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Physician Liaisons vs. the Annual Budget: Five Ways to Tame the 800 Pound Gorilla

Physician Liaisons vs. the Annual Budget: Five Ways to Tame the 800 Pound Gorilla

Tommy Hewitt

Thomas Tiller II
Chief Operating Officer
Tiller-Hewitt HealthCare Strategies


Physician liaisons, like most of us, have a budget deadline looming over us. We need to decide RIGHT NOW what we are going to do for the next year to bring value to our organization and what it will cost to do so.

The task of creating our budget is the 800 pound gorilla, which must be submitted to and approved by the 900 pound gorilla, the CFO!

Budgeting season is when you must decide your growth strategies for the upcoming year, what investment will be required to support those strategies, and how you will deliver to your organization a return on that investment. While the task can certainly be challenging, following these five guidelines will assure you that your plan will become the true roadmap to your success in the upcoming year.

1. Get Started

Just get started. Too often, the task that is the most daunting becomes the task that gets done last, poorly or not at all! I see that all too often…because I do that all too often! My house is at its cleanest, my car detailed and my landscaping immaculate, when I’m, say…trying to write a blog or working on a sales presentation! When that happens, I refer to “Eat That Frog!” by Brian Tracy. It is required reading for our Physician-Hospital Relations boot camp segment on how to end procrastination, and begin prioritizing and planning. Typically, the annual budget – one of your biggest, most important, most challenging tasks (THE FROG) gets put on the back burner until the 11th hour and either doesn’t get done or doesn’t get done as well as it could be. So, EAT THAT FROG! Make a first attempt, poke holes in it. Then make a second attempt, poke holes in it. Share your attempts with other stakeholders within the organization and have those colleagues try to poke holes in it. You’ll be amazed at the finished product if you just get started early and work at it!

2. Be Strategic

Think with the end in mind when creating your budget. To do that, you must know your organization’s highest-priority objectives. Study the strategic plan, and make sure that your growth strategies are in sync with the organization’s growth strategies. Interview key stakeholders and leaders within the organization—gather input on what they would like to see accomplished and build your budget to achieve those results.

3. Return on Investment

ROI is so important that we build a pro forma budget for our clients’ programs before the launch. These three guidelines are critical when measuring the ROI of our liaisons’ activities. You can use them to build your budget as the driver of those activities.

  • Does it build business in a short to intermediate period of time?
  • Does it support a strategic initiative?
  • Can the results be measured?

4. Use the Calendar

Don’t run out of money before you run out of year. When that happens, in essence, it reveals that you didn’t effectively budget. To avoid being forced to ask for more money to implement your growth strategies, be planful to spread those precious budget dollars throughout the year. Keep in mind major holidays, seasonal hospital initiatives and an allowance for those last minute additions such as December Holiday celebrations. When the budget is locked in, make all the purchases you can while the approved budget is still “approved.” For those of you in the for-profit world, it is not uncommon for budgets to be reduced right before year-end. Don’t let your initiatives be the ones that are cut.

5. Work the Plan

Steps 1-4 are designed to build your budget and plan a successful roadmap. Be sure to refer back to it frequently, using it as your guide to ensure you are on track. Furthermore, use it as the foundation for building your personal goals and those that will be used for your performance evaluation, bonus, raise, etc. Aligning your goals to your budget increases the chance that your plan will become your outcome, which will ensure that you have The Best Year Ever.

Smart goals will lead to a smart budget, and writing them down will keep them in the forefront, keeping you focused and your budget intact. Download our free goals template to get started. To plan ahead and make sure your budget includes fun themes and relevant dates, sign-up to receive our monthly calendars.

You’ve got this – now start budgeting! Download this free goals template. It’s one-page and super easy to use!