MedStar Uses Web CRM to Drive Response

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Baltimore-area health services provider MedStar Health is driving response to its marketing materials and forming customer relationships by using data-capturing Web sites that let the company tailor offers to customers.


The Web sites, one for each of the seven hospitals operated by MedStar in Baltimore and Washington, are driving 3,000 to 4,000 telephone inquiries to the company's call centers monthly. The sites were launched in July.


MedStar has a prospect database of about 2 million potential healthcare customers in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan markets. The database and Web sites were developed with help from CPM Marketing Group, East Peoria, IL, MedStar's customer relationship management agency.


MedStar encourages people to register personal information at the hospital Web sites by using "risk quizzes," questionnaires consumers can fill out on the site that detail their risk factors for health problems. For example, the Harbor Hospital site at www.harborhospital.org offers a lung cancer risk assessment quiz for women. The MedStar quizzes measure health risks in 64 categories, from AIDS to allergies.


Consumers who fill out the quiz are asked to give personal information, such as name, e-mail address, mailing address and telephone number. Consumers also receive the opportunity to get promotional e-mails and an online newsletter.


CPM uses paper risk quizzes in offline marketing, such a direct mailers, for other hospital clients running CRM programs. The difference is that the online responses can be delivered instantly, shortening the turnaround time between interactions.


MedStar follows the initial contact with consumers who register through a variety of communication channels, including e-mail and direct mail. After a consumer's particular health interest is identified, MedStar can invite that consumer to a free health screening or exam at one of the company's hospitals, to call a hotline to speak with a qualified specialist about the problem, or to receive free videos and informational material.


"It's a classic recency/frequency thing," said Corbin Riemer, vice president of marketing for MedStar, Baltimore. "The most qualified prospects are those who have accessed you most recently and interact with you regularly. We believe the best way to encourage people to use the hospitals is to provide them with information about health needs that are most relevant to them."


MedStar is working to improve the Web sites and to make the public aware of them through direct mail and direct response television. For example, the Harbor Hospital lung cancer quiz for women used a 30-second television spot for promotion and also received a mention on a local television news broadcast.


Riemer said he is less interested in how much Web traffic the sites generate than in the number of customers who register and develop ongoing interactions with the hospitals. The sites are being incorporated as a call to action into marketing materials such as direct mailers, so the sites are becoming a response channel for MedStar much like a call center.


The company plans an ROI analysis every six months to see how its CRM efforts affect hospital use by the targeted consumers, Riemer said.


"We view the Web site as a channel, not a destination," he said. "It's one of the most potent things to come down the pike."


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