The Art of Managing Patient Relationships

by Tara Swords, February 2010

North East Patches (NEP) Shared System Group has had tremendous success helping its 60-plus member organizations reduce overhead costs and refocus their time on patient care. Now, NEP is preparing an initiative that will help organizations take patient management to a new level.

Oracle CRM On Demand will enable member organizations to track patient-provider interactions and make providers more of a partner in the management of long-term conditions. Jim Mackey, chief executive of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, says NHS has always excelled at treating patients and getting them comfortably back home. But the deep understanding behind patient-provider interactions is a big blind spot for NHS.

“For example, a patient might have been in three times this week seeing different clinicians, or they’ve had an episode and have gone home and are still a bit worried,” Mackey says. “All of those things happen every day. There isn’t a structure to contact them and see how they are.”

A customer relationship management (CRM) system also could solve problems as simple as poor scheduling. For example, one of Mackey’s extended family members sees three to five specialists in different hospitals for different conditions. Sometimes she is called for two appointments on the same day—one at the beginning of the day and one at the end. There’s little way of knowing how well—if at all—the care of different doctors is coordinated. Mackey says such an approach would never survive in the private sector, and it shouldn’t be allowed in the healthcare system.

“If I was selling something, I would never ask a customer to come in twice in one day,” he says. “I would be joining those appointments up and making sure there’s nothing that could contradict the treatment. The absence of those connections increases patient risk.”

Mackey also sees potential for a CRM system to help people avoid coming to the hospital unnecessarily, which increases provider costs and delays care for needier patients. He says such a system will become more critical over the next 10 to 15 years as the U.K. population ages and more people suffer from multiple long-term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“There’s a big confidence improvement if, after an episode, we could ring a patient 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days after intervention to make sure they have no exacerbations and understand the medication, check for early warnings, and give them somebody to talk to if they’re feeling a bit worried,” Mackey says. “From a patient satisfaction point of view, that has to be a fantastic improvement for people.”

For More Information
Oracle Financials
Oracle Hyperion Planning
Oracle CRM On Demand
Public Sector Health, Private Sector Practice

Tara Swords is a freelance writer based in Washington DC.
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