What’s the relationship between CRM and HIPAA in healthcare? Why do healthcare providers need more technology to manage their patients? The answers to these questions lie in some of the big technology disruptions that healthcare has experienced in the last decade. Like every other industry, technology has been a game changer. Here’s what you need to know about HIPAA-compliant CRM platforms and why healthcare needs these tools.
Setting the Stage for CRM in the Healthcare Industry
Over the past decade, there have been big changes in healthcare, first requiring that medical providers leverage electronic health records (EHRs), then mandating that the data captured on these systems are compliant with new patient privacy rules. Software makers have worked to create user-friendly platforms that also comply with these changes.
But that isn’t all that’s changed in the industry. Increasing consumerization has created more competition for providers. Thanks to the Internet, healthcare customers know they have more choices for medical care, from a traditional primary care visit or urgent care, to telemedicine, or even self-help with tools like WebMD. For healthcare providers, this has created an increasing need to attract and retain patients to ward off the encroachment of competing providers. That’s exactly the dilemma that a HIPAA-compliant customer relationship management (CRM) platform solves.
HIPAA Compliant CRMs and The Practice of Medicine
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was codified into law in 1996. It set national standards for patient data privacy, affecting the use of medical records and the disclosure of information. It is the primary rule governing data usage by all software companies and healthcare organizations that capture protected health information (PHI).
The law mandates how data is handled administratively, but also how it is transmitted through the Internet. There are civil (monetary) penalties for non-compliance. All technology that transmits PHI, including software such as EHRs and CRMs in the healthcare industry, must follow these rules.
But do healthcare providers need a HIPAA compliant CRM? What are the strategic imperatives that define the need for CRM in the healthcare industry?
Strategic Imperatives for HIPAA Compliant CRM
The new strategic imperative for healthcare providers, regardless of their size, service line, or specialty, is to attract and retain customers. Becker’s Hospital Review states, “To stay ahead of the competition, healthcare organizations must now demonstrate a relentless focus on the consumer and proactively deliver an extraordinary experience to attract and retain loyal patients. This is where a healthcare CRM comes in.”
Healthcare customers are more empowered to choose providers based on convenience, price, and overall experience. Increasingly, patients treat healthcare like any other service, reviewing doctors online, researching medications and treatments, and considering all the choices before making a purchase. This is hugely different from even a decade ago, where patients lacked all the information and choices they have today.
As patients become better informed and more commodity-driven in their healthcare choices, medical organizations are forced to create more price transparency, better convenience, and personalized services — or run the risk of losing the patient to the competition. To stay ahead of this new consumerization, healthcare providers are increasingly seeking new technology to attract and retain patients. This is exactly the role of a HIPAA compliant CRM.
How a HIPAA Compliant CRM Helps Healthcare Organizations
A CRM platform is designed to help manage customers. It can house important data in a central database that allows you to create marketing campaigns to attract more patients and keep them long-term. The idea that a patient is a customer can be a big shift in thinking for most doctors, but the reality is healthcare is a service. To attract more customers, healthcare organizations must have a way to engage new and existing customers while using the software to improve their experience with your practice.
How can CRM software in the healthcare industry help hospitals and medical practices respond to these new trends?
- A CRM can help marketing teams execute multi-channel campaigns that measure results in real time.
- The HIPAA compliant CRM can help healthcare organizations create more personalized experiences and improve the patient journey.
- The CRM can measure efforts against the rate of return by tracking activities.
Digital healthcare marketing today is a critical component of communicating with new and potential patients. These tools help us educate, engage, and retain customers, something that is increasingly important given all the competition healthcare providers face. Just a decade ago, healthcare providers would simply put out a shingle or build a new wing on a hospital and patients would just come. Today, there are far too many choices and patients are too informed to not make the effort to attract and retain these customers.
These facts are exactly why technology leader Gartner says they "anticipate healthcare organizations will continue to accelerate the process of evaluating and implementing CRM solutions over the next five years."
Now that we understand the necessity of a HIPAA compliant CRM, what should healthcare providers look for in these tools?
Best CRM for the Healthcare Industry
Beyond looking for compliance with HIPAA rules, what are the other features to look for in a CRM for the healthcare industry?
- Referrals management to support your relationships with health system, primary, specialty, and ancillary providers.
- Intelligent automation to help your staff work smarter.
- Campaign management that will help you understand why some patients arrive at your practice — and why some leave.
- Business intelligence that offers real-time data and reporting to help your team track the marketing channels that are working, patient behaviors, or any information important to your practice.
- Social media management with a dashboard that allows you to manage all of your content from one page.
- Clinical trial management for efficient use of study data.
- Automated lead generation that allows you to respond to potential patients visiting your website or clicking through on an e-book or blog.
- Recruiting of healthcare staff and providers with automated communications and data analysis.
IES partners with Microsoft to bring CRM to the healthcare field. Talk to our team about the proven products we offer to ensure patient satisfaction in your healthcare practice.