Salesforce Health Cloud and EHR Systems: What’s the Difference and Reason for Optimism

Salesforce Health Cloud

In 2016, Salesforce made another step ahead aiming to improve the lives of professionals, this time in healthcare. Now, their thriving product Health Cloud is gaining momentum globally.

As the name itself suggests, Salesforce Health Cloud is there to perform some magic in healthcare, using the state-of-the-art cloud technologies which make it so efficient, convenient, accessible, and, importantly for the sensitive matter of health, secure. 

Still, Salesforce is far from being the only player in this buzzing field of healthcare. The presence of such titans of the IT world as Google ( Google Health), IBM (IBM Watson Health), Microsoft (Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare) or Apple ( with their Apple Health Records) along with the mounting number of digital health apps now exceeding 300,000, proves the soaring demand for digitalization in medicine. At Salesforce, they are ready for competition, and moreover, they are embracing opportunities for partnership, the trend illustrated by the capability of Health Cloud to pull data from the EHR systems. 

Let’s take a closer look.


When Healthcare Meets Salesforce

The transformation of healthcare and life sciences, heavily pushed by the unprecedented global pandemic, has necessitated a profound technology shift in order to handle industry complexities. Digital healthcare represents a successful combination of technology advancement, which increases the efficiency of healthcare delivery and makes it more personalized.

In 2016, Salesforce stepped into this new and exciting area of healthcare with Health Cloud, a web-based CRM platform focusing on patient relationship management and improved patient experience. Its main feature includes connectivity between patients and caregivers, making healthcare seamless.

With the newly added capabilities for its Healthcare Cloud platform in the spring 2020 release, Salesforce enables healthcare clients to integrate their EHR systems with Salesforce and make data referenced from any device.


Connecting health providers with their patients

Modern customer-focused healthcare demands a nearly 100% personalized approach to patients.  For the majority of people, customer service is the key differentiator when choosing a healthcare provider. The Salesforce CRM system is designed specifically to address the uniformity and quality of the customer experience with a care provider.  This experience can encompass case monitoring, task prioritization, information segmentation and real-time communication in order to help deliver better customer satisfaction for every single patient.


All-inclusive view of patient data

The very essence of value-based healthcare is timely and accurate information made accessible from diverse sources. Health Cloud, as a content aggregator, enables professionals to receive exhaustive, multiple-source patient data views. It allows caregivers to gain a deeper insight into every case and, consequently, make effective patient care decisions.


Mobility and real-time communication

Digitalization of every aspect of daily life calls for tech-savvy methods of healthcare management. Mobile-first in-home care collaboration between professionals and patients using up-to-date technology demonstrates obvious clinical and financial benefits. Efficient scheduling together with consultation, procedures via phone, email, and live chat improve both practitioner productivity and consumer experience. The COVID-19 situation has become a public healthcare ‘reality check’ and pushed the mHealth and technology-enabled care from infancy to everyday reality in less than a year.  According to the “Strengthening the Health Systems Response to COVID-19” policy of the WHO, telemedicine is to become a vital service model to enhance care delivery and clinical decision support. With critical shortages and imbalances of healthcare personnel engagement, access and quality of care, coupled with infection risks, telehealth tech is becoming a frontline service for safe and efficient communications.


Analytics and Advanced Segmentation

Salesforce Health Cloud functionality also provides for more intelligent ways of managing resources, data filtering and segmentation, and risk reduction. Its analytical capabilities utilize both clinical and non-clinical data. Personalized Patient Journeys feature connecting Health Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud enable providers to personalize targeted campaigns for each patient,  monitor clinical and nonclinical engagement, automatically identify and calculate risks, and to create unique care plans for every patient.


HIPAA compliance

The management of protected patient data is an especially sensitive issue for the healthcare industry. Health Cloud protects every element with its built-in HIPAA compliance features, including Salesforce Shield, Field Audit Trail, Platform Encryption, Data Archive and Event Monitoring, to satisfy security and privacy for every patient and care provider.

Health Cloud offers a new dimension in the provider-patient relationship with a combination of multiple platform features and resources. The Salesforce experience starts with your implementation partner. Avenga provides healthcare and pharmaceutical service providers with security-aligned, tailored CRM solutions that enable interoperability, leverage data insight, and improved consumer experience.

But, what is the difference between the functionality that Salesforce Health Cloud and the EHR vendors have to offer?


Who is who: Salesforce Health Cloud vs. EHR

While some might see a degree of redundancy in the functionality of Health Cloud and EHR systems, as they do overlap in certain areas, the purpose for each differs drastically.

The history of EHR started in the 1970s when the hospitals began to replace their paper records with electronic ones. EHR vendors have revolutionized medical record-keeping and keep the development going. 

While giving EHRs well-deserved credit, some healthcare experts are doubtful if the systems will live up to the current industry’s expectations. EHRs appear to be static, offering little if any room for customization or connectivity, and for this reason are failing to face competition from Salesforce Health Cloud.

In March 2018, Sage Growth Partners (SGP) published a report titled ‘Are EHRs Up to the Task?’ According to the results of the survey, 64% out of the responding 100 healthcare executives said that EHRs are failing to serve as the technology that provides value-based care (VBC). So, what is it exactly that EHRs are lacking? And is Salesforce Health Cloud capable of meeting those needs?


Customization Possibilities

We are living in an ever-changing world. And the changes are happening fast. The ability to adapt is key to survival in any sphere. The EHRs are not fluid and connectible by design. So, in the majority of cases, electronic records aren’t shared across EHRs. It results in cumbersome data inputting which has to be repeated every time a patient is transferred to a different facility. The ongoing issue is even trickier when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement procedures. As an illustration of these words, the aforementioned report by SGP says that 60 to 75 percent of healthcare organizations are coordinating with third-party providers to augment the functionality offered by EHR systems. This practice can naturally result in some drawbacks, such as poor data readability, increased costs, and management issues, to mention a few. 

On the other hand, being a part of the Salesforce platform, Health Cloud offers immense opportunities for customization. Anything from handy reports and informative dashboards, to mobile apps for patients, is possible – and all of them are integrated. 

Avenga has gained experience in developing patient engagement applications, whether independent or connected to Salesforce Health Cloud. Our consultants possess the expertise to select, offer and implement the appropriate time and resource-saving customization solutions for day-to-day tasks and analytics.


Value-Based Healthcare Success

Another aspect in which EHRs seem to be missing the mark is achieving Value-Based Healthcare (VBC), that is patient-oriented care, in which providers are rewarded for measurable patient health outcomes rather than being paid for the total amount of services delivered. In other words, VBC for healthcare organizations means more data analysis, altering hospital processes for the sake of better patient care, adopting evidence-based care standards, giving the consumers new insights into care, etc. Thus, some of the most important VBC challenges are:

  1. Interoperability
  2. Social Determinants of Health
  3. Patient Engagement
  4. Coordinating Stakeholders
  5. Data Analytics to Support Risk-Based Contracts

Unfortunately, EHR systems have not proved to be sufficient to meet those challenges. Niki Buchanan, PHM Leader at Philips Wellcentive, explains that “They don’t have the insights that are needed in order to take the right proactive care.” These systems do not help determine who the highest-risk patients are, where they are in their care journey, etc. as EHRs simply have not been designed to perform those functions.

 → Explore How to Choose the Right Salesforce Partner for Your Company

The speed of the digital world calls for personalized relationships with every customer and the healthcare industry is literary in the front line responding to the essential needs of the patient.  Salesforce Health Cloud, when utilized in the right way, can become a tool to view each patient, operate on the data, and use for smarter, meaningful results. Being a part of a massive CRM system, Salesforce Health Cloud is all about “patient relationships, not records,” said MD MSHS Joshua Newman, SVP Healthcare and Life Sciences at Salesforce. Not only are all critical data at the provider’s fingertips, but also more than ever before, are the patients themselves involved in their own healthcare in an efficient and convenient way.

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