Five Step Action Plan
As the post-acute care environment becomes increasingly more competitive, solidifying new referral source partnerships and strengthening existing partnerships is a vital aspect of any organization’s success. This Referral Generation Action Plan offers five key steps to identify high-value referral partners and strategically target business development efforts so post-acute care providers can dramatically increase home health and hospice referrals in record time.
1. Target the Most Opportunistic Referral Sources
It’s true – 20% of your referral sources will generate 80% of your home health and hospice referrals! Opportunity is defined as your current referral and admission volume from a referral source versus your potential volume if all appropriate patients were referred to you instead of to your competition.
Define a ranking system (A, B, C) to identify your most valuable referral sources. Some referral management systems, such as HEALTHCAREfirst’s Referral Actionboards, allow you to do this easily by delivering information that you need to focus your efforts and manage your priorities. Consider using strategic market data from HEALTHCAREfirst’s Market Intelligence Actionboards to gain insight into referral trends within your service areas.
Maximize your efforts by focusing on the most opportunistic accounts by evaluating who you’re currently calling on and at what frequency. Compare your current activity with the rankings you have established. Is your time focused on the right activities? Make adjustments to who you’re calling on and at what frequency based upon your established rankings. Continue to make modifications and adjustments as necessary. Update your rankings monthly or quarterly as fluctuations will likely occur.
Action Item: Define your top 50 targets using a ranking system by evaluating current activity. Measure, review, and revise rankings accordingly.
2. Frequently Engage High-Volume Referral Sources
Your most productive accounts need to hear from you often with high-quality messages to ensure that your agency stays top of mind. Your referral sources need to know that you’re there to help and support them. Use your ranking system to ensure communication with your most productive accounts on a weekly basis to share updates on patients and new services, or to simply check in.
Consider what frequency is best for each type of referral source based upon your ranking system and feedback from the source. How can you offset visits with phone calls and emails? Do different referral sources prefer different methods of communication? Try different methods and tailor your communications to each referral source based upon what is most effective for that particular partner.
Action Item: Set frequency parameters for key market segments and specific referral sources. Evaluate different types of communication intervals by supplementing visits with phone calls and emails to establish your most effective strategy for each account.
3. Differentiate Your Agency
Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoP) seem to suggest that agencies all provide the same services, but that’s not true. Ask yourself: Why do your referral sources refer to you? Is it because you offer unique programs, are able to handle high-acuity patients, have care centers, or is it some other key reason? Defining your agency and your mission is critical to your success in giving referral sources reasons to refer to you instead of your competition.
Consider conducting a brief survey to ask your referral sources for feedback. Ask them why they refer to you. Ask them what you do well and what comes to mind when they think of your agency. Ask your staff for their feedback. How do they feel your agency differs from others? Leverage performance data (OASIS, HIS, CAHPS) results to gain insight into the patient experience with your agency.
Once you have gathered this feedback, identify your top strengths and differentiators to leverage as competitive advantages. Develop key positioning around these points and craft your messaging carefully to stand out from your competition. Tailor your messaging to target specific referral partners. Be in an industry of one, where no other agency truly offers what you offer.
Action Item: Survey your referral sources and ask your patients and families why they selected your agency to understand perceptions and attitudes. Identify what your differences are, develop your positioning and messaging, and educate your staff so that they are ambassadors of your message.
4. Responsiveness and Service Matter
Consider the level of service being provided to your patients, families, and referral partners. Do you meet their needs every day or do you push a referral because it’s 4pm? Do you avoid a visit because it’s after hours? Your service and responsiveness are noticed, and can drive patients to you or away from you.
Responsiveness should be hardwired into your organization’s culture. Responding quickly to home health and hospice referrals strengthens referral partner loyalty, ensuring strong and healthy relationships. Identify and implement ways to hardwire responsiveness into your culture. Consider signage in breakrooms, messaging in an internal newsletter, and incorporating this mission into orientation and ongoing staff trainings.
Action Item: Set an improvement goal for your agency. Define how you will measure it and report the progress to your staff. Celebrate success as your reach your goal and continue to monitor your results for sustained performance.
5. Responsibility Fosters Accountability
Everyone knows the expression, “What gets measured, gets done.” How do you currently manage activities and focus of your business development staff? Do you have transparency into the accounts being called upon and the frequency for visits and calls? Are there expectations set around visits per day or per week?
Consider a referral management system such as HEALTHCAREfirst’s Referral Actionboards to create more structure. Hold staff accountable for responsibilities by setting, measuring, and monitoring goals. Having clear goals and sharing performance feedback is critical to your success in gaining more home health and hospice referrals.
Action Item: Define your agency’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and gain buy-in to your agency goals from the CEO, referral development team, and the clinicians in the field. Establish performance goals and the visit frequencies needed to attain those goals. Measure and monitor your results and celebrate success.
Maximize Your Efforts with HEALTHCAREfirst!
HEALTHCAREfirst truly understands the challenges faced by our clients in an increasingly competitive environment. We understand the importance of strong partnerships when it comes to increasing your home health and hospice referrals and supporting your business objectives. We also understand resource limitations (capital, people, and time) faced by agencies. Our technology solutions allow business development professionals to uncover new opportunities for referral source partnerships while effectively managing and strengthening established partnerships. In addition to our strong technology solutions, we offer training and guidance to assist agencies with implementing processes and best practices to truly drive success. Call us at 800.841.6095 or click here to learn more!