Improving physician relations and generating referrals are two of the most trying tasks on a hospital marketers to-do list—and the most crucial. But when hospital leadership truly grasps the importance of satisfied physicians and empowers the physician relations team to do its job well, the hospital bottom line reaps the benefits.
Healthcare providers cannot be successful in models such as ACOs if they don't have trusting and collaborative relationships with the medical staff and community physicians, says Jeff Brickman, FACHE, president and CEO of St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, CO, and the president of Centura Health's Mountains North Denver Operating Group.
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"A lot of CEOs really don't know where they get their business from, and that has to change," he says. "The more progressive health systems in the country have always understood the importance of physician relationships. … But the vast majority of hospitals are still struggling to get this right."
Until recently, Sacramento-based Sutter Health had counted itself among the many hospitals grappling with an unsettled physician relations program. The health system is undergoing a transformation from a collection of independent-minded hospitals and medical groups to a large, integrated health system. The organization used the physician relations team to forge the path to a cohesive system.