The Importance of a Physician Relations Representative
Houston Medical Imaging (HMI) employs over 100 people in the Houston area. Our staff is comprised of radiologists, technologists, and customer service representatives to name a few. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Venesa Besiris, one of the physician relations representatives, and was amazed at everything she does on a day-to-day basis to ensure HMI delivers great customer service while following up with referring physicians and patient needs.
When I first met Venesa, my impression was that of a well-spoken, friendly personality with an infectious smile. Although she fits all those descriptions, I found that there is much more to her and the passion that drives her in her job. I’m grateful that she took time to talk about her responsibilities and why her role with HMI is so important.
I was reminded that sometimes we are so busy with our own lives and needs that we don’t realize that there may be someone behind the scenes advocating for us as patients. I sat down with Venesa and asked her to share with our readers what it means to be a “Physician Relations Representative” at Houston Medical Imaging.
I think it’s important to understand the value that she brings to referring physicians and ultimately “us” the patient.
Venesa started working with HMI a little over 3 ½ years ago. Prior to working with HMI, she studied Psychology at the University of Houston Clearlake, taught science to junior-high students, and became an LPC (licensed professional counselor) specializing in adolescent counseling. When asked what motivated her to take a path in behavioral health and healthcare, she said that from the moment she took her basic psychology class in college, she was so intrigued with the dynamics of personalities as well as how each person’s needs and ability to learn are different. She felt that she could make a difference in people’s lives by counseling them and providing them with focused solutions. Although her role with HMI is different from counseling adolescents, she still has the opportunity to apply her skill set as she is constantly problem-solving and providing solutions to referring physicians as well as patients. If she had to describe her job with HMI, she would say that she is an educator, account manager, and a coordinator. She now focuses on educating physicians on the latest imaging options, discussing alternative programs for their patients, explaining benefits of improved technology with patient outcomes, and acting as an advocate for patients who need access to care at a lower price.
While stepping into this new line of work caused her to have to familiarize herself with radiology terminology as well as procedures, it was a challenge she willingly accepted. It’s a vital part of her job to be able to describe the varied options of imaging quality when communicating with physicians and their staff. When it relates to patient diagnosis and treatment options, Venesa connects the referring physicians to one of HMI’s sub-specialty radiologists. “Our physicians are always available to discuss exams and treatment recommendations”. A big part of Venesa’s job is to listen to questions or issues and then figure out a solution.
Her past experience/training allows her to problem solve and find solutions that assist physicians with appropriate diagnosing, treatment plans, financial options, and coordinating available time slots for appointments, especially for stat exams.
A typical day for Venesa is filled with constant communication from physician offices in the form of emails and phones calls. “My phone is always on”, states Venesa. She wants physicians and nurses to be able to rely on her to ensure that all of their needs and requests are managed. Another big part of her day is spent meeting with physicians and their staff as well as following up on the results of patients’ imaging studies to ensure that all reports can be accessed on Vue Motion. She also takes the time to train physicians and their staff on how to use Vue Motion, which allows for instant access to electronic reports and images once the radiologists submits them. This is important for referring physicians as it allows them to view the images/reports on any device with internet/wi-fi and allows for efficient patient follow-up.
One of the biggest challenges she notices in healthcare, especially in radiology, is that patients often do not know all of their options. They don’t understand that they have access to quality care at a lower cost. She says that there are a lot of patients that think only a hospital can provide high-quality images and that they do not realize that the out-of-pocket expenses associated with hospital-based imaging can be extremely high. This motivates her to spread the message that out-patient imaging centers offer the same level of care, but at a fraction of the cost and encourages physicians to share this with their patients.
I asked Venesa for some examples of questions patients should ask their doctors prior to scheduling their imaging study. She recommended that you ask your doctor appropriate questions to achieve high quality imaging with the least out-of-pocket cost. “It’s always a good idea to ask questions like, what type of imaging equipment is available within the hospital versus an out-patient imaging center? What is the compared cost between the options? Does my insurance pay the same amount for higher quality imaging machines?” Taking this approach will allow your physician to make recommendations that allow for lower cost with state-of-the-art imaging equipment.
The passion and drive in Venesa is palpable. She has great pride in representing a company that provides excellent customer service, well-trained staff with tenure, as well as readily available sub-specialty radiologists who live and work in Houston and are always willing to assist the referring physicians with constructive advice or treatment plans. In addition, HMI offers services at a low cost, free patient parking, and is open nights as well as weekends to allow for easy patient access. This sets them apart and makes them hard to beat in the industry.
Technology has been a big focus for HMI and some of their initiatives have included patient reminders, patient educational emails for exam prep, and educational videos by Dr. Stenoien explaining procedures as well as how to properly prepare for exams. HMI also provides a web-based portal to review imaging studies and patient reports expediting results that make the process more efficient.
At the end of the day, Venesa has built wonderful relationships in the healthcare community and has helped many patients access great care and high-quality imaging by working with their physicians. “That’s what it is all about, building relationships and trust in our community”. When Venesa is not working, you can find her jogging, working out, spending time with her friends and family, and taking weekend trips.
Her current project is preparing for a new out-patient imaging center, scheduled to open in Pearland early fall of 2019. She is very excited about the level of care that HMI will provide patients in the Pearland area.
HMI appreciates Venesa and the entire physician relations representative team for all that they do for our referring physicians and patients!
For information on Houston Medical Imaging please visit our website