More often than not, we see that physician liaisons are being told to “call high”.. Aka, don’t leave without meeting the doctor.
Truth is that this is not accurate, depending on the practice you are hunting into / marketing to. Many times, we have noticed that doctors actually do NOT make the referral decisions. There are many times where the referral coordinator (or even the front desk that doubles as a referral coordinator) is responsible for sending referrals out and is the one that’s responsible for deciding who (which specialist) the referral is sent to.. And they do so purely based on the path of least resistance and the most responsive partners.
Understand that and let that sink in.. while you are aiming to connect only with the doctors, referral decisions are being made by front desk or referral coordinator staff that are tasked with “sending” the referrals out the door. They don’t always care about the “best doctor” for the patient (they are not clinically trained to know that much).
What do they really care about?
A couple of things ..
- Which referring partner responds to me the fastest, so I can update my boss on the status?
- Which referring partner gets my patients appointments the quickest, so my patients don’t complain to my boss, the provider?
- Which referring partner keeps me updated about the appointment status – so that my patient doesn’t come back to see my provider without having completed the referral visit or the referral notes?
- Which referring partner closes the loop on the referrals I sent via a visit note, so that I can update the same on my EMR and thereafter can report back to our payers about the referral being `complete”?
- Which referral partner offers me the path of least resistance? Aka.. I just send referrals the way I used to, without having to jump through any new hoops or having to learn a new referral process/software or something else?
The underlying theme here is.. What makes the job of your referring partner’s lives easier?
Sure, in many cases, doctors themselves are responsible for the referrals. We are not saying that you shouldn’t try to see the doctor.
But you should also keep in mind that you need to train your physician liaisons in a different way to be able to gain audience with the doctor.
And once they do gain an audience with the doctor, they should be able to have a powerful impact in the 5 minutes that the referring doctor gave them.
In other words, the physician liaison should be able to bring something to the physician’s table that only the physician could appreciate.
Something that the physician liaison could not leave behind or train the front desk or referral coordinator on.. Something that the doctor themselves would be able to justify spending their 5 minutes on..
Keep that in mind when you are persistent about being given an audience with the “doctor”.
Don’t expect a physician liaison to be able to figure this stuff out themselves.. Train them, empower them, guide them..
And you will reap rewards. Let’s see what a referral coordinator (on your team) need to do their jobs