Hospitals employ physician liaisons to educate the local healthcare provider community about the type of care and treatments they offer. The goal is to both keep existing patients within their system and to attract referrals of patients from the local HCP community. Physician liaisons, therefore, are not unlike the medical science liaisons that drug manufacturers employ to engage and educate healthcare providers about their products.
Just like MSLs (medical science liaisons), physician liaisons rely on data to inform them when reaching out to the local physician community. Here are four examples of how data can help hospital liaisons to successfully engage healthcare providers and hospitals to broaden the patient communities they serve.
Get to know the patients you don’t know
Hospitals have very good data about the patients they are treating, including who referred them, how they are being treated and how they move within their system. However, they have very limited information about what happens outside their system. “How many patients are there that could seek treatment in our hospital?” “Where do they receive treatment?” “Which physicians refer patients to other facilities?” and “How many patients?” are all critically important questions. Without that information, hospitals might lose patients to other healthcare facilities, e.g. a hospital across the county, when the patient could have been treated more conveniently at their facility. Worse, they will never know which patients they are missing since they only know the patients they know.
To understand the flow of patients outside their own system, hospitals can use network referral data to paint a comprehensive picture of which HCPs refer their patients to which facility. This allows physician liaisons to uncover out-of-network referral opportunities and to identify healthcare providers that might benefit from additional educational information about the hospital and the treatment options available.
Keep the patients you know
In addition to attracting new patients, hospitals need to track patient retention. The goal is to keep patients with additional medical needs in the system. Analyzing referral data allows hospitals to better understand how many patients are referred internally vs externally. This information can then be used to:
- identify in-network physicians who have a history of above average out-of-network referrals and educate them about the in-network treatment options available
- proactively engage physicians, especially primary care physicians, to make sure they are fully informed about all the services offered in-network.
Referral data can also help hospitals identify medical services they don’t offer yet, but that based on the number of patients referred out, might need to be added.
Identify out-of-network patients
Referral data doesn’t just help hospitals to better understand what is going on with their network, but also to keep tabs on the outside world. One of the main opportunities to expand the patient population is by reaching out to relevant physicians outside the network and informing them about the services offered at the hospital. This is especially true in cities with a large number of HCPs that treat patients who need the services offered at the hospital.
It is also particularly relevant for specialized hospitals. They can use claims and referral data to identify HCPs who treat a large percentage of patients in need of these specialized services and then approach these HCPs with educational information about the hospital.
Identify influential local physicians
Physicians might not qualify as national or even global key opinion leaders, but they play an important role as local influencers and physicians of choice for their colleagues. Referral as well as claims data can help physician liaisons identify these local influencers and reach out to them with information.
Just like MSLs, physician liaisons benefit from comprehensive data that allows them to see trends, identify physicians and provides them with the detailed information needed for meaningful engagement. While MSLs engaging KOLs focus more on academic data, such as publications or speaking engagements, for hospital physician liaisons, claims and referral data are critical. This data helps them to better understand the dynamic of the local and regional healthcare ecosystem in which their hospital operates.