Follow-Up Calls Guide: How to Identify Patients Eligible for More Care

There are over 12 million people in the US in need of home health care, and they have more options than ever when choosing a provider. And that need isn’t a one-time fix: patients who are admitted to a home health agency at least once are likely to require home health nine times over the course of their life.

While you could be serving your patients every time their need arises, you and other home health providers like you are missing out. Often, at the time of discharge from a hospital or referral from a physician, the choice is recommended to a patient based on the discharge planner’s experience with local home health agencies. You fail to reacquire past patients for care because of one simple mistake: are don’t stay in touch with your patients. Follow-up calls are the solution—even if you doubt your abilities to conduct them.

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“How do I conduct calls?”

It isn’t that home health agencies don’t believe in follow-up calls; many understand that their past patients can be a rich lead source for new admissions. The trouble lies in that few understand how to appropriately reach out to past patients. Have you ever asked yourself one or more of these questions?

  • Which patients should I call?
  • How often should I call discharged patients?
  • How can I track patients that should no longer be called?
  • If a patient alerts me to a future healthcare event, how can I track when to follow up with them again?

That doesn’t mean facilities aren’t trying: According to a survey conducted by Cortex, 87 percent of SNF/HHA admins report attempts to create programs for follow-up calls. However, that number falls to 45 percent after one month, and then to 12 percent after three.

There is a right time and way to make calls.

Cortex has had ample time to find the answers you’ve been searching for; we’ve completed over 96,000 successful follow-up phone calls to patients recovering from a recent inpatient stay (hospital and/or SNF). Of those calls, over a third were made on behalf of home health agencies to their discharged patients. We’ve learned through experience that five calls spaced throughout the first year after a patient’s discharge are enough to consistently identify patients as potentially eligible for more care with the home health agency they previously received care from:

  • Day 15
  • Day 60
  • Day 90
  • Day 180
  • Day 365

On these calls, the following questions have proven time and again to capture the details needed to understand the patient’s future care needs:

  • How have you been feeling lately?
  • Do you have any concerns regarding your health?
  • Have you had any of the following symptoms recently: fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, or shortness of breath?
  • Have you had any falls recently?
  • Do you have any questions about your medications? (Remember not to prescribe.)
  • Do you have any need for a nurse or therapist to visit your home?
  • If you ever need medical care, you can call us. Do you have our phone number?

Let Cortex make your calls for you.

Your expertise is in providing top-tier health services to your patients. It’s OK that you’re not an expert in conducting follow-up calls.

So why not hire someone who is?

Cortex evaluates patient data (including data gathered in follow-up calls) in real-time to provide actionable opportunities for home health agencies that might otherwise have been overlooked. Of the many opportunities available to post-acute providers, “patient potentially eligible for more care” is the highest-value opportunity identified by the platform for home health agencies. When this opportunity is detected, it is immediately routed to the agency intake team. (Cortex follows all HIPAA regulations.)

Cortex customers leverage the Cortex Network of Registered Nurses to make follow-up calls to patients throughout the country after they end an episode of care with their agency. Although the platform is available for customers to use in-house, providers find the telephone bedside manner and availability of Cortex nurses to be superior to what they can accomplish with their own in-house staff. Nurses follow a script outlined by the post-acute provider, and Cortex offers a rich question bank and expertise in crafting the call script. Calls can be repeated, and repeat attempts can be made to patients if they don’t pick up the phone the first time. On average, our customers report a 5–25 percent increase in census due to reacquiring past patients via Cortex.

Acquiring past patients isn’t an impossible dream. They need the services, and you need to provide it. In many cases, all your patients need is to hear from you to make the decision.