Referral leakage has always been an issue within hospitals, health systems, and even smaller regional practices. General statistics indicate that on average, 55 to 65 percent of revenue is lost from leakage. That means a hospital could forfeit between $821K and $971K per doctor per year.
The financial burden speaks for itself.
As more hospitals and health systems consolidate and build larger networks—and physicians are brought into unfamiliar territory—the risk intensifies. Providers already maintain well-established relationships with specialists and may not know the full range of services their new health system “umbrella” provides. Veteran physicians may also refer out, based on personal preference and historical precedent.
The onus put on health system administrators and marketers is to keep all docs within the system up to date on service line capabilities. The wrong way to accomplish this is by highlighting facility competencies in a company-wide, consumer-focused newsletter. The right way is to segment physicians appropriately and speak to them on a meaningful and personal level.
Stopping The Leak Starts With The List
Data can be confusing. Big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), information anarchy, and data science are all data buzzwords that cross multiple industries. It’s no surprise marketers become overwhelmed at the thought of investing in and implementing a comprehensive physician database.
The financial burden of referral leakage speaks for itself.
It doesn’t have to be that complicated, especially when you drill down the key components that need to be addressed for stopping the leak.
A physician email list should include:
- Full name: Think of how many “Dr. Jones” might exist in a 500+ physician system. Do you have the right one?
- NPI number: Allows you to target those who have referral power (physicians, PAs, NPs).
- Medical specialty: Incredibly important for identifying specialists and disseminating department updates.
- Geographical location: Large health systems maintain facilities across the nation. Department updates might be city-specific.
- Referral patterns: Perhaps the most crucial piece of information for thwarting referral leakage. Allows you to pinpoint physicians who perpetually refer out.
Physician lists should also be authenticated and third-party verified, so you’re only emailing docs who have opted in to hear from you. Such a precaution may seem extraneous—they’re your docs, right? But, the last thing you want to do is inconvenience or irk key members of your physician community.
Example: Intra-Department Specificity
Let’s take one health system’s neurology department as an illustration of how precise you can get with your email communications. Memorial Healthcare System employs a number of neurology subspecialty physicians, from neurosurgeons to neuro-oncologists.
Each plays a role in neurology care. While they may treat patients independently, crossover occurs. For example, newer neurosurgery modalities such as a less-invasive endoscopic surgery technique to address pituitary tumors is something ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons should be aware of, as well as radiation oncologists. Each group can be addressed specific to its line of care.
The messaging might also differ slightly, depending on whether your segmented audience is in-system or targeted out-of-network physicians you’re inviting to refer in.
Engaging with your base on a personalized level is just one of the necessary steps to creating a sincere connection with docs, thus bolstering your physician relationships and ultimately strengthening your health system brand.