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The Recipe for a Successful Partnership: Referral Relationship Managers & Our Referring Veterinary Community

Sep 17, 2020

The Recipe for a Successful Partnership: Referral Relationship Managers & Our Referring Veterinary Community

Excellent, lifelong veterinary care requires community-wide collaboration and cooperation, and the Compassion-First family of hospitals could not provide world-class emergency and specialty care for pets without the support of referring general practice hospitals across the nation. Today, C-F has over 14,000 referral partners across 7,500 referral hospitals- and growing. Our partner hospitals are so important, in fact, that most Compassion-First hospitals have a Referral Relationship Manager (RRM) dedicated to cultivating and maintaining these important relationships.

Val Washington, Compassion-First’s Vice President of Customer Development, leads a nation-wide team of 25 RRMs. “Their role is to further develop the relationships, communicate the unparalleled medicine our hospitals are practicing, and gather feedback from the referring veterinarians to ensure we have a strong partnership. Ultimately, this leads to increased veterinary referrals, meaning more patients will get the care they need and deserve. We see our RRMs as the liaisons between our Compassion-First hospitals and general practices,"

How do the RRMs accomplish this? Historically, the RRMs established a presence in local veterinary communities through in-person hospital meet-and-greets, continuing education dinner lectures, lunch-and-learn events, and round-table discussions. In most email and direct mail campaigns, RRMs are listed as a direct point of contact and resource for local referring hospitals. In light of recent limitations, the RRM teams have pivoted to continue nurturing the relationships with referring hospitals in new innovative ways.

Alyssa Smith, an RRM based in San Antonio, Texas, who also manages several other Texas RRMs, says, “Eighty percent of our job was really out in the field. With COVID, we were forced to get creative about how we could continue these interactions and maintain our role as industry partners in this new environment.” To do that, RRMs turned to virtual experiences to stay in touch with the veterinary community. For example, one-on-one Zoom meetings between new Compassion-First specialists and referring hospitals have replaced in-hospital visits, and virtual CE events have replaced in-person evening lectures.

Three of the Texas Compassion-First hospitals— Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists (GCVS), Austin Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center (AVES), and MissionVet Specialty & Emergency (MissionVet)—have long emphasized providing top-notch continuing education to the referring veterinary community. “Providing continuing education and being a true resource to the referring community has always been important to us,” Smith says.

Upcoming virtual continuing education symposium

With in-person conferences and meetings canceled or postponed, veterinarians are leaning on virtual continuing education to stay abreast of innovations and new developments in their ever-changing field. To help meet this need, Smith and Marketing Manager, Alex Whitney Botto are leading the charge on a large-scale virtual CE event launching October 3.

The 2020 Texas Veterinarian Virtual Symposium will feature:

  • 29 speakers delivering lectures across 12 disciplines from three of Texas’s largest specialty and emergency hospitals
  • 18 hours of FREE RACE-approved continuing education
  • A simulated live launch on October 3 to provide attendees the opportunity to live-chat with industry representatives in the virtual exhibit hall
  • 90-day access to all lectures, on-demand. Final viewing day will be December 31, 2020
  • A virtual exhibit hall showcasing 17 industry partners highlighting the latest products and services alongside great prizes and giveaways!

We are hopeful that the virtual event will help alleviate the added stress of finding relevant and accessible continuing education while veterinarians are increasingly busy and often overwhelmed. Smith says, “With virtual events, there’s really no cap. In the first few weeks, registration exceeded a record-breaking 900, and three weeks before launch that number exceeded 1900. We’re excited to see how many veterinarians we end up reaching!”

In good times and in challenging times, Compassion-First stands behind the veterinary community. We are eternally grateful for the continued partnerships with our referring hospitals and look forward to strong, rewarding relationships for years to come.



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