Leveraging CRM tools to improve patient and family experience

Up close photo of a child with wording "putting patients first"

Many parents have hectic schedules, from shuttling their kids between extracurricular activities to helping construct this year’s science fair project. With so many balls in the air, it’s easy to let commitments slip, whether it’s a PTA meeting or a physician appointment. Simply helping families schedule an appointment isn’t enough. Patients and caregivers deserve prompt, clear messaging and reminders to keep physician appointments top of mind.

To help improve the patient and family experience, Boston Children’s Hospital recently established a digital transformation initiative. Here, Bill Gagnon, senior director of digital marketing, explains how the hospital created a personalized, streamlined digital experience for parents and their providers.

Identifying the challenge

After conducting a series of “digital workouts” with hospital service lines, Gagnon and his team discovered several major pain points for patients and families.

“We identified that parents were not receiving timely confirmation information or email reminders about their upcoming appointments,” says Gagnon. “In addition, there were longer-than-average wait times, because parents were required to fill out lengthy forms.”

Coming up with a solution

Gagnon saw an opportunity to use the current Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to create a pilot program with Urology, a department with a high rate of cancellations and no-shows.

The goal of the pilot was to create auto-generated appointment reminders and to encourage parents to fill out registration forms online prior to their appointments. In this way, the forms would more likely be completed accurately and legibly.

“I wanted to make sure we were engaging with patient families and meeting or exceeding their expectations, which they’ve come to expect in 2018,” Gagnon says. “Without an immediate confirmation and follow-up reminders, there’s a risk patients or patient families might seek care elsewhere.”

Making it happen

Leveraging the CRM solution, patient information was immediately loaded into the database once the appointment was scheduled. Gagnon and his team were able to generate instant confirmation emails using this data, which included a link to the registration form (available in both English and Spanish), directions and helpful information for the day of the visit.

“The minute they fill out the form and hit submit, it’s sent over to the Urology office, and the administration team is notified they’ve received a file from a patient,” Gagnon says. “This means, weeks in advance of the visit, clinicians have information about the child.”

With the information in hand sooner, clinicians spend less time asking, “Why are you here?” and more time caring for the child’s condition.

  • Illustation of a squirrel in a tree with text "Patient Access By the Numbers"

Getting results

There was an immediate positive shift in the Department of Urology. Wait times dropped, the overall patient experience improved and the administrative process was streamlined. The admins no longer had to send out printed packets, since they were receiving patient information digitally.

Patients and family members were directed to the website to access forms, which in turn resulted in an increase in website engagement in the form of time on page. In addition, people directed to the site from the forms navigated to other areas of the site such as Find a Doctor and Conditions and Treatments.

The results were so significant that the team was recognized with an eHealthcare Leadership Award, a platinum prize for patient access and convenience.

“We started with a confirmation message, from there it went to an online form to collecting all the data, and now, we’re working with other departments to do the same. Since we started this, we’ve been expanding from the get go, and that’s the beauty of digital transformation — you can build and build upon it.”

Bill Gagnon sitting at his desk next tot he award he won for patient access

Learn more about leveraging a CRM or PRM system to enhance customer experience.