by Darcey Trescone, RN, BSN
Anytime there is a major regulatory change, such as this month's new Medicare billing system, we go into compliance mode. Running to ensure we are in line with the rules and everyone on the team is well educated. This is the right thing to do and is what all the software vendors market that they can help you with through refined processes, oversight tools and business intelligence data. The focus is quality care and surviving the blizzard of changes imposed by CMS. However, the name of the game to your referral sources is keeping the patient out of the hospital. That has not changed.
Right now, it is PDGM in Home Health. In recent years, wage and hour rules disrupted both Home Health and Home Care. Never fear, there will be future regulatory changes hitting us all in every healthcare sector eventually. We can anticipate these regulatory changes occurring regularly, pretty much forever. Payers and regulatory bodies are continuing to grapple with how they will support a higher volume of aging patients as the silver tsunami hits, while still trying to drive down costs of care.
As we begin the first few weeks of PDGM, we need to remember that keeping patients coming in the door is what pays the bills and that it is the liaisons and your organizational marketing efforts that support this. Yes, you still need to comply with PDGM, but leaving your marketing team wandering around for business while you focus on operations does not serve your organization well either.
It is the role of leadership to ensure marketing does not get lost in the shuffle. It is clear direction and tools available to your liaisons that will drive your business forward in 2020. Therefore, it is critical to allocate time to your marketing plan, to your team, and to their activities to ensure you have enough patients to service. Below are some questions to get you started:
Sales training is helpful but, when your team returns, they still need your vision, direction and tools. Without this support, sales training is quickly forgotten and never effectively put into practice. Relationship-based selling is still the key in our industry; however, your competitors may be armed with better tools, more effective messaging, and longer reach to help build these relationships. How will you as a leader get involved to ensure your marketing and liaisons have the best support tools to ensure success?
I'll conclude with advice from an article we published last February titled, "Data and Relationship-Based Marketing." It still very much applies to how we market and sell today.
Diversification of referral source types is important to the growth and value of your agency. For example, if only hospitals or facilities are providing you with referrals you may be catching patients later in their disease process, which could make it harder to improve outcomes, keep costs down, and prevent hospitalizations. In addition, if only two or three physician practices are supplying you with referrals and one or more of these practices get bought or closes, your census will drop precipitously, causing you to struggle to cover operational costs.
Data are available that show how patients move across the continuum of care, by referral source type, and which providers, by type, are getting those referrals. If you are going to target a specific hospital you can get access to data that show the volume of patients discharged to each referral source type and the average readmission rate after referral. Some of the data also support getting a list of who the providers are that got the business and what their average readmission rate is. Your strategy here is to build relationships at the hospital level and with each provider they are referring patients that could benefit from your services.
Once your marketers know who they should focus on in their territory they need to be trained how to add value to these referral sources. It starts with understanding the dynamics and challenges the referral source is dealing with. Only when the marketer gathers the information about these challenges can they present solutions (services) to the referral source that will help. If the referral source sees value in the services, they will work with your organization and refer. Over time, as your agency continues to deliver on the services in the manner expected and your marketers continue to present solutions that help overcome challenges, you will convert your referral source to a referral partner.
Home health and hospice referral sources need to learn from your marketing efforts whether you will add value to their daily practice and roles. You must consider with whom your people are spending time, what are their top-of-mind pain points, and what might be important to them about your agency's services. Only when they see the value of your home health or hospice services to their patients and their practice do they become an actual referral "partner."
Darcey Trescone, RN, 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. Contact Darcey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2020 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. email@example.com