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Using Integrated Physician Relationship Management to Drive Referral Volume

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

A group of people holding wrists in the shape of a starThis podcast is another in our series for the Physician Strategies Summit. In today’s interview, Healthcare Success Co-Founder Lonnie Hirsch talks with Suzanne Sawyer, Chief Marketing Officer for Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

Physician Relationship Management (PRM) has been known by various names over the years, but it is playing an increasingly important role in the evolution of the nation’s healthcare delivery system today. PRM—particularly integrated PRM—is a powerful planning and communications tool for medical marketing, according to Suzanne Sawyer of Penn Medicine.

“PRM is a primary tool for CMOs, Physician Liaisons, marketing staff and a decision support team in effectively increasing physician referrals volume,” Suzanne said. Using Integrated PRM to Drive Referral Volume is the topic of her upcoming presentation at the Physician Strategies Summit later this month.

Traditionally, a physician management system provides a hospital or provider organization with an understanding of who sends us what kind of business. It is also a means to communicate the merit and value of an organization and why physicians should consider referring their patients.

“But the reason that PRM takes on a new level of importance now, compared to the past,” she explained, “is due to the changes in many market areas, and because of the changes that are occurring under national healthcare reform.” Although these changes are appropriate in a business sense, they may be interrupting—perhaps permanently changing—the traditional referral patterns.

Consequently, PRM has become a more disciplined process than in the past, which was simply tracking Physician Liaison activities and visits. But now, an integrated PRM system not only tracks calls, but also identifies issues, opportunities and questions of referring physicians. We can also track the services and programs that we are promoting.

An important distinction is that by integrating PRM with physician liaison and marketing initiatives, Penn Medicine is boosting referrals, admissions, and profitable revenue. PRM systems now provide insight for the development of highly targeted physician campaigns, to process referrals, to communicate with referring physicians, and respond to issues promptly.

“Integrated PRM also provides greater visibility about the cases that may not have been referred,” Suzanne explained. “Plus, with claims data, we can now have a more complete and more sophisticated picture of the entire referral process through PRM. And that is part of what I’ll be talking about in the conference presentation.”

An integrated PRM system is useful as a management tool to identify areas of productivity, efficiency and possible improvement. It is useful for the marketing team to develop programs and strategies. And finally, it is used for a deeper level of business awareness through analytics and details.

At the upcoming Physician Strategy Summit in Orlando, Suzanne will present useful and detailed insight regarding the uses of PRM by most healthcare organizations, health systems, hospitals or academic medical centers to drive physician referral volume.

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Suzanne H. Sawyer is the Chief Marketing Officer and Associate Vice President, for Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Ms. Sawyer has more than 20 years experience with academic medical centers. In her present position, she is responsible for strategic marketing, brand development and business building for the hospitals, providers, facilities, programs and services of Penn Medicine’s clinical enterprise.

At the upcoming Physician Strategies Summit her presentations are titled, Drive Referral Volume with Integrated PRM, and Marketing ACOs and Medical Homes: Let’s Talk. Forum for Healthcare Strategists' Tenth Annual Physician Strategies Summit will be held February 24-26 at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, Orlando, FL.

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