The role of the physician liaison team is often understated, despite the fact that physician referral practices can greatly impact a health system’s overall performance and profitability.
To optimize growth in a competitive market, health organizations and liaison teams must work to develop and nurture relationships with physicians and providers.
Until recently, healthcare organizations have been challenged to quantify and categorize liaison efforts, which is part of the reason their role has been underestimated. For this reason, many health systems have implemented a physician relationship management (PRM) solution. As a centralized hub for physician engagement efforts, a PRM solution allows organizations to leverage existing data sets, develop actionable insights, and gain visibility into their liaison team practices.
As with any technology implementation, there are going to be challenges and hurdles along the way to overcome. We’ve outlined four strategies to ease the PRM transition process for the liaison team and the organization:
1. Socialize the PRM Solution Before Implementation
The implementation of a PRM solution fundamentally involves a shift in how physician liaisons manage their days and workflow. Most liaisons spend their week on the road speaking with physicians and providers and, as a result, may be challenged at first to find the time to enter all the data points and activities into the PRM.
Socializing the idea – and conveying the impacts and benefits of PRM implementation – to both C-suite leadership and liaisons is a critical step.
Leadership needs to fully understand why this tool is important in today’s healthcare landscape, and how insights necessary for smarter growth can be extracted. Discuss how PRM will improve reporting and be clear about the type of valuable data points that can be obtained.
All members of the physician liaison team should be aware of how a PRM will change their day-to-day tasks and, more importantly, how (and why) harnessing this type of data in a central system will enable them to do their job more effectively.
Implementing a PRM solution takes time; it’s not going to be smooth sailing from day one. Liaisons will need to shift their workflow and thus should be prepared to dial back their workload for a certain period of time. Have realistic expectations and build in more administration hours into the workday for the first few weeks of implementation to account for the additional time spent entering information into the solution.
2. Create Processes to Ensure Data Integrity
Before PRM implementation, liaison teams may be taking advantage of multiple data sources – including claims data, market insight, physician demographic data, physician directories, and internal data – but typically lack a central location in which to house this data and develop useful insights from it.
We see a fair amount of organizations that have a rough understanding of physician referral patterns and market trends impacting their physician referral network, but this data isn’t actionable, and liaison efforts toward critical organizational goals aren’t properly attributed.
A PRM is a centralized hub for these disparate data sources. When fully implemented, organizations more effectively leverage data, derive insights to inform campaigns, attribute liaison actions to specific campaigns, and ultimately drive business results.
However, to develop accurate insights, health systems need to implement processes that promote clean data. The PRM needs to be a source of truth – and that means that the upstream data needs to be as accurate and consistent as possible. Implementing a data feed from a credentialing system is a must to facilitate cleaner data on physician demographics in the marketplace.
To avoid time-consuming issues related to data quality down the line, it’s imperative to consider how best to integrate necessary data streams and build workflows that promote clean data. If resources allow, consider hiring someone to join the team who will act as a system administrator and can accurately manage data and system updates. Otherwise, appoint an administrator – a “super user” – early on in the onboarding process to oversee data integration and data cleanup. Time spent on data integrity on the front-end of implementation will prevent major headaches down the road.
3. Establish Clear, Simple Workflows and Dashboards
To get the most out of a PRM solution, physician liaisons need to be active, daily participants. It’s critical that they add and attribute their actions to specific campaigns and initiatives in as real-time as possible.
Creating dashboards can simplify data entry while creating visibility into team efforts toward specific goals. They can be shared and customized to align with both team goals and individual liaison objectives.
This is one of the advantages of a PRM: the ability to collaborate, identify trends, and develop plans to address issues. Setting up dashboards for different service lines and physician relationship campaigns can be a timesaver when it comes to data entry and organization. Data shared amongst users and updated in real-time creates more opportunities for collaboration and identification of trends and status of initiatives. Teams know more quickly if there is a need for more outreach in a particular service line or which touchpoints are having more of an impact, which helps inform actions and workflows moving forward.
A companion PRM mobile app is a great tool to use on the road and allows liaisons to enter physician engagement details while the interaction is still fresh in their minds. It offers flexibility that can help ease the transition to this new workflow
4. Leverage PRM to Optimize Daily Tasks
In addition to enabling collaboration on key campaigns and objectives, the PRM can be used to build more efficient and effective physician outreach. As liaisons get more proficient with the PRM, they can use the multi-relational database to build territories based on a number of criteria. When they’re planning in-person visits, the PRM can help build the most efficient route.
Liaisons can define their own territories and develop dashboards and reports related to their individual goals and objectives. This can help liaisons understand at a glance the status and impact of their interactions in specific areas.
Among the advantages of a PRM is that multiple liaisons can work on the same campaign at the same time. Activity can be efficiently logged within the system in real-time by team members and previous interactions, insights, issues are all recorded to help keep team members up-to-date on engagement with specific providers. By having this data all in one place, liaison teams will be able to more easily plan their outreach strategy, as well as see trends, successes, and trouble spots.
Onboarding a PRM takes time and diligence, but multiple levels of the organization, from the liaison team to the C-suite, stand to benefit from the insights it uncovers. With greater visibility into a physician network, liaison teams are able to quantitatively prove their value to the organization and optimize outreach tactics going forward. When fully implemented, a PRM empowers hospitals to increase revenue from their physician network by giving them the insights and analytics necessary to grow strategically.