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Welcome to the Barlow/McCarthy blog…

Check back often to hear from our talented team of consultants. Topics covered include: Physician Relations, Physician Recruitment, Practice Marketing, Medical Staff Development, Community Health Needs Assessments, etc.

9 Keys to Better Physician Relations Conversations

By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

In this era of sound bites and social media do you ever wonder if conversation will go the way of the dinosaur?  In my mind, texts and emails are great for providing factual detail, but they just can’t replace the nuance that comes with great dialogue. In physician relations, we assume conversation happens naturally and often it does. But, could it be better, in a way that is more valuable for the doctor? I am back to basics because from time to time we all benefit from attention to what it takes to have a meaningful, authentic conversation.

  1. Know your doctor before starting the conversation; in other words, genuinely get to know about them through data, their connections in your organization and review past visits. Authenticity starts with relevant conversation about their needs.
  2. Align your message.  Most doctors aren’t concerned about your need to boost referral numbers; they’re interest is what’s going on with them and how you can help improve the situation. When you come at a conversation focused on solving their practice needs, rather than achieving your goals, you’ll earn respect. When you’re consistently focused on their best interest, you’ll earn their trust — the cornerstone of every authentic conversation.
  3. Plan your approach in advance. Know what you want to say and where you want the conversation to go. At the same time, be ready to change course if the doctor wants to talk about something else. Your first objective, in every meeting, is to stay on track with the doctor’s needs. For example, a good way to start is, “Dr. Smith, I wanted to follow up on the employment questions you raised in our last meeting, but before I do, is there anything you want to make sure we discuss?”
  4. Be clear and specific. Two-way communication is only as good as the reply that comes back. Ambiguity on your part triggers a brief reply from them. On the other hand, asking a relevant and specific question launches a conversation. It also shows doctors that you respect their time. If you aren’t mindful of their time, if you don’t cut to the chase, busy doctors will tune you out well before you’ve said what you wanted to say.
  5. Personalize your questions. Authentic experiences happen when you inspire someone to think on a human level. Rather than asking about a doctor’s experience with your facility’s cardiology, make your question patient-focused, “Have you had any patients treated in our EP lab in the last couple of weeks?” Or, “With such a large elderly population have you seen an improvement in the recurrence of arterial fibrillation with the new procedure in our EP lab?” The same approach works if you are having a business conversation, “As you have thought about that next partner in the practice, does the addition of a Fellow or practicing physician make the most sense to you?”
  6. Give your full attention.  How many times in the last week have you started a conversation only to be interrupted by a cell phone? It’s an instant conversation stopper and immediate rapport breaker. When you’re working hard to develop a relationship with a doctor, give the conversation your undivided attention. If you’re serious about understanding and meeting a doctor’s needs, then no text is worth the disruption.
  7. Be real. Surely, that seems obvious, but nothing is more destructive to a relationship than delivering a message that sounds “canned” or “contrived.” If your personalities don’t mesh or, for any reason, you can’t authentically engage in conversation, enlist someone in your organization to help out. If it doesn’t feel real to you, it’ll show.
  8. Be open, empathetic and engaged. Be open to other peoples’ opinions and willing to step in their shoes. Keeping conversation rolling requires that you pay attention, empathize and trust your own intuition. Your goal is to become someone people look forward to seeing, whether it’s because they feel better for the interaction, learn something or come away feeling inspired.
  9. Be timely.  The painful challenge of leaving enough time in your schedule so that you arrive and depart on time is a true sign of respect- or dis-respect. As well, we show respect when we offer timely follow up for the information they share. Consistent messages back from those involved in an issue to say, “We heard you” demonstrates a spirit of responsiveness that should happen in all conversations with those who help our organizations by sharing their perceptions of what works and does not.

If you’re not feeling positive about your recent conversations in the practice, take notes on your past exchanges, study your “normal conversation patterns” and see what’s happening. For example, if the doctor has seen you as someone who stops in, asks how things are going and thanks them, you may need to work hard to establish a new pattern.

Did any of the points above resonate with you? Do you have a colleague who might also value this information? If so feel free to share!

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Strategic Sales – 3/27/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Strategic Sales. Click the player below to listen:

 

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Strategic Sales – 3/27/2017.


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Focus – 3/20/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Focus. Click the player below to listen:

 

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Focus – 3/20/2017.


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Great Messages – 3/13/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Great Messages. Click the player below to listen:

 

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Great Messages – 3/13/2017.


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Competition – 3/6/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Competition. Click the player below to listen:

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Competition – 3/6/2017.

Have you taken our short survey on physician relations field work? We are working to get a good feel for what life is currently like in the field for physician liaisons. Would love to have your input: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PGNFCKK


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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Is Your Physician Careers Web Page User Friendly?

By: Allison McCarthy, MBA | amccarthy@barlowmccarthy.com

I was recently in and out of LaGuardia Airport with a rental car for client work.  While I hadn’t experienced travel logistics in this location before, I certainly had expectations based on prior experience.

After deplaning, I asked at the Welcome Center where to find the rental car shuttle given the lack of signage or other direction. The representative asked which vendor and then directed me to the “purple bus.”  I assumed this would take me to the rental car facility, but the bus dropped us off on a neighborhood street.  No signage. No communication.  And only because I saw another traveler walk toward a shuttle bus did I realize I needed to do the same.  Ultimately it required two buses to get to the rental car facility, along with frustration and being perturbed.

I wondered if physician prospects are similarly dismayed when trying to identify practice openings with some health care systems.  Go to the web site, find the Careers page, and look for more information.  Except what is presented is some generic text and a button that says, “Apply Now.” When clicking the button, you’re then asked to complete a form and provide contact information – still no information on what positions are available or the ability to email or call someone to get the details.  Just a blind form to complete to get anything meaningful.

Airports like LaGuardia likely have so much volume there is little concern about being user-friendly.  But health care systems today must be inviting to physician prospects to win in this competitive recruitment environment.  With so many opportunities available to physicians, these clinicians don’t need to work very hard to find something of interest.  Any organization not making it easy to provide practice opportunity information will be easily bypassed for other more welcoming organizations.

As hospitals and groups consolidate into health systems, I often find these larger entities have diluted their visibility in the physician recruitment market. It’s not intentional. The problem is that IT and Marketing have so many other priorities that enhancing a Physician Careers page falls to the bottom of the list.

While the rental car agencies around LaGuardia may not need to worry about being user-friendly, health care systems working to recruit doctors must be.

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Great Messages – 2/27/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Great Messages. Click the player below to listen:

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Great Messages – 2/27/2017.

Have you taken our short survey on physician relations field work? We are working to get a good feel for what life is currently like in the field for physician liaisons. Would love to have your input: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PGNFCKK


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Focus – 2/20/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Focus. Click the player below to listen:

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Focus – 2/20/2017.

HAVE YOU TAKEN OUR SHORT SURVEY YET? WE ARE WORKING TO GET A GOOD FEEL FOR WHAT LIFE IS CURRENTLY LIKE IN THE FIELD FOR PHYSICIAN LIAISONS. WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU PARTICIPATE: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PGNFCKK


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Great Messages – 2/13/2017

Monday Morning MinuteBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Welcome to B/Mc’s Monday Morning Minute, an audio message to jump start your week. The brief messages include reminders, new ideas and sometimes a little therapy to slide into the work week with ease.

This week’s topic is Great Messages. Click the player below to listen:

If you are having trouble with the audio player you can download the audio file here: B/Mc Monday Morning Minute – Great Messages – 2/13/2017.

 


Our latest course at B/Mc Academy is a good one! If you work in recruitment OR relations this course is going to be helpful. Join Barlow/McCarthy Principals Kriss Barlow and Allison McCarthy as they explore the topic or retaining new recruits. We all know the challenges associated with recruiting physicians but often it can be equally challenging to keep those recruits on your team.

Click HERE for all the details on the course and to get signed up!

 

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Physician Relations: Learn IN the Field

By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

Physician relations teams spend a lot of time and attention learning FOR their field work. We focus on understanding the clinical offerings, new members of the medical staff, changes in process, schedules and what the service lines want us to tell the doctors. Much effort is devoted to preparing the message or developing questions for meeting with the doctor and practice. Preparation is essential, but learning does not stop there, it’s a dynamic process. For great field staff, almost equal time and effort is spent learning FROM the field. It’s patient and persistent attention to what’s said, what’s inferred and what’s observed that can make the difference. Consider these ideas and build your own ideas to ensure you are maximizing your field observations.

  1. “I spy with my little eye.” Clues to practice culture, financial strength and changes may be right in front of your eyes. We all observe the waiting room crowd. Make note of changes. If the areas used to be well maintained and are not so now, it may be an indication of tightening financials for the private group. If you see more and more materials from a competing facility it should grab your attention too. The power of observation is such a great tool. Pay attention and then consider whether it’s something to talk about with the practice members or just store in your brain.
  2. Really listen. Some people tend to listen so they can prepare their next statement. When we are new in the role, it’s easy to do this. With time and maturity, there is opportunity to listen better- to hear what is said, why they may be saying what they are and what they never seem to say. Be patient, let them tell you as they are ready but set the stage by listening and guiding the conversation.
  3. It’s chilly in here. The tone and temperature of the practice- both staff and doctor- are clues about your style, your organization’s perception or it can be an indication of internal change. Pay attention to changes in receptivity. Consider what has changed and factors that may have precipitated the negative climate. Determine whether to address, solve or ignore the issue based on smart business process.
    1. Let’s start with you. If you were warmly greeted in your first meetings and now you are not, don’t be afraid to get a little introspective. An example, “I used to get to meet with the doctor, now my only conversations are with the staff.” It may be a policy change, or it may be something about your early meeting(s).  Do an internal assessment of your style and approach to determine where things went south. Own it and create a plan to get back on track.
    2. My organization. At times business decisions, like aligning with another group or changing a compensation model aggravate the doctor, practice administrator, team or all the above. Evaluate what it is and then create a plan to address it or not. The strategy around this may be bigger than you so ask for internal support with the message or their presence at a meeting if you need it.
    3. Their practice. Sometimes the change of mood in a practice is because business or personal challenges become more transparent than they should. Be super sensitive to this and align your relationship strategy. It may be shift to doing only individual meetings, maybe you offer more choices that can be customized by individual, maybe you slow down a bit in your funnel management or maybe you just make sure to demonstrate the right level of empathy.
  4. Practices have a personality.  What’s the practice culture? How do they connect with each other? What do they use to learn new information? It’s the old “different strokes for different folks”. Observe and then test the tools in early conversations and it will allow you to customize your approach to match their style
  5. What can you infer about the team dynamics? Some practices are very hierarchical, others have a total team approach.  I was with a doctor last week who totally relied on her nurse to do all patient education. Is the doctor time-sensitive? Listen to the conversation to see if they are practice-inclusive and mention other partners or if the conversation is all about them. Use the same type of language when you talk about patients and services.

Observation coupled with a healthy intuition can teach us so much about the practices.  For some people this happens naturally, for others it requires special brain power. Weigh in and share your observations and the impact on your field success.

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