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Tackling the Delicate Referring Relationship between Mohs Surgeons and Dermatologists

Strong relationships between providers are essential to ensure a stream of consistent referrals in the medical community. One particular medical specialty where relationships require a delicate balance is among dermatologists who offer Mohs surgery at their practice. In this field of medicine, the surgeons rely very heavily (up to 90% or more) on referrals from local dermatologists for their skin cancer cases. The reason for the sensitivity is that many dermatology practices who send their patients for Mohs surgery are relying on the fact that their patients will return back to their practice after their surgical procedure. Ultimately, they are fearful that they will lose their patient to the Mohs surgeon (aka fellow dermatologist).

The Referral Solution for Mohs Surgeons

Knowing that referring relationships are essential for Mohs Surgeons to increase their caseload, these relationships with local dermatologists must be nurtured on a consistent basis. The best way to do this is by investing in a physician liaison who is skilled at this task.

In this role, the physician liaison is the voice of the practice out in the medical community to strengthen bonds and secure a steady stream of patients. A liaison is particularly important for Mohs surgeons as their focus is on growing the relationships by providing education and guidance, along with valuable customer service. In addition, the liaison can deliver the message that the practice has a policy against keeping referred patients so that providers will feel secure about their patients returning back to their practice after surgery.

Other Benefits of a Physician Liaison

The physician liaison ensures clear communication with referring offices to verify the referral process is easy, treatment reports are being received in an appropriate timeframe, and their patients are pleased with the care that they receive. In addition, the liaison will manage any negative feedback that may arise in a prompt manner so existing referring relationships don’t suffer. Lastly, the liaison serves as the eyes and ears of the practice to report back news on the competition and/or identify opportunities for growth in the market based on current trends.

While not all practices are able to employ a physician liaison (even if it’s just on a part-time basis) there are conscious efforts practices can take to enhance relationships on their own:

  • Provide ongoing education to your referrers to add value (especially if it helps them better understand when to refer certain patients to you).
  • Be accessible (offer up your email and/or cell phone number for whenever a quick consult on a patient is needed) and also make it easy for referring practices to send patients (via online referral forms on your website, fax referral pads, etc.).
  • Provide a “thank you” to the physician who referred. A direct meeting is the best way to send out this message, but a phone call, hand written letter or email will suffice.
  • A top referring offices, consider thanking the entire staff with small snacks (fruit or dessert) and small gifts (notepads or pens) once a quarter. Note that this is meant to thank practice for referring, not to bribe practices for their business. There is a big difference.
  • Schedule lunches at referring offices with the greatest potential (even if it’s just one a month) and have the Mohs surgeon attend to educate, answer questions, and most importantly, build a rapport with the referring office.
  • Ensure your staff is trained to never keep a patient that was referred from another dermatologist for Mohs surgery. This is a quick way to permanently damage that referring relationship.

If you are a Mohs surgeon interested in implementing a physician liaison program at your practice, please contact us today to learn more about how our program works and what the associated costs are. Not all liaison programs are created equal so it’s important you rely on the specialists at WhiteCoat to help you establish a comprehensive and strategic program that gets results.

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