Does Your Organization Really Value Physician Relations? A SHSMD 2018 Session Recap

Does Your Organization Really Value Physician Relations? A SHSMD 2018 Session Recap

How to Gain Leadership Trust, Support, and Collaboration

By Stephanie Johnson

Many healthcare organizations have a physician relations effort, but the value that c-suite leaders place on this effort can vary significantly. Leading programs establish a system for how to communicate the right information and demonstrate the right value to their leaders.

This session, titled Does Your Organization Really Value Physician Relations? Was led by Kriss Barlow, Principal of Barlow/McCarthy, and Mitzi Kent, Vice President of Strategic Growth and Provider Recruitment/Relations for Lifepoint Health. It had the following key learning objectives:

  • Understand the need for aligning program goals with the organization’s strategic goals
  • Clearly describe the must haves for demonstrating value to the internal stakeholders
  • Create a plan that details the steps to achieve a stronger value with internal leaders


Based on their shared experiences with Lifepoint Health, Kriss and Mitzi discussed what leaders expect to see from their physician relations team. They also provided strategies for how to ensure that key internal stakeholders have a good understanding of and are willing to buy into the model, methods, and tracking plan that will be enacted.


How to Evaluate Your Current Program

Set up a listening tour with leadership:

  • Whether you have one CEO or multiple CEOs, it’s important to find out what your leaders want. What does an effective physician relations program look like to them?
  • Allowing leaders to be heard is a great way to build trust with them.
  • Collaborate on what “good” looks like and find ways to closely align your goals with the organization’s overall strategic plan. This will keep you and your leaders working towards the same end game.

Develop tools to communicate progress and maintain accountability:

  • Establish accountability calls with your sales teams from an activity perspective—specifically, activities that involve physicians. This will give your leaders a pulse of how their team is ranking.
  • Gain consistent leadership buy-in by regularly reminding them what your team does and how they are delivering value.
  • Develop an internal sales plan to reach and influence key internal stakeholders.
  • Create an “elevator speech” summarizing who your team is and why their work is valuable. Then, use this speech consistently, whenever possible, and especially in front of influencers.  

Find a champion who believes in your program and will back you up:

  • Have this person speak on your behalf on how your program is working for them.
  • Equip this champion with your elevator speech so they can use it as well.


5 Essentials to Sustain Leader Buy-In

  1. Manage internal barriers: physician relations team leaders must help their sales team by drumming up and maintaining internal leadership support for their work.
  2. Internal promotion: have your key message—your elevator speech—ready to share at any time. Continually promote what your team does and why it’s important.
  3. Continue co-presenting with your champion: If your champion can be another CEO, then the CEO to CEO relatability will help your cause.
  4. Share successes as a team approach: rather than focusing on individual accomplishments, focus on team successes.
  5. Gain leadership trust: Be vulnerable and share results even if they aren’t good—if your message only highlights the positives, leaders will not fully trust what you have to say. Continuously monitor results and share them quarterly so your leadership can rely on you for regular updates.

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The Takeaway

In an effort to avoid “divorced parents” syndrome—where the CEO is telling the physician relations team one thing and the VP of provider recruitment and relations is saying something different—it’s critically important to align your physician relations plan with your organization’s strategic plan and receive leadership support. This is an ongoing work in progress as you must consistently engage with leadership to retain their confidence. With the right tools—ones that easily and clearly show the value your team is delivering—and a steadfast, determined mindset to continually promote your efforts, your physician relations team will experience the payoff of internal leadership support which is vital for success. 

StephanieJohnson_White_400x400Article by Stephanie Johnson, SVP SRG and Customer Success for Stratasan

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