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Doctors and specialists are constantly looking for more referrals. This is probably their biggest marketing goal. But not many medical practitioners put a plan in place to ensure a steady stream of referrals through their doors. The most simple and efficient answer to this catch is the addition of a physician liaison professional in your medical practice.
The physician liaison job is relatively new in the healthcare community. A physician liaison’s role is to support and grow your medical practice by representing and promoting the services, physicians and marketing efforts. Your physician liaison officer will become the voice of your practice in the medical community. The number-one goal of a physician liaison is to increase patient referrals from existing providers and secure new business from non-referring physicians.
Physician liaisons are at the core of communication practices, and their goal is to maintain an open line of communication between the medical practice and physicians so that the facility can retain and grow their patient referral base. Needless to say, customer service skills are an essential part of the job, as well. Being a good salesperson and a consultant are added advantages. Usually, medical facilities looking for a physician liaison prefer someone with an advanced college degree, such as a master’s in healthcare administration.
Traits of a successful physician liaison
The seven most desirable traits of someone who wishes to enter the field are:
- Excellent communication skills
- Experienced in a specialty
- Relationship builder
- Positive thinker
- Friendly, yet professional
- Highly organized
What is the role of a physician liaison?
The role of a physician liaison is not easy, as the primary goal is to make sure everyone within a healthcare system, including doctors, staff and managers, is on the same page. A physician liaison needs to ensure every individual function has an effect on the overall status of the medical facility.
A physician liaison’s priority is not to circulate brochures and pamphlets, but to build resourceful relationships between your medical practice and the referring physicians. This is the most important skill of any successful liaison, and not all liaisons are suited to do justice to this role. A good physician liaison is professionally trained and experienced and will follow up with your referring offices consistently, not hand out business cards during conferences and seminars.
Forming new relationships and enhancing existing relationships with referring practices are essential components of a physician liaison program. The physician liaison focuses on nurturing new relationships by identifying your practice’s needs and addressing the concerned areas. Your physician liaison can help you enhance existing referral relationships through listening to the feedback from referral providers. If problems persist, your physician liaison is available to address those issues and make the required changes.
How can a physician liaison program help your practice?
A physician liaison program can help you increase patient referrals, strengthen existing relationships with referrers and staff and provide exceptional customer service. The ultimate goal of a physician liaison is to increase patient referrals from different sources and to ensure your practice stays at the top of their referral list. He or she can educate existing and potential referral sources about the unique benefits of your practice, such as treatments, procedures, location benefits, ample parking and much more.
The physician liaison will serve as a personal contact for physicians, managers and employees. He or she is available to address questions and concerns as they arise as well as promote your unique services and treatments. The physician liaison program is designed to nurture positive, active and helpful relationships among medical facilities, staff and providers. The relationship acts as a bridge between the practice and the referring sources.
Some other key benefits of a physician liaison include:
- Identifying and establishing business from new referral sources
- Strategically promoting the practice’s unique features, services and treatments
- Strengthening the reputation of your practice in the community
- Positioning your physicians as experts in the field
- Managing negative feedback in a professional manner
- Keeping practices updated on changes in the marketplace
Does your practice need a physician liaison?
Most medical practices employ physician liaison programs that are focused on improving referrals and physician outreach, and they understand the value of these programs. However, there are still a lot of private practices that have not considered implementing this marketing strategy, but it can prove to be an affordable option that pays sooner or later.
While there is an investment cost associated with the physician liaison program, it can bring increased referrals and profitability into your practice. This is because the physician liaison is built around meaningful relationships between the practice and the referring sources.
According to recent research, physicians refer to specialists only if they trust them and have strong relationships with them. In a survey conducted by the Clinical Advisory Board Physician Survey, nearly 66 percent of physicians said they were “very unlikely” to rework their existing referral patterns without a physician liaison actively collaborating and initiating relationships with them.
A skilled physician liaison develops resourceful relationships by establishing trust and confidence. This is achieved with consistent communication and active listening skills along with constant interaction between physicians and providers.
Your physician liaison will actively work to bring your practice into the forefront of the referrers’ minds on a regular basis. This is achieved through face-to-face meetings, training sessions and circulating educational material that adds value to the relationship and positions you as the expert in your specialty.
Tips for maximizing the physician liaison program
Some of the driving forces in an active physician liaison program are attainable goals that mirror the strategic initiatives of your medical practice. A well-designed physician liaison program is an invaluable source of information for management. So, how can you make sure that your program has the potential to drive your strategic initiatives?
Here is a quick checklist to help you measure and track your physician liaison program:
Define goals: It is important to tie the physician liaison program with targeted growth goals through a strategic plan that prioritizes outreach activities. You must also consider suitably rewarding the physician liaison through an incentive program.
Develop a tracking process: If you do not have an accurate way to measure the results of your program, you may lose a substantial portion of its benefits. To make tracking easier, you can engage your IT department to develop a tracking process in targeted offices. Alternatively, you can have the liaison create a spreadsheet to capture vital information until a more advanced approach is in place.
Conduct regular meetings with the liaison: You must be sure to schedule and attend a monthly meeting between the liaison and senior management of your medical practice. This will help you in two ways: The liaison gains knowledge and insight about new services that the practice is introducing to the market, and the management obtains real-time information about the medical community and its perceptions on how well your practice is delivering on its promises.
Be responsive: Many practices successfully implement a physician liaison program, only to be complacent with the substandard quality and outcomes. If your liaison has critical information about a physician’s office, you must intelligently apply that information when making strategic decisions. If you are noticing activity in one physician office fall off, take action and dig out the reasons. If a physician notifies you of an issue in a department, you must provide timely resolution to the physician. Even if the issue is not resolved to the physician satisfaction, the transparency and communication will prove beneficial.
Interact with the doctors: Even if it is occasional, you must take the time to accompany the liaison on visits, especially to meet new physicians in the market. You can also bring along a specialist to make the introduction. This will not only help the specialist but may also bring more business to your practice.
What can you expect from the physician liaison program?
You have to understand that the physician liaison program is an ongoing process that involves the establishment of tangible goals and commitment from the liaison as well as the management. The addition of a physician liaison will not bring overnight success to your medical practice.
While many practices understand and acknowledge the benefits of a physician liaison program, the added cost of another staff member can cause them to pause. However, the physician liaison can prove to be an affordable option if you choose to hire a part-time professional rather than recruiting a full-time employee. In fact, physician liaison programs are designed to pay for themselves in the new business. When a practice calculates the benefits of growing referrals, enhanced relationships and increased exposure, adding a physician liaison program looks like the most fruitful option.
However, to have a successful physician liaison program, it is important to have a plan before “working the plan.” Your plan should be looking both internally to assess the existing state of your practice, and externally to evaluate the market and define goals and plans.
Physician relations are changing just as rapidly as practices are changing. It is essential for you to embrace the change, define your evolving role and reap the rewards. Contact us if you are interested in learning how Practice Builders can help you with physician liaison programs.
How many business tools do you have open in your web browser?
Whether you work for a small business or a nonprofit organization, you probably have multiple places to hunt down metrics for your marketing campaigns .
Wouldn’t it be easier to have everything in one place? Business dashboards connect hundreds of common applications, curating the data you want into one easy-to-read display.
Here are a few business dashboards that offer a clean way to analyze all your marketing results:
If you’re new to business dashboards, Dasheroo has templates to get you started quickly.
Dasheroo lets you analyze your email reports and contact lists. You can create a dashboard showing the total number of email address added to your list and track the overall engagement. Sending one email to several lists? Dasheroo lets you track engagement based off each list, giving you insight into how well your email performed with different audiences.
You can even the overall success of your last 30 emails alongside other business apps, including Google Analytics and your social media channels.
[RELATED: Attend the Practical PR Summit and become more successful in the new media landscape.]
TapClicks has created over 100 integrations to visualize and compare marketing activities, including promotional emails.
Running online advertisements through Google AdWords or Bing? TapClicks enables you to create categories that help you measure success based on your marketing channels.
Whether you’re running a special discount or holding an event, you can create a dashboard to understand the increased website traffic from your emails.
Cyfe lets you monitor individual departments, projects, websites and more—even from your mobile device. You’ll get a variety of tools including custom widgets to display data from your business’s databases.
You can also set your dashboard on TV mode, rotating dashboards and displaying your results at the office. Whether you’re monitoring your expenses or simply keeping a close view on your latest projects, Cyfe offers a variety of templates to get you started.
Ryan Tartaglia is a marketing specialist at Constant Contact. A version of this article originally appeared on the organization’s blog .
Any vacation trip is a risk—regardless of how tame the destination might seem.
Most people know that travel to exotic or underdeveloped countries should come with a battery of vaccinations, but this year health officials warn of outbreaks in more-conventional vacation spots.
Specifically, Europe has the measles.
NPR’s Goats and Soda blog writes :
The [measles] — which kills almost 400 kids each day worldwide — is hitting Europe hard this year.
Romania is fighting a large outbreak with more than 3,400 cases, including 17 deaths. And Italy is seeing a big surge in cases, with at least 400 already in 2017, the World Health Organization reported last week.
The outbreak is only going to get worse.
“Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising,” WHO wrote.
The spike in cases of the deadly disease is linked to a drop in vaccinations worldwide.
NPR reports :
“Over the past five years, measles vaccine coverage around the world has stagnated at around 78 percent,” [ Dr. Seth Berkley , who leads the nonprofit Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance] says. “That in combination with the European outbreak is worrisome.”
For the measles, it’s not enough to have 78 percent of a population vaccinated. You need about 90 to 95 percent to stop outbreaks, Berkeley says.
Because measles is one of the most contagious diseases on Earth. One sick person spreads it to 18 others, on average. The virus literally floats around in clouds through the air, seeking out the unvaccinated.
“You don’t even need to be in the same room with a sick person to catch measles,” Berkley says. “If you were to leave a doctor’s office and someone came an hour later, that person could catch measles just from the virus left in the air.”
Travel vaccines are nothing new for communicators who have been working to inform the public about health risks associated with overseas adventuring. However, recent declines in public trust in vaccines are a worrisome trend for public health professionals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done research into why travelers decline their vaccinations. The CDC tweeted its findings:
Recent study shows the most common reason for declining travel vaccines isn’t cost or fear, but lack of concern. https://t.co/f5FjieXYdw
— CDC Travel Health (@CDCtravel) April 10, 2017
The results point to a messaging problem, as the study suggests that most people who refuse vaccines are simply unconvinced of the danger of infection.
The CDC suggests that clinicians should be ready with facts to combat apathy when working one on one with patients.
Clinicians, get the facts on travel vaccines. 25% or more travelers refuse – be ready for your next consultation. https://t.co/f5Fjiffz54
— CDC Travel Health (@CDCtravel) April 10, 2017
These reports come amid continued anxiety surrounding the Zika virus and its effects on travelers to tropical climes. The CDC continues to warn pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika has been reported.
Pregnant women should not travel to areas with #Zika. #VitalSigns https://t.co/PANnigVUOI pic.twitter.com/8ysHNByMm9
— CDC (@CDCgov) April 16, 2017
It has also published a map with Zika outbreak areas.
Beyond just Zika, the CDC curates a comprehensive directory of every travel destination and its associated risks.
There are other concerns for global travelers beyond viruses and vaccinations. Travelers can be vulnerable to a wide variety of health issues, from blood clots to food poisoning.
Travel guru Rick Steves shares these basic tips on his website :
Take precautions on the flight. Long flights are dehydrating. Eat lightly, stay hydrated, and have no coffee or alcohol and only minimal sugar until the flight’s almost over. Avoid the slight chance of getting a blood clot in your leg during long flights by taking short walks hourly.
Eat nutritiously. The longer your trip, the more you’ll be affected by an inadequate diet. Budget travelers often eat more carbohydrates and less protein to stretch their travel dollars. Protein helps you resist infection and rebuilds muscles.
Use good judgment when eating out (and outside Europe). Avoid unhealthy-looking restaurants. Meat should be well cooked (unless, of course, you’re eating sushi, carpaccio, etc.) and, in some places, avoided altogether. Have “well done” written on a piece of paper in the pertinent language and use it when ordering.
Keep clean. Wash your hands often, keep your nails clean, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Hand sanitizers, such as Purell, can be helpful. However, since they target bacteria, not viruses, they should be used as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, hand washing with soap and warm water.
Practice safe sex. Sexually transmitted diseases are widespread. Obviously, the best way to prevent acquiring an STD is to avoid exposure. Condoms (readily available at pharmacies and from restroom vending machines) are fairly effective in preventing transmission. HIV is also a risk, especially among prostitutes.
Get enough sleep. Know how much sleep you need to stay healthy (generally 7–8 hours per night).
Additionally, On Call International put out an infographic on travel health risks.
Communicators, how are you warning of the inherent health risks of overseas travel?
Angry, dissatisfied, defensive or difficult patients.
Managing difficult patients is a frequent challenge faced by healthcare providers. The hostile patient, the aggressive patient, the overly demanding patient, the excessively anxious patient, the know-it-all patient and the compulsive complainer patient. If you fail to handle these patients aptly, they may receive substandard care, increase waiting hours for other patients and bring a bad name to your practice. Moreover, if your staff has to deal with a multitude of such patients on a given day, it could lead to a massive surge in frustration levels and, sometimes, a total breakdown of effective patient care.
Understanding why some patients are difficult
Patients may become difficult to deal with for different reasons. One factor, which all patients have in common, is they are hospitalized due to some medical condition. In addition to feeling helpless and weak, a patient may be feeling stressed and depressed. These feelings can become extreme, making the patient lose control in certain situations. In some cases, patients also feel dejected and annoyed with the care they are receiving.
We must consider that patients have different reasons and issues they may be dealing with. For experienced medical practitioners, it is sometimes possible to predict which patients may become abusive or violent. For instance, Alzheimer’s patients tend to be irrational and restless. In those suffering from life-threatening diseases such as cancer or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), violent behavior or psychiatric disorders are common. Also, isolation and anxiety may result in anger and violence. Many patients also feel let down by their weak bodies, their dependency on other people, their illness or being placed in a medical facility. They are sick and depressed because of their illness. Usually, such patients have poor coping skills and a personality that is hard to get along with.
No doubt some patients are not easy to get along with. However, before labeling a patient as difficult, medical practitioners should analyze the situation and ask why a patient is pushing his or her buttons so quickly. After all, the doctor-patient relationship, like all relationships, is a two-way street.
How to deal with difficult patients?
When dealing with difficult patients, it is important to watch your verbal as well as body language in order to prevent the situation from worsening. Usually, difficult patients will attempt to force you into a heated argument so that you end up becoming verbally aggressive. You must calm yourself first and take stock of your emotions before addressing their concerns. A more safe approach would be to resort to positive language and defuse the situation. The goal is not to give the patient any opportunity to overreact.
Also, your body can convey your emotions far better than your words can. It is important to maintain eye contact as it expresses honesty and openness. Be careful not to stare down at the patient, as this may seem aggressive. Also, try not to get too close to the patient as that can be perceived as invading their space and may instigate aggression.
Next time you see clenched fists, sweaty hands and controlled breathing, try to discover the source of the patient’s distress. Do not get pulled into a conflict. Instead, understand the potential cause, recognize the triggers and respond to the situation appropriately.
Dealing with angry patients
A patient who is angry may simply be frightened or reacting to his or her illness or surroundings. It is important for a medical practitioner to step back from the angry patient. If the patient is frightened, you will have to approach him or her differently than if they are angry over something, such as a long wait or inconvenient appointment timing. The safest course of action is to communicate the patient and try to assess their feelings. Use empathetic statements such as, “I can understand what you are feeling,” and try to resolve the issues with them.
Dealing with manipulative patients
Manipulative patients threaten, cry or throw tantrums in an attempt to seek attention or get their way. A simple strategy for dealing with this kind of patients is to stay level-headed and do not engage in a heated argument with them. These patients are stuck in their beliefs and will not budge from their version of events. A manipulative patient will try all tactics to convince you to give them special treatment or do what they demand. It is critical that you must calmly stabilize your feelings when dealing with manipulative patients and not let emotions overpower your sense of judgment.
Dealing with aggressive patients
According to research, nearly every medical staff has experienced a patient shouting and behaving disrespectfully with them. Sometimes, those verbal spats escalate into aggression with the patient throwing things at you, spitting at you or trying to attack you. While your staff can deal with aggressive patients by staying calm and remembering basic professional rules, you should bear in mind that such aggressive behavior is sure to affect your staff on the emotional level. When faced with an aggressive patient, it is important to step back, literally and figuratively. This will allow you to evaluate the potential cause of their aggressiveness and help you understand where they are coming from.
Dealing with grieving patients
In order to understand the effect of grief on some patients’ health, you will have to familiarize yourself with the normal stages of grief. You may have to look around for vegetative signs of pain and depression that prevent a patient from recovering from grief. You can help grieving patients by validating their emotional state, making them understand that grief is a process that takes a different amount of time for different people. You may need to make an effort to open communication channels, avoid medication that suppresses emotions and prevent significant lifestyle changes too early in the process.
The toll of aggression and violence on medical staff
Undoubtedly, nursing is a stressful job. Nurses have to worry about patients, complete their documentation and make sure they are following doctor’s instructions when a patient needs them. Adding defense against difficult and aggressive patients to a nurse’s full plate will be very unjustified. Stressing about a patient who may yell at you or hit you can make nursing seem like one of the toughest jobs under the sun. Most nurses begin to feel that they have failed professionally and personally when a patient disrespects them. While this is not a reflection of their nursing skills, it may be a breaking point for some nurses.
In these situations, it is critical to confide in a trusted supervisor and consider using the employee health services provided by most facilities. Your medical staff’s fear of an aggressive or manipulative patient can impact the way they care for other patients. This will not be fair to your staff or the other patients. You must educate and inform your medical staff to seek help to sort through their feelings when they encounter difficult patients on a regular basis.
Tips for handling difficult patients
It is understandable that some patients lose control of their emotions because of overwhelming pain or when they are experiencing illness-related stress and anxiety. However, all these reasons will not make it easy for your medical staff. These aggressive and angry patients will test the compassion, patience and kindness of your medical staff.
Here are six effective tips for dealing with difficult patients that can help your staff defuse the situation before it spirals out of control:
1. Stay calm: Just knowing that the aggressive behavior is not because of you is the way to go. While it is easy to think a patient is upset because of something you have done, that is almost never the case. You should continue to do your job and try not to let the negativity get in your head.
2. Be empathetic: One of the most effective ways to calm an angry patient is by being empathetic. You must remind yourself that it is not easy to be battling a disease in the hospital and away from loved ones. Rather than being indifferent, try to be concerned about your patients’ well-being and treat them with respect. Show them that you care about them and that they are important to you.
3. Initiate a conversation: Try to engage the patient in a conversation. Mostly, they just want to be heard. You can address the patient by his or her first name, maintain eye contact and be empathetic. Let the patient trust that you understand his or her feelings, and practice active listening.
4. Look for the potential causes: Most patients are dealing with severe medical conditions and side effects from medications that can impact their mood and make them short-tempered. You can try to improve a patient’s bad mood and lift his or her spirits by identifying the potential cause of their bad behavior.
5. Avoid arguments: While you are entitled to express your opinion, you must do so respectfully. Instead of justifying why they are not getting the attention or care they want, simply apologize and reassure the patient that you will take care of their needs.
6. Set boundaries: One of the best approaches is to set limits for difficult patients who make unreasonable demands. Make such patients understand you will keep a check on their needs and requirements, and then follow through. You may also need to set boundaries to protect yourself.
Provide mandatory staff training for dealing with distressing situations
Staff training can help you prevent and manage violence and equip employees with necessary skills to diffuse potential incidents. Ideally, training should be mandatory for all staff, including cleaners, front office and temporary staff.
Every member of your medical team is at risk of verbal abuse and threat for varying reasons. Therefore, your employees should receive mandatory training sessions to help them deal with difficult patients. Imparting such training to your staff will not only improve their coping skills but may even protect them from any potential harm.
At Practice Builders, we custom-design staff training programs to meet your practice’s needs. These training sessions are designed to assess your current problems, suggest and implement improvements and create a culture of safety first. All training can be imparted individually or as a package. During our consultation, we can help you choose which training topics are best-suited for your needs.
Our evaluators can call and visit your practice to observe current systems, and a customized training program will be designed around your specific needs. Now that you have a direction for your staff training, be sure to call Practice Builders to discuss the training needs of your practice.
The first-quarter earnings season for hospital companies hasn’t officially begun and already a second large provider has previewed a net earnings drop for the quarter.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News
MDLive has been hit with a class-action lawsuit accusing the telehealth provider of violating patients’ privacy rights and sharing confidential information with third-party contractors.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News
The CMS is exploring how to levy excess readmission penalties fairly on hospitals, based on their patient population.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News