Consider this statistic: Referral leakage for a health system can average anywhere from 55 to 65 percent. To put this in perspective, for a hospital with 100 affiliated providers, total referral leakage costs the health system between $78 million to $97 million per year.
That’s a big number, and one that illustrates the importance of building strong physician relationships within the provider community: Successful physician relationship campaigns can bring significant revenue back into the organization. As competition for referrals increases, incorporating a data-driven approach to physician alignment and engagement can reap dividends for an organization.
Integration of a Physician Relationship Management (PRM) solution is a start. It gives physician liaison teams a centralized system for tracking engagement activities. More than that, it provides liaisons with the ability to approach their outreach and campaigns strategically – and align them with organization-wide initiatives.
How can outreach teams extract smarter data from physician relationship campaigns? Let’s take a look at four key steps:
1. Align Campaigns with Internal Clinical Initiatives
Before a physician relationship campaign is created in the PRM, the liaison team must have a solid understanding of the organization’s internal clinical initiatives. The team needs to ask themselves and leadership these types of questions:
- Within the organization, what service lines have a need and capacity for growth?
- Where are the known or suspected threats around volumes and referrals?
- What service lines are competing organizations going after?
- Where does the organization see the most opportunity?
- For particular service lines, what efforts have been made or planned toward recruitment? Are there new physicians with specific specialties?
- Are there first-in-market initiatives (i.e. procedures, surgical equipment)?
With organizational initiatives in mind, physician outreach teams can develop informed campaigns that more closely align with overarching business goals. This framework allows liaisons to architect more relevant and impactful campaigns that ultimately show quantitative progress toward organizational goals.
2. Build a Two-Tier Campaign Architecture
To better understand how physician outreach teams are contributing to organizational initiatives, all liaison activities need to be recorded and categorized within the PRM.
Start by building high-level service campaigns (i.e. orthopedics, bariatrics, cardiology), depending on the identified organization priorities. Next, to gain further visibility into physician marketing efforts, under the umbrella of each service line create related campaigns tied to specific service line initiatives and goals. These more granular campaigns offer liaisons the ability to work toward specific goals and use those insights to guide ongoing efforts.
Let’s walk through an example:
When discussing how to align with internal initiatives, the outreach team found out a new general surgeon joined the hospital and specializes in bariatric surgery. The liaison team’s first initiative should be to introduce the surgeon to providers in the area.
To optimize this effort, outreach teams should develop a strategic plan to get the most out of these in-person introductions. They can do this by analyzing multiple data points – market data, competitive insights, and claims data (i.e. loyalist vs. splitters) – and using those insights to identify priority providers to target. These efforts assist the individual surgeon as he acclimates to his new position, and help the hospital reach its goal of increasing bariatric referrals.
This two-tier effort should be reflected within the PRM. Underneath a high-level service campaign (in this example, bariatric), teams can build smaller physician relationship campaigns to get this new surgeon up and running, such as provider to provider introductions and invitations to MD talks, that ultimately contribute to broader goal service-line goals.
3. Determine Baseline Volumes and Referral Patterns
To demonstrate growth and progress toward organizational goals for reporting, outreach teams first need to determine baseline volumes and referral patterns. Using a combination of claims analytics and internal data, determine these initial metrics for each campaign.
As campaigns get underway, outreach teams will be able to see how their efforts are translating to an increase in referrals or driving results in other business metrics. Not only does this help show the team’s value to leadership, it also can inform liaison strategies and increase their effectiveness.
For example, if there’s growth in an area that was a focus for the outreach team, liaisons may be able to leverage that success to bring in other providers. Physicians that were splitters but are now loyalists may be willing to become ambassadors for your program and for your hospital systems.
4. Attribute All Outreach Activity to a Campaign
One of the keys to better reporting is ensuring data – and the right data, in the right place – is entered into the PRM from the start. To assist in that effort, make the process as simple and seamless as possible for physician liaisons. For example, as liaisons are often on the road, a PRM mobile app allows liaisons to record activity from anywhere in real-time. Ultimately, the goal is to have liaisons not only enter their daily activity into the PRM, but be able to attribute their efforts to individual campaign(s).
Within the PRM, report templates and dashboards specific to each campaign will bring visibility into the outreach team’s efforts and understand what’s driving results. Every report should have metrics that align with the campaign goals determined in coordination with service line leaders.
With these in place, liaisons have the opportunity to show how (and by how much) their efforts are contributing to business goals. While there should be high-level dashboards for all members of the outreach team, each liaison should create custom configurations based on their individual role and goals.
In many health organizations, physician outreach teams have traditionally been siloed from consumer marketing efforts and left unaware of key organizational initiatives. The implementation of a PRM is an opportunity to better align physician relationship campaigns with service line and organizational goals. By taking a data-driven approach to physician relationship management, outreach teams are able to effectively quantify and communicate successes, pinpoint issues, and adapt strategies.