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Liaisons Say the Darnest Things

Liaisons Say the Darnest Things

Many years ago Art Linkletter created and hosted a sitcom called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” It was funny, sweet, candid and sometimes…horrifying. Someday I may start one called “Liaisons Say the Darndest Things”.

We hear the same combination of “things” in the field, but candidly the latter [horrifying] is often what I experience when I hear liaisons describe their role. I hear “my job is to make physicians happy” or “my role is to go out and get business by first thanking providers for their referrals.” Theoretically that sounds great, but the problem is many Liaisons don’t have accurate timely/relevant data to educate themselves on the quantity, or even more importantly, the quality of the provider’s referrals to really know what they are thanking them for.

So, let’s stop the bus for a minute. If you don’t know enough about the referrals coming from the providers you’re calling on, you have to be mindful and not just resort the adage “thanks for your business” or “we sure appreciate your business”. What if, they’re not sending business at all? So what we’re basically telling the provider is that we are uninformed about what is actually happening, and instantly killing our credibility.

Equally horrifying, what if the referrals they’re sending are not quality referrals. That’s a nice way of saying “THEY’RE DUMPING ON YOU”, and what you’ve done is thanked them for that behavior. What that does, presuming they are under the impression you actually have reviewed their referral pattern, it not only excuses them, but it ENCOURAGES more dumping, making your field activity actually negatively impact the bottom line! Are you picking up what I’m lying down?

Also be careful not to ask [dumb] questions about what business they’re sending you. Nine times out of ten they won’t know and isn’t that a little weird asking a customer a question we should already know? That too doesn’t help our credibility. I promise you, there is data available inside your organization. If they’re sending out bills – there’s your data! If your organization is self-insured, there’s more [claims] data! Talk to your service-line leaders, talk to quality, talk to finance!

We’re all guilty of running 90 mph most of the time, but to be effective we have to slow down and be more mindful and planful, ESPECIALLY when we don’t have all the data or other strategy-critical information to back up our messaging. To help, try to remember these four things:

  1. Not all business is good business. Use data to know the difference!
  2. Use your INTERNAL referral data to gain insight into the quality and quantity of referrals coming in to your organization. IF you have to, go to the department directors and ask for their logs. If you can’t get access to it, we can help! (99% of the organizations we launch Liaisons programs try to tell us they don’t have the data – but we ALWAYS find it).
  3. PRM – Work with your PRM partner to obtain quality external (preferably timely claims) data to get a clear picture of what referrals are being sent outside your network and what relationship your providers have with one another. If you don’t have access to that data, we can help!
  4. Ask dumb questions, look dumb – ask smart questions – look SMART! – Jeffery Gitomer

Tiller-Hewitt HealthCare Strategies is “all things” Physician Liaison! For almost 20 years, Tiller-Hewitt has worked nationally with liaison programs of all shapes and sizes in hospitals, health systems and physician groups.  From implementing/assessing/refreshing successful strategic liaison programs to offering a robust provider onboarding and navigation program, sales training and our PRM tool – TrackerPLUS.  We are your Partner in Success!  Contact us today.