March 22, 2018

Christopher Cheney

Valley Health Uses Analytics and Marketing to Speed Physician Onboarding

The health system adopts an onboarding system for new primary care physicians and specialists designed to populate patient panels with data analytics, market analysis, and targeted marketing.

Winchester, Virginia–based Valley Health is working with a healthcare consulting firm to revamp how the health system develops the practice of newly hired physicians.

"The average new physician takes about three years to build up a patient panel and reach the point where they are effective and efficient," says Carol Koenecke-Grant, vice president of strategic services at Valley Health. "What Doctivity does is they try to take that ramp up time and make it much shorter."

Doctivity is a physician onboarding program developed at Moorestown, New Jersey–based SystemCare Health that features data analytics, market analysis, targeted marketing, and helps with establishing referral relationships.

Valley Health, which onboards about 150 physicians annually, started implementing Doctivity in 2016, with positive results. Eight of nine specialists who started the Doctivity program in October 2016 achieved their productivity targets within the first year. The specialists generated more than $225,000 of unplanned revenue.

Data analytics

A lean approach to data analytics plays a foundational role in the Doctivity program, Koenecke-Grant says.

"One of the things that makes Doctivity so successful and effective is they look at what you have. For Valley Health, they saw we had Epic as our electronic medical record, a market leakage report, and operational practice reporting."

Once the trove of data is pulled together, a customized operational and market report is generated. "What Doctivity did for us is to take all of the different reference points that we have throughout our data systems, which often don't feed information into each other cleanly, and package everything for us," she says.

Data analytics have also been used to develop direct-mail campaigns targeted at potential patients for new physicians, including patient base analysis, locations of competitors, and patient demographics by zip code. "We're not doing a shotgun approach when we do direct mailing. We are being very targeted, where we know we can help onboard a physician fast."

Doctivity has also helped Valley Health, which features six acute-care hospitals, harness data to monitor the progress of new physicians as they build their practices.

"We track new physicians on a monthly basis. We look at new referrals—where they are coming from, patient demographics, and downstream revenue. Then this information gets bundled into a situational report. At a glance, you can see whether a doctor is trending the way we thought he should," Koenecke-Grant says.

Mastering the competitive landscape

Market analysis is a key component of the Doctivity program. The primary focal points are competition in the market and finding opportunities to gain patients. The market analyses include factors such as the service line being targeted and potential referral sources for a new physician.

These analyses form the basis of a marketing and referral plan. "The plan will say we need to target specific physicians for referrals, a particular market, and  highlight particular qualities of the physician that may be attractive to referring specialists," Koenecke-Grant says.

A key marketing tool in the Doctivity program is a one-page physician "fast fact" brochure. "Physicians are very busy, so the 'fast facts' have the most critical information they need to know about a particular surgeon or a particular physician. We make it clear where the individual physician practices and their specialty or expertise," she says.

The one-page marketing document has several elements:

  • Photo of doctor
  • Medical education and training, including medical school, residency, and fellowships
  • Brief description of medical specialties
  • Listing of conditions the physician treats
  • Contact and referral information

In the Doctivity program, establishing referral relationships is a precise and targeted process, Koenecke-Grant says.

"For example, we will consider the dynamics of a cardiology group that we could refer to one of our cardiovascular surgeons. Then we consider the characteristics of the cardiology group that tell us what they would need most from our surgeon. It's more than just driving a physician by a practice and saying, 'Hey, here is our new cardiovascular surgeon—keep him in mind.' "

With its new onboarding processes and infrastructure in place, Valley Health expects to no longer require SystemCare Health's services later this year.

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