With CRM tools, will the hospital's marketing department diagnose you before your doctor does?

American Medical News reports that hospitals are stepping into patient-specific marketing by using data from electronic medical records to target messages to patients’ specific situations.

CPM Marketing Group, a Madison, Wis.-based marketing company specializing in CRM technology, has created an automated mechanism that generates website ads and content geared specifically for a visitor. If a patient is at risk for heart disease, for example, he or she might find a banner ad at the top of the page for a heart risk assessment.

Edward Hospital & Health Services in Naperville, Ill., was the first hospital to launch CPM’s automated system, which the company calls iCRM. Brian Davis, vice president of marketing for Edward, said the system essentially works like a patient portal. Patients are sent mailers encouraging them to sign up for a personalized URL for the Edward website.

Once a patient signs on, every time that patient returns to the website, they automatically arrive at their personalized URL, which means after the main web address, there would be a “/JaneDoe.” Similar to the way Amazon makes purchasing suggestions, the system generates content and ads based on the data the hospital has regarding that person’s medical history.

Davis said the system “is a way for us to give patients information in a more relevant and meaningful way.”

I do think this is the start of a significant trend, and that it won’t be just hospitals that are using this information for customer relationship management. A similar approach is already seen on Google. Start doing searches related to a disease –even if only indirectly related– and the search algorithms will start targeting you.

Three years ago (What if Google finds out you have cancer before you do?) I wrote about a friend who started seeing ads for Neulastin –designed to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy– in his Google searches. Had Google and the drug maker picked up the telltale signs of cancer before my friend’s doctor? The situation will be even more likely with the EHR data, and if doctors don’t get out in front of this patients may end up being diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) by the marketing department.

July 19, 2010

3 thoughts on “With CRM tools, will the hospital's marketing department diagnose you before your doctor does?”

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