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4 steps in creating a data-driven physician engagement strategy

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In today’s healthcare environment, physician engagement is essential to improving quality of care, efficiencies, and organizational revenue.

A recent Gallup study discovered physicians who were fully engaged or engaged were 26 percent more productive than those that were not engaged or actively disengaged. In terms of patient revenue, this difference equates to an average of $460,000 in revenues per physician per year.

To create an effective physician engagement strategy, healthcare organizations need the data and insights that empower physician liaisons to have smarter, more impactful outreach interactions. With the help of a technology platform, healthcare organizations can leverage and analyze physician activity and referral data from an entire market to inform their engagement strategy.

A data-driven approach enables healthcare systems to be more proactive and effective in their outreach approach, and ultimately improve physician alignment and revenue. Here’s some key steps to create a successful data-driven physician engagement strategy:

Step 1: Define physician engagement project scope
Building a data-driven physician engagement strategy is a challenging task, and one that won’t be successful overnight. At the onset, healthcare organizations need to determine a real-world objective for a physician engagement strategy—for example, improving in-network referrals or stemming lost volumes from physician credentialed at multiple health systems. With a goal clearly defined and communicated to executives, the organization can create a targeted strategy and show downstream results.

When first implementing a physician engagement strategy, consider starting small with one or just a few critical service lines. If this proves successful, healthcare organizations can build on a track record of success and have a blueprint to scale the strategy.

Step 2: Collect and analyze physician data
Once the program goals are defined, the next step is to collect, integrate and analyze physician data. Although primarily used by insurers, claims data, which details services rendered to patients, is the critical source of information that facilitates analytics that help organizations and liaison teams identify referral patterns and potential volume leakage.

The problem is, analyzing claims data is a difficult task. Without a technology solution in place to translate the raw data into actionable intelligence, healthcare organizations would be unable to address the many challenges of data analysis that stem from fragmented and dated billing systems, lack of unique patient identifiers, unclear or incomplete procedure codes, inconsistent available data, and difficulty inferring who is a referring physician. In short, claims data are noisy and difficult to work with.

There are options on the market to help hospitals wrangle this data into insights that can help guide strategic physician outreach.

Step 3: Leverage physician data for insights
Data is only as good as the insights that can be determined from it. With analytics tools—or even harnessing artificial intelligence technology – physician liaison teams need to translate this data into actionable intelligence. The data can be used to determine:

  • Service line growth opportunities
  • Physician marketing segments
  • How to improve physician relationships
  • Network referral patterns and volume leakage

The best way to illustrate the valuable and actionable insights physician liaison teams can derive from taking a deeper look at the data is through an example.

The physician liaison team identifies a primary care provider who is currently referring patients to a higher percentage of out-of-network physicians. Going deeper, the analysis shows the liaison team that this doctor is referring the highest number of ‘lost’ patients to a specific out-of-network gastroenterologist. Once target physicians are identified, it’s time to put together strategic outreach plans to redirect lost referrals.

Step 4: Focus on targeted physician engagement
Armed with directional data insights, a member of the liaison team can approach physicians with focused communications, with the end goal being to discover, address and resolve any concerns they may have that are resulting in lost business or loyalty. Ultimately, data insight enables physician liaison teams to identify and prioritize outreach opportunities, more effectively communicate with physicians and nurture beneficial relationships.

To achieve very strong physician engagement, organizations must complement data-driven strategies with human-focused initiatives, such as developing physician leaders, providing professional development opportunities, and offering legitimate performance incentives.

In competitive markets, establishing transparent physician relationships through effective communication and resolution of issues is necessary to attract and retail talent. Engaged and aligned physicians can result in better patient experiences, more in-network referrals, and keeping revenue within your health system.

A technology solution can be a critical tool for aggregating and analyzing claims and physician outreach data necessary to reveal actionable insights, inform strategies, track performance, and ultimately drive organizational success.

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