Will CRMs Make a Difference in Healthcare

Years ago, I had the good fortune of evaluating Geisinger’s Medical Home initiative, one of the first of its kind. It left an indelible, and unexpected, lesson.

Geisinger’s Medical Home, like other programs at the time, represented an important transition in moving from episodic to whole-patient care. Geisinger’s Health Plan moved from centralized case management for patients with costly chronic diseases to nurse case managers embedded in Geisinger Clinic’s primary care sites. For the first time, case managers were integral to care teams with direct access to patient EHR data. They served as an important point of contact, learning about the patient’s local community and the best ways to engage them and anticipate their individual needs.

Looking at the results, we saw that Medical Home care created substantial patient and financial value. Patients were more engaged in their care, increasingly sought care as the need arose, and were less likely to go to the emergency room. But when we took a closer look at the trends, we saw periodic flare-ups of increased costs, use of emergency room care, and use of inpatient care. If things were getting better with personalized services, why didn’t they consistently stay better?

We learned that when a case manager moved on, they left a gaping hole.

Case managers became proficient at connecting the dots among EHR data, available services, and their own notes on patient habits and needs. But the patient information that was “stored” in personal notes or in their heads was lost when they left, along with ways of syncing this information with relevant EHR data. Until the new case manager learned about their patients and developed their own tricks for how best to provide personalized support, there was a gap that led to delayed care and, in turn, to events that led to costlier care and poor outcomes.

When I first began evaluating the Medical Home, I assumed that moving case managers to the clinic was essential to improving communication and outcomes. And while this approach improved the quality of care, the adverse impact of case manager turnover revealed something important.

CRMs Scale Personalized Care

As healthcare began to embrace CRMs, I saw how this technology could fill the data and information gaps of the Medical Home and make it possible to share patient information across care teams and over time. CRMs make it possible to consistently deliver highly personalized experiences by bringing together all the right EHR data with all patient experience information and organizing it – surprise! – around the patient instead of encounters.

Always having a 360° view of the patient makes it easier for anyone interacting with the patient to pick up where the last person left off. In doing so, CRMs can make a real difference for a diversity of support services that expand the reach of episodic care – from facilitating access to promoting prevention care and closing care gaps, to delivering more demanding value-based services like that of the Medical Home.  

CRMs could address the scalability challenges of high-touch personalized services.

What I found most compelling, though, was how CRMs could address the scalability challenges of high-touch personalized services. We’ve seen these kinds of transformative advances with CRMs in other industries. But, in healthcare there is a significant hurdle to realizing their full promise.

A Bump in the Road, the Data Integration Problem

There are lots of ways to extend episodic care, and each distinct CRM service has unique EHR data needs. While these needs are clearly defined, today’s data access methods - like EHR Vendor APIs, FHIR, and HL7 - only provide limited access to the EHR data that are needed in the moment. The difference between the data you need and the data you can get in real-time are known as data gaps, and they are the norm in healthcare.

When CRM reps such as agents, managers and nurses can only access some of the data required in the moment, they have to “hack” their way to personalization by asking the patient for information that is already in the EHR or by calling the patient back once they have searched for and found the data in the EHR. The minutes and frustrations add up when you multiply this experience by 40 or 50 calls a day.

Every second of inefficiency, every additional set of clicks, every moment re-asking the same question adds up – leading to more costly services, worse outcomes, and less satisfying experiences.

And the data gap problem will only grow as health systems expand the services supported by their CRM. Data gaps may be small for something like scheduling patients because not much EHR data are required. But the data gaps become substantial for robust services like case management or value-based care where the real-time demand for EHR data are expansive.

The more data gaps there are, the more bespoke and costly the build becomes, and the greater the risk a health system takes when investing in more involved services. Data integration challenges can undercut leadership confidence in what is possible and slow the transformation that CRMs can offer.

But a different kind of future unfolds when the friction from data gaps disappears. Health systems can optimize their CRM for whatever service they want to provide, rapidly experimenting, giving birth to open-ended possibilities.

Eliminate Data Gaps, Focus on Personalizing Care

Data gaps are part of the larger problem of healthcare data integration, which in general, is too difficult, too time-consuming, and too inadequate. The more you want to do with digital health, the mores data integration becomes the dominant pain point and the singular limitation to what is possible. And it shouldn’t be.  This shouldn’t be the best we can do.

Your CRM-ERH data integration should allow you to:

  • Access all the data you need when you need them, and it should be easy and friction free
  • Modify what you want as your needs evolve, and this should also be easy and friction free
  • Reuse what you’ve done for other purposes

This is how it works for most other markets and that is how Medcurio makes it work for healthcare.

At Medcurio, we are serious about making real-time use of EHR data easy and secure

At Medcurio, we are serious about making real-time use of EHR data easy and secure because we lived the data integration headache for decades. We developed a technology tuned for healthcare that is a game changer in how you can use real-time data precisely, quickly, and securely.

That technology is our VennU platform - an easy and secure no-code data integration and orchestration solution that eliminates data gaps. Using VennU, our CRM-EHR Data Integrator package allows you to get exactly the data you need for your CRM when you need it - headache free and at a fraction of today's cost, time, and effort.

Request a demo to earn more about how VennU and our CRM-EHR Data Integrator package can accelerate the possibilities of personalizing care with your CRM.