Redefining the Physician Liaison Role in Healthcare
If you’re in the physician liaison role, I’m sure you are often asked what it is you do. Personally, I am asked this question almost daily, by people inside and outside our industry. In fact, the inspiration for this article is a conversation I recently had with my brilliant, beautiful, all around incredible better half of a wife (she may or may not read this, can’t be too careful!), who is wrapping up the clinical portion of PA school. This is a woman that has worked in the healthcare space for some time and is married to a man that works with physician liaisons daily, yet even she still struggles to fully grasp the job description of physician liaison and how critical an effective sales/outreach program is for the success of an organization. Ironically, she will soon be the customer of a physician liaison.
It’s easy to see how she could be unclear as liaisons also sometimes struggle with how to succinctly describe their role and job description. All too often I hear some version of this, “My job is to make physicians happy.” While that is partially true, it just scratches the surface of what an effective liaison does, and more importantly, what an effective program should accomplish.
The number 1 goal of the most successful outreach programs is to strategically increase market share. By focusing on the below success indicators, you can be sure that you are helping define the physician liaison role for an effective physician liaison for your organization.
In 2017, we completed a value and compensation survey where we surveyed nearly 200 liaisons, as you’ll see in the graphic below, many of the key success factors listed below are often the biggest challenges faced in the physician liaison role, so some of this is easier said than done!
1. Physician Liaison Training/Education
One of my colleagues likes to say that you are “either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” Continue to seek opportunities for ongoing sales training as well as education about the key service lines you are supporting as this allows you to position yourself as a field expert!
2. Program Structure & Internal Collaboration
Structure your program in a way that allows liaisons to affect change. This means having a reporting structure that gives providers and other internal stakeholders the impression that the liaison is effectively a representative of leadership.
One of the most common barriers to growth is access! Work to get the people closest to key access points involved in eliminating any issues that prevent your organization from accommodating the new referrals you generate. Countless referrals are won by simply providing the path of least resistance. At Tiller-Hewitt, we launch and manage lean teams and events focused on improving access to key services lines
4. Strategic Focus
Make time to routinely assess your organization’s strategic plan and shift your efforts as necessary to ensure you are pushing forward those strategies that will align with your leadership’s goals.
5. Leadership & Provider Involvement/Buy-In
Along those lines, it’s also important that others within the operational team view the liaison as a partner in uncovering and responding to issues. This includes building accountability systems to ensure that your leadership team and key department leaders are consistently closing the loop on issues and opportunities that relate to their departments. It is key to have a strategic sequenced communication plan to ensure your role and expectations are clearly defined both internally within the organization as well as the providers we serve.
6. Market Challenges/Opportunities
Be an expert of your local market by studying the competition to determine opportunities to intelligently defend or up sell your organization. This may include working with your PRM partner to obtain timely claims data, allowing you a better picture of the relationships that exist between providers in your market.
7. PRM Effectiveness & Utilization
Choose a product that is not only easy to use and mobile friendly but also includes the activity, issues and leadership reports you need to connect the dots for the different levels within your organization.
8. Referral Data Availability & Utilization
Referral data from your EHR can offer insights into the quality and quantity of referrals coming into your organization as well as those leaking out. If you don’t have consistent access to this today, seek out referral data specific to the key areas you are focusing on in the year ahead.
Assess your arsenal of marketing collateral and referral tools that make referring to your organization as easy as possible.
For more information about training, launching an effective sales/outreach program, program assessments or to access several free tools and resources created by and for great liaisons, visit tillerhewitt.com.