Nurturing New Provider Relationships: Beyond the First 90 Days

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, it is easy to remember to check in with new physicians early on when practice set up and outreach activities are in full force. But, it is important to also build in opportunities to routinely meet with your new providers thereafter to assess how well they are adjusting and any additional professional and/or personal support they may need. By continuing to nurture your new provider relationships across the first year, you will reduce their risk for leaving at the end of their initial contracts.

There are several key touchpoints that I build in my calendar following a practice launch to guarantee I connect with my new providers, and their loved ones, at regular intervals. Use these onboarding best practices to help support your new provider retention.

 

Establish a Recurring Practice Development Meeting

First, I establish a monthly recurring practice development meeting throughout the first year that includes both the provider and his or her office manager. During our time together, we review key metrics, including new patient volumes and revenues, with the purpose of confirming that the practice is trending according to projections.

I also set up a reminder within my calendar to ensure I connect with the provider via text, email or phone at least one or two times between these monthly meetings. Both the format and the content of these exchanges are designed to connect and engage with the provider beyond, “How are you?”

For example, I might:

  • Drop by with an article of interest to pass along
  • Send an email congratulating them on their 100th new patient
  • Text to remind them of an upcoming meeting or community event
  • Make a call to pass along positive feedback from a referral partner or patient

If appropriate, I also use a similar approach to connect with the spouse. Finding meaningful ways to engage both groups can help reinforce a supportive environment and strengthen provider relationships over time.

 

Tie Outreach to Personal & Professional Milestones

It helps if you tie some of these contacts to key recognition opportunities, including Doctors’ Day, the provider’s birthday and the anniversary of his or her practice launch. You can also make a point to acknowledge other important professional or life moments, including completing boards, securing board certification, getting approved by a new payor, performing the Xth case, hitting X unique patients, the opening of a new satellite location, etc.

For me, the 100-day, 200-day and 300-day marks serve as important guideposts for formally assessing and addressing any potential provider retention risks.

 

100-Day Mark–Run Impact Report & Get Feedback

At the 100-day mark, I revisit the physician’s referral development plan, providing an impact report that quantifies the results of our initial outreach and marketing efforts. This includes the percentage of visits that yielded a first referral, and how many of those first referrals have converted into repeat referral sources.

Together, we review a list of top supporters and any feedback collected. We also compare notes on any top targets that have not yet referred, including available data that clarifies potential network connections. As a result, we walk away with a game plan for advancing those provider relationships in the quarters ahead.

I also make time to ask the provider for feedback:

  • What is going well within the practice? Within the hospital?
  • What opportunities exist to improve patient access or care?
  • How does the actual practice opportunity match against the opportunity outlined during the recruitment process?
  • How well has the family adapted to their new community?
  • Is there anything the family needs to make the adjustment period easier?

 

200-Day Mark–Evaluate Performance & Remove Barriers

At the 200-day mark, we spend time evaluating practice performance, including a deep dive to understand what, if any, ramp-up barriers exist (referral development, marketing, billing, payor mix, case mix, patient access, etc.) and how best to resolve them. I often engage other experts within my system to complete the appropriate reviews and audits (i.e. billing and coding). This way we can identify and remove any barriers for success.

Around this time, I will also invite the provider’s spouse or significant other to coffee or lunch. This allows me to spend some time with them to understand what they enjoy about the family’s new home, any challenges faced, what they miss about their last location and anything I can do to further secure a solid fit.

 

300-Day Mark–Review Action Plan, Expectations & Engagement

At the 300-day mark, I meet with the physician to review the progress we have made over the first ten months, including any outstanding action plan items from the 100-day or 200-day assessments. I also use this meeting as an opportunity to understand how the provider’s current practice meets their expectations (volumes, case mix, payer mix, locations) and what additional opportunities exist to continue engaging the provider throughout year two.

Approximately half of the physicians recruited will leave within three to five years of relocation if not properly grounded. For this reason, my onboarding plan typically includes structured meetings throughout the physician’s first five years of practice. In the subsequent years, I adjust the frequency so I can meaningfully connect with the new provider, at the appropriate intervals, as their practice progresses.

Below is a sample schedule that I might build into my PRM platform for nurturing new provider relationships:

year 1

year 2

year 3

year 4

year 5

Monthly review of practice metrics

100-day practice metrics & retention risk review

100-day practice metrics & retention risk review

300-day practice metrics & retention risk review

300-day practice metrics & retention risk review

‘Weekly’ check-ins between meetings

200-day practice metrics & retention risk review

300-day practice metrics & retention risk review

Quarterly check-ins between meetings

1 structured encounters

100-day structured retention risk review

300-day practice metrics & retention risk review

Bi-monthly check-ins between meetings

4 structured encounters

 

200-day structured retention risk review

Monthly check-ins between meetings

8 structured encounters

   

300-day structured retention risk review

15 structured encounters

     

 

Other Ways to Build New Provider Relationships

Are there other touchpoints that you and your team include in your onboarding plan during the first year? Does your plan extend beyond year one? What specific activities and assessments do you include in your plan? I would love to start a discussion. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s Note: Have you attended one of Marketware’s Friday’s Five webinars? Running from Oct. 2019-Feb. 2020, the series focuses on 5 best practices you can implement today for physician recruitment and onboarding. Learn more and RSVP here.