Type to search

The Move toward Making Data-Informed, Evidence-Based Decisions


How do you make decisions at every level in your addiction treatment operations? When a decision is reached, what factors helped influence that decision? Your answer could have a dramatic impact on your center’s bottom line.\

What can treatment operators do? Well, one thing they shouldn’t do is leave decision making to chance. By that I mean the process of making decisions based on incomplete or anecdotal information. Intuition or gut feelings aren’t how important business decisions should ever be made. Unfortunately, in too many cases this is exactly how they’re made.

For example, no addiction treatment center should put themselves in the position of guessing whether most of their admits in the next six months are going to be for opioid addiction. Instead, they want to be reasonably sure of it. Similarly, they don’t want to rely on a “feeling” that their marketing is working. This isn’t a situation where educated guesswork should be an acceptable way to make decisions.

At all times, operators of addiction treatment programs want to know with a reasonable degree of certainty that their decisions regarding marketing are the right ones. To be more specific, they need evidence—solid, verifiable evidence—on whether their strategies are working or if changes need to be made.

Technology in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Fortunately, it’s possible to achieve a far greater sense of certainty by making use of reliable and verifiable data in your decision-making process. Now you can know for a fact whether the landscape is changing and whether or not your center is prepared for that change. Unlike in the past, you can now easily verify whether your marketing is headed in the right direction or if a correction is due. This kind of information is vitally important to your addiction treatment program. Without it, you could essentially be flying blind in some—or perhaps much—of your decision making.

Data that’s been properly gathered, analyzed, and reported will increase the effectiveness of everything you do in your marketing (as well as in initiatives across the spectrum of your addiction treatment program’s business model). It’s important to realize that tracking admissions at a micro level with various softwares and customer relationship management (CRM) integrations is necessary for any operators who wish to operate their centers more efficiently.

As recently as five years ago, the entire idea of tracking admissions via CRM integration was considered to be a novelty. In fact, it was often perceived as something only the big players were doing because seemingly only they needed to. That perception no longer has any validity. No matter the size of your operation, having access to this kind of data can have a direct effect on whether your admission rates are increasing, flattening out, or in decline.

Integrating Call Tracking with CRM

For many addiction treatment programs, trying to get an idea of the quality and quantity of calls is similar to looking at the world with smudged eyeglasses: they’re getting a very limited view of what’s actually going on. Integrating your phone call tracking system with your CRM is like cleaning those dirty eyeglasses and seeing things as they really are.
When you integrate call tracking with CRM, your addiction treatment program will be able to do the following very effectively:

  • Keep track of important conversations
  • Build more meaningful relationships with prospective patients, starting with the very first contact

Multiple integration configurations enable you to associate recorded calls with prospective patient conversations. It’s possible, for example, to add click-to-call options within the CRM dashboard. Certain integrations enable your center to both create and edit new leads each time an event occurs in Google Analytics. With all of this at your fingertips, it becomes far easier to inform your marketing decisions going forward.

A Perfect Opportunity to Enhance an Already Good System

Any good call tracking integration program enables your addiction treatment program to view phone call activity, customer information, and lead attribution within the application. That’s a great thing because your CRM already contains an extremely large amount of highly useful information.

When you add call tracking, you’re making your information resource that much more powerful. Having all of this valuable information in one place means that the journey from a lead to an admission can be clearly seen. Once you can see it, you can begin strategizing ways to make sure more people actually take that journey.

When call tracking and CRM are integrated, you can add call-related information to your existing workflows or dashboards. When you do that, you can gain a much clearer sense of what leads demand the most attention. That’s actually a big deal and the reason is simple: you’ll get a more complete idea of each prospect’s journey from phone call to what is hopefully an admission. The more you understand that journey, the easier it becomes for you and your digital marketing partner to create a more cost-effective marketing plan.

Determine the Real Impact of Your Annual Marketing Plan

Unfortunately, some addiction treatment programs have a surprisingly vague idea about which of their marketing initiatives are getting calls and which of those calls are actually leading to admissions. That means you could be devoting a lot of money and effort to things that aren’t actually producing significant results. On the other hand, it’s also possible that you’re doing everything right and you don’t even realize it. Regardless of which scenario rings true for your addiction treatment program, you don’t want to guess about whether you’re doing the right thing with your marketing plan. Without question, you want to know.

“Tracking with technology is the most vital aspect of what we do,” says Admissions Center Director Charles B. Stokely (personal communication, November 5, 2021). He notes that “Conversions are crucial. Keeping track of how referrals are generated keeps relationships transparent by open dialogue through the admission process and when a patient does not admit.” To this admissions center director, call metrics are imperative for growing and maintaining growth. “You have to track every call and conversion,” Stokely emphasizes. He considers call metrics to be a vital tool for managing staffing related to effectiveness and how many people are needed for a given shift. “Data drives all decisions within a company and having technology to effectively track saves the company money and time,” says Stokely. “If you don’t track, you can’t scale, and if you can’t scale, you can’t grow. If you can’t maintain growth, businesses will fail,” he adds. For Stokely, data improves conversion rates because it helps his facility focus on its highest priorities. For example, data may point to a need for training. When that happens, his facility will train rather than spend money elsewhere. “Every aspect of data drives production and the overall effectiveness of the company,” he says (personal communication, November 5, 2021).

When you integrate call tracking with your CRM, you’re putting yourself in a position to experience greater success. No longer do you have to be uncertain as to which calls can be traced all the way back to the specific marketing campaign that caused each caller to pick up the phone. With integration between call tracking and CRM, it’s possible to know the answer. With this additional detailed information at your fingertips, you’ll find it easier to adjust your marketing efforts so that you can not only cut costs, but also maximize results.

When asked about using technology integrations like call rail or call tracking metrics to inform business decisions and improve admissions conversion rates, CEO Jordan Young says, “The use of technology integration is critical in informing business decisions and assisting in improved conversion rates for admissions because it provides data on which types of calls are working and which types are not” (personal communication, November 9, 2021). Young feels that this data allows marketing departments to focus their time and resources on investments that generate more of the productive phone calls and reduce resources invested on calls that are not producing as well. When asked how data actually improves conversion rates, Young responded, “This data will improve the overall conversion rates for an organization because they will begin to increase the proportion of calls with the highest conversion rates and decrease the proportion of calls with lower conversion rates, which will raise the overall conversion rate.” This CEO feels that as calls become increasingly similar in terms of referral sources and call specifics, admissions departments can then focus their training and coaching more on best practices for handling these calls. “As is the case with anything, repetition and practice leads to improved performance and results,” says Young (personal communication, November 9, 2021).

The question now becomes this: what practical tools can empower operators to better utilize data-driven decisions?

Trend Prediction Technology

Addiction treatment center operators obviously wish to have great confidence whenever they are making marketing decisions or operational decisions in general. How can this best be accomplished?

Decisions concerning how to allocate treatment services need to be informed by accurate data. All too often addiction treatment centers witness sudden drops in phone calls for a certain kind of treatment, only to be blindsided by patient demand for a totally different type of treatment. That shift in demand wasn’t anticipated due primarily to a lack of reliable data to indicate the shift. The problem of a lack of data also extends to addiction treatment organizations wishing to expand or build in new locations. There are always lingering questions about whether the right location has been selected. Once again, a lack of real-time data can negatively affect such decisions.

As surprising as it may seem, unexpected use trends can actually be planned for and new locations can be determined by analysis of data. It’s no longer necessary to be behind the curve in trying to predict future needs. Addiction treatment center operators simply have to leverage trend prediction technology.

Making Predictions Using the Right Data

Instead of reacting to substance use trends, addiction treatment center operators can anticipate and effectively plan for them. Through heat-mapping it’s now possible to identify individual communities where substance use hot spots are flaring up. It’s also easier to understand why these hot spots occur.

As an example, let’s say there’s a hypothetical fentanyl bust in Baltimore. This information can be identified by a system that carefully tracks such information in great detail. In addition, the system may also identify a sudden shift toward meth and cocaine use in the Baltimore area to fill what would’ve been fentanyl demand. All of this would have tremendous implications for addiction treatment centers in Baltimore, especially if they have access to all this crucial information. This is no fictional scenario; addiction treatment operators can access this data right now.

How Trend Prediction Technology Benefits Treatment Stakeholders

It’s now possible to access real-time hospital admissions data to clearly identify a given area’s most likely treatment needs in the immediate future. For addiction treatment centers, access to such valuable information could speed treatment availability and literally save lives in the process.

Why Trend Prediction Technology Matters

There’s a plethora of ways this data can be used to enhance decision making. For example, you can:

  • Know the prevailing trends regarding any shift in the drug supply chain. This has implications on how demand will move toward a different substance as a response.
  • Gain a deep insight into demand for various treatment options. It’s possible that you could be putting resources into the wrong types of treatment based on what the data indicates for your physical location.
  • View prevalence and trends by geography, time, patient demographics, destination facility, and more. The ability to filter according to only those variables most important to you eliminates the need to analyze irrelevant data.
  • See real-time data on medical transports related to substance use and private treatment. When you’re concerned with the day-to-day operation of your center, it’s easy to lose track of what’s actually happening in your community. Numbers like this paint a picture, and it’s wise to look at what the data is trying to tell you.
  • Have real-time demographic data on substance-use-related medical admissions. Today’s hospital admissions can be tomorrow’s addiction treatment patients if you know how many are being admitted and for which substance.
  • Create more relevant marketing messaging. It’s possible to precisely fine-tune marketing messaging and remain laser focused on the types of substance use that are most prevalent in your region (or about to be).
  • Experience greater budgeting efficiency. Trend prediction technology enables you to allocate more funds to areas where they can do the most good.

This trend prediction capability was originally developed by Biospatial, a leading health care analytics business, to identify health-related data sources that could provide early warning of biological weapon attacks and infectious disease outbreaks. However, the information collected has uses far beyond its original intention. In more recent years, an increasingly vast array of data has emerged that can now inform virtually all behavioral health care disciplines.

Leveraging Trend Prediction Technology

The data that trend prediction technology generates can bring about meaningful change for addiction treatment centers. This mapping technology and real-time data collection can assist addiction treatment center operators in making evidence-based decisions to better serve patients in their respective communities.

In terms of nonclinical aspects, developers and financiers have the ability to effectively target areas for building treatment facilities based on highly accurate localized data. Operators can now better plan treatment based on real-time data concerning fast-emerging drug abuse trends. At the end of the day, this means better returns on investment and better clinical care for patients.

How Technology Connects Marketing and Billing

This relationship between marketing and billing isn’t nearly as well understood by addiction treatment center operators as it needs to be. In essence, your marketing partner and billing partner hold highly useful information that the other would find valuable. Unfortunately, these two resources don’t typically share information, which results in lost opportunities and wasteful budgeting. Pairing your front-end marketing data with back-end billing data makes both of them more efficient. This paired information is a good example of the smart use of business intelligence, and the combined data will likely influence both your tactical and strategic decision making. From the billing company’s point of view, the objective should be to explore whatever helps give you access to different kinds of insurers. In all cases, the overriding goal is always better reimbursement.

Marketing can tell you who’s coming through what channels and billing can tell you how policies are paying. In order to find more qualified leads who also have the most viable insurance plans, you need to be able to marry those two datasets together. If a digital marketing company had information from a billing company, it could target those prospects in your marketing from the very outset.

Addiction treatment centers are always in a quandary about what health care plans they should pursue more, in-network or out-of-network. As expected, there are trade-offs no matter which direction you go. With in-network insurance coverage, you’ll probably get a lower rate, but there are a lot of other benefits such as more patients with coverage and lower deductibles. However, a billing team needs information from the marketing team regarding the call volume and the conversion rate (and how those two figures compare). That information helps to estimate the financial cost versus benefit.

The marriage of marketing and billing is important to your success for two reasons: marketing can tell you who’s coming through which channels, and billing can tell you how those policies are paying. Each aspect is valuable. However, they’re even more valuable if you bring together the marketing and billing datasets. That’s how you can clearly identify your target audience and make better decisions.

How Evidence-Based Decision Making Changed a Drug Rehab Center’s Financial Bottom Line

What can happen when billing and marketing share data to reach a successful conclusion? As turns out, quite a lot.

A small, rural, in-network drug rehab center in the Midwest was seeking steady and stable growth. Through careful cooperation, Dreamscape Marketing and the drug rehab center’s billing company were able to identify one particular insurance carrier as crucial to their business model. After carefully looking at the center’s situation with access to their billing information, Dreamscape Marketing identified that the drug rehab center wasn’t actively pursuing detox patients. Instead, they were assuming that the bulk of their admissions would likely be patients seeking opioid treatment, which ran counter to what the marketing and billing data was indicating.


Sixty days after Dreamscape Marketing advised the center to go after detox clients, the admission numbers went up and stayed there. Ultimately they experienced 30 percent growth and are now preparing to open a second location (Dreamscape Marketing, 2021).

This is what happens when marketing and billing have the ability to share information. The 30 percent growth was possible because Dreamscape Marketing and the drug rehab’s billing company were able to compare datasets each month to draw accurate conclusions about the state of the center’s business (Dreamscape Marketing, 2021). This is the definition of evidence-based decision making at its best.


So, what can you do to improve upon your success? As you strive to operate your addiction treatment center more efficiently, it becomes increasingly obvious that one of the best ways to do that is through a concentrated focus on evidence-based decision making.

At all times, decision making should depend on solid, verifiable data. There’s no reason for an addiction treatment center provider to ever rely on vague or incomplete anecdotal evidence to decide a marketing budget or how a marketing campaign needs to change. The time has passed for gut feelings and shoot-from-the-hip decision making that can lead addiction treatment programs down the wrong path, toward reduced profitability and decreased ability to effectively serve the needs of people in their communities.

Evidence-based decision making empowers you to better serve your patients and affords you the opportunity to operate in the most efficient manner possible as a business. Fortunately, you have the ability to leverage technology to accomplish these goals. If you haven’t taken full advantage of what technology can do to assist with your decision making, it’s time to start.


Dan Gemp
Dan Gemp

Dan Gemp is the president and CEO of Dreamscape Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency serving the health care industry based in Columbia, Maryland. A graduate of Villanova University’s School of Business, Gemp applies financial modeling to Dreamscape’s business intelligence campaigns to advise clients on a cost-per-action marketing model. He is a nationally recognized speaker on ethical health care marketing and maintains a year-round speaking schedule. Gemp’s unique perspective at the intersection of business, digital marketing, and health care has made him a thought leader and go-to contributor to many health care podcasts, webinars, and publications including Bloomberg and The New York Times.

Dan Gemp

Dan Gemp is the president and CEO of Dreamscape Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency serving the health care industry based in Columbia, Maryland. A graduate of Villanova University’s School of Business, Gemp applies financial modeling to Dreamscape’s business intelligence campaigns to advise clients on a cost-per-action marketing model. He is a nationally recognized speaker on ethical health care marketing and maintains a year-round speaking schedule. Gemp’s unique perspective at the intersection of business, digital marketing, and health care has made him a thought leader and go-to contributor to many health care podcasts, webinars, and publications including Bloomberg and The New York Times.

  • 1