As the demand for post-acute care grows, so does the competition. To stand out from the crowd and earn more referrals, care providers need a better sales and marketing strategy.
Hospital discharge planners are the key decision-makers when it comes to post-acute care referrals. These individuals have great influence when it comes to telling patients and families where to go next.
What do post-acute care decision-makers care about? What data points can you highlight to earn their attention and trust? What services are most valued?
Here are seven ways to successfully capture more patient shares from post-acute care decision-makers.
1. Network and create relationships.
To get a referral, your facility needs to be on the list. Literally. Many hospitals have a list of care providers that they provide patients who need post-acute care. In order to get a referral, your facility or agency needs to, first of all, be on that list.
This can often be as simple as calling the hospital and making your services known. But that’s really just the first step. Decision-makers are much more likely to recommend providers with whom they have an established relationship. Here are a few ideas on how to build one:
- Use existing connections such as relationships with any doctors or post-acute care executives working at the hospital or prior patients for whom your facility or agency might have cared.
- Arrange a face-to-face meeting. Schedule a time to talk with the discharge planner or other decision-makers and bring along your sales material.
- Develop sales material that makes your business stand out with a detailed list of services and any specialties such as dementia care.
2. Collect, manage, and share patient information.
Technology is an incredible asset in medical care. Using a smart dashboard that easily tracks patients’ progress helps keep patient data organized, allows you to more efficiently analyze data, and makes it easier to communicate patient progress across care networks.
While you typically already have an EMR, hospitals also want to know how you’re managing your readmission strategy. Do you have a post-discharge patient management tool? By employing these methods and using a technology platform, your operation will have critical success metrics and insights into areas that need improvement and those that shine.
What are those data points? Besides these six critical success metrics for post-acute providers, marketers need to know your patient contact rate and frequency (ie., “our patient outreach happens on days 2, 10, and 30 post-discharge and have a 80% success rate”), staff to patient ratio, your performance metrics (ie., “Our medication education and fall prevention rates are in the 90th percentile of providers in the area”), or satisfaction/CMS quality metrics.
Not all case managers or discharge planners will be asking for this level of detail, but it’s good to have on hand to showcase your level of expertise during your discussions or included in your collateral.
3. Be readily available and responsive.
Hospitals need to place their patients quickly. If your agency is quick to respond to requests and place patients, this will give you a competitive advantage. In order to do this, you’ll need to first streamline your care coordination process.
As a part of this process, create a pre-admissions procedure that quickly evaluates a patient’s needs and determines if they’re a good clinical, social and financial fit for your facilities or agency. You should be able to easily identify any needs for specialized equipment, medication or services. The faster you can complete the pre-admission process, the more likely hospitals will send referrals your way.
How can you maximize response? Do you know when your patients are being admitted to the hospital, either unplanned or planned? Begin receiving hospital alerts so that you can be in contact through the entire process. While your response will be quick with the case manager, a patient’s clinical needs should always remain the top priority.
4. Excel at working with families
In post-acute care, the clients are just as much the families as the patients themselves. If the hospital knows that you’re responsive to families’ needs this will earn you points.
Consider an admissions process that includes visiting with the patient’s family at the facility or, if possible, at the hospital. Reassure them that you can meet the patient’s specific care needs. They will be the most likely person to provide an online review too.
Reviews are an incredible way to gain new customers. Customers depend on reviews to make decisions and they add a human element to your sales pitch. For example, a net promoter score, testimonials, and case studies for patients who have had standout experiences. Create a program that actively seeks reviews from patients or families as they are discharged from your care.
5. Create quality sales material.
When hospitals are considering recommending your agency and families are considering placement, they’ll want to learn more about your business. The next sections of this article will go into more detail on what critical elements you should include in sales material. Beyond that, here’s a general outline:
- About us and mission statement
- Detailed services sheet
- Highlights on specialists, special equipment, or special programs
- Success metrics mentioned above
- Patient and family reviews that add a narrative to your success
6. Have a strong differentiator.
What makes your facility stand out? What’s your unique value proposition? Why should a family choose your facility over others? If a hospital decision-maker has a patient with a special need and knows that your facility specializes in that field, that’s immediately going to make your facility stand out.
It’s likely that even if this is not defined yet, you have talent on your team or special facilities that are unique to your business. Take the time and initiative to build that specialty and to market it.
Common post-acute care differentiators include:
- Specialized care for specific diseases or conditions
- Star rating or a newly built facility
- A proven track record of successful outcomes
- Impressive staff to patient ratio
- Special social programs for patients
7. Join a network.
Ultimately post-acute care providers are competing with themselves to get to the top of the referral list. You can make your agency stand out by comparing your results against regional and local benchmarks or by joining or creating a network.
One of the hospitals within Cortex’s network decided to create a list of affiliated partners and track performance of care providers inside and outside the affiliates. While each program may have received unique types of patients, overall there was a 20 percent reduction in readmissions and a higher NPS within the affiliate network. While individual facility performance boded well, the home health agencies also performed similarly well.
Cortex's Network Manager provides real-time insights into post-acute care. Performance metrics include historical trending and benchmarking as well as operational, performance, clinical, and satisfaction data. Take your network to the next level. Learn more.