Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quality Onboarding = Quality Outcomes: 5 Tips to Build Strong Physician Retention


While most discussions today are around healthcare reform and value-based outcomes and reimbursements, what the industry is not really talking about is the shrinking physician population. There are approximately 2.5 physicians per 1000 people in the US. It is projected that there will be a physician shortage of 130,600 by the year 2025. With more physicians leaving private practice for hospital-based employment, how can a hospital continue to be competitive and retain its share of this shrinking physician population? With quality onboarding.

According to Cejka Search, 54% of physicians who leave a practice do so in the first five years, with many making the decision in the first three months. This emphasizes the crucial role of the physician onboarding process. Employers need to be sure that their physicians are happy with the hospital’s services and put the physician in the best position to be successful. Here are five tips for successful onboarding and building strong physician retention.

Tip 1: Create an Onboarding Committee


Forming an official onboarding committee is crucial piece of the puzzle. All players who fully or remotely touch activities related bringing the physician onboard should have a seat at the table. This includes, but is not limited to Hospital Leadership, HR, Credentialing, IT, clinical, marketing, scheduling services, finance among others. Every hospital is different in the number of tasks that a physician has to complete and the number of departments that are involved. The more collaboration and coordination there is, the more seamless and efficient the entire process can be. Read how Penn Medicine’s Office of Medical Affairs’ decision to create a multidisciplinary onboarding task force greatly improved efficiency and saved the health system hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tip 2: Facilitate Communication Anywhere, Anytime, and All in One Place


In today’s world it’s important to be able to have flexible mobile communication. Physicians want to be able to access their professional profile, credentialing information and other pertinent employee data easily and quickly, not to mention having to enter this data only once. Too many times onboarding processes are redundant requiring the physician to enter or submit his or her information more than once, which leads to frustration. Some processes are still paper-based. Even more frustrating!

Providing mobile responsive access where they can enter all their information at once from their initial application to periodically updating their professional profile, and being able to view any pending tasks (medical licenses renewal, CMEs, etc.) helps physicians manage their professional data in meaningful way so that they can concentrate on their real purpose – delivering quality patient care.

Tip 3: Centralize Enterprise Onboarding


As mentioned before, onboarding touches many departments throughout the hospital system. Having a centralized system in place where all dependent departments can view, be notified of tasks and take any actions required is key to shortening the onboarding time and getting the physician up and running faster so that he or she can start seeing patients.

Research from The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that hospitals typically lose $150,000 to $250, 000 per provider per year during the first three years of employing a physician. A significant portion of this revenue is lost in the onboarding process with lengthy delays in credentialing approvals, payer enrollment, EHR access initiation, photos, access badges, website directories and other activities that prevents hospitals from receiving revenue from actual patient appointments.

An online portal can be used throughout the enterprise to consolidate tasks and centralize communication for all onboarding activities. Connected departments can view workflows and quickly manage their required onboarding steps and provide supporting information such as task completed, due dates and other comments. This enterprise view of the onboarding process facilitates cross-departmental collaboration and accelerates a hospital’s the time to revenue.

Tip 4: Develop a Physician Liaison Program


The role of a Physician Liaison has emerged as a vital marketing position for many specialty practices. It is also a vital role for hospital organizations to have in order to drive referrals to their employed specialists. A physician liaison program is designed to increase patient referrals, strengthen relationships with providers and staff, and provide valuable customer service. In a recent Clinical Advisory Board Physician Survey, 66% of physicians said they were "very unlikely" to change their current referral pattern without a physician liaison actively communicating and building relationships with them. A strong liaison program builds a foundation of strong referring relationships driving revenue and market growth, and keeps your pool of physicians happy and engaged.

Make sure your hospital has a good physician liaison customer relationship management system (PL-CRM). Such a system should allow for quick access to physician profiles, be able to target specific physicians with membership tools, and easily track and document visits with potential referring physicians. Engage potential referrals with welcome letters and visit follow-up letters and generate reports for hospital leadership that track the success of your referral program, all automated with a PL-CRM.

Tip 5: Promote Physician Engagement


Finally, it is important to ask for and receive feedback from your physicians to keep them engaged in the process. Continuing to survey your staff regarding their onboarding experience, hospital services, clinical practices, and other touchpoints is vital to ensure your organization knows about potential issues to quickly address any problems. Physician retention, as well as employee retention in general, is directly connected to how well staff feels you listen to them and that their feedback is used to create a better working environment.

Setting your physician up for success means success and continued growth for your healthcare organization. This ultimately translates into better patient care and quality outcomes as physicians are in an environment where they can more readily focus on delivering patient care rather than taking care of administrative needs. It all starts with quality onboarding. Following these five tips will ensure your hospital continues to be competitive and can retain its share of quality physicians.

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