Researching CRMs for your healthcare practice? Beware these 5 pitfalls.

Healthcare practices are increasingly integrating business software into their patient acquisition processes. Savvy practices recognize that tracking new patient interactions can unlock numerous growth opportunities. Ultimately, the practice can achieve higher booking rates and can greatly improve the growth trajectory of the practice. The practice is also able to optimize marketing, operations, and staff performance. We have written an entire post on the benefits of healthcare lead management if you want to explore these topics.

To optimize patient acquisition, many practices turn to the big-name customer relationship management (CRM) systems. And at first, this makes sense. In just about any other industry, these systems are used by sales and success teams to track patient interactions. However there are a few reasons why these traditional CRMs inevitably fail healthcare practices:

  1. HIPAA compliance issues
  2. Unique sales processes
  3. Unrealistic staff expectations
  4. Lack of healthcare-specific reporting
  5. Operational resource requirements

1. HIPAA Compliance Issues

The first hurdle a practice will quickly run into is that not every CRM is able to work with Protected Health Information. Hubspot, for instance, does not allow any sensitive information to be stored on their platform. Other CRMs can be configured for HIPAA compliance, but immediately lose certain functionality such as email, SMS, and VoIP. The most advanced CRMs are often the most flexible, but these require significant time and resources to configure. This can be a challenge for budget-constrained or short-staffed practices. The last thing a practice wants to be unsure of is whether they have properly complied with security, privacy, and process requirements.

2. Unique Sales Processes

Traditional CRMs are built around sales processes that don’t properly translate to healthcare practices. They are built for sales reps who work their individual pool of prospects. Sales reps are tasked with pushing leads through a sales funnel. They are trying to hit individual quotas, checking their open sales pipeline, etc. This is entirely foreign to how a healthcare practice would receive and follow-up with new patient inquiries.

3. Unrealistic Staff Expectations

This is undoubtedly the #1 reason generic CRMs fail with healthcare practices. Healthcare staff are not full-time sales professionals. Asking healthcare staff (who likely wear multiple other hats) to work out of another platform that requires manual lead tracking is a recipe for frustration. It will also likely produce inconsistent and incomplete data.

Was that phone call actually a new patient? Have they called before; do I need to reconcile duplicate records? What treatment did they request? Were they calling on behalf of someone else? Why did they not book an appointment? Even with the best CRM implementation, these types of data points require manual data entry. And without these, managers won’t be able to track the most meaningful analytics like staff performance and new patient booking rates.

4. Lack of Healthcare-Specific Reporting

The big-name CRMs are purposely flexible and generic so that they can work with the widest array of businesses. This means that a healthcare practice needs to know exactly what processes, data structures, custom data types, and reports they want to set up. Most CRMs use a funnel structure from contacts to leads to opportunities to customer, which won’t make sense for patient interactions. Any practice trying to implement a CRM will require some customization – and likely continuous adjustments over time.

5. Operational Resource Requirements

It requires significant time and resources to set up and maintain a CRM. Most businesses using a traditional CRM will employ at least one part-time resource dedicated to the platform administration. Many independent practices may not have the budget or internal resources for this.

What Now?

This is not to say that a generic CRM could never work for a growth-focused practice, but one should be aware of these pitfalls. We would highly recommend looking for a lead management tool that is specifically built for healthcare practices, and that is not going to be frustrating for staff to use.

In full transparency, we certainly have a bias towards our own healthcare-specific CRM solution that was built to solve these specific challenges. Practices approach us regularly after their generic CRM fumbles, so we know the pain points to look out for. However we expect you to take our input with a grain of salt and encourage any practice to do their own homework.