5 Key Steps for the Physician Onboarding Implementation Process


“It’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts.” You may have heard this phrase used in relation to your favorite sports team – but from experience, I can tell you it doesn’t quite apply to the physician onboarding implementation process.

As Marketware’s Implementation Coordinator, I know that getting off to a good start is critical to ensuring a great and successful partnership with our clients. Not only are first impressions the key to building trust – but putting your best foot forward from the start can save your organization time and money while leading to stronger satisfaction. 

Before I joined Marketware, I worked in a customer success role where I often heard feedback from clients that some parts of our implementation were unorganized, leading to delays in users being able to access and dig into our platform and dashboards. When I looked at the numbers, I could see why they thought this: it was taking 115 days, on average, for a new client to be fully implemented. This certainly wasn’t by design. In fact, our process didn’t really have a design.  Upon reviewing this, our team made some key changes which cut our days to launch by 35% and positively impacted new client satisfaction scores.

I’ve heard from countless clients during implementation that one of their goals in purchasing Embark is to set up or revamp their new provider onboarding efforts to ensure a stronger start. Here are some key takeaways I share with them based on what I have learned along the way:


1. Map Out the Physician Onboarding Implementation Process

The first improvement we made was mapping out our physician onboarding implementation process. We made sure all departments typically involved met together and listed out all of the key activities and decisions that are a part of a successful implementation. We then went a step further to identify specific deadlines for a client to launch on time – which then allowed us to outline every step that needed to happen from start to finish in a comprehensive checklist.

Within the first year of using this checklist consistently, we reduced our days to launch by 25% simply because tasks no longer slipped through the cracks. Last year, we completed this review again but focused on what activities needed to occur by client type (health systems vs. specialty practices, as an example). We can now tailor our checklist to each client’s needs and priorities, further reducing our average days to launch.

If your organization hasn’t mapped out your onboarding process in the past or reviewed it recently for nuances by specialty, I would encourage you to invite key stakeholders to review your current process together. Consider what individuals or activities may be missing or need to be reordered to help create a more complete checklist and timeframe.


2. Build in Signature to Launch Checkpoints

Our revised implementation map included client checkpoints. The first checkpoint is a kick-off call where our implementation team meets with the clients to confirm expectations, a target date for launch, what to expect during the implementation process and deadlines on both sides. Regular checkpoints are then scheduled so stakeholders can meet by phone to review progress and checklists. These checkpoints are coordinated in advance; everyone knows who on each side needs to attend and what needs to be covered or accomplished.

If your organization does not have a planned approach to communicating with your new providers between signature and launch, I would encourage you to build this into your physician onboarding map. Including them in an onboarding kick-off call within 5-10 days of signature can demonstrate your commitment to their success and reiterate that they chose a strong partner for their next practice. Set follow-up at the right intervals to also ensure a coordinated approach.


3. Develop an Onboarding Implementation Workbook

Many of the materials our team was using to share details about our onboarding implementation process and any items we needed them to complete in advance became outdated as our product and processes evolved.  This led us to create a high-level overview of our onboarding implementation process including a customized timeline specific to the client. We also created a series of PDFs and sample data files that are sent out as implementation progresses. This provides them with a custom “onboarding implementation workbook” that’s delivered in a way that’s easy to digest and act on.

Onboarding a new physician requires a lot of applications, forms and sign offs. Consider the paperwork and collateral you and your team are sharing today and how they’re distributed. Are there things that you can do to create a more manageable and branded approach to create a stronger first impression?


4. Appoint an Implementation Process Owner

Identifying someone to own the physician onboarding implementation process that is also responsible for specific steps allowed us to provide everyone with clear roles and responsibilities, streamline our communications and increased our accountability. No matter how many people are involved in a client’s launch, the client knows I am the main person they can lean on between signature and launch if they have questions, feedback or concerns.

As the Implementation Coordinator, I also share email updates between calls to follow up on any outstanding items and to prep the client for what we plan to focus on during our next scheduled call. These touch points help keep things moving and ensure our organization stays top-of-mind without overwhelming them with communication.

If you don’t have someone assigned to own your physician onboarding implementation process or a new provider’s onboarding plan, consider building accountability into your checklist by assigning one. Give this person a primary role in your team’s plan so the provider is clear on who is leading the charge on their behalf.


5. Track Onboarding Progress & Improvement

While these steps impacted our improvement journey in a meaningful way, tracking our progress has been the key driver for success. We needed to follow our checklist and visualize where targets were not being met. This meant calculating both the overall days to launch, total days to launch by client segments and even the days clients were in a specific stage. This was the only way we could learn what adjustments needed to be made along the way. 

Improvement wasn’t immediate or drastic, but it was consistent. Seeing consistent improvement period over period gave us confidence that our changes were making a positive difference and the drive needed to persevere through any growing pains. More importantly, refining the process and measuring our results have led to stronger partnerships with our clients and increased adoption among our users. I have witnessed firsthand that a similar focus on new physician onboarding can lead to a stronger return on physician investments and increased provider retention which proves maybe it is all about how you start.


Implementation Trends Dashboard

If your team struggles with hardwiring accountability or showcasing results, consider investing in centralized tool for documenting and tracking onboarding efforts including key activities, timeframes and persons responsible. It is also helpful to choose a tool that will allow you to build or access the dashboards needed to understand lags in your process including anomalies by specialty, practice and/or onboarding coordinator. This is what can truly help you hardwire accountability and showcase your own results over time.


To learn more about how documenting and tracking your onboarding efforts can increase your physician onboarding efforts, schedule a free, customized demo of Embark. Schedule Now.