Salesforce Targets Population Health Market


Reuters reports that will make a push into healthcare, with an announcement expected sometime in November. The rumors suggest that Salesforce hopes to book up to one-fifth of its annual revenue from the healthcare sector once its software platform and sales units are ready to go.

Salesforce is one of the fastest growing technology companies in the industry, soaring to success after the 1999 launch of its cloud-based customer relationship management software. While the company has very limited exposure to the healthcare market as of yet, the idea that a CRM system could find a home in healthcare is not entirely unfounded. Health systems have been scrambling to find feature rich, ROI generating population health tools since the Affordable Care Act introduced value-based revenue streams to healthcare. Now, startups are racing to corner the market on population health.

Histalk Connect’s own Dr. Travis discussed the idea of using CRM systems in healthcare in a recent article in which he uses his own experiences with Salesforce, for better or worse, to imagine what a healthcare-optimized CRM platform would look like, concluding that “Just like Salesforce CRM being used to drive sales through better relationship management, healthcare will have to integrate higher touch services into a healthcare CRM.”

Salesforce could compete alongside these startups if it hires the right group of industry insiders to lead its development efforts to deliver on this vision. At its heart, Salesforce provides businesses with a way of tracking and following up with customers. The platform lets businesses run reports to cull out key customer profiles, and then facilitates automated email campaigns, cold calling campaigns, and text message campaigns. From a population health perspective, many of the features already available within the company’s CRM application could translate into an actionable population health platform. The ability to set triggers to automatically send out email or text message notices when a patient is due for a preventative health screening or visit, combined with the option to have the patients appear on a outreach specialists call list, could deliver the kind of actionable information that health systems are looking for in a population health platform.

CRM systems themselves are not new to healthcare, and for-profit elective surgery centers have a well documented history of not only using CRM systems like Salesforce, but also integrating the platform with both EHR data and website-based leads generation tools. These organizations are not using CRM systems in lieu of traditional population health system, but instead they’re using them as a sales boosting tool to automate follow up efforts with potential patients. Still, the fact that they are widely adopted in this space within healthcare may suggest that CRM tools offer enough value to be a viable option for health systems trying to improve outreach and follow up efforts.

The company recently hired former Genetech CIO Tood Pierce to lead its healthcare business. Since, it has engaged HHS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of California, Phillips, and UCSF’s children’s hospital and has deals in the works with each organization.

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