May 2012
In This Issue
Are you getting the referrals you deserve?
Q&A Conducting a successful staff meeting
Staff Feature: Debra Donohue
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Hello again and welcome to the 2012 May edition of our BENCHMARK newsletter! In this issue we'll discuss strategies for increasing your practice's referral base; simple techniques to staying on track during staff meetings; and an introduction to our newest senior associate, Debra Donohue.  


Please feel free to forward this letter to your friends and colleagues.   


 - The SullivanLuallinGroup



Maybe not, according to Debra Donohue, a medical group administrator with broad experience in specialty practice, and the newest member of the SullivanLuallinGroup


"It's hard to tell if you're getting all of the referral volume that's out there if you don't track existing referral sources and patterns," says Debra. "And the type of referral is as important as the number of referrals," she adds.


A good practice management system will enable an administrator to track and trend the number of new patients sent by specific referral sources; the starting point for analysis by payer & procedure. "If Dr. Jones sends lots of patients, but they're all from your lowest reimbursing health plan, then she may not be doing you any favors!" says Debra.


On the other hand, if you have what you might consider a "poor" referral source - a provider whose referral volume seems skimpy - but whose patients typically have excellent health insurance and generate significant cases, that's a doctor in whom you should invest time and resources in an attempt to attract more referrals.


"At one of the practices I managed," says Debra, "we established a VIP program aimed at generating even more referrals from our top referring partners." And that is often a strategy overlooked by practice administrators whose goal is to boost revenue. Many specialty groups assume that their high-volume referrers send ALL of their patients to the practice and thus take those outlier referring providers for granted. Big mistake!


"The VIP program was designed based upon survey findings, analysis of all referral sources (and don't be fooled - they're NOT just the Primary Care Docs!), and the service lines that we provided. Innovative techniques were implemented to recognize and reach out to all referral markets. We went far beyond the traditional method of copying a dictated report with a canned,  "Thank you for your kind referral of Mr. Smith...." And the best news of all is that you can create a VIP program in your practice with minimal cost, then expand upon it as your practice volumes grow!"


The focus is on four strategic components for building referral business. "You can't rely only on conventional wisdom which says that to generate new patient volume you must court all primary care doctors," says Debra. "We got creative and focused our referral building efforts on: (A) our current "VIP" high-booking referral sources; (B) the PCPs who had potential to be our "VIPs"; (C) our own patient population; and D) the community at large. We developed programs for each of those targets and increased our patient volumes from all four segments.

If you'd like to hear more about how Debra achieved these impressive results, attend our 60 minute interactive webinar, "GET THE REFERALS YOU DESERVE" on Tuesday, June 5th at 9:00 AM PDT. You'll have a chance to "ask the expert" and come away with specific low-cost, no-cost techniques for increasing your new patient volume!


  -Meryl Luallin



Look for details about how to sign up for the webinar in next week's eblast or contact us directly at (619) 283-8988.


Q&A: Conducting a successful staff meeting


Q.  I know staff meetings are important but we always seem to veer off track and take more time than we've allotted.  I'm thinking of just sending out memos instead of wasting our time in unproductive discussions.  Any ideas?


A.  You're not alone in your frustration!  Several great strategies were offered in the August 10, 2011 issue of Medical Economics.  "Meetings should be scheduled on a routine basis, never on an impulse.  They should run from a strict agenda, and any new topics should be added to the next meeting so they don't distract from planned topics.  Schedule the meetings so there's a natural "hard stop" (start of patient appointments or at the end of the morning session just before lunch.)  Frame a question before it's addressed, and tell the group members how long they can deliberate before moving on.  Once the culture of meeting discipline is established, it'll be easy to keep colleagues on track."



Debra joins us as a Senior Associate with over 34 years of experience in medical practice, hospital, and ASC settings.  She has extensive nationwide healthcare consulting and executive leadership experience.  Debra combines financial focus, business principles and extraordinary customer service.  She is known for pioneering a unique practice model founded on The Patient Experience with integration of hospitality concepts into facility design and core values. 


Debra holds a Bachelor Degree from the California State University system in Business Administration and Accounting.  She has earned Certification by the American College of Medical Practice Executives , and holds dual credentials as a Certified Professional Coder  for Practices and Hospitals. She has been a leader in the evolution of financial and business operations in many specialist practices.  Debra is a hands-on proven leader in all aspects of practice operations, compliance, and reporting.


She was raised in Northern California, and has settled into Southern California where she enjoys the theatre, and spending time with her growing family.


Have a question you'd like our team to answer? Contact us!

SullivanLuallinGroup specializes in patient satisfaction services, and

is the premier healthcare customer service consulting firm in the nation.

For over 25 years, we've helped physician practices implement Customer Service Initiatives that produce immediate improvement and ongoing

results. Clients come to us for on-site and web-based Customer Service training, Shadow Coaching for low-scoring physicians, Mystery

Patient/Mystery Caller assessments, and Patient Satisfaction surveys.