How can we keep low-volume practitioners engaged in medical staff activities?

As primary care physicians and other specialists spend less time practicing at the hospital in their community, their relationships with the hospital and other practicing physicians tend to weaken. It becomes easier for competing hospitals to attract their referrals away from your hospital.

To develop an outreach approach to low- and no-volume practitioners, design a program to keep the hospital’s relationship with these practitioners as strong as possible. In each community, different strategies may be effective. Some physicians may want to remain involved in the activities of the organized medical staff. Others may want optimized communication with the hospitalist program, including easy referrals to the program, ongoing communication during their patients’ admissions, and timely information upon discharge. Some physicians may be interested in maintaining collegial relationships with a medical community that reduces their isolation in clinical practice.

Other strategies may include helping physicians with their electronic medical records and easing their access to the hospital’s information technology system. Another draw for some physicians might be access to continuing medical education and stimulating discussions of clinical issues. Many organizations create a management services organization to provide key business services and support to community practitioners through revenue cycle management support (e.g., documentation, coding, billing, and collections), electronic health record integration, practice management training and support, and group purchasing agreements. For instance, one pediatric hospital granted every pediatrician in the surrounding counties affiliate membership to its medical staff and also provided a handsome plaque for their office wall announcing this relationship with the prestigious hospital. From this list of possibilities, it is important to be creative, listen to what physicians in your community are asking for, and be prepared to try multiple options rather than assuming one size will fit all.