The Growth Channel

Five must-dos to boost physician outreach


Madhavi Kasinadhuni, Marketing and Planning Leadership Council

As organizations shift from fee-for-service to accountable care, effective referral management will be essential to steer patients toward high-quality, cost-conscious providers and to ensure care coordination.

At the Chicago session of this year’s Marketing and Planning Leadership Council national meeting, physician outreach expert Kriss Barlow led a special session for members on improving the efficacy of their physician outreach programs.

Kriss advised audience members to:


1. Push staff out of the hospital

Many organizations miss the mark by making their liaisons responsible for all things physician relations. According to Kriss and others, splitting time between the field and other initiatives just doesn’t work. Outreach staff should spend at least 70% of their time doing targeted physician visits.


2. Avoid over-contact

Physician practices spend between 5 and 40 hours a week dealing with health care reps—some even have a dedicated FTE just to manage visits and information. With so much information coming at them, neither physicians nor gatekeepers have the time or energy to visit with multiple reps from a provider. Centralize the physician database for liaisons across programs and cut down the number of visits to a provider—especially to PCPs.


3. Tell them only what they want to know

Physicians are not interested in what’s new at the hospital; they care about solutions to their problems. A survey conducted by Kriss and her team found that the number one credential doctors value in a liaison is knowing what is most important to their practice’s success. Liaisons should take the time to understand each practice’s priorities, and then tailor the information they share accordingly. Program heads can support them by developing a system for outreach staff to track physician behaviors, interests and needs.


4. Empower liaisons to share physician feedback

In the same survey, the second most important credential doctors seek in a liaison is influence. With limited time, want to know that their feedback is reaching the C-suite or other key decision-makers. Liaisons can show that they serve as a live connection between the practice and the hospital by explaining who feedback is reported to and how it is incorporated into the hospital’s decision making process. If necessary, they can also connect the physician leader directly to the service line director or another appropriate executive.


5. Match rep to physician

Liaisons need to be relationship managers, so it’s important to understand who the physician leader will be responsive to and lead with right level of contact. For PCPs, liaisons serve as a single point of contact to the hospital, streamlining communication and avoiding over-contact or confusion. 

For specialists, a physician peer or service line leader is better positioned to rely on their clinical expertise to address questions and concerns of referring specialists. 

For large, multispecialty or primary care medical groups, particularly if they are not employed by the hospital or health system, the CEO signals the importance and appreciation the hospital has for the relationship with the physician group as the relationship manager. Prioritize outreach and send the rep best positioned to get the physician’s ear.

More from the Marketing and Planning Leadership Council

Looking for more on physician liaison programs or referral management?  Read out study Advancing Physician Outreach Programs.  Then, check out our webconference "Next Generation Physician Liaison Programs."  


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