Growing Practice Uses Data Analysis to Expand into New Markets
Chesapeake Urology Associates has been serving patients in Maryland for over ten years, expanded to cover the mid-Atlantic region, and is now broadening its reach to patients across the nation. Its success has come from the vision of its original founders to provide their patients with a care experience that included any of the urology services they might need. The group has attracted talented urologists with advanced training in various subspecialties of the profession, including pediatric urologists, urologic oncologists, uropathologists, and urologic reconstruction surgeons.
As a practice, CUA has elevated the patient experience by attracting and retaining the best physicians and support staff, and investing in innovative diagnostic and treatment tools to ensure they stay on the cutting edge of available technology. They have seen rapid growth, and are aggressively pursuing their vision, which is “to be the nation’s leading urologic group practice through their commitment to accessible, high quality, cost-effective care, patient satisfaction, and community involvement.” Through these measures, CUA hopes to “assure sustainable growth and security for [their] physicians and employees.”
As the team at CUA has worked to realize their vision they’ve successfully penetrated new markets, but not without having to overcome obstacles. As with any specialty practice trying to establish itself in a new area, CUA was faced with the challenge of developing a patient base through the various referral sources in the area.
Ryan Swailes, a physician liaison at CUA who was a key player in facilitating the practice’s expansion, understood that the old standbys of physician outreach weren’t going to yield the type of results CUA wanted. He saw the need for a real strategy to target the right referral sources in the new markets they were considering expanding into. Drawing on his past experience in physician relationship management, Ryan knew he needed a solution that would provide him with two critical elements he saw were missing when he joined CUA: information and organization.
Finding the Right Tools for the Job
Moving into new territories isn’t a matter of opening an office and hanging a sign outside, then waiting for the patients to flock to the waiting room. The process of attracting new patients to a practice is a complicated affair with many moving parts, particularly when it comes to specialty medicine, like in the case of CUA. Much of the work of getting patients is done by gaining the trust of referring physicians, and Ryan Swailes’ role as physician liaison made him responsible for a good portion of establishing that trust.
As a physician liaison, Ryan spends much of his day in the field or on his phone, visiting or otherwise communicating with physicians; these efforts are made to recruit physicians to work for the practice, establish them as a referral source, or retain their current business. His efforts to build relationships with those physicians are valuable, but can be difficult to track. This is where Marketware comes in.
Ryan has come to depend on the organizational features of Ascend, Marketware’s PRM, to keep him focused and efficient when it comes to his outreach efforts, particularly when moving into new territories. Because Ascend is the only PRM that was built specifically for the unique needs of relationship managers working in healthcare, it provides practical solutions for concerns that other more generic relationship management tools do not. Before discovering Marketware, Ryan used Salesforce, but was often frustrated with the workarounds he’d have to use in order to store physician-specific information that Salesforce didn’t provide fields for.
Even more important than convenience, Ascend provides Ryan and other CUA employees with an invaluable resource other PRMs didn’t: data. Marketware’s data analysis solution, Scout, is fully integrated into Ascend, and using the countless data points available to him through claims data, internal data, and EHR/EMR, Ryan can discover untapped market share in his territories, assess which physicians most urgently need outreach, and form strategies that will yield CUA the greatest benefits.
Harnessing the Power of Data to Build Sustainable Referral Relationships
For Chesapeake Urology, the key to success from the outset when moving into a new territory is preparedness. Before Marketware, much of that work was done without the aid of data analysis tools, making the process of researching physician behaviors difficult. Ryan hoped to change that when he suggested to his leadership team that they implement a software he’d stumbled across in his search for a PRM to replace Salesforce. Once he found Marketware and realized the impact its PRM and data analysis solutions could have on his outreach efforts, he became an evangelist for its use to anyone in the company who would listen.
Although it took Ryan some time and effort to get buy in from his leadership team—after all, CUA was growing even without the use of Marketware’s tools—his persistence eventually won out, and he was able to see the products implemented at CUA. Now, the process of due diligence before moving into new territories is much more straightforward. With the integration of Scout’s powerful data analytics into Ascend, which he uses on a daily basis, Ryan is able to gain insight into his markets with the click of a few buttons, either on his laptop or via an app on his mobile device.
Having access to market data has given Ryan a competitive edge when it comes to getting new practice locations up and running as quickly as possible. As Ryan says, “Marketware has helped me especially in areas where I’m not familiar with the market. It’s been useful in areas where we’re the new kids in town; we put a new office in Montgomery County, Maryland, where there was an established urology group, and I’ve been able to look into their urologists, find who their network connections are, find their top people, and go after them. It’s really helped me hone in on the people who I needed to spend the most time with.”
Once Ryan has assessed the market and identified who he should be establishing relationships with, he is able to use the data from Scout about those physicians to understand what their challenges are, and how he can position CUA as the best possible referral partner for them. Those insights into each physician’s needs have proven invaluable to Ryan as he’s endeavored to make each communication with every physician as meaningful as possible.
Forming a Plan, Executing a Strategy
Business intelligence about the various markets CUA hopes to penetrate is a significant competitive advantage, but it isn’t enough to make Ryan successful in his job as a physician liaison. In addition to the information he’s able to glean from claims data and internal data about the physicians he’s working with, he needs a place to plan, track, and measure the outreach efforts he makes using that information. Ascend is his go-to for those needs.
According to Ryan, using Ascend has allowed CUA to make a number of improvements to their physician outreach efforts. Particularly when expanding into a new territory, Ryan has used Ascend, coupled with market data pulled in from Scout, to be more strategic with his deployment of liaisons into the new area. He is able to see all the doctors in a region who are referring to urologists, their referral volume and revenue, the physician’s payer mix, and can even mine the data for service line-level information to give him more insight
into how best to approach specific physicians.
When it comes to knowing how to reach physicians at a more personal level, Ryan is able to use Ascend as an extension of CUA’s team by leveraging Ascend’s customer service management features. He uses the software’s activity tracking to log his communications with physicians; whether he’s making a visit, a follow up call, or email, he can be sure that every physician he’s responsible for providing service to feels as though their specific challenges are known and being addressed. Most importantly, these capabilities are all available through a mobile app, which Ryan points to as the most attractive feature of Ascend—that he can take it with him wherever he goes, which is crucial to someone who spends as much of their time on the road as Ryan does.
Sharing Information, Proving Value
Expanding into the mid-Atlantic region has been exciting for CUA, but it has also come with challenges, one of which has been managing the collaborative nature of physician recruiting and retention when growth has been so rapid. One way CUA has mitigated this challenge is by using Ascend and Scout in conjunction to share information between departments. Pat Schnably, VP of Marketing & Communications at CUA, frequently uses Scout to assess the practice’s market share, particularly how they’re stacking up against their biggest competitors.
Not only can Pat see how Chesapeake Urology is performing compared to other urology providers in the area, she can also evaluate how CUA’s incoming referral volumes and revenues are trending over time. She can then cross-reference the outreach efforts being tracked in Ascend by the physician relations team; spikes in referral volume, or patients coming in from first-time referrers, can often be directly correlated to increased outreach activities in the time leading up to those referrals Downward trends in referral patterns can also be spotted in Scout and shared with the liaison responsible for servicing that referring physician, who can then reach out to that doctor to address his or her needs.
This interdepartmental information sharing that’s enabled by the Marketware product suite has been a key competitive advantage for CUA, and has allowed them to position themselves more strategically in new markets as they’ve expanded across the U.S.
Want to see the same remarkable growth in your practice that Chesapeake Urology Associates has experienced? Consider the following:
When looking for new referral sources, be sure to use available market data to target the right physicians who will be the best fit for your practice.
Market data, when combined with your practice’s internal data, can give you insight into what your physicians might be in need of from your practice, and will help you develop a plan to make your outreach more effective.
Physician relationships are about more than just dropping off marketing materials—have strategic conversations with them to communicate you understand their specific challenges and want to help resolve them.
Track physician liaison activities in a PRM to 1) make their efforts more impactful, and 2) easily demonstrate the considerable value of their role to your practice.
Invest in a relationship management tool that answers to the unique demands of a physician outreach professional, including capabilities like mobile access and claims data integration.