Salesforce recently hosted its annual Dreamforce conference — now in its fourteenth year — in downtown San Francisco. A handful of Intouchers were among the estimated 170,000(!!) attendees, and they brought back key highlights from the four-day event.

This year, the focus was on what Salesforce CEO Marc Bennioff calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution; this revolution, he said, will be powered by intelligence. Intelligent everything. Benioff provided several real-life examples:

One big surprise at Dreamforce was the announcement of a new strategic partnership between Salesforce and Google.

Personalization and Protection
Salesforce is used in a wide range of industries, but we were most interested in how it can be used in the healthcare space. Fortunately, there were 150 healthcare/life sciences sessions to choose from. One session that was particularly interesting was about a connected healthcare environment that supports the use of a recently FDA-approved personal EKG device called Kardia Mobile. The device can share information about heart rhythms with a healthcare provider (HCP) via a number of Salesforce and other technologies. Featured Salesforce platform tech used here were Heroku, Health Cloud, Service Cloud and Communities.

Another connected system discussed was one that supports an HCP in the scheduling and shipment of drugs and devices in support of patient procedures. The system allowed for custom-generated drugs to be created and shipped in coordination with timing and need of patient procedures.

The last session of day 1 was about the use of Salesforce in a protected health information environment. Salesforce meets and maintains HIPAA compliance certifications, but it must be implemented in compliant fashion by the end user. The discussion covered the steps necessary on both sides (Salesforce and end user) to create and maintain acceptable data security in a HIPAA environment. Salesforce offers a product that complements HIPAA implementations by providing access control and reports required in maintaining compliance.

Salesforce Health Cloud, which launched last year and is already considered a leader in the health cloud space, was the subject of a panel discussion featuring speakers from Humana, Mount Sinai Hospital, Ashfield Healthcare, Idexx Laboratories and Optum. As we know, health information comes from a lot of different places – the trick is connecting and analyzing the information to better understand patients and their needs. Health Cloud allows for integration with major electronic health records vendors and a connection across patient support programs so that patients are receiving the right information at the right time. Further, the panelists agreed, you can’t support patients in the digital age without also supporting your associates. Humana reduced associate clicks by 55% by optimizing the associate experience, leading to greater productivity.

More AI, More Personalization
Hands-on sessions are great, because doing a thing is the best way to learn firsthand how something works. One such session focused on creating user journeys within the Marketing Cloud using Automation Studio and Journey Builder. Journey Builder is the hallmark module of the Marketing Cloud, which allows you to build, visualize and monitor your customer’s journey across channels. Working alongside 100 other Dreamforce attendees, I built a mock journey for our ‘customers’ that began with a website registration and nurtured the relationship through purchase and into a preferred-customer program. While simplistic, this journey was a great representation of all the actions that can be taken to create advanced, personalized journeys that span multiple channels.

Trailhead and the product expo were also on the schedule. Trailhead is the learning heart of Salesforce, where you can see demos and interact with experts on any of the Salesforce products. During my time at Trailhead, I was able to see how Salesforce Einstein, the Salesforce artificial intelligence (AI) engine, can be applied for image- and language-recognition tasks as well as providing real-time, on-screen suggestions based on data contained in Salesforce.

One of the major differences between Einstein and other AI engines is that Einstein is able to able to leverage data across multiple Salesforce Apps, such as Sales/Service/Marketing Cloud, directly from the Salesforce Cloud without data import. This allows for AI suggestions to be made to various audiences, based on their specific need, at the activity level. Einstein can also act on data imported from third-party sources if required. Some examples of questions that Einstein could help answer:

  • When should I send this email to get the best open rate?
  • What is the expected close rate for my customers in total, and by individual?
  • How should I change my message to ensure the best response rate?

While Einstein is a relatively new product, it has been fairly well accepted and is maturing quickly. It’s certainly a contender in the AI space.

The Internet of Things Expands
One thing that stood out was the area devoted to the Internet of Things — it seemed twice as big this year. I was able to see demonstrations of how household appliances and production factory machines can interface with Salesforce to automatically perform operations in support of a goal. One of the major use cases displayed was automated product pick and delivery, with human interaction only required if there’s a problem. For example, with an online order created in Salesforce, details such as product and quantity are passed to the pick-and-pack machine, which will position a box, fill it with the proper product and quantity, and then close the box for shipping. If the product quantity is low or runs out, an alert is provided to the operator via Salesforce. This has direct application in the healthcare and life sciences sectors, where inventory control and resupply are critical.

Improving Outcomes Through Digital Transformation
A panel featuring speakers from Johnson & Johnson, Cognizant, Mount Sinai Hospital and L.A. Care Health Plan addressed how to provide the best care from a clinical perspective while still being cost efficient. The United States spends the most on healthcare per capita in the world — $3.4 trillion — but we don’t get the healthcare outcomes we desire. With this spending, the panel asked, how are we not even in the top 10? How do we change our status? Highlights from the discussion included:

  • We have layers and layers of complexity as a commercially minded industry.
  • We must ask HCPs to focus on data to help inform treatment.
  • Inefficiency on the payer side comes in part from dealing with various systems across doctors’ offices, hospitals, etc.
  • Organizations need to grow compassion and empathy for patients and caregivers.
  • In healthcare, information is siloed and locked up. How can tech help change this?
    • Technology can give the HCP tools to help improve the care experience.
    • Health plan technology, in some cases, is decades behind.
    • Tools exist that could be used, but there must be a value proposition associated with using new tools to solve existing problems.
    • Mt. Sinai’s system allows for them to collect data from outside sources in order to better treat patients.
  • We have to find ways to change HCP and patient behavior. AI can help with this. Patients have high expectations regarding customer service, and we can look to online giant Amazon as an example for how to do it right. It’s a technical puzzle but a big cultural shift as well.

This Time, It IS Personal
We said it last year, and we’ll say it again: Personalization is what people expect now, and if they don’t get it, they’ll go elsewhere. Salesforce is making personalization easier, and this is a good thing for patients AND marketers of all stripes. If you’re interested in how Salesforce can help you spread your message, reach out to your Intouch account lead.