Traction in Your Physician Relations Effort


By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA

Sometimes analogies help me visualize areas of my life that may be too close to see clearly.  After the winter we’ve finally left behind, the topic of traction is front and center. Maybe you can relate.  It’s that grab of the tires that propels you forward on snowy or slippery roads.  Consider which elements are, or should be, providing the right traction for your physician relations program in these six areas.

  1. It starts with the right equipment: The equipment and expectations have changed and so has the timeframe. The pressure to grow, retain, sign-up or get intelligence is being felt by everyone.  Start with clear strategic objectives and have expectations clearly defined.
  2. Don’t gun it:  When the roads are slick, a heavy foot on the gas pedal means you spin in place.   Conversations need to have substance, and messages need to align with the doctor’s readiness to hear.  Create good pre-call plans and define steps to earning referrals that can sustain relationships.
  3. Keep momentum: With the myriad of roles for today’s  physician relations reps, there may be a tendency to de-prioritize the need for consistent calls to the target audience.  Stops and starts with these relationships don’t work.  Referral growth is all about momentum so keep the visits and energy and conversations moving in those target practices.
  4. If you don’t have a plan, you’re stuck: It’s the old plan your work, and work your plan and it is true in terms of the overall sales plan but just as true in your individual interactions with doctors.
  5. Back seat drivers are not that helpful:  It’s easy to blame others for what did not go well, but you are ultimately accountable to help your organization with their physician relationships.  If it is not going to work the traditional way, try something new.  With leaders counting on their physician relations reps, we’ve got to own the delivery.
  6. Have a little weight in your trunk: Most northerners add a little weight to enhance their traction.  What weight do you have or need?  Is it a specialist who can get you in the door, is it a program or service that you can get some feedback for or is it that leader who can help you understand the differences in your clinical offerings?   This job is now just too big to know everything and do everything alone all the time.

Traction really does matter in physician relations. Those programs that have the solid foundation are able to grow in new ways.  Where do you want to be a year from now?  What do you need to do to get the traction you need to get there?

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