Parsing the difference between a customer data platform (CDP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solution for healthcare use cases is a bit like deciding between aspirin vs. ibuprofen. Some overlapping functionality creates a misconception that the two are somewhat interchangeable, when the reality is that each fills a specific need.
Some healthcare organizations that harbor the misconception make the mistake of thinking that because they have a CRM, they have little use for a CDP. We will explore why that approach is misguided, particularly when the goal is to differentiate on patient experience, both within and outside of a clinical setting.
Managing a Relationship vs. Managing Data
A key difference is revealed in the name of the solutions, where a CRM is designed to manage customer relationships, while a CDP is designed to manage customer data. A simplistic explanation, yes, but it does capture the essence of each solution.
For a robust, enterprise-grade CDP, managing data entails applying data quality, identity resolution and governance processes at the point of data ingestion, ensuring a single view of the healthcare consumer throughout an entire healthcare journey. A CRM, conversely, is not concerned with any of that. A last-mile end point to the patient, a CRM is both a source and a destination for patient data that will ultimately be used for the purpose of engaging with a patient.
Patient Engagement vs. Patient Experience
Another reason for the confusion between a CRM and CDP stems from the fact that while patient engagement is a key CRM use case, the purpose of a CDP is to improve the overall patient experience.
Yet unlike a CRM, an enterprise CDP improves the patient experience as a single source of truth for all patient data – clinical and non-clinical data – which is then activated to provide a patient with a personalized, omnichannel experience throughout an end-to-end healthcare journey. The key distinction is that an enterprise CDP perfects customer data, making it fit-for-purpose for any engagement channel, CRM included. A CDP will connect with every database, every EHR system, email, call center, website, mobile app, etc.
By that assessment, what is also true is that a CRM is as reliable, accurate and trustworthy as the data that feeds it. Without a CDP, a CRM is likely integrated with a database built and managed by IT, which in turn means that it may or may not have the data that a care manager needs at the time they need it, depending on when updates have been made. If a pertinent update has not been made when a patient calls in for a question about a bill, to complete a post-op questionnaire, or to find out the next step to follow in a treatment plan, that may translate to a poor patient experience.
By contrast, when integrated with a CDP that perfects data and makes it fit-for-purpose at the moment data is ingested from every source, a CRM will be guaranteed to have the most accurate and up-to-date patient information. In addition, it has the same updated patient Golden Record as every other engagement system, which means a consistently relevant experience regardless of which channel a patient chooses to interact with.
One way to think of this key difference is that where a CRM leverages perfected data, a CDP perfects the data for a CRM and every other patient engagement channel.
Omnichannel Personalization with a CDP
Perfecting patient data for use by a CRM system and other engagement channels is what extends a CDP from improving patient experience on one channel (as a CRM does) to delivering a personalized, omnichannel patient experience. In the example of a patient contacting the call center for help with the next phase of post-op treatment, let us examine some possibilities, first with a CRM maintained by IT, and then through the lens of a CDP.
With the CRM, we’ve already noted one possibility that the call center agent must first hope that the patient record has been updated. With updated information, the agent is then able to help the patient with the post-op treatment and whatever other workflows are attached to the CRM. The patient receives a positive experience for that slice of the healthcare journey. It is important to note, however, that even with updated information, the CRM is still constrained by field limitations. It will not have data about a patient’s behavior on the website, for example.
Conversely, when a CRM is a destination source for data that has been fit-for-purpose through an enterprise CDP, a call center agent is first assured that the data is accurate and up-to-date. When data quality and advanced identity resolution processes are completed at the point of data ingestion, the agent – and all users and applications – are now working with a single source of truth of patient data.
If a patient calls for assistance with post-op care, a Golden Record built and maintained by the CDP will let the agent know everything there is to know about the patient, preparing a next-best action to perhaps advance the patient journey in addition to satisfying the reason for the call. The Golden Record will include the patient’s website behavior, including pages viewed, time on page, clicks, etc. A real-time analysis of that behavior might inform a next-best action that guides the patient through a different journey with the potential to deliver a better outcome.