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4 Ways to Tell if Your Physician Liaison is Right—or Wrong—for the Job

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Female patient pointing at iPad, sitting across from doctorWe don’t want to step on anyone’s toes with this post. But marketing savvy doctors and skilled physician liaison people will agree about these common and costly mistakes. Nothing personal here—but we discover this business blunder all too often.

There’s about a million dollars in revenue on the line with a practice representative or physician liaison. You want to know that you’ve got the right (or wrong) person doing the job. This person is the guardian and manager of the professional referral system where patients are the lifeblood revenue stream to hospitals, specialty practices and multi-discipline groups. And it’s worth getting things right:

  • Allowing for an office culture exception
  • Having clear performance expectations
  • Providing ongoing support and direction
  • To hire the right person

We could see this physician liaison "train wreck" was likely…

Here’s a brief but revealing tale—and a first-class, red-flag warning—that you have the wrong person in mind to be your physician liaison. We knew this wasn’t going to work when the practice rep candidate wanted to know how big their office was going to be. It’s not a trick Q&A; the work of a practice rep is in the field.

The first test is: What percentage of their time do they spend in the office? Answer: The right person is a ghost in the office. A physician liaison’s job is outside sales position. They may need a desk occasionally, but they definitely don’t need a big office.

Here are some additional clues, hints and flags to tell if your practice rep or physician liaison is right or wrong for the job.

A physician liaison is a sales rep, not a marketing person. And a good marketing person is not a salesperson. These are two distinctly different skill sets. It’s nearly impossible to find one person who does both jobs well. Do not task a salesperson with low-return admin tasks.

Have a clear understanding of the job description and performance expectations. Excellence in a sales position is recognized by the achievement of specific new business—measured in revenue dollars—which they generate. On occasion, doctors and business managers mistake this outside sales position for a classic marketing person. Don’t judge their performance on “creating a brochure” or creative product for example, but on their performance in creating measurable new revenue.

It’s OK to be different from the traditional office culture. The usual and classic environment, and cultural expectation is where everyone has an administrative or clerical job, within the same office, and from 9AM to 5PM. You should allow that a rep’s “culture” is an opposite picture. A physician liaison is a hunter—a direct sales position—and not an in-office marketing person. Their work, and greatest value, is outside, talking with doctors and generating referrals.

You know you physician liaison is right for the job when…

The highest and best value of a practice rep or physician liaison is evident in the new business that they generate. Consider that an effective rep will typically be responsible for about a million dollars in practice revenue. To achieve that goal—and keep the inbound referral system flowing smoothly—a hospital or practice leadership recognizes that achieving new revenue goals are the primary test.

Successful physician liaison people will agree. They enjoy being out of the office and generating new business. And frankly, with a million bucks on the line, it would be an extremely expensive mistake to misunderstand what’s expected.

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