6 Ways to Reimagine Physician Relations for the Future

I recently had the honor and privilege of facilitating a virtual workshop session, “Reimagining Physician Relations: The Time is Now!” for the Forum for Healthcare Strategists. I joined 3 talented leaders, Penny Nichols from Adventist Health in California, Jennifer Lofgren from Loyola Medicine in Illinois and Anamika Desai from Hackensack Meridian in New Jersey on this timely topic.

COVID-19 has caused many to make changes, both personally and professionally. As physician relations professionals, it’s the perfect opportunity to look deep into our programs. After all, if we aren’t planning to do things differently, we risk the possibility of being irrelevant – which is not a risk worth taking.

While there were many insights shared by the presenters as they continue to work through their journey, I’ve compiled my top 6 takeaways for reimagining physician relations to share:


1. Virtual is here to stay.

Not because we won’t ever be in offices again, but because virtual visits make sense. They require a tight agenda, which requires a solid pre-call plan. Some teams have received good feedback from physicians for this very reason. Virtual also allows you to talk with more target physicians, which is especially beneficial if you have a lot of windshield time between practices. Work together as a team to rethink your sales cycle to include phone calls, Zoom meetings and in-person visits – when they make sense.


2. Reconsider territories.

This is directly connected to adopting virtual visits into your sales cycle. Do virtual visits begin to erase the need for geographically defined territories? This is a question Anamika continues to ask as she evolves her program at Hackensack Meridian.


3. Identify message opportunities.

During COVID-19 many organizations realized that they had a communication gap with independent referring physicians. The physician liaisons became primarily responsible for identifying the gap and helping to bridge it. Timely, meaningful, physician-centric messaging is more important than ever.


4. Provide value at the leadership table.

It’s always been important, but if you don’t provide value during a crisis, you won’t get time on the agenda (or a seat at the table!). Agenda time is earned. Packaging your voice-of-physician feedback is vital now and in the future. Similar to the last takeaway, think about how you message your insights so leadership can take action.


5. Rethink success metrics.

Each of the presenters asked, “Am I measuring the right things?” As you make changes or pilot ideas, think about what needs to change from tracking a reporting perspective. You’ll never know if it’s a good change unless you can do that. 


6. Accept change.

All this talk about change is good, but it is tough on teams. Everyone adapts to change in different ways. As leaders, it’s our job to help build resilient teams and build a team culture that celebrates innovation. If there is 1 must-have, it’s communication. Team members need to “picture” the vision of the future. They need to clearly understand the reason for the change, the process to get there, their role in it and what success will look like. That’s the basics. Add motivating and inspiring your team, and you’re on the right road to success.


We are all just beginning this journey that COVID-19 handed us. The learnings from what worked and what didn’t are still ahead of us. Reach out if you have a story to share or need a little help working through it. We’re in this together!