ABOUT THE VENDOR
PeopleSoft is a provider of collaborative enterprise software. PeopleSoft pure Internet software enables organizations to reduce costs and increase productivity through collaboration with their customers, suppliers, and employees. PeopleSoft's integrated, best-of-breed applications include Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Service Automation, Supply Chain Management, Human Resources Management, Financial Management, and Enterprise Performance Management.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
MedSolutions deals exclusively with the quality management of medical imaging services and is a leader in radiology management solutions. Their years of experience in the diagnostic imaging business have brought a thorough understanding of radiology and how it can enhance patient treatment. MedSolutions has been working to assure high tech diagnostic imaging is used appropriately since May of 1996. MedSolutions began in 1992 as an owner/operator of diagnostic imaging centers, but quickly saw the increasing need in the managed care industry for intensely focused radiology management. In 1997, MedSolutions' diagnostic imaging centers were sold to HealthSouth, and MedSolutions began to focus solely on medical management.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
PeopleSoft 8 CRM provides immediate, seamless integration among customer, financial, supply chain, and employee management systems. PeopleSoft
MedSolutions selected the PeopleSoft 8 CRM Support and Interaction Management applications in PeopleSoft's pure Internet CRM suite to provide an Internet-based support system for patients. SearchCRM spoke with Michelle Miller, VP of Information Systems, about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you decide to evaluate CRM solutions?
Miller: We're in a very complex business, and we're growing very rapidly. We provided service for two million patients last year, and we're up to four million this year. We're moving to nine million next year. The first thing to suffer often is the kind of service you provide your customers. We wanted to take significant steps to protect ourselves from that, so we needed a tool to help us maintain and improve our customer service levels while at the same time absorbing a huge amount of new business.
The other big driver is that we were fairly heavily paper-based, and we needed to move to a technology that would allow us to image all those documents, tie them to a piece of work, and move that work systematically through the organization.
SearchCRM: How many CRM vendors did you look at?
Miller: We started out doing the search on our own and found quickly that there is an unbelievable number of software companies calling themselves CRM companies. So we contracted with a company that helped us in our search, and we narrowed it down to three major players.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a vendor?
Miller: Our top criterion was scalability; we needed somebody who was going to partner with us and grow at the pace at which we planned to grow. Flexibility was another big issue. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a true CRM application has been applied to a health care solution, so we thought that we were going to have to turn the application on its ear -- to customize it to some extent. We also needed an ability to integrate, because we already had a core transaction system that was a true managed care system that did things like track provider data, fee schedules, and pay claims -- and we needed something that was going to be able to integrate with that real-time.
We had a strong preference for a Web-based solution. We wanted to roll this out internally for our internal customer service reps, and our target was to easily be able to make that Web facing, and allow our contact points externally to be able to hit us with the same interface, the same business rule engine, the same data.
SearchCRM: Why did you choose PeopleSoft?
Miller: It pretty much nailed all the categories we were looking for. With version 8 of the software they introduced PIA, which was the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture, into the CRM. So we got the flexibility of their Internet architecture rolled into the functionality of their CRM solution. The architecture also addressed the scalability and the ability to integrate. They had a robust development tool set, which addressed our flexibility issue.
SearchCRM: How did the implementation go?
Miller: The initial roll-out was fairly complex. It was multi-tiered -- it had a database server, application server, Web server -- and then you have a production environment and also a development environment. So you have a number of integration issues in making sure, say, that your Web server is talking to your application server which is then talking to your database server.
Secondly, managing expectations was a challenge -- managing the hype around the CRM buzzword. That gets managed just by communication. We approached the implementation in phases and communicated to out user environment exactly what those phases were going to be.
SearchCRM: How do you use the CRM system in your day-to-day operations?
Miller: The end users of our system are our call center employees. The customers that they're serving are physician offices. So a physician office will call in for a consultation about a clinical review of a case, and we'll take in information about the patient, about the physician's office, about the kind of study they want to do -- and we'll run that through a medical review process. Then, internally, we review that clinical information and bump it up against some internal guidelines. At the end of the process we'll make a recommendation about the diagnostic imaging that will be used. Based on that decision, a set of automated communications happen. We store fax numbers, so once the decision gets made, an automatic fax is generated and sent out to a number of different places.
SearchCRM: How does this help the client?
Miller: Our goal is to decrease the workload for our call center employees and remove their focus off of the process and what they need to do internally; that allows them to think about serving the customer. As a byproduct, if we're serving our physician customers well, that in turn pleases our managed care company clients.
SearchCRM: When do you expect to see ROI?
Miller: It's too early to say. We're finding efficiencies in places we didn't expect to see them, and we're not seeing efficiencies in some places where we expected to see them. For example, some of the transition between business units -- lets say in our communications between the RN units and our physician units -- is inherently easier than we thought it would be. That was an added bonus. But we need another four to five weeks for everything to really shake out.
SearchCRM: Do you have advice for companies starting a similar project?
Miller: The biggest piece of advice would be to go slow. Don't try to change your entire business in one implementation. If there's any way to parcel off a single business unit or a single business process and wrap CRM around it, do that. If you can do a fairly quick implementation on a small area of your business and see an immediate benefit, it becomes much easier to roll that into more and more business units.
Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at email@example.com, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in January 2002