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Physician Relations: The Turbulent Intersection of Doctors and Hospitals

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Stick figure person standing on an intersectionPhysician Relations resides at the intensely active intersection of doctors and hospitals. Sometimes a battlefield, sometimes a love fest, hospital-physician collaboration has never been more critical than during today's healthcare reform evolution.

In this dynamic playing field, both the facility and the provider have a bigger-than-ever stake (with incentives and penalties) for clinical quality, cost control, care continuum, patient satisfaction and population health management.

“As physician alignment becomes more strategic, continuing physician relations dialogue will be critical for hospitals to remain successful in this ever-changing healthcare landscape,” according to a new report from Corporate Health Group (CHG). “This is indicative of the healthcare landscape today; things are constantly moving, changing—sometimes overnight. And we have to adapt, transition, change and evolve rapidly, or we won’t survive.”

The right care, right time, right value…

Our friends at CHG—one of several companies that advises hospitals about physician relations—are out with study data: 2012 Physician Relations Sales and Service National Survey. For one thing, it offers the long-view perspective of a benchmarking survey, updating previous work conducted in 2005, 2008 and 2010. (Healthcare is a different animal than in 2005,)

One of the many notable things that we found in the CHG study was the observation: “Many organizations will make the mistake and take the ‘commodity’ path by not allowing physician relations to interact with the employed physicians.

“Leadership’s reasons to exclude physician relations can vary from ‘we sign their paycheck so they will keep all referrals within the system’ to ‘we don’t want physician relations uncovering problems.’ The good news, 83 percent of the survey respondents indicated that they call on both independent and employed physicians.”

And, from past perspective to forward-looking...the future looks bright. “We continue to see new physician relations programs emerge and the existing ones continuing to mature and retain their seat at the strategic table. Sixty-two percent (62%) of survey respondents have had a physician relations program for five or more years with 17 percent having fairly new programs (two years or less).”

The CHG study is a useful resource for preparing a roadmap for Physician Relations…amid the constantly shifting sands of healthcare today. You can request a copy via this link. And for a related article on this topic, read: CRM in an ACO World: Hospital Marketing’s New Tools of Engagement.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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