South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 28, 2020
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April 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 10

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Memorial Healthcare System - 'Relating to Physicians'

QUALITY. EFFICIENCY. CONSISTENCY. COMMUNICATION. INNOVATION.

That is the recipe for physician relations – according to Sandra Dilts, Administrative Director of Business Development and Physician Relations at Memorial Healthcare System.

"Very basically," she says, "Physician Relations is the focus on the relationship between physicians and the organization."

In the case of Memorial, that relationship extends to a rollout of the program in all of the system’s five hospitals. According to Dilts who has been at Memorial for eight years, the hospital has always focused on physician needs, but decided nearly two years ago to make it "formal."

"How we interact and work with physicians has always been important at Memorial," she says. "Our administrators and leaders felt it was necessary to have a focused approach and dedicated effort to ensure follow-through. Our physicians have consistently ranked our hospital as one of the best in the nation in providing physician satisfaction, and our goal is to continue to provide that exceptional service and to always be the physicians’ hospital of choice."

"Toward that goal, we assembled a team of experienced physician relations directors and identified the leaders throughout our system and held an initial training. As we interacted with physicians, their needs and market changes, we were able to shape our program. We monitor progress routinely and hold meetings quarterly to share information and implement additional training."

Like any "customer," she says, "physicians should be listened to. We learn from them, understand their priorities and develop relationships that are mutually beneficial."

Dilts explains that Memorial’s program incorporates number of components:

• A team of dedicated physician relations professionals who address key issues on a daily basis to ensure a positive and productive experience pertaining to physicians and hospital, based on the tenet that physician and hospital care are the primary driver of future referrals. New business is discussed, along with referral patterns and statewide trends to determine how physicians and Memorial can best reinforce strong referral patterns and improve diminishing patterns. Being a tertiary facility, Memorial can also identify physicians and opportunities outside the primary service areas to encourage referrals for tertiary and high margin services.

• Identify key physician needs and motivate them to shift referrals and admissions and work with physicians to achieve optimal referral and admissions goals – looking at all opportunities, then implementing a plan of action where everyone will benefit.

• Using a TEAM approach to include ALL team members: Physicians, administration, and department directors – throughout the system. And meeting physicians on their "territory" so that office staff also has input. This not only shows the value of physician time but is also relationship building and conducive to meaningful dialogue.

After this dialogue, Sandy’s team works to develop a plan to address concerns, reward and showcase "best practices," develop market strategy to benefit everyone and troubleshoot for any concerns on the horizon.

She says, "as opposed to some programs that are focused on ‘sales’ techniques, ours is an emphasis on communication. Our action-oriented leaders are exceptional listeners. This helps us respond to the true needs of our doctors – and a true investment of time."

"We have found physicians to be extremely forthcoming with suggestions and taking part in the resolution process. They are genuinely interested in providing the best possible patient care and want to be a part of improving quality and efficiency."

Through communication and constant input, Memorial works with doctors to explore options like physician-owned services like out patient surgery centers

"We also recognize that physicians are looking for other sources of income, and we keep that in mind when we develop strategy," says Dilts.

"The pressures of maintaining a medical practice grow every day. We share physician concerns like declining reimbursement, malpractice costs, staffing costs and the mission to deliver exceptional care. There are no easy answers, but we feel that we can achieve our common goals by working together."

It’s all about communication. And Sandy Dilts believes that Memorial’s program will evolve to an even stronger "collaboration of care."

At A Glance

Sandra Dilts

Education: Bachelors Degree, Barry University

Community: Davie

Family: Husband Ed & two sons

What makes you smile at the end of a long day? Knowing that I have made a difference.

For more information about Memorial’s Physician Relations Program, call Sandra Dilts at 954-986-6304 and visit www.mhs.net to learn more about Memorial’s continuum of care.
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