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7/7/2009
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Using CRM To Keep Doctor Relationships Healthy

In most sectors, CRM products are used for managing customer relationships. But for some health care organizations, CRM is helping to manage and grow relationships with physicians.

In most sectors, CRM products are used for managing customer relationships. But for some health care organizations, CRM is helping to manage and grow relationships with physicians.That's the case for Resurrection Health Care, a Chicago-based integrated healthcare provider that operates eight hospitals, home health services, occupational health services, free-standing medical imaging centers, nursing homes, assisted living, sleep centers, and more.

Resurrection is using CRM to assist its sales staff and others in getting the word out to physicians that Resurrection's array of healthcare offerings should be top of mind when doctors help patients line up care, treatments, testing and other medical services.

The notion of hospitals and other healthcare providers promoting patient services to doctors might be a bit startling to outsiders. But doctors often have a myriad of local healthcare organizations available to refer patients to--whether it's for sleep analysis, physical rehab, home health care, MRIs, or any other zillion health services.

Resurrection's sales staff is using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which was customized by reseller Sonoma Partners, to help manage relationships with physicians in Resurrection's quest to have more doctors refer their patients to Resurrection facilities for services ranging from medical imaging to rehab.

"The use of CRM is moving into niches, like in healthcare to manage physician relationships, and real estate management companies to keep track of properties," says Chris Fletcher, an analyst at research firm AMR. "We're seeing CRM get broader usage beyond sales forces automation," he says.

Resurrection sales staff is also using the CRM to help manage and track relationships with outside companies, like large employers in building awareness of Resurrection's occupational rehab services for workman compensation cases and drug testing services for employees, says Ron Arnone, Resurrection Health's systems director of sales.

"The software sets up the opportunity for us to sell our services to private companies and market them to doctors," he says.

Because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is integrated to other Microsoft applications--including Excel, Word and Outlook, Resurrection's sales person can easily calculate and track expected additional revenue in an Excel spreadsheet, for instance, says Arnone.

If a sales person, for instance, thinks she can an get a physician to refer, say, five MRI patients a week to Resurrection imaging centers, or patients who need oxygen to Resurrection home health services, the additional revenue adds up.

Sonoma extended the basic sales, marketing and customer service modules of Microsoft Dynamics so that physician alliances--which are often complex in their relationships with multiple hospitals, practices, and other facilities--can be more easily managed.

Touch points with each physician, including emails, phone and meetings can be documented with the software. Also, personnel related to physician, like office managers and nurses, can also be documented.

Sales people can also attach notes, email, and other info to the physician contact record. "You don't have to go into Outlook to find the email," Arnone says.

Currently, there are about six Resurrection sales people using the CRM product, including three in home care, two in occupational health and one in imaging sales.

But Resurrection is also taking the software to the "next phase," says Arnone. That includes eight physician relations directors (one at each hospital) using the software to "keep our physicians close to our institution" if those doctors are also affiliated with other non-Resurrection providers, he says.

Soon, Resurrection's director of call center and director of physician recruitment will also use the CRM tools, he says. If budgets permit, nursing home liaisons are also candidates to use the CRM system, he says.

Users log on the web-based software, which runs remotely on a Resurrection server. In the future, Arnone says he'd like to run the software via a cloud-offering. "I'd like to have it hosted by someone else," Arnone says. Eventually, he'd also like staff being able to use the software via mobile devices, like Blackberrys, "but we have money constraints."

Arnone says the software can also be used to build customer service related case for physicians. For instance, if a sales person has a meeting with a doctor and discusses sending more of the practice's patients to Resurrection imaging centers for MRIs-- but the doctor complains that he's had trouble getting radiology reports quickly from the centers in the past--the sales person can use the CRM tools to set up a customer service case. The sales person can notify the imaging center personnel about the doctor's complaint, and then document this in the sales person's tracking of the physician.

"It not just about making physicians better aware of our services, it's about being more responsive to physicians," he says.

Is your organization using CRM to manage relationships beyond your traditional customer base? Tell us about it.

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