Isn’t It Time For Student Relationship Management?

Customer relationship management

Imagine that someone enters your place of business and offers you a way to reduce costs, increase profitability, solidify customer satisfaction, build loyalty, and improve advocacy. After pointing to the “no solicitation” sign on the front door you might decide to give him two minutes to tell you about this brand new form of magic.

This certain someone would mention the miracle of customer relationship management (CRM*). Ok, so maybe miracle is a bit of an overreach, but CRM is the #1 buzzword in Corporate America and, on most accounts, has been very effective in delivering on these points. After getting a promotion for taking the advice of this complete stranger, your next thought might be, “How could this marvelous tool be leveraged to increase critical stakeholder relationships within the K-12 and higher education community?” In reality, CRM as applied to the education industry (student relationship management or SRM) has an almost unlimited opportunity for practical everyday use.

Support_Help1-300x199With the goal of tightening relationships between students and their educational mentors, SRM can be a powerful resource to ensure any number of positive outcomes(e.g., increased enrollments, retention, and graduation) for our students. For the sake of brevity I will only focus on three areas that I believe will drive the creation of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between all those with a stake in improving our educational system.


These three focus areas include:
• Increasing levels K-12 college preparedness
• Positively affecting high school dropout rates
• Increasing alumni participation and donation

Educators1-105x150A successful SRM program helps educators at all levels collaborate to instill and promote a college-going culture focused on arduous coursework and high expectations very early in a student’s educational experience. This holistic approach translates to better lesson plans, a greater sense of shared mission, and the development of students better prepared to cope with the rigors of college.


It is often difficult to inspire a child/young adult to see beyond the moment. As a rule, teenagers aren’t very good at following the advice of their parents. Peer pressure often has the most lasting effect on their level of motivation. Finding and cultivating long-term mentoring relationships between students at all levels has been a proven path toward inspiring students to excel throughout their secondary school experience. It is much harder to drop out of school when your peer group is cheering you on and showing you the real-life benefits of an education.


Alumni empathy represents the culmination of every personal and educational experience a student has up to the moment of graduation and beyond. More specifically, if there is not a strong connection to a particular person, place, or thing related to their post secondary educational experience, engaging alumni would be a very difficult if not impossible task. SRM provides higher education institutions with a path toward developing deep and lasting relationships with its most important constituents. These relationships endure from the moment students express interest in attending an institution to the first time they receive requests from their chosen school and, ultimately, when they gain acceptance.Corporate America leverages CRM to develop and grow important revenue-generating business relationships. The education industry version, SRM, seeks to do the same with a laser focus on developing and growing life-long learning professionals. Do you think implementing an institution-wide SRM program will ensure students are better prepared for college, lower high school dropout rates, and produce a growing and highly-engaged alumni association?Tell me what do you think….

* Customer relationship management (CRM) is a company-wide business strategy designed to reduce costs and increase profitability by solidifying customer satisfaction, building loyalty, and improving advocacy. True CRM brings together information from all data sources within an organization (and where appropriate, from outside the organization) to provide a holistic view of each customer in real-time. This allows customer-facing employees in such areas as sales, customer support, and marketing to make quick yet informed decisions on everything from cross-selling and upselling opportunities to target marketing strategies to competitive positioning tactics.


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3 Business Development Lessons that the NFL can Teach Higher Education

As an avid (or should I say rabid) fan of the National Football League, I pay a lot of attention to the business moves my favorite teams make during the offseason. Their primary mission is to expand their markets and gain competitive advantage in advance of the upcoming season. A similar planning process takes place every year in the executive offices of every higher learning institution in the country. Both organizations compete internationally to have transparent access to the best and brightest prospects available. Although they seek similar outcomes, the NFL has been much more successful in developing and marketing to its stakeholders.

There are three business development lessons that higher education institutions can learn from the NFL that can help them increase the number of quality professionals being delivered to the marketplace.

1. Spread Your Business Support Network Far and Wide

No single organization can provide all of the products, services, and support necessary to establish and grow a multi-national organization. Since its formation in 1920 with eleven teams, the NFL has grown to thirty-two teams that are worth roughly a billion dollars each. A primary driver of this growth has been a focus on systemic workforce development and building an international network of business partners.

Not–for-profit iconic partners like Pop Warner’s Little Scholars provides youth football and cheer & dance programs for over 425,000 members from ages five to sixteen across forty-two states and several countries around the world. The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) estimates that between 60% and 70% of all NFL players began their careers playing Pop Warner Football. The quality and depth of your network will ultimately determine the long-term success of your organization.

2. Sell a Long-Term Vision . . . Not Short-Term Tasks

As children, we all had visions of what we wanted to be when we grew up. These dreams usually came either from the influences of people that came into our lives or from exposure to images in movies or on TV.  No one did a better job of marketing the dream of becoming a professional football player better than the NFL, which effectively connected being selected to play in the NFL with achieving “supreme manhood.” Most every man-child since the dawn of time has been drawn to “feats” that convey strength and courage.

Higher education institutions, in general, have always done a good job of marketing the value of a college education for its own sake and, until recently, this has been a very successful albeit passive strategy. The current economic realities suggest that the age of the academic generalist is over and that the future will belong to the specialist. There will always be that 20% of the population that will automatically be motivated to excel in the college environment. The remaining 80% will be motivated by seeing a clear path between earning a college degree and having a successful career. College professors become dream enablers vs. taskmasters.

3. Always Provide Ample Opportunities to Showcase Skills

Making difficult choices among many qualified prospects that appear to have similar credentials is a classic recruiting dilemma. We all know that anyone can look great “on paper,” but the real challenge is knowing whether a key prospect will perform as well in the real world. The NFL has been very effective at not only developing superior prospects but also “culling” the herd to identify the best of the best. In late winter of every year ESPN broadcasts an in-person, invitation-only event that offers NFL prospects the opportunity to perform and compete in six key performance measures (the 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical jump, the broad jump, the 3-cone drill, and the shuttle run) in the presence of all NFL scouting and team decision-makers. Because this event is so well publicized and the requirements seem so achievable, it fosters the belief that the dream is within reach of just about anyone.


  1. “NFL Regional Combines Are Working” by Jack Bechta, National Football Post, May 16, 2012:–nfl.html
  2. NFL Scouting Combine:
  3. Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc:

How Healthcare “Meaningful Use” Will Change Your Life (Someday)

In my previous article, “What is ‘Meaningful Use’ and Why is it Such a Big F*cking Deal?” I discussed the reasons why the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) was passed. Now that we’ve covered the always less exciting “origin” episode of this movie trilogy, let’s move on to the exciting sequel. In part II, we continue the conversation by laying out the benefits that both doctors and patients can expect to receive once electronic health record (EHR) programs are implemented nationally.

Benefits Doctors Can Expect From Leveraging Electronic Health Records

Doctors can qualify for Medicare meaningful use incentives in stages over five years that can add up to $44,000 per physician. Hospitals’ incentive terms can vary, but they start with a $2 million base payment. In February 2012 (the month for which the latest data is available), 12,365 physicians and other “eligible professionals” received $222.6 million in Medicare meaningful use incentives, compared with 84 hospitals getting $129.9 million, according to an April 5 report delivered to MedPAC.

The goal of the EHRs and health information exchange is to help clinicians provide higher quality and safer care for their patients. When it comes to rubber meeting road, the long-term success of this program rests squarely in the hands of your friendly neighborhood clinician. She must be properly motivated and equipped with the tools necessary to make the transition as smooth as possible. In exchange for this effort most physicians can expect to gain access to the following benefits:

  • Ability to approximate the look and feel of a family practice while also increasing their capacity to serve more patients. Having access to a summary of comprehensive patient information will allow doctors to quickly focus on a likely diagnosis while also demonstrating broad knowledge of patients’ history.
  • Ability to ask for and conduct real-time clinical consultations with colleagues all over the world. First, second, and third opinions can be collected, reviewed, and documented almost instantaneously. Since no physician needs to step out on a lonely limb to make a tough decision, treatments can be executed much faster and with less fear of reprisal.
  • Increasing bottom-line revenue as a direct consequence of the last two benefits. It follows that if you can improve the relationship you have with your patients while also increasing the number of patients you can serve—in the midst of also improving the overall quality of care being provided—you will increase revenue and decrease costs.

Benefits Patients Can Expect From Leveraging Electronic Health Records

Electronic health records make it possible for the average consumer and his or her doctors to better manage care through secure use and sharing of health information. Patients will likely see the following benefits:

  • It won’t matter as much which doctor you choose to see because the quality will be the same. Seeing a specific doctor will be less important as all clinicians will have instantaneous access to your prior history and treatment. Quality and continuity will be maintained throughout since everyone will have access to the same playbook.
  • It will make it easier for families to act as a unified healthcare support group. Electronic records will make is possible for every family member to be actively involved in supporting the overall healthcare needs of the group. Everyone becomes accountable for both the group and individual decisions that can either lead to an overall improvement in health, or be a contributor to actions that can lead to negative healthcare outcomes.
  • Access to better-informed doctors who commit fewer medical errors while increasing quality will lead to lower patient costs. If you as a patient have greater access to custom preventative treatments based on your history, get fewer unnecessary lab tests performed, receive fewer prescribed medications, experience shorter hospital stays, and don’t need as much ongoing outpatient treatment, the chances are pretty good that both your costs and the costs incurred by your clinician will shrink significantly during the course of your treatment.

Bringing doctors closer to patients in ways that increase the quality of care and reduce operating costs is the key target outcome for HITECH. Do you believe that the benefits that come with deploying an effective EHR program will outweigh the costs? What benefits have you seen or do you expect to see from implementing your EHR program?


  1. CAUSATUM Blog:
  2. “More Physicians Awarded Meaningful Use Money,” Pamela Lewis Dawson, American Medical News, April 19, 2012:
  3. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology:


What is “Meaningful Use” and Why is it Such a Big F*cking Deal?

If you are not a doctor or you don’t run a major hospital, you may not have heard the terms “meaningful use” or “electronic health records (EHRs).” But if you have ever been in an emergency room filling out paperwork while anxiously waiting to see a doctor, or if you or a family member has ever had to deal with a complex illness whose treatment involves teams of doctors and multiple treatments, you should make it your business to know.

One of the main goals of “meaningful use” is to make sure that no matter what hospital you visit or what doctor you choose to see, everyone that matters will be able to make informed treatment decisions based on transparent access to your medical history. But anyone vaguely familiar with the American healthcare system understands that this is easier said than done. This is the first article of a three-part series that will discuss the rationale behind “meaningful use,” the expected benefits to both patients and healthcare institutions, and the progress we have made in rolling this program out nationally.

Although some healthcare institutions have begun digitizing their health records, efforts to coordinate on a national level have historically been met with much structural and political resistance. In 2009, in a decision designed to move things forward, congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). It marked the first time that billions of dollars were set aside to fund tangible Medicare and Medicaid incentives that will motivate healthcare organizations and physicians to implement electronic health record programs and meaningful use protocols ASAP.

In order to qualify for these million dollar incentives, eligible health care professionals and hospitals must adopt certified EHR technology and use it to achieve specified objectives. More specifically, HITECH has offered up two regulations, one of which defines the “meaningful use” objectives that providers must meet to qualify for the bonus payments, and the other which identifies the technical capabilities required for certified EHR technology.

It takes a good bit of coordination to implement and manage such an ambitious plan on a national level. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and other Health and Human Services agencies are primarily responsible for making all of this happen. They must all work together to execute the following program measures:

  • Creating regional extension centers (RECs) to support providers in adopting EHRs
  • Developing workforce training programs
  • Identifying “beacon communities” that lead the way in adoption and use of EHRs
  • Developing capabilities for information exchange, including building toward a nationwide health information network
  • Improving privacy and security provisions of federal law to bolster protection for electronic records
  • Creating a process to certify EHR technology so providers can be assured that the EHR technology they acquire will perform as needed
  • Identifying standards for certification of products tied to the “meaningful use” of EHRs
  • Identifying the “meaningful use” objectives that providers must demonstrate to qualify for incentive payments

The carrot and stick approach that HITECH is putting forward has two goals in mind: Establish a reliable national standard for physician quality care and give patients control and visibility over their overall healthcare experience. Given the heavy outcome measures that are inserted throughout the implementation process, it won’t be long before we can judge their success on either target.


  1. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology:
  2. The New England Journal of Medicine: “The ‘Meaningful Use’ Regulation for Electronic Health Records,” David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., and Marilyn Tavenner, R.N., M.H.A., August 5, 2010:
  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Public Affairs: “Electronic Health Records at a Glance,” July 13, 2010: