Physician Relations: How to Succeed in the Month of December

By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA |

The mood within practices has a lot to do with physician relations effectiveness and it’s December!  How would you answer this question for the practices you call on? “The general disposition of my practices is ______.” They may be frantic, festive, business as usual or any number of emotions that accompany this time of the year. Many accomplished field staff use their December calls to gather perspectives. It’s a great time to reflect on the past or create a shared vision for the future. For larger teams, the responses can be grouped to add the customer’s voice to your internal year-end summary.

As you create your ideal question, consider your current relationship with the doctor. Do they talk freely or need you to prepare choices? Do they see you in a narrow role? If yes, ask something that aligns with that topic. Has the year been filled with problems? What type of information would resonate with the internal stakeholders or help your team in planning for the next year? One good question might be all you get, so take the time to make it count. Let me share some starter questions to stimulate your thinking.


  • Dr. ___, your practice has had lots of changes this year. What stands out as the…
    • most challenging?
    • best accomplishment of the year?
    • most impactful for your patients?
  • Dr. ___, since you have become part of our employed network, what’s the…
    • biggest surprise?
    • best part, or worst part?
    • most significant change within your practice team?
  • I’ve had the chance to bring lots of new doctors into your practice over the past year. As you think about those introductions
    • anyone who stands out?
    • any suggestions or feedback about the process for next year?


  • Dr. __ , as you begin your planning for 2017
    • what’s your priority in the practice?
    • any personal goals you have set for your practice?
  • As you think about ways that our organization can better serve you
    • is there one topic you’d suggest that needs our attention to better serve you?
    • what one clinical area would you like us to enhance/expand?
  • As a (specialty) physician, what one message would you like to give our (employed leadership or health system leadership) as they plan for 2017?
  • Any advice you would offer for the physician relations team as we put together our plans for supporting your practice in 2017?
  • As you think about 2017, which of these topics are most important for you to keep your patient’s happy? (List the top 3-4 topics you regularly hear and let them choose one).

As always, test and refine your question to capture the right tone and message for your audience. These “reflection questions” give you an option for December that is in-between the fruit basket drop off and pushing hard for in-depth visits.  If they are done right, you’ll have some great feedback to get back to quality visits in January and the insights can be great for internal positioning.  What works best for you to have an impact in December?

Want to learn more about asking good questions? Check out our online course: Skill Building: The Power of the Right Question.  

  1. Summer Lesic

    Kriss I especially love this post. The questions are perfect and will help us jump start a new year.