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EHR vs CRM: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

COVID-19 has already and will continue to shift the healthcare experience for patients. As healthcare continues to become more virtual, the importance of maintaining a quality EHR strategy increases. Furthermore, the importance of personalized outreach due to healthcare consumerization has made it necessary to take them to the next level with CRMs.

The Early Benefits of EHRs
What an EHR Isn't
How a CRM + EHR is a Powerful Combination

The Historic EHR Advantages

Most healthcare practitioners have seen the advantages of electronic health records (EHR) over paper charts. The immediate benefits, including on-demand access, time savings, and paper and error reduction, are well known. Yet as new challenges arise, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there are even more benefits to enhancing an EHR with a powerful CRM capable of analyzing information, engaging patients, and centralizing data.

Traditionally, health records were paper-and-file based. Walk into a private practice and you may have been greeted by a receptionist with a wall of files behind her. The files could range from paper-thin to a few inches thick, filled with lab results, provider’s notes, and health histories. For doctors, nurses, and office staff, important patient information was captured, but not necessarily quickly found. It was time to move healthcare into the digital age with electronic health records (EHRs).

In the Beginning: Early Advantages of EHRs

From the start, EHRs transformed patient care and provider processes. Some of the early benefits of EHRs included:

Less paper

The provider-patient relationship is built on trust and is often a long-term partnership. This means a lot of paper. Instead of flipping through pages of paper, healthcare teams can now document information and access a patient’s health history, be it long or short, with a few keystrokes.

Clear data

Even with the best of intentions, information may be captured, but it may be illegible or difficult to read. With an EHR, all data is digitally accessible.

Storage and security

With solid encryption, health information is kept secure in an EHR. And because files are electronic, there is no risk of them being accidentally misplaced or destroyed.

EHRs became the ideal system to manage records. However, this doesn’t mean they’re perfect for everything.

EHR vs. CRM: Key Differences



Customer (Patient) Relationship Management



Electronic Health Record

Provides a platform of patient engagement that puts EHR data to use.
Stores patient’s health information from multiple providers.


As patient expectations for personalized, value-based care increase, an EHR simply isn’t enough to provide consumer-grade experiences. The question is no longer EHR vs. CRM, but EHR + CRM.

EHR + CRM: Moving healthcare into the age of savvy consumers

The advantage of an EHR + CRM system is clear. It means that comprehensive non-medical and medical patient information, including contact preferences, demographics, health history, medications and more, is available to be sliced and diced in one platform. The information is secure and can be accessed via computer or smartphone and is shareable between multiple facilities and agencies, helpful for patients who have a larger care team or simply see different providers for different needs, such as a general care provider and a dermatologist.

In addition, records can be instantly updated to provide the most recent information. This helps providers stay in closer contact with patients and better assess their care. EHRs can also help improve overall patient and public health by identifying health trends, providing analytics, and offering alternative methods of care, such as telemedicine.

EHR + CRM benefits for an evolving medical landscape

One of the biggest advantages to EHRs and CRMs is that technology is continually changing to adapt to healthcare needs. Advanced healthcare CRMs like Health Cloud have stepped up to the challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped ease the burden on providers and healthcare systems in workflows in new ways including:

Making telehealth a mainstream option

Telehealth tools can be utilized directly in Health Cloud through a series of apps, so providers can see their patients virtually, in real-time. Telemedicine is still a new concept for many people, but patients have overwhelmingly adopted it. A 2019 survey by J.D. Power found that telehealth has a higher satisfaction rate than other healthcare options. 

Some patients have noted the flexibility of tele-visits and said they appreciate being treated in the comfort of their own home. This also helps providers effectively triage patients, freeing up precious hospital and clinic space for those who truly need it, as well as helping to limit the spread of contagious viruses. At the same time, patients can still receive a high level of care from their provider.

Better healthcare outcomes with a 360-degree view of the patient

Using a CRM like Health Cloud, providers can quickly spot health trends without having to flip through pages upon pages in a paper chart. The information housed in the EHR is no longer just data – it’s a story about the patient. For example, a dashboard can help a physician identify that a patient’s blood pressure has gone up slightly at each annual routine physical exam. In a one-off situation, this may not be cause for concern, but when a trend is seen, providers can better advise patients.

Seeing trends can also prompt the healthcare team to look at other comorbidities or associated issues that may point to a specific diagnosis. If a patient has high blood pressure and has recently been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, this may signal a heart issue and cause the provider to develop an appropriate treatment plan to prevent adverse outcomes. 

Identifying trends and improving collaboration

One of the most exciting benefits of Health Cloud is connectivity and the ability to collaborate. Not only can providers observe patient trends, they can also note trends across areas and hospital systems, including hospital bed capacity, PPE shortages or surpluses, and the need for extra staff.

As a recent example, CRM systems have been optimized to identify COVID-19 trends and potential cases, as well as which clinics have capacity to help. Using this information, teams can reallocate resources to where they are most needed. This helps systems effectively manage capacity while maintaining a very high level of patient care. Providers can also see trends in testing, including where testing is ramping up or turn-around time for tests that could be improved.

Powerful patient engagement

Powerful healthcare CRMs like health cloud help providers put patients in the front seat. They can work together to manage care, set health goals, and communicate across the entire care ecosystem.

The evolving advantages of EHR + CRM

For years, EHRs have demonstrated a clear advantage over paper systems with easier access, reduced errors, and less paper. Today, events like the COVID-19 pandemic have shown even more benefits to augmenting EHRs with a CRM, including telehealth options, advanced analytics, and valuable patient engagement. Healthcare CRM systems like Health Cloud have proven their worth as a wise investment for providers – and patients – in equipping them for healthcare today and well into the future.

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