A strong, healthy relationship is supported by the omnipresence of clear, consistent communication. A couple won’t survive long if the silent treatment is their go-to solution for addressing conflict. The same premise exists for building solid relationships between health systems and the physicians they employ—frequent communication is imperative.
Health systems must be especially mindful of maintaining routine conversations with the physician base when it comes to keeping cases in-network. As hospitals partner with outpatient entities—such as ambulatory surgical centers, diagnostic imaging centers, and urgent care facilities—it becomes progressively challenging to inform physicians about the spectrum of medical services offered under the health system’s umbrella.
To effectively disseminate information about your full range of network services and prevent physicians referring out of system, targeted email campaigns should be at the top of your marketing strategy.
Overcoming In-Network Obstacles
Regular reminders about your network’s capabilities encourages physicians to be ‘good citizens’ of the system.
There are various reasons physicians refer out of network. Here’s how email can serve as a simple solution for overcoming two common obstacles.
1) Lack of awareness. New additions to your organization might not be aware of the breadth of services available. A welcome email to onboarding physicians should include a comprehensive explanation of each service offered. Segmenting your physician email list based on specialty allows you to further target follow-up messages and go into greater detail per area of expertise (e.g. pediatric, geriatric, orthopedic).
2) History of referral patterns. Bringing an independent practice into your fold means those physicians likely have long-standing relationships with other specialists, lab facilities, and diagnostic centers. Aside from transferring referral loyalty—which is no easy task—habits are simply hard to break. Regular reminders about your network’s capabilities can help ease the transition and encourage physicians to be “good citizens” of the system.
In both instances, it’s never a bad idea to toot your own horn. Highlighting areas of excellence—to both your existing physician base and recently annexed providers—exhibits even more reason for physicians to refer in-house and contributes to your health system’s overall success.
Your primary goal of reducing referral leakage can be supplemented by reaching out to community providers. A high-quality email database includes specific details about physicians, such as referral patterns, case load data, specialty, and office location. This information allows you to segment this out-of-network audience, target appropriate physicians, and customize messaging to individual providers.
A note on out-of-network referrals: Many community providers mistakenly believe referring into larger health systems is time-consuming, complicated, and may delay patient care. This myth presents a perfect opportunity to proactively reach out to these physicians and diffuse any confusion about the process.
Remember, Docs Actually Prefer Email
Research tells us that physicians favor email as a form of communication and are increasingly using smartphones to send and receive email messages on-the-go. They want to receive information in a manner that fits their oft-upended schedules. Utilizing an authenticated email list that includes physicians who have opted-in ensures you’re sending to their preferred email address, which improves deliverability and avoids emails being handled by front office staff—a potential “falling through the cracks” situation.
Health system growth, while good, doesn’t come without growing pains. Deploying targeted email campaigns helps keep referrals in-system and allows for even more expansion and future profit.