Monday, September 21, 2015

What can providers learn from physician sales, engagement in specialty pharmacy?

I was thinking the other day about what lessons in physician engagement in specialty pharmacy and how that could transfer to providers. That is a meaningful engagement for managing population health, changing health behaviors, keeping referrals and members in the network as well as experience improvement.

It occurred to me that specialty pharmacy have been engaging physicians through the sales process for a long time now, and there are lessons applicable to hospitals and other healthcare providers. Specialty pharmacy with a physician is transactional in nature, and many a specialty pharmacy utilize a Huitwaite SPIN based approach. This approach is highly applicable to selling to physicians in the provider network as well.

Nine  lessons to learn from:

Lesson One: Reach out and touch someone. If you want a doc to be engaged, you have to establish a personal connection. That means a human connection all of the time, not just when the patient is in the hospital or sales is in the doctor's office.  Without a human connection to the organization, engagement never has a chance.

Lesson Two: Do what you tell the physician you are going to do right now.  Saying you are going to take an action with a patient or commit to an action with a follow-up report of the outcome to a physician is usually right now not days later.  

Lesson Three: Invest in sales and marketing training in whatever sales methodology is being used so that it's done right the first time, every time.  Marketing to be effective and collaborative with sales needs to understand how the sale takes place.  In a situational selling environment, the right pieces need to created for a level behind.  Now, a piece of collateral never sold anything.  But the right price ate the right time can enhance the presentation or discussion.

Lesson Four: The same high standards you have for interaction with physicians for sales are the same high standards you have for your employees interacting with one another.  That means the right training, creating the right culture and having the right performance measurement.  If your employees are not engaged and happy, then the physician won't be happy when they encounter others for the provider.  In specialty, the sales are only the start of the engagement.  View the provider engagement as a whole.

Lesson Five:  Computerize the encounter. Not just scripting but an integrated approach using current physician information utilizing branching logic in response to questions and follow-ups. It is not only more effective and efficient but can enhance the encounter medically, personally and result in better outcomes.

Lesson Six: The same salesperson interacts with the physician on a regular basis.  Constant turnover of client executives destroys any potential for engagement. It creates uncertainty, doubt, and fear and is negative because the physician loses confidence.  People go on vacation, take days off, get ill, and life happens, doctors get that.

Lesson Seven: Understand, the physician you are talking too, what they want from you, and how they want the engagement to take place will define to a great extent your engagement strategy.  Physician engagement in specialty pharmacy is a personal one-on-one encounter, and one size does not fit all. Yes, you have process and systems, but they need to be adaptable and ever-changing.

Lesson Eight: It’s not uncommon in specialty sales and marketing to have a difficult patient program. Every physician has one or several difficulty patients in specialty pharmacy, so a difficult patient solution is usually the preferred course of action.   You gain trust and utilization. The physician gains a compliant patient and improved outcomes.

Lesson Nine: Eliminate the hassle factor for the doctor and help improve the practice of medicine and patient care. And fix the most important hassle factor being the patient complaining about you to them.

There are more, of course, but these are the nine lessons I thought are most important in transferring knowledge on physician engagement and sales from one segment of the healthcare industry to another.

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