10 Questions to Ask Before Promoting a New Program or Service

As a physician liaison and a nurse, I have had pleasure of launching, supporting and growing a number of new services for patients. In my experience planning and preparing ahead of launch is a key component to a successful launch. Physician Liaisons play an important part in educating the medical community about new services and programs. 

Below are 10 questions I often ask to ensure I have the details they need up front to plan and carry out a successful outreach campaign. By working through each of these questions, liaisons can help support a stronger, more coordinated launch.

 

10 Questions to a Successful Outreach Campaign

1.

What patients would benefit from this program or procedure?

2. 

Which specialties or entities typically serve this population & would be an ideal referral source?

3. 

Are there specific markets that we are interested in developing first?

4. 

How are referrals made into this program & how will these be tracked?

5.

What prior testing is needed before a consult and who is responsible for ordering these?

6.

What additions or modifications need to be made to the hospital and/or practice websites to generate awareness about the new program/procedure?

7.

What printed materials needs to be generated or updated to support any collateral needed to prime, educate or follow up with key audiences?

8. 

Which physician champions are best poised to partner on outreach?

9.

What type of provider-to-provider encounters will best support referral development?

10. 

Are there other supportive activities or events that need to be planned to help generate community & patient awareness?

 

 

The Checklist in Action

Like many academic health systems, Tampa General’s structural heart program includes TAVR (Transcatheter aortic valve replacement), a procedure designed to offer high risk patients a minimally invasive option for valve replacement. We know that patients who suffer from severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for open heart surgery are the primary patient population. 

As a liaison, I know that while these patients have a primary care provider, they are also likely being followed closely by a cardiologist. This group often represents the best specialty to target – especially those cardiology groups that don’t currently offer TAVR.

When it comes to supporting referral development, it’s important to understand how referrals are made, where they go and what information is needed. For example, we direct referral partners to send any potential structural heart patients to our valve clinic. 

To facilitate this, we created a referral form that I share with provider teams. It collects all of the pertinent information needed to get the patient scheduled and to begin evaluation including patient name, date of birth, history, physical and any prior testing available. We direct referral sources to fax or email this form directly to our valve clinic coordinator.  The valve clinic coordinator tracks these referral forms in an excel spreadsheet which is very helpful to liaisons when understanding which relationships we are establishing, need to continue building and other key trends.

This role is also responsible for getting the patient on the valve clinic schedule, setting up any prior testing needed and securing any prior authorizations. We make sure to promote the patient navigation our valve coordinator offers as a benefit to using our program.

In addition to operations, I often collaborate with my peers in marketing to further plan the campaign. This often includes providing support in securing any content needed to add the service or program to the hospital website and any related practice websites. An example of this is the webpage we developed to support and promote our Aorta program. In addition to copy, liaisons can help make sure marketing teams are aware of any accolades, accreditations or potential patient testimonials. These same elements can also be used to create printed materials that can be used to introduce the program to both patients and providers. While some materials may be used for both audiences, it can be helpful to create supportive follow up materials that can be used a key touch points to share volumes, outcomes and more. 

Provider outreach and other special events can also support the launch of a new program. As a liaison, I will identify one or more physician champions I can partner with to develop content, map out targets and pre-plan outreach visits. Some visits are discovery visits that I make directly to the practice and some are in-person meetings or lunch-and-learns I schedule between my champions and targeted referral sources. Other events I will partner with marketing and physician champions to plan include CME events, community lectures and patient testimonials that can be used with media, including social media. 

This is just one example of how having a checklist and taking time to answer key development questions in advance can help a liaison like me be more supportive as a growth agent for my physicians and service line leaders.