Physician referrals are a gold mine – we all know that. There are very few industries outside of healthcare where referral networks can work so well and can be so effective in marketing and business growth.
Over time, we have noticed that the practices that grow rapidly are the ones that take physician referral networking and physician referral partnerships seriously… very seriously.
It actually is very easy to do so if you master the individual components of this growth strategy.
The things to look at:
- Marketing to physician offices near your office/practice locations
- Following up with physician offices and reminding them of your services regularly
- Taking care of patients referred by your referring physician partner by seeing them asap, treating them well and ensuring that the patients are happy
- Keeping your referring physician partner office(s) in the loop constantly about the referral they sent over
- Closing the loop with your referring physician partner by sending out consult/visit notes ASAP and transitioning care back to your partner
- Touching base with your referring physician partners regularly to ensure satisfaction, addressing any issues they might have, keeping them abreast of the latest about your practice and the co-managed patients.
How we have seen it being done
Most practices that we have worked with, make the mistake of having physician liaisons do the following:
- Market to referring physicians with/without giving them the proper tools to do their jobs
- Follow up with physicians to make sure they send referrals
- Follow up with the practice management staff to find out whether the referring physician sent any patients or not
- Follow up with the referring physician practices to update them about the referred patients’ appointment status
- Follow up with the practice management staff to find out if the consult / visit notes are ready or not
- Follow up with the referring physician practice to drop off consult notes
- Find out issues from referring physician practices and relay them back to the practice management staff internally
- Follow up with referring partner practices on whether issues have been addressed or not
This is too much for physician liaisons to handle. They simply cannot be effective if they are handling hunting, farming, customer satisfaction, practice management staff coordination etc.
How we feel it should be done and how we have succeeded
We have always had success with teams that are laser focused on a singular task. This allows us to hire, train, set proper KPIs, MBOs for, measure, learn, fine-tune better. That’s at least, our approach to running a practice management business.
Separating hunters (physician liaisons) from farmers (referral coordinators)
Our first advice is to break down these functions into:
- Hunting – folks out in the field hunting down new referring partner accounts to close (or rather, “open”). You need to equip this team with the proper training, collaterals, account information (aka referring practice locations), account intelligence (aka physician specialty, clinical interests, number of procedures if possible, procedures performed, expertise, payer mix etc). These are your “field sales reps” or “physician liaisons”.
- Farming – Once the hunters have hunted and the referring partner has sent their first few patients, it’s the job of the farmers to expand that “account” into getting more referrals. The only way this is going to happen is if your farming team is “on top” of referred patients, patient satisfaction, patient coordination, keeping the referring partner up to date on patient appointment status, reverting back with consult notes and transitioning care to ensure referring partner satisfaction. This is much more of a coordinator role (aka referral coordinator).
Our earnest advice is NOT to mix these two roles as they require different personalities and have a very different focus. So, What does a physician liaison need to do their job?