With over 6,000 physicians, Advocate Health Care has advanced needs for their physician relations program. Last week, our VP of Physician Relations Christina Ott hosted a Webinar with Kathy Lapacek, VP of Business Development at Advocate Condell Medical Center, about strengthening Advocate’s physician relations program. I caught up with Christina for a discussion on the project.
Interview with Christina Ott
How are current changes in healthcare impacting physician relations?
Christina: The last 18 months have really changed how we practice healthcare in all aspects. Hospitals and physicians need to work together to stay profitable. More hospitals are employing physicians, which is something that’s relatively new in the last 18 months. Due to declining reimbursements and economic pressures, both hospitals and physicians realize there needs to be a more defined relationship to provide the best quality of care.
Recently, you worked with Advocate to strengthen their physician relations program. What were some of their needs going in?
Christina: Advocate needed to identify how to create real-time comprehensive data that they could slice and dice, that they could get access to in an instant. They also wanted to make sure from a physician perspective, the messages that they were sending were relevant to a physician, based on the “what’s in it for me” that a busy physician would be looking for.
One of the key focuses at Advocate, and other organizations, is to be able to swiftly and quickly document and identify physician issues and, more importantly, resolve them in a timely manner that would allow the physician to continue to trust the organization.
What steps were taken to strengthen their physicians program?
Christina: Advocate worked really hard with us in a partnership to develop the physicians relations software that would do the things I’ve mentioned as well as track the impact of those initiatives from a measurement perspective, tracking performance monitoring in terms of investment and tracking physician issues.
Take, for example, the issue of how to find the best referring physicians. Our Physician Relationship Management tool takes a look at the physicians collectively, based on locations of where they’re sending their referrals and payer mix and top procedures. By breaking this out with our tool, we’re able to get a sense of prioritization with where are top referrals are coming from and where the opportunity is to strategically target.
Through access to real-time physician analytics and the ability to understand this physician market landscape, we’re helping Advocate and other hospitals redefine their physician relationships.
For those looking to build a physician relations program, what’s the best place to begin?
Christina: One of the things we’ve identified as key is having an executive champion who is accountable for the success of the program and who can help you remove barriers operationally and support you in developing a defined program.
It’s also important to build structure around your physician relations program. Many hospitals have several people who are the “feet on the street,” the people who are talking directly with physicians. It’s best to break down the silos and have one organized team with organized goals and metrics to help you find success.