Physician Relations: Trendsetter or Best Practice Follower

Trendsetter or (3)By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA

Are you a trend setter?  Thinking of myself as a trend setter in my personal life- like fashion- is beyond laughable. Clearly, that is not this blog’s direction. I was really thinking about trend setters in our business world. I think physician relations programs sometimes struggle with following trends vs. bucking the trend and finding a different approach.  At a personal level, “I should wear boots, everyone is…” somehow feels easier to solve than at a business level, “The trend is for physician relations to track ROI…”   At the onset, let’s all agree that different markets require different approaches.  For me, trend setters and followers are both successful. It is about a rational business decisions for your path that are doing what the organization needs.

Does the current approach work? Let’s face it, it is easier to keep doing what we have done than to commit to change.  That barrier does not fall into either category.  Further, we can all find a trend that mirrors what we want within our programs.  The hard part is really looking at whether that is the right/best for your market and your organization in the current environment.  If only there were some perfect formula to follow!

  • Is the boss happy?
  • Are you finding more excuses for “why not” than ideas for new approaches?
  • Is it harder to get time with the doctors, and when you do, is the engagement really there?

Sometimes these outward signs are shouting “bring on the change” to me.  I suspect we all appreciate that sometimes when we are in this state, change is the hardest.

Are you feeling logy?  Between us, this job is wicked hard to do if you are not energized by what you can accomplish.  Looking at new trends and trying new options can be really healthy.  Start with one clear goal from leadership and then list out 4-5 approaches that advance the path to accomplish that goal. Set personal steps to success and then consider what others- best practice writings- do to accomplish the task. If the existing best practices don’t feel quite in line internally, be bold, tweak it for your organization.  Make sure that you don’t lose sight of the desired outcome.

Dead weight. If you feel the pull of naysayers in the organization, or on your team and your culture is pretty buttoned up, get some best practice data and trends and start pushing to implement in that direction.  In my experience, data to show that others are having success is a good starting point. Likewise, if they say, “we’re different,” then a customized solution is essential.  Both models rely on movement and momentum.  One thing at a time is the way to go with this.  Baby steps.

What process do you use to determine if you should follow examples of others or “do your own thing?”  If you opt to look at a trend and follow it, which approach is best?  In the next blog, I will provide some current trends in the industry so you can compare and contrast.

  1. kathy rhoades

    Great article Kriss! Especially with the changes in healthcare and more affiliations taking place, it makes our jobs more challenging, but not impossible. I believe one thing that we all need to do become “hunters”. This is related to leakage. How do we bring the business back to our health system?