South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday October 18, 2017
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December 2009 - Volume 6 - Issue 6

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Growing Hospital Admissions One Meeting, One Physician and One Patient at a Time

Since physicians and their staffs make up 70 percent of the decisions concerning where patients are hospitalized, a physician relations program is vitally important to a hospital’s increased admissions. With more options than ever for doctors, we can no longer subscribe to the philosophy of "if we build it they will come."

A recent study showed that while 55 percent of their marketing budgets are in advertising, only 19 percent of that allotment is used to attract physicians – and, more worrisome, 20 percent of the hospitals studied spent nothing on marketing to physicians.

Since this research was done, administrators are recognizing more and more the need to reach physicians directly through effective physician relations programs focused on good customer service, adequate staffing and the ability to address varying needs of medical practices.

Successful programs must have complete buy-in from administration and department leadership, organizational structure, defined and measured goals and tracked success.

Broward General Medical Center (BGMC) is embracing this need and becoming a hospital of choice in South Florida by establishing a program that requires regular communication with physicians.

This communication is designed around physician relations representatives visiting quarterly with each targeted physician. These meetings should be well planned and rehearsed using the following structure:

Before the Visit:

Prepare:

  • Get to know the physician before you meet. Know his/her specialty, where his/her offices are located, what physicians and hospitals he/she is affiliated with, how active his/her practice is and what his/her competitive situation is.
  • Office staff is important too. Know the name of the office manager or physician’s point person before you arrive and leave behind adequate copies of promotional materials for both the doctor and his/her staff.
  • Plan questions and rehearse talking points before arriving.
Presentation Style:
  • Present yourself professionally. Offer a firm handshake, match spoken and body language, keep an open posture and show attendance with reassuring gestures.
  • Put yourself in the physician’s shoes to understand the issues from his/her point of view. Be confident in your ability to solve his/her complaints. Under promise and over deliver.
The 10-minute discussion:

Opening:

  • Present your "60-second commercial."
  • If time allows, engage in small talk.
  • State purpose of call.
  • Ask how business is going.
Middle
  • Share well-rehearsed talking points.
Close
  • Thank the physician for his/her business.
  • Summarize and restate items for follow-up.
  • Ask if there are any issues to bring back to hospital administration and assure him/her that you’ll provide answers in a timely manner; provide a specific timeframe.
  • Secure your next appointment and ask who the point person in the office is.
Handling and overcoming objections
  • Keep your cool and never argue; you are representing the hospital, not yourself.
  • Listen carefully and restate concerns.
  • If appropriate, overcome objections with facts.
  • Never burn bridges.
Follow up
  • Make follow-up contact with the physician within two days of the office visit.
  • Notify the physician of answers to questions and outcomes to concerns.
  • Write a hand-written thank you note.
Tracking
  • Track visits in a database
  • Record issues identified, resolutions and feedback.
Following this format for physician meetings will allow for better communication and issue resolution with results in improved physician satisfaction scores, more effective distribution of information and ultimately increased hospital admission volumes.
Cathy Meyer, Regional Marketing and Physicians Relations Manager, Broward General Medical Center, can be reached at (954) 831-2732 or cmeyer@browardhealth.org.
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