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A Spirited, Lively Discussion About CRMs

by Sara Foster | Nov 10, 2017

5 CRM vendors; 1 room; and 35 healthcare marketers, hungry for information.

This was the set-up for HCIC17’s “CRM 2020: What You Need to Know and Do Now to Be Ready for the Next Decade” two-hour presentation. Throughout the presentation, vendors shared their thoughts on what a CRM could do for a hospital, with marketers peppering the panelists with specific questions on how to manage the software.

All the vendor representatives (Healthgrades, Evariant, Influence Health, Tea Leaves Health and LionShare, Inc.) agreed that a CRM should be considered a strategy, instead of a piece of software. A CRM works best in a hospital that has a data driven culture, powered by marketers who understand how certain data points can be effective when it comes to population health.

Ultimately, CRM is a mindset. Let’s dive into it:

Starting your CRM journey

Several marketers in the audience were in the early stages of shopping around for a CRM. One attendee asked if the vendors had any advice, before purchasing.  

Here’s what they said:

  1. Define what a CRM means to you. “Everybody has a different definition of what they want their CRM to do,” says Chris Catallo, EVP and general manager at Healthgrades. “Figure out what you want, before you start looking.”  
  2. Talk to your CFO. “Ask your CFO for two to three initiatives your hospital wants to focus on,” says Sachin Agrawal, COO at Tea Leaves Health. “For example, do you want to grow loyalty or retention? Or are there any service lines you want to concentrate on? If you narrow the question, you’ll get a more productive conversation with a CRM vendor.”
  3. Start small. “Spend time focusing on how you can fix your customer service experience before you start the CRM discussion,” says Michael Sengbush, SVP and general manager at Influence Health. “For starters, fix your call center. Don’t worry about the analytics or aspirational stuff. When someone responds to your marketing campaign, they’ll call you. You want to make sure you’ve got good customer service and then, arm yourself with a CRM that has all that data to make that experience even better.”

How can a CRM be effective at a hospital?

Marketers need to be educated on how to use their CRM.

“As vendors, we need to show clients how to use these tools,” says Brian O’Connor, VP of enterprise technology at Evariant. “A lot of technology products get sold without the service component. You’ve got to have that extra layer of service, strategy and coaching. Without it, you’ve bought an expensive database.”

Teamwork within a hospital matters, too.

“If you’re all in there together — that makes a difference,” says Laura Lee Jones, CEO of LionShare, Inc. “You need a lot of communication in all departments — from IT to finance. You need to have a data driven culture or at least work in a hospital that puts the money and resources behind a CRM. A CRM needs to expand beyond a marketing department.”

Now that you’ve got a CRM…what’s next?

If your hospital already has a CRM, are you making the most use of it? Vendors shared a few tips:

  1. Staff for success. “You’ve got to have the right people (like marketing analysts or data analysts) on your team,” Jones says. “If not, find a vendor who can support you with their off-site team.”  
  2. Strategy first; technology second. “Embrace data science now,” O’Connor says. “Promote innovation within your organization.”
  3. Don’t be a robot. “We tell people to ‘measure, measure, measure’ all the time — yet, that shouldn’t take away from the essence of marketing,” Catallo says. “Marketers need to design a goal and use data points to impact that goal. Trust your gut and go for it. If you want to disrupt, you’ve got to be creative.”

Interested in learning more? Join us for our CRM workshop in Portland, OR from March 21-22, 2018.  

  • Hospital Marketing
  • HealthCare Marketing
  • CRM
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