Core Exchange: Getting smart about CRM

January 2, 2019
Angi Krueger Vice President, Marketing/Business Development

Adopting CRM for better targeting and ROI

Healthcare marketers can prove they reach both patients and consumers with relevant, actionable messages. Listen to learn how.

Angi Krueger and Ward Alles, Core Creative, and Jody Spusta, Tea Leaves Health, discuss how data-driven marketing can better target the right audiences with relevant messages and improve ROI.

Episode 4: Getting smart about CRM

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below. Be sure to subscribe to Core Exchange on iTunes.

Downloadable content referenced in Podcast:
Tea Leaves Health: Patientology Overview
Tea Leaves Health: Switching CRM Vendors


Episode Transcript:
Angi Krueger: Welcome to the Core Exchange, a healthcare marketing podcast. I’m Angi Krueger, Vice President of Marketing from Core Creative.

Ward Alles: And I’m Ward Alles, the President of Core Creative.

Angi Krueger:  This week, we welcome Jody Spusta, Vice-President of Client Strategy from Tea Leaves Health to discuss CRM and PRM strategies.

Angi Krueger: Jody, just tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Tea Leaves. How’d you get involved in the industry?

Jody Spusta: Yeah, absolutely. I kind of fell into it after college, so I’ve been doing CRM in both retail and health care since graduating. Tea Leaves was started in 2011, and I’ve been with the company since it started back when we sat around in a bar with a napkin and sketched out what the platform would look like.

Jody Spusta: We kind of evaluated CRM vendors out there and saw maybe what was missing for the market, and how we would want to create the ultimate platform for our clients. So, we sketched it out, and within a year, we had our first platform, we had two clients signed, and here we are.

Angi Krueger:  Wow, that’s exciting.

Ward Alles: I love the name Tea Leaves. Is there a story behind the name?

Jody Spusta: There is a story behind the name. Ironically, we were on our way to a pitch and we didn’t have a name for the company yet, so, right? We had kind of sketched it out. We didn’t have a name, and one of our founders wanted to call it Kaleidoscope, but he really thought nobody would be able to spell it right, like searching for us, right?

Jody Spusta: So, he came up with the name Tea Leaves, and really trying to evolve from the current CRMs and making it reading the tea leaves, looking forward. Right? A lot of CRMs, you’re looking at data that is quite old, maybe a year out for results or things like that. We wanted to take data in quicker for our clients, and be more proactive in our approaches through marketing automation. It was really about going forward and looking forward into the tea leaves.

Ward Alles: Nice. Let’s help our listeners understand what we’re going to talk about for the next 10 minutes or so. Can you give us a general description of what Tea Leaves is really all about, customer relationship management, and what that means to that health care marketer? Some of them are quite informed on the topic, and others are just learning and getting into it-

Jody Spusta: Yeah, absolutely.

Ward Alles: … so, maybe go to the 101 and the 202 level, that kind of thing.

Jody Spusta: You got it. I think it’s about 45% of the health care systems out there are involved and have CRM in their marketing strategies right now, so I think you’re spot on, right? We have people on the whole spectrum of who understand what we’re doing.

Jody Spusta:  But Tea Leaves is really all about having all the right information within a single platform. We provide the solid information and facts you need to plan ahead, act accordingly, and meet your operational imperatives. Within our platform, we offer three solutions: patientology, physicianology, and decisionology. And that help you understand complex data, acquire and retain more patients, understanding your physician patterns, referrals, leakage, and exceeding your revenue goals.

Jody Spusta:  Essentially, we want to help our clients achieve their strategic growth initiatives through using their data as well as third party data that Tea Leaves brings to the table. The ultimate goal is to understand your patients and consumers in the market on a individual level.

Ward Alles: Okay, great. Let’s talk about one of those three ologies there. You said patientology, physicianology, and-

Jody Spusta: Decisionology.

Ward Alles: Decisionology. Okay. On the patientology side, that’s the CRM?

Jody Spusta: Correct. That’s really focusing on consumers.

Ward Alles: Okay. And physicianology is a PRM?

Jody Spusta: Correct.

Ward Alles: And that’s P as for provider?

Jody Spusta: Correct, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ward Alles:  Okay. Is there a name for the decisionology?

Jody Spusta: Yeah, it’s really a BI platform, right, so a deep dive in the analytics and where you can really mine the data on a full different level. Typically, that’s used by strategic planning in business development, but it’s really trying to take all the data sets that are available. You know, CRM is typically used for our marketing campaigns, but think of it as an analytics tool to make more strategic business decisions.

Ward Alles:  Nice. Now, is this approach, having three different levels of information, data collection and the like, is that what’s making Tea Leaves different than your competition? What’s kind of the unique value proposition? If I’m a health care provider out there, why do I want to go to Tea Leaves?

Jody Spusta: Right. Right. What is different about it is that all of the data feeds all three platforms, the same data sets, right? There might be a few different ones that kind of flow in between, but it’s all one platform. You don’t have disparate systems where someone in strategic planning is looking at a different data set than someone in marketing, than an executive that’s trying to understand the physician referral patterns.

Jody Spusta: Tea Leaves really takes all the different data sets, and we repurpose it, and where the applications look a little bit different, depending on the end user. So, physician liaisons and executives logging into the PRM, the physicianology, they’re going to see their top 10 referring docs. Right? They’re going to be able to hone in on that. They’re going to understand if there’s any issues with the docs, different things like that, in liaison activity.

Jody Spusta: In decisionology, you might have someone in strategic planning logging in, and using that platform where they really want to mine data. They’re maybe going to open another clinic. They want to understand why there’s an increase in GI services within this month, what happened, what do those patients look like. You can do all of that in the CRM as well, but CRM is really meant to be a communication platform. But using the same data sets across all three platforms allows everyone to have that common place with the data, and not necessarily saying, “Well, I see this, and you see this,” and having it different. So, that’s one thing that is a little bit different about us is that everything flows into the same platform.

Ward Alles: Got it. Very good. An agency like Core Creative really wants its health care clients to have a nice robust CRM tool like this, because we’re trying to communicate, be relevant, show why we’re different to that customer out there, largely a female audience. How do you attract them into the health care system and track all of the data, because the magic thing that you want to do in the world that we live in now is measure results and prove the value.

Jody Spusta: Absolutely.

Ward Alles: So that CRM tool helps us do that. Let’s talk a little bit about reaching that consumer, that patient, using the CRM tool. I was fortunate enough to be at an event recently where your team was discussing CRM, and you guys shared an interesting stat. It’s that whole 15%/85% stat. Can you describe that for us?

Jody Spusta: Yeah, absolutely.

Ward Alles: Go ahead.

Jody Spusta: Absolutely. Tea Leaves was acquired by Welltok in October 2017, and they were really focused in more of the payer and employer space. They had a full analytics and research division, and what they bring to the table is a consumer engagement platform, right? They did a bunch of studies to understand how, and from a payer perspective, and this applies in the provider world that we work in right now, how are we communicating with all the consumers out there?

Jody Spusta:  When you really look at it, consumers are in that sick care mode less than 1%. Then in that 15%, that stat that you heard, that’s seeking some kind of care, right? Whether a mom is seeking a pediatrician to take care of her kids and it’s wellness visits, you need different screening, immunizations, or, if there is something found, what’s the next steps? But you’re not in that terminal or constant care mode. That’s 15% of the time that you are engaging with health care, most times, willingly, right, because it’s a lot of prerogative in wellness.

Jody Spusta: The 85%, you’re a consumer. I think this is from something that we’ve been talking to our clients about over the last year, because we really need our consumers out there to engage and take a proactive approach with their health, right? That’s the ultimate mission. So, we need our clients to have that brand awareness, and to do some of those more traditional marketing avenues out there.

Jody Spusta: But then when we really want to talk to consumers, it’s about meeting them where they’re at, thinking about everything as an N of 1. Because 85% of the time, they’re consumers making choices, because patients receive care, and consumers make choices.

Ward Alles:  I love how you guys talk about the consumer, you know? In our world of health care marketing, when we team up as an agency with our clients, a lot of the time, we’re just thinking about what we need to say, and what we’re trying to market. We’re trying to push this service line, or what have you. But you’re, with that 15%/85% thought, you’re really kind of forcing us to think, well, wait a minute, now look at it from their point of view.

Jody Spusta: Right.

Ward Alles:  How are you going to be relevant to 85% of the people out there who are not necessarily looking for your services, but are kind of continually in a shopping mode? You’re almost suggesting one of the potential strategies is to offer up proactive wellness thought leadership, right?

Jody Spusta: Absolutely.

Ward Alles: Are you seeing a lot of your clients starting to figure that out and do it?

Jody Spusta: We are. It’s kind of interesting. I don’t know if you guys are experiencing this, but a lot of our clients, the pop health divisions, are sitting outside of marketing, right? That’s one of those additional silos where maybe marketing, which is our typical end user for us on the CRM side, may not be always communicating with business development, on the physician side, as well as within the pop health, because it’s living outside of it. But everybody needs to come together to be able to reach that 85% with the same kind of message, making sure that the organization’s approach and message and what they want to drive is all being cohesive and tied together.

Jody Spusta:  But we are seeing a shift, especially when pop health is working with marketing, to more wellness. So, more classes being offered, more elective … trying to meet the needs of their employees as well, because that is a huge group that’s untapped. Looking at some studies that we’ve done, we’ve helped clients communicate to their employees, maybe offering just appointment times just for employees, or different things like that.

Ward Alles: Nice.

Jody Spusta: They’re finding that less than 50% of their employees are actual patients. We can talk about leakage from a physician standpoint, but we can also talk about leakage from an employee’s standpoint, right? They’re a consumer that you’re trying to reach as well. When you think about that population of who you’re trying to bring in, it’s getting that message out so everybody knows everything you have to offer. And a lot of employees don’t even know maybe what services are being offered there, or why they would stay within their health system.

Ward Alles:  Boy, if our clients could crack that code, right, to align all of their internal operations, and not be so siloed, to figure out how they can really strategize to reach that 85%, there’s an opportunity there, right? So, that CRM tool of yours is robust enough to help give insights on strategies.

Jody Spusta:  Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ward Alles:  Maybe share a success story along those lines, and then I want to talk too a little bit about success stories of how you maybe go after the 15%.

Jody Spusta:  Yeah.

Ward Alles: So, let’s start with 85%.

Jody Spusta: Sure. Sure. Absolutely. Really understanding the consumer, and what’s relevant for them, right? Ward, you should be talked to very differently than I would be talked to, right? Just as a male/female, our ages, I’m going to get lots of messages around taking care of myself, not always putting my family first, right, because we’re that forgotten population, as well as then all the family messages. People might target your spouse, you know, because not all males are proactive in their health care.

Jody Spusta: But getting that communication to be truly personalized seems to be probably where health care marketing might be stopping short. That’s how you’re going to resonate with that 85% is getting to that N of 1, communicating with people on a very relevant basis. So, taking personalization to the next step.

Jody Spusta:  It goes beyond first name personalization. It goes beyond just you getting a photo of a male, me getting a photo of a female, right? It’s, “You know what? You’re really busy, Jody, and so we have noon appointments that are for you.” Or, they can see by looking at my data that I only come in on Mondays.

Angi Krueger:  Wow. That’s-

Jody Spusta:  Right? That’s what you should be able to do within a CRM system. So, I should get messages that are relevant to me about, “Hey, these appointments are open on Mondays,” or, “Now taking … This physician has capacity,” different things like that.

Jody Spusta:  I really believe that getting to the 85%, because consumers are making choices, is about messaging that is relevant to them on a individual basis. Retail’s been doing it forever, and they’re getting better and better at it, right? You go to a furniture store. You buy the bedroom set but not the nightstand. They’re going to send you a communication with that bedroom set with the nightstand, “Something missing?” Right? Because they know.

Jody Spusta: You can’t offer two for one knee replacements, right? You and I can’t go in together and be like, “Hey, this is my friend,” to go get this today. But there are things you can do to appeal to that wellness portion of it that really do resonate. So, we do have a lot of clients that run women’s events for mammography. Bring your friends. The physician, like the speed dating. Things where it might be a little bit more fun, where you can bring other people, because we’re not going to bring two people to surgery. But we are going to have events where you can use that word of mouth. You can help consumers make choices by giving them the situation or the event or the information that they need that’s relevant to them.

Jody Spusta: We see our clients doing a lot of things like that, thinking about it’s October when I’m here, and so it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. But it is the 11 months of the year that women also get breast cancer, so why do we try to just communicate in October? We should be communicating when it’s relevant to that female. So, if they haven’t had their mammography, “Come in for your mammography.” Being proactive in that date, and then if it’s been lapsed, okay, now it’s been 15, 16 months. Let’s try a different format to contact you. Right?

Jody Spusta: And that’s where marketing automation really comes in play, letting the data do the work for you. Really thinking about … This is a visual I use all the time, thinking about Price Is Right Plinko game, because everybody … That brings back memories. But if you think about what we do from a data perspective, because we throw all the data in the top of the Plinko board, and then it bounces off all the trigger points of the business decisions that our clients set.

Jody Spusta: So, where are the service lines they want to grow? What communications want to be out there? What pop health initiatives? What’s the consumer base they’re trying to serve? Based off the different data points that it hits off of, the slot that it ends in the bottom is the communication they’re going to get, is the message they’re going to get. That all goes back to the personalization. Right? So you could take your huge data set, and maybe there’s five strategic service lines, maybe there’s a hundred different initiatives.

Jody Spusta: We have a couple clients that are running 200 campaigns a month through the marketing automation. Some campaigns contain two recipients, but it’s the right two. Some contain 5,000. It just depends on what’s needed. That really just kind of hits at that personalization and relevancy.

Angi Krueger:  I have a quick question actually about if I’m a health care marketer, and I’m maybe not even using a CRM right now, all of this is amazing data that I would love to have access to. How do I get set up, and then what’s the training around it? I mean, who is managing this day-to-day, because it’s a lot of data to watch and manage and set up those triggers. Can you talk a little bit about how that works?

Jody Spusta: Yeah, absolutely. I think that there’s a couple of white papers out there on CRM readiness, right, and is your organization ready for it, because it’s an investment. I think when you’re looking for the right partner, looking at their service model is really important.

Jody Spusta:  So, at Tea Leaves, we can support clients anywhere they want to be. If they have super users, and want to run the system themselves, we’ve a really easy-to-use interface where they can do that and set everything up. If they want us to run everything for them and be a service bureau, we can do that. We also work with our clients’ agencies all the time, where they’re not even in the room. They say, “We trust you, Tea Leaves. We trust you, Core. You guys work together and come back to us with the plan,” right?

Jody Spusta: It’s really important that our clients choose … health care marketers choose vendors that are going to play nice in the sandbox with other vendors to make sure that we are providing the best service for them. But also understanding where they’re at in the CRM journey, if you will, which is probably a cliché term that’s overused. But if they don’t have expertise, picking a partner that is going to educate them. When we hire staff on the client service team, we definitely talk about that over 50% of the responsibility is to be an educator, and share the knowledge and making sure that we’re empowering our clients all the time to understand their data and feel comfortable with it. So you really do need an advocate as a partner that way.

Angi Krueger: Yeah, makes sense.

Ward Alles:  Wonderful. Great question too, Angie, just because I’m sure there’s plenty of folks out there listening that are wondering how to even get started. There’s all these wonderful benefits, but how do you get started? We can offer up reference for those white papers, and it’s like, “At …” right? Okay, good.

Ward Alles:  We’ll wrap up with a question about the 15% now, because those are those consumers then that are in a searching mode for services, right?

Jody Spusta:  Yup.

Ward Alles: You tell me if I’m right, I would imagine that’s where most health care marketers are going, using the CRM tool right now, because they’re trying to attract customers into a service line, whether it’s heart, oncology, you got your-

Jody Spusta: Yup, the five big ones, right?

Ward Alles: What, am I right? Okay, so explain a little bit about how your tool is used in that space, and maybe some success stories around that.

Jody Spusta: Yeah, absolutely. Because we take in patient data, we know what services people have had, right? We know what procedures they’ve had, things like that, and then we append all the third party data that helps us communicate in a more relevant way, right, so understanding what that creative should look like, what that messaging should be, what’s going to get someone to come in? A preference channel, for example.

Jody Spusta: But looking at patient data, you can really mine that. If we take an orthopedic example, typically our clients have a little bit more robust orthopedics services, or maybe there’s that group that stays together for 12 months that all had the surgery and then they all do rehab together, things like that. But we should be looking at patients where maybe they had the knee replacement and they did one of their PT appointments. Their insurance covers six. They never came in for the rest. Right? We need to be continuing to communicate that to them, to try and get them to finish their care. There’s some of that of just looking at the data. Why did they fall off? Did they move? Nope, they’re still here. They’re still seeing that same physician. That’s, too, where we need to align with physicians and making sure that they’re getting that kind of information back as well.

Jody Spusta: Also, we can look at some of the different data sets that using a data-driven marketing platform brings to the table, right? Who’s a smoker? Who’s likely to be a smoker? Looking at different service line models. All of that should be applied to your current patients as well as the prospects in your area. But if we have lung screenings, different things like that, because we know that they’re a smoker. So, it’s not just about the smoking cessation class, right, because people offer them. They’re out there.

Jody Spusta: But you can see maybe who attended those smoking cessations, but then is still a smoker, still representing for that. Do we want to try alternate care paths for them? Looking at … Tea Leaves puts into the system third party data that we get for self-reported health conditions, which is really important, because not everyone will say everything when they go to see their primary care doc.

Jody Spusta: Looking at different data sets, the primary care doc might not have realized that we need to refer them to a sleep specialist. But they’re out there and being a consumer raising their hand, saying, “Send me free samples of Ambien, because I have sleep problems.” And they’ve been on Ambien for two years, but it’s not in their medical record. So, by mining additional data sets, we’re able to help people that are already current patients within the system for cross-selling opportunities, but also just to better that patient’s well-being.

Ward Alles: Wonderful. I mean, give us a summary of all the stuff that we just talked about. I’m hearing such a unbelievable amount of potential, working smarter, you know? You can work harder or smarter, right?

Jody Spusta: Right.

Ward Alles: I’m hearing the ability to work really smart with all of the data that you’re able to pull together. Give our listeners just a kind of a summary of what we talked about on the consumer side.

Jody Spusta: Sure, absolutely. Most times, we’re not hearing that marketing budgets are doubling or tripling, right?

Angi Krueger: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jody Spusta: I think you guys are probably hearing the same thing. Cuts are happening, so we have to be smarter with our dollars. The way that we want to do that is through using data-driven marketing, targeted marketing, creating messages that are relevant for the end recipient, whether they’re in that sick care stage or they’re a consumer in that 85%. The biggest thing I would say, that we could do whole ‘nother podcast on, is that ROI element, right, making sure everything that we’re doing can be tracked and have ROI elements to it and reporting to it. That way, we can prove what we’re doing, and we know if it’s working. If it’s not, then we should change it.

Jody Spusta: Marketing, as you guys know, is all about test, get messages out there, test it, analyze it, and either expand on it or change it. Marketing’s all about testing, and you can do that through using data-driven marketing relatively easily.

Angi Krueger: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that’s good. So, if you had one main takeaway you’d want our listeners to come away with today, what would that be?

Jody Spusta: I mean, I probably have a lot of sassy things to say. But if it’s going to be about what we just talked about, I would say the sentence I’m stuck on for the last couple weeks, and Ward knows this, we talked about it, is that patients receive care, and consumers make choices.

Angi Krueger:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Very good.

Ward Alles: Boy.

Angi Krueger: Something really good to think about.

Ward Alles: Yeah. Memorize that.

Angi Krueger: Right. Exactly. Great takeaways.

Ward Alles:  Agencies and health care providers alike. Great advice from Jody Spusta from Tea Leaves. We really appreciate you coming in.

Angi Krueger: Yeah, thanks so much.

Ward Alles: It was very helpful.

Jody Spusta: It was very fun. Thank you.

Angi Krueger: How can our listeners find you and learn more about Tea Leaves?

Jody Spusta: We’re out there, and again, we were acquired by Welltok in October 2017, so you can also find us through going to

Angi Krueger: Great. Okay. Well, we will also put those links and potentially links to your white papers on our website as well, so if you want to come to, you’ll find those there. Thanks.

Jody Spusta: Thank you for having me.

Ward Alles: Thank you.



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