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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Part 1: Customer Relationship Management - What are You Waiting For?

A Point of View from Guest Blogger Les Stern.

Sophisticated customer relationship management systems for healthcare organizations have been around for almost 15 years.  Yet only 15% or so of healthcare providers are using them.

Before we understand the benefits of CRM, let’s agree on what the three key components of a CRM program for healthcare organizations. 

  • Capturing data from across the enterprise and consolidating it into a database
  • Analyzing the database to determine the best marketing opportunities and the best targets for those opportunities 
  • Identifying the return on investment from those campaigns
 Here are the benefits of implementing a CRM solution:
  1. It improves the bottom line.  A CRM program allows you to target your efforts on your most profitable customers (consumers or physicians) and people who “look like” your most profitable customers.  For example, if you are doing a promotion for mammographies, CRM will allow you to target women who not only are most likely to need these services, but will also be more profitable customers for you. CRM also can improve your bottom line by lowering marketing expense.  Since you know the best people to market to, you don’t have to spend money marketing to others.
  2. It is quantifiable.  CRM allows you to track the return on investment of your programs.  By using control groups, you can measure the impact of the marketing campaign, and counter the objection that “they would have come anyway.”  As one hospital marketer recently told me: “It is a great way to substantiate that marketing decisions are valid, that marketing does move the needle, and that we need to continue to market, even in bad economies.”
  3. It enhances relationships (and your brand).  Your CRM program will enable you to send the right message to the right people at the right time, thereby allowing them to take better care of their health.  Programs such as these can boost customer loyalty.
  4. It can help you achieve your mission by improving the health of your community.   This may seem counterintuitive, since you may be reducing the number of people to whom you are marketing.  But think about it:  (1) Through targeting, you are sending your messages to the people who most need the services; and (2)  Improving the bottom line will free up resources for charity care and other initiatives to help you better serve your entire community.
So how do you go about setting up your CRM program?  That topic next time.

Les Stern is president of L. Stern & Associates.  He can be reached at  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Staying Ahead of the Curve at the 14th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference

The upcoming 14th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (November 15 - 17, 2010; Las Vegas, NV) offers a great opportunity for chief marketing officers to learn how market leaders are using the Internet, social media strategies, networked technologies, mobile media and other technologies, strategies, and solutions to connect, grow and enhance competitive performance. This is must learning for marketing executives looking to stay ahead of the curve of ever-accelerating advances and applications of new media technologies.

Conference features include:
  • Six general sessions to inspire and broaden your thinking about the impact of new technologies.
  • 29 case studies from health systems recognized as leaders in the areas of technology and Web strategy.
  • The Eleventh Annual eHealthcare Leadership Awards Presentation, an informative session highlighting the current landscape of healthcare Internet development.
  • Dedicated time in the Exhibit Hall, allowing you to interact with leading consultants and vendors whose emphasis is on "Where eHealthcare and Customer Focused Marketing Meet."
  • Networking opportunities that connect you with your peers.
And good news for your budget - you still have a few days (until Friday, September 17) to take advantage of the early registration rate (save $100).  Caesar's Palace has also announced new discounts on the room rates, now starting at $120 per night for the Roman Tower.

You can download the full conference brochure and register at the Healthcare Strategy Institute website.

On a personal note - can it really be 14 years since this conference first launched?  Kudos to Greystone.Net and the Forum for Healthcare Strategists for recognizing the importance of this space early on and, along with its sponsors, advancing the industry's knowledge and application of web and technology-enabled strategies and practices.

See you in Vegas.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thinking Retail . . .

Once upon a time, I used to call my doctor’s office to make an appointment for the annual flu shot. It was always scheduled at a time more convenient for the office staff than for me (“We do shots between 10 am and 2 pm, but we’re closed from 12 to 1 for lunch.”) and even then, a 25 to 45 minute wait wasn’t unusual.

Personally, I can’t remember the last time I had a flu shot at a doctor’s office. Last year, it was done while traveling between the B & C concourses at the Charlotte Airport in North Carolina – 5 minutes, $35 and a record of the event sent to my email before I boarded the plane. My husband and I had H1N1 injections administered by a pharmacist at RiteAid on a Sunday afternoon. No appointment, no waiting.

If you haven’t yet noticed, retailers such as CVS and Walgreens are already heavy into flu shot promotion season. Here are a few lessons from the retailing of these preventive injections:

  • Price is front and center – you know what you’re going to pay before you walk in the door; price points seem to be hovering in the $30 range
  • Convenience is all about the consumer – CVS’s “Flu Shots Your Way” promotes your ability to “click, call or come by”
  • Loss leaders drive traffic – one retail pharmacy is giving the flu shot free when you spend $30 on a core set of brand products; could there be some co-marketing spend here as well?
  • Keep the paperwork minimal – at the airport kiosk, I checked ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to 5 questions and signed permission to administer
  • Customer service, customer service, customer service – no additional explanation needed
All of this customer experience design is there for a $30 flu shot; what might happen if we put the same effort into a $30,000 inpatient procedure?