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Engaging Physician Alumni for Increased Referrals, Reputation and Resources

Hospital marketers and outreach teams face continual pressure for engaging key stakeholders such as patients, physicians, and donors. While there are a range of audiences important for affecting growth and, one group is often overlooked – engaging physician alumni – graduates, fellows and residents, in both medical and scientific fields.

A disconnect between physician relations, marketing teams, and medical schools often impedes efforts to engage alumni who have previously worked or trained within the hospital. However, particularly for academic medical centers, maintaining strong relationships with alumni is important for growth and reputation-building.

So why is it so important for academic medical centers to effectively engage alumni?

  • Increased referrals and word of mouth recommendations to peers (especially from alumni who practice geographically close)
  • Strengthens external physician relations efforts
  • Potential to improve reputation and ranking (i.e. US News)
  • Brings about opportunities to collaborate in research, educational, or network activities
  • Presents a potential for new donors

Even with the best of intentions, many healthcare organizations find it challenging to collaborate cross-departmentally to find ways to best advance alumni relationships. One critical first step is compiling a comprehensive list of alumni, including as much data about them as available. Next, clarify what they want and need to understand how to best engage them. This will vary based on segment – such as type of professional or geographic distance. Learn more about segmentation here.

While specific needs and tactics may differ by segment, here are some best practices that can help:

  • Promote awareness of new offerings, developments, or research through educational outreach. While CME credit is not always necessary, promoting CME courses that assist in professional development is helpful.
  • Create opportunities for alumni to build personal relationships within the system. Since the strength of their personal connections within the system decreases with time, establishing new relationships is necessary for continued engagement and advocacy.
  • Encourage referrals and word of mouth recommendations through making it easy for them to refer or connect to new research. Personal relationships with other physicians tends to be preferred, but liaisons who can connect them with resources and others within the system are also helpful.
  • Develop a formal physician and scientist alumni program, in collaboration with development, medical staff, and physician/provider relations. This collaboration will help maximize efforts and resources.
  • Consider ways to recognize and promote alumni achievements
  • Take advantage of medical society meetings and conferences to engage with alumni, such as through alumni receptions and exhibiting activities

For long-term efficiency and effectiveness, integrate physician alumni databases with the overall Physician Relationship Management (PRM) system activities. Learn more about developing a robust PRM here.

On an on-going basis, the physician outreach team and provide support to donor relations efforts and to support the academic priorities (educational and research) or the organization. Despite being a frequently overlooked segment, and the cross-functional collaboration required, the value of fostering strong alumni relationships is worth the effort.

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Lyle Green

Senior Advisor

Lyle provides vision, insight and leadership for the design and implementation of customer relationship strategies to include physician marketing and communications, referral development, patient access and employer focused initiatives. With over 20 years of experience at one of the top cancer…