:

“…digital tools and new channels for delivering health care services..., offer potentially large benefits to individuals and to the nation. Put simply, the vision within reach is of a health care system that is far more accessible and convenient, improves quality of care, removes some of the friction in health care, makes better use of clinicians, potentially lowers the cost of care, and offers a host of other benefits as well.”

When I reflect on the charter of the HIMSS Exploring Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Technology for Healthcare Task Force and our subsequently produced Definition of CRM in Healthcare, CRM in Healthcare Survey and Interoperability & HIE Community Roundtable Presentation, they all communicate the idea of a more convenient, quality, friction-free, efficient and effective healthcare system, ultimately leading to increased trust in and loyalty to the organization.

Interoperability & HIE Community Roundtable

Hear more about community information exchange and addressing social determinants of health, and operationalizing CRM technology to transform the healthcare experience from our recent roundtable webinar. Learn more | Listen now

CRM as an Enabler of an Improved Healthcare “Future State”

CRM in healthcare is an enabler of an improved future state – which I believe is a trusted healthcare system that delivers value to its consumers. To achieve this, we must recognize the tensions that exist between the drivers of change and the resulting imperatives before we can overcome them. For example:

  1. Unsustainable and increasingly unaffordable costs of care for patients results in an imperative that operational efficiencies drive revenue growth while reducing cost.
  2. An increasingly sick and aging population cared for by a distributed set of care providers creates a demand for interoperability and frictionless sharing of data at scale, enabling the delivery of care anywhere, including in the home, while traveling or among a care team that spans multiple healthcare organizations.
  3. Competition in the healthcare market, driven by disruptive business models from non-traditional entrants and partnerships, results in a need for personalization of services that will increase loyalty to the organization.

Finding a place for CRM technologies and approaches in our healthcare system can help to alleviate these tensions and resolve these imperatives. We are seeing it happen already – at organizations like NYU Langone, Piedmont Healthcare and Henry Ford Health System. They are all using CRM technologies in response to an array of pressures – from competition to managing costs to scaling services – and are working through one of the leading barriers to adoption of CRM in healthcare, interoperability, as reported in our task force’s recently published survey results.

Designed well, CRM solutions can extend electronic medical record (EMR), practice management and revenue-cycle management (RCM) systems with capabilities that ease complicated workflows and strengthen relationships. In the words of Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, from his recent New Yorker article, Why Doctors Hate Their Computers:

“We ultimately need systems that make the right care simpler for both patients and professionals, not more complicated. And they must do so in ways that strengthen our human connections, instead of weakening them.”

What is the HIMSS CRM Technology for Healthcare Task Force Doing to Help?

In 2019, we aim to share success stories of CRM in healthcare and grow organizations’ abilities to respond to prevailing market drivers and pressures by arming them with a suite of assets and tools. This year, we have organized the task force into three subgroups: (1) Use Case & Persona, (2) Capabilities & Requirements and (3) Change Management.

While ambitious, we are making significant strides toward accomplishing our objectives, which include:

  1. Identifying and completing a use case and persona model, then applying it to several proposed use cases leveraging CRM.
  2. Building a capability model and accompanying glossary of terms, then describing how they fit into the existing healthcare ecosystem, resulting in a list of reference requirements for CRM in healthcare.
  3. Publishing a change management guide, including templates and checklists that could support a smooth adoption to use CRM in healthcare. This guide will also include a readiness assessment to help organizations determine how ready (or not) they are to pursue proposed CRM use cases.

Our goal is to provide the health IT community with the resources necessary to help ease the introduction of CRM capabilities into your organizational structure.

Join Us at HIMSS19

To learn more about our efforts, join us in-person at HIMSS19 at our HIMSS Spot Session: Operationalizing CRM Technology to Transform the Healthcare Experience on Wednesday, February 13 at 2–2:45 pm ET. Or, email us at to get involved.

We look forward to continuing this work and delivering resources to the HIMSS community to support your CRM in healthcare activities.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.


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