by Darcey Trescone
This COVID-19 pandemic has distracted our referral sources and limited our traditional sales activities. The inability to enter facilities to gain access to established relationships and new contacts impacts our communication with valuable referral sources. With the decrease in elective surgeries and non-emergent care, many organizations have seen a dip in census within their markets.
Communication about our services and how our industry can support referral sources during this crisis is a challenge when sales cannot get face to face with their accounts. Social distancing creates a more substantial need for communication within our organizations and with our referral sources and patients. Sales and marketing require operational and leadership support to identify new ways to facilitate communication during these times.
Understanding your current market is the most vital and essential step during the COVID pandemic. It is "all hands on deck" when it comes to ensuring we can continue to service the community. Supporting sales and moving forward during a new normal is possible, but it requires a change in our understanding and a change to our sales activities within the market. In working with post-acute organizations and their sales teams during COVID, I have found that the following approaches, done with intent, have helped to lessen the blow to their home healthcare businesses.
1. Buckle down and do a pulse check with your sales team. They understand the status of your market. They know your current referral sources. These are the questions you should be asking:
2. Examine how your referral volumes may have changed.
3. Think about the flow of patients in each account type. How do patients contract them for services, what types of services are they providing, and where do their patients go upon completion of services? Is there anywhere within this process that your organization could add value? Consider some examples:
4. Establish plans with referral sources that are expecting a higher volume of patients once elective surgeries and routine care become acceptable again. How can your organization partner with them to help make the patient’s transition back home seamless?
5. Make certain your referral sources know what policies and processes you have established related to COVID that will protect their patients, staff, and the community overall. Your referral sources should trust, but also know, that you are following good policies, and their patients will be safe under your care.
6. If you have integrated telemedicine into your organization, communicate to your referral sources how you are utilizing it to protect patients and staff during the pandemic. If you have not adopted telemedicine, is this the right time to do so?
7. Take care of your referral sources – white-glove service. You are the helper to your referral sources – look for ways to increase their success with your resources and services. Communicate to them that you want to be engaged in their success and their patient’s overall health. Work together to brainstorm how and what you can do to help them out. Ask for regular feedback on services provided, and share feedback about their patients on your service.
8. Invest your available time in the strategic, tactical, or creative marketing initiatives you were not able to get to pre-COVID. It is essential to stay visible in the market during these times.
9. Do the research and identify what is of interest to your accounts, your potential patients, and the overall community – focus on creating value quickly. Use data and reliable content to grab their attention. Attend to your online visibility and reputation:
10. Get involved and volunteer in the community. Your brand is much more than your logo or what is on your marketing materials. The actions you take as an organization, and the value you provide is how your brand is defined. Communicate these actions on your website, social media, and even in print with local newspapers.
Frankly, many of these items are things we should be doing even after COVID passes. It was already time to rethink sales and become more strategic in our approach, with or without an emergency. Make sure your marketing content is relevant to today's reality, and keep it current when that reality evolves. Your materials should build trust and be empathetic to what your customers are going through. Reinforce your mission, internally and externally. Sales and marketing is a critical connection between your referral partners and your operational relevance in the markets you serve. Make it a win-win for everyone involved in patient care.
Darcey Trescone is a Healthcare IS and Business Development Consultant in the Post-Acute Healthcare Market with a strong background working with both providers and vendors specific to Home Care and Hospice. She has worked as a home health nurse and held senior operational, product management and business development positions with various post-acute software firms, where her responsibilities included new and existing market penetration, customer retention and oversight of teams across the U.S., Canada and Australia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2020 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Home Care Technology: The Rowan Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. email@example.com