ANALYSIS

Saving Lives Is the Best Return on Investment

Integrating systems pays when it comes to serving customers, yet it took a project one of my students is working on to show how dramatically it saves lives as well.

Mention the concept of processes and systems integrated together having the potential to deliver a greater clarity of insight regarding customers, and anyone who has a customer relationship management system or sells, services or develops them will nod in general agreement.

Real Benefits

Yet this concept hit home when one of my students from Indonesia brought in the data set he is going to use for his dissertation.

The data shows the five year investments by Indonesian hospitals and healthcare providers in patient information systems, including Software as a Service (SaaS)-based applications that made it possible to track medical histories for patients, their histories of successful and unsuccessful treatment.

In the same data set were disease, accident and HIV/AIDS mortality rates in addition to a series of attitudinal questionnaires completed by patients after recovering.

Speed of Customer Information Saves Lives

We’re working with the data set doing regressions and correlations, and the results are fascinating.

Fortunately, we’ve also got a road map of when specific systems went into place, and what’s becoming apparent from the data is that there is less about an eight week lag time of when the components of patient management system begins to make a significant impact on disease-based mortality rates, and much faster on emergency room reductions in fatalities due to accidents.

It’s clear when you look at the data: speed of information sharing and collaboration has a direct impact on saving lives in the ER. When the data is graphed in terms of lives saved, ER reductions in fatalities initially spikes way up and then is eventually passed up by reductions in disease-based mortality rates.

Additional findings from the data so far from the analysis show the following:

  • Within three years, the reduction in disease-related fatalities correlation to the five-year spending on patient information and case management was 89 percent at the 0.01 level of confidence. Clearly, the consistent spending on patient information systems initially and the continual spending on services to integrate with legacy systems is having a major impact on saving people from life-threatening diseases.
  • Reduction in ER-related fatalities was initially more immediate and dramatic, yet over time settled into a pattern with a 78 percent correlation at the 0.01 level of confidence between cumulative spending on patient-facing systems and processes. This was one of the most fascinating findings because it showed how much of an immediate impact having systems integrated together to give ER nurses and doctors the information they needed to save peoples’ lives made a difference. The reduction in ER mortality rates needs more analysis, yet it is clear that getting the right medications, if necessary, to the right patient and prescribing the best possible treatment plan was making a big, immediate difference.
  • Long-term investments in patient-facing processes and systems also led to a reduction in HIV/AIDS fatalities with a correlation of 0.682 at the 0.01 level of confidence. This was completely unforeseen and was attributed to the awareness and prevention programs that the patient systems had begun tracking and reporting on. Another interesting finding emerged from this as well. When the attitudes of patients were measured relative to healthcare materials including AIDS/HIV prevention handouts and videos, those in the age groups 15-21 and 21-28 also wanted to be able to get these confidentially without even going into the healthcare facility, yet could not find them in their native language online in PDF (Portable Document Format) or even HTML (hypertext markup language) format. Conversely, those in the 41-50 age group (parents of those looking for information) were far more aggressive about getting prevention materials in their native language, registering the highest levels of dissatisfaction across the entire sample. Call it the voice of the angry patient.

For hospitals and healthcare providers who adopt a more integration-based approach to managing patient information and serving them, the following take-aways emerge:

  • The history of successful and unsuccessful treatments made a major difference in reducing disease mortality rates. Allegorically speaking many companies have a cancer brewing in their customer bases of dissatisfied customers; how much more effective would they be to know which experiences gave customers the chance to excel and grow? It’s not about curing all that ails your company it’s all about curing what ails your customer — and this study showed that clearly.
  • ER mortality rate drops were immediate and significant because doctors knew in seconds what treatment plan to take. Even in accidents, that information from the patient system made it possible for ER staff to define treatment strategies that had a higher probability of success.
  • The HIV/AIDS mortality rate reduction shows the power of a patient-facing system being able to educate and treat conditions at the same time.

What this study really shows is that when customer-facing processes and systems are integrated together to enrich and revitalize those they are designed to serve, remarkable results can be achieved. It just makes one stop and think: Are CRM systems designed to serve the needs of those owning them or those they were created to serve?

Interesting question — yet in the end the best results in healthcare come from the latter.


Louis Columbus, a CRM Buyer columnist, is a former senior analyst with AMR Research. He has worked with enterprise clients on defining solutions to their channel management, order management and service lifecycle management strategies. He also teaches graduate-level international business and marketing courses at Webster-Loyola Marymount University and University of California, Irvine. He is the author of 15 books on technology and two books on analyst relations. His book, Getting Results From Your Analyst Relations Strategies, can be downloaded for free.


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