The Digital Future of Physician Relations
by Lyle Green and Dan Dunlop
In May 2013, a group of physician relations professionals and thought leaders gathered in Houston to develop a vision for the future of physician relations. Recognizing the growing adoption of digital media by medical professionals, the assembled experts sought to define the future role of the physician relations specialist or liaison.
The questions the group sought to answer during this day of visioning included:
- With health systems facing declining resources due to reductions in reimbursements, how can the reach of physician relations specialists be expanded, allowing them to more effectively form connections between faculty/medical staff and referring physicians? In essence, how can a medical center enhance the impact of its physician relations program without increasing expenditures?
- How can physician relations programs stay ahead of the curve, anticipating the wider adoption of digital communications by physicians?
- How can physician relations teams use digital technologies to more readily support specific programs within the medical center targeted for clinical growth?
Given physicians’ growing adoption of digital technologies, lack of time for interacting with their peers through face-to-face communication, and desire to gather information online, it seems reasonable that providing community physicians with relevant digital content that helps support their referral decision would be the obvious next step in the practice of physician relations.
An aggregator of physician-focused content
The recurring theme throughout the day was “connectivity,” referring to the physician relations team’s ability to connect medical center faculty and medical staff with community physicians. An equally important theme was the ability to connect the physician relations team with resources generated throughout the institution that can be leveraged and repurposed through various digital marketing channels. Playing the role of content aggregator should be a familiar one for physician relations departments. Traditionally, it has been physician relations that gathers and distributes relevant information about the institution to referring physicians. Aggregating content for digital distribution is simply the evolution of that function.