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Medical Marketing

How to empower your referrals team with the data and the tools they need to be effective

How to empower your referrals team with the data and the tools they need to be effective? Let’s go through each item one by one. Start with the basics – provider and practice data.

Let’s go through each item one by one

Basics – provider and practice data

Your physician referrals team is going to need accurate provider and practices data. They need that to really push through your practice’s marketing strategy.

There are several companies that do this for a living. Some of them are the big guys that most of us cannot afford – e.g. definitive healthcare, LexisNexis, integratedmedicaldata (more so on email lists), IQVIA etc.

OK, so you cannot afford it – now what? Keep in mind that you can always fall back to the basics and get the data from the CMS NPI database. This data is updated every month and you also get incremental data updates weekly.

However, this data is bad – REALLY bad.. We have used this before and have pretty bad luck with this. You can read more about how inaccurate this really is on Fierce Healthcare’s website.

If you want to depend on the government provided data, do keep in mind that you have to merge / munge the following data sets

  • National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (updated weekly)
  • Medicare Provider of Services Files (CLIA and all other HCPs, updated quarterly)
  • Physician Compare (updated annually)
  • List of Excluded Individuals and Entities – LEIE (updated monthly)
  • Physician Patient Demographics (updated annually)
  • Dialysis clinic information (updated quarterly)
  • Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Quality Reporting (updated quarterly)
  • Medicare data (parts A-D)
  • Hospital Service Areas (updated annually)
  • Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems – HCAHPS (updated annually)
  • Hospital Compare (updated annually)
  • Medicare Shared Savings Program Organizations (updated annually)
  • Sunshine Act – General + Research + Hospital + Physician Payments (2013 – 2017)
  • Etc

Look up Carevoyance – they do this as well.

You can use Google to do the same research. E.g. you can go to google maps, search for your location (or be at one of your offices), then search for physicians, specialists (by typing each specialty) etc.. Sure you can do that – but that is also REALLY bad data.

You can also go to zocdoc.com, vitals.com, healthgrades.com and try to find providers and practices – good luck with that 🙂

Anyways – here’s something else you can do… and data you can trust. Payer provider directory. By law, payers are supposed to keep accurate provider directories (it is not updated in real time but it’s as close to real time updates as you can hope for).

Simply create a spreadsheet with all the payers you accept. Then, google payer name + provider directory to find the results

E.g.

1199seiu provider directory – this gives you a link here

Or aetna provider directory – this gets you to here and you can get (e.g.) all PCPs around Brooklyn

If you cannot purchase the data from the companies mentioned above, you can hire freelancers from upwork.com and get them to create a spreadsheet with all the provider and practice info. At a minimum, you are going to need the following information to help your physician liaisons or healthcare marketing folks

  • Practice Name
  • Provider names — all providers that practice there
  • Provider credentials for each provider
  • Address
  • Fax
  • Phone
  • Specialties – e.g.  Pediatrics; Emergency Medicine

Now, at least, you have started empowering your physician liaisons with data to be effective.

Software

Your physician liaisons can surely not use any technology if you truly do not want them to. But don’t be surprised that they are spending time each day updating their notes, spreadsheets that you might be asking them for, reports you ask them for etc. Also, be fully prepared that they would be wasting valuable time printing maps, spreadsheets of information, trying to figure out how to optimize their routes, finding parking etc..

Your choice.

We always recommend field sales operations CRM software that allows you and your reps to:

  • Upload your target accounts with full contact data and account intelligence
  • Create and assign territories to your reps
  • Create routes and plans for each day of the week that is optimized for driving time
  • Create reminders for themselves that ties into their calendars
  • Check in and check out of accounts AND the ability to not be able to check in when they are not at or near the target account location
  • Take notes while they are at the prospect, to add contacts they discovered at the practice, leave notes for your inhouse sales enablement teams to help them further
  • Ping anyone at the practice to help them out with specific questions while they are at the practice
  • Be able to pull up account level information so that they know in as real time as possible the total referrals and names of referred patients from each practice
  • Be able to see their weekly performance of new referrals they have driven to your practice, how many patients have been scheduled, not scheduled, seen, billed etc
  • Be able to order referral pads or other marketing materials when the referral partner tells them that it is needed.
  • etc.

Territory

Let’s talk about territory – if you’ve ever run a sales or marketing team before, you know you have laser focus on your territory and the quirks of each territory. E.g. upper west manhattan – it’s a heavy Spanish neighborhood .. and a Dominican or a Hispanic liaison is going to be most effective here. Or, e.g. the Jamaica or Jackson Heights neighborhood – it’s heavy on Bangladeshi.. A Bengali speaking physician liaison is going to be more effective here.

Divide your target accounts into territories and try not to have overlapping territories and accounts. It only leads to headaches with commissions and account ownerships.

You can choose to have territories defined based on geography or based on specialities or based on specific lines of businesses you want to promote – that’s really something you need to figure out based on what makes most sense to your practice.

In general, it’s always best if you do not have multiple reps reaching out to the same practice with mixed messaging. It’s always best if you have a rep manage a relationship with a referring partner.

In general, we always advocate hunters to be hunters and for farmers to be farmers.. Keep it that way.

Account level information

You’re going to have to clearly define a list of accounts in your territory and enhance each account with account level information so that your reps can be most effective when they are knocking on doors.

We recommend that your territory have a list of all practices, their specialties, their locations (and if a practice has multiple locations, all locations should be handled by a single rep), a clear indication of this association of multiple locations to the same practice.

You will need a well defined list of contacts within your accounts – i.e which physicians practice at the account, front desk person(s) name(s) (if possible), referral coordinator’s name (if possible), how many times your reps have visited the practice etc.. On top of this, try to provide account level information that tells your reps more about the practice, the kind of plans they accept, the kind of procedures they do, the number of medicare/medicaid patients they see etc.. Gathering this kind of data does get expensive but is well worth it.

In addition to this, you are going to need to provide a well defined list of contact information for your accounts (fax, phone numbers are a must have, websites are a nice to have).

Over time, you will notice that your reps are gathering deeper information about each account.. How many times a doctor visits the offices, which days or times they come in, new contacts in a practice, who seems to be a champion in that referring practice for your own practice, who can guide them within your referring partner practice etc..

Crucial parts that your software vendor should solve for you

The following is where we have seen several practices fail. They do provide training on their own practice’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of opportunities, threats to their practices. Some of them even provide decent marketing collateral that can be used for conversation starters, drop off / leave behind material at the practices, key differentiators between their practice and their competitor’s practice etc..

However, they typically don’t provide software robust enough where their reps could spend more time in networking rather than reporting to their managers on their daily performance / activities.

Your reps should be able to create daily route maps, know which accounts haven’t been touched in a while (aging), be able to add reminders to themselves about following up with a practice on specific dates/times, be able to check in/check out of the practices they visit.

The biggest issue that most software vendors do not solve is to allow the reps the ability to have a clear idea about the target referring practice and the patients they have referred to your practice over the past year (at least) as soon as you enter the practice. Many times reps have visited a practice several times and the partner might even have sent patients over already – but the reps do not know.

Make sure that your field sales CRM software is 100% mobile and 100% integrated with your EMR (or at least someone on your IT team updates the account information with such crucial referral information).

Next, let’s look at how to create a great physician referral marketing team

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