Imagine, if you will, how physician relations worked in a pre-pandemic world. Those in a physician relations role for a hospital or health system typically serve as the “face of the hospital,” spending much of their time meeting face-to-face with physicians.

That was before COVID-19. As the pandemic took root in early 2020, everything we knew about how most of our jobs operate changed. That was especially true for those working in physician relations, who had to pivot to get things done in a different way.

During our recent Engage webinar, “Physician Relations in a Socially Distant World,” Shannon Mennel, MHA, Physician Relations Territory Manager for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, discussed how physician relations has evolved in the last year and tips for pivoting to find success.

What’s Changed in Physician Relations?
The better question may be: What hasn’t changed? The answer to that question is: Effective physician relations remains an integral part of business development for hospitals and health systems.

The process for developing that business has changed to adapt to the new and evolving realities of the pandemic world.

Pre-pandemic, physician relations involved a lot of organic conversations, allowing for hospital and health system representatives to quickly make multiple connections, finding pain points and solving for them.

Physician relations now often requires a lengthier process with the same end goal in mind. Multiple touchpoints are needed to make the same connections, and it often requires a mix of written communication and persistent calls to follow up.

How to Find Success in a Virtual World
How can your health organization stay ahead of the changes and find success in physician relations? Your processes will need to adapt to the new reality.

Even as more Americans are vaccinated and we come closer to a post-pandemic reality, many changes will stick around for the long-term. It’s likely that interactions in the future will be a hybrid of both in-person and virtual, so it’s important to both be adaptable and to find ways to prove your organization’s value.

In her organization, Shannon found that these tips helped promote success:

  • Strategize methods of overcoming communication barriers.
  • Ask for and set up virtual meetings when possible.
  • Partner with internal physicians.
  • Use LinkedIn as a tool to connect with physicians and to leverage existing connections to reach physicians. Personalize your outreach messages and make them relevant.
  • Reach out in multiple layers by having different people within your organization email or message physicians and other clinicians over time. This reaches physicians with the same message but in different voices.
  • Partner with medical organizations to find out how you can help physicians within your outreach community.

Ultimately, your goal is to elevate yourself and your organization in a way that keeps you relevant. Even in a virtual world, that’s doable.