The pandemic is more or less under control with a gradual return to normality. However, faced with staff shortages which were not foreseen, home health care agencies like other businesses are struggling to manage their current workload, caring for their patients while not losing sight on their marketing efforts to get home bound referrals whether for home health, hospice or home care.
Marketing a home health care agency has multiple facets from printed material, to a digital presence on search engines and social media to face to face meetings with referral sources such as physician offices, hospital discharge planners, etc. We believe that referral sources remain the key to an agency's sustainable growth and as such agencies need to have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to keep track of their referral sources, their marketers’ tasks and success.
It gets much better if smart data is couple with a CRM, giving agencies the name and location of nearby institutions that have provided services to Medicare beneficiaries (over 65 years old). Add to it the number of Medicare beneficiaries per institution and your agency gets the perfect data set to assign to its marketers to target and turn the new home health referral sources into growth fuel to the agency.
On the other hand, there is lot of hype and talk about expensive and very complex data analytics that is collected at the collection point before being sent to a downstream analytics platform for further data consolidation and analytics.
Some systems offer agencies recent and complete Medicare referral data allowing managers to zoom in on what appears to be the right referral sources for their agency. However, rich data by nature is complex and entails analyzing thousands of rows of information to glean a few worthy tidbits. This can result in a type of “analysis paralysis” where agencies either do the wrong thing or don’t do anything because the data is so complex and detailed that simply understanding the data and how it is interpreted and related to future actions can be mind-boggling.
Simple things such as a physician who just happens to not refer any patients to home health for two months may appear to be a dead home health referral source when it is simply the result of chance. Next month that same physician could refer six patients to home health. What matters is that the physician refers to home health!
So, agencies need to ask themselves – “how smart should the data be?” and “how far should I analyze it?” The answer may be surprising. No matter how detailed Medicare referral data is – it is still a rearview mirror perspective. Just because a physician referred a patient to home health, for CHF, to the agency down the street from you, and the associated episode details layout the entire picture of that case, it does NOT mean that physician will do the same thing again next week and you can get that referral. As they say in investing: past history is not an indicator of future performance! So how much detail do you need?
In fact, what you really learn from a detailed history of an episode is simply this: that physician will refer patients to home health! That says a lot. It says the physician is willing to refer to home health, has managed F2F visits, managed 485s, and works with people 65 and over. Wow, that’s all you need to know to make an educated sales call on that physician. Learn which physicians refer to home health, then build a plan to call on them and manage it all with your CRM.
The challenge lies in providing the marketing team with the correct amount of data to pursue their targets. They need to work fast and connect with as many referral sources per day as possible. Strength in referrals is a numbers game. The more prospects your marketing folks call on, the more referrals you will get.
Once the targets are identified by management, they should be assigned to salespeople to turn the leads into real and recurring referral sources. The key to the sales team’s success lies in having a simple tool to connect with their leads and follow up with them… a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.
Most CRM systems will include two components, a simple mobile app CRM can be used by the sales team to enter and keep track of all the visit notes and documents, and a centralized desktop solution used by the office to manage and oversee the sales activities of their reps. Reps use the CRM to set up their schedules, record the results of client sales calls, and to collect PDGM referrals. The CRM system needs to accommodate these tasks smoothly and efficiently.
To succeed in today’s very competitive and fast-paced world, agencies should invest in CMS referral data for their management to use to determine target physicians and practices. When coupled with a specialized CRM platform to deliver this vital data to marketing reps the result can be a drastic improvement in the number of regular home health or hospice referrals.
Isoratec offers a comprehensive yet affordable CRM solution for small to mid-sized home health agencies. The system includes CMS physician referral data customized to the client’s service area to assist marketing people with high precision marketing. This dramatically improves the efficiency of marketing staff and reduces wasted and unproductive time. Referrals are captured through built-in forms to ensure that marketers gather the required information for a qualified referral. Isoratec’ s unique “grade card” system also allows agencies to compare the performance of each marketing person or business unit against each other, resulting in continuous quality improvement.
Tony Onaissi is the founder and CEO of Isoratec, Inc., a global provider of home care services and products. He can be reached by contacting Isoratec.