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CRM in healthcare: Hospitals focus on lifetime value of customers

Customer relationship management technologies are typically connected with the retail industry where sellers use this technology to analyze customer behaviors in order to outdistance competitors. But according to Joshua Newman, chief medical officer and GM at Salesforce, more healthcare organizations are realizing that CRM in healthcare is also important. This is especially true when building long-term relationships with patients and encouraging healthy behavior.

"People are seeing CRM not as a sales tool but as a relationship tool and as an influence tool and so we've talked in the medical field, some of us have been thinking about, 'how do you produce health? How do you sell health?'" Newman says. "Not selling procedures but selling behavior change, patient activation and really the outcomes we're all looking for."

Many healthcare organizations have said they want better outcomes for patient care, he adds. One way of achieving this is by building better relationships. Because of this, healthcare organizations want to learn from retail and other consumer organizations how to have the same kind of relationships with patients that retailers have with customers.

It's almost shameful that the hotels and the casinos and the shopping centers know us better than our hospitals.
Joshua Newmanchief medical officer at Salesforce

As a physician himself, Newman explains that during his training, he was encouraged to write down the names of the patients' family members, their hobbies, their work, in order to build a stronger relationship.

"Hospitals more than ever are thinking about the lifetime value of customer. They want people to stay in their system," Newman says. "Maybe it's harder than ever to have an individual relationship with a doctor but that doesn't preclude these organizations from having relationships with the people they see as their customers and patients. … Organizations are hoping to find that same kind of loyalty and relationship with patients and the way to do that is with [healthcare] CRM."

Healthcare CIOs are becoming more open to the use of CRM in healthcare because their jobs have changed over the years, Newman says. While 10 to 15 years ago a CIO's job was simply building a data center and installing an EHR, their jobs require much more than that today.

"What we see now in combination of where they're coming from and the jobs they're meaning to do is a much greater receptivity, an openness, understanding and in some cases an embracing of CRM technology and the kinds of tools we see across all types of organizations," he says.

Newman says, "it's almost shameful that the hotels and the casinos and the shopping centers know us better than our hospitals." He believes CRM in healthcare would help fix that.

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