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New Salesforce Health Cloud tools help life sciences close customer gap

Salesforce rolled out new features for Health Cloud focused primarily on the life sciences. The goal is to help those kinds of companies get closer to their customers.

Salesforce is adding new capabilities to its Health Cloud that are specific to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, a move that more directly connects those types of companies to patients.

The new features are designed for patient program management and medical device commercial operations, according to a Salesforce news release. Alex Lennox-Miller, analyst at Chilmark Research, said the additions make a lot of sense. Healthcare has been slow to adopt patient management and CRM products, but Lennox-Miller said there has been a noticeable push from life sciences companies.

"We're seeing more and more from pharma, device manufacturers and payers trying to move beyond just being the faceless providers of medical 'stuff,' and into being actively involved with patients, consumers and users," he said.

The Salesforce Health Cloud is a four-year-old health IT CRM platform. It is used to create comprehensive patient profiles by aggregating data from multiple sources, including EHRs, for health workers and patients.

Patient program management

For patient program management, Salesforce is offering life sciences companies a step-by-step guided enrollment capability to build therapeutic support programs at scale that would encourage patients to adhere to medication treatment plans, according to the news release.

The capability makes it easier for life sciences companies to enroll patients in a support program, and it captures information like insurance verification and co-pay programs during the enrollment process. Once patients are enrolled, companies can engage and support patients in the program to help them stick to their treatment plans. 

The Salesforce Health Cloud update includes a patient services consent management feature, which enables pharmaceutical and medical device companies to obtain patient consent either in person or via eSignature.

Lennox-Miller said the idea behind the new capabilities is to help patients transition from being passive receivers of a medication or passive users of a medical device into active participants.

"These groups are starting to look for new ways to interact with users, and Salesforce looks to be offering ways to manage and drive those activities," Lennox-Miller said. "Salesforce offers a lot of really valuable tools for these markets. And [these markets] are a lot more likely to adopt [the tools] quickly than waiting on traditional healthcare to suddenly turn a corner on the value of CRM."

Ashwini Zenooz, M.D., senior vice president and general manager of healthcare and life sciences at Salesforce, said the new features came from customer demand. Salesforce noticed life sciences companies using Health Cloud for patient and provider management, prompting the company to build out specific capabilities for them.

"Traditionally, patients haven't turned to life sciences companies for information about their condition or their support, therapy or treatment," she said. "Most people go to their clinical providers, or maybe they'll reach out to their payers for information. But we've noticed now that the customer landscape is also changing, which is probably why the market is reacting."   

Helping manage medical device sales 

Salesforce has also added capabilities tailored to its medical device clients, giving them tools to better manage their relationships with customers.

The sales agreement tool gives medical device companies the ability to track completed orders. That kind of visibility can help sales and operations teams work collaboratively to compare planned sales with booked orders, as well as planned revenue to booked revenue, according to the news release.

The capability is being marketed to medical device companies, but Lennox-Miller said it could potentially benefit healthcare organizations as well. External inventory management can be a struggle for both healthcare systems and medical device companies, he said.

"Being able to track downloads or purchases, monitor usage and review what actual purchasing and deployment from client systems looks like is important both to maintaining those contractual relationships and to showing value to both ends of that loop," he said.

Salesforce also added an account-based forecasting tool to help medical device companies predict sales based on market conditions and account growth factors based on the prior year's sales data, according to the news release. Device sale forecasts can be edited to reflect changes in areas like market share.

"The medical device customers, we saw there was a need for them to have capabilities to help them manage their sales growth by having features for these companies for complex sales processes," Zenooz said.

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