Early Market Intelligence >> Market Analysis Examples

How Market Analysis Affects
Home Health Marketing Decisions

The previous page lists the features of Brazzell's Early Market Intelligencereports and describes in general terms how knowing the census of your competition can improve marketing plans. Below we list a few, real-world examples of how home health agencies have changed elements of their marketing strategy after using market intelligence to inform their market analysis and marketing strategy. Agency names are changed.

It is impossible to say exactly which of your marketing plan decisions will be affected by the information in your Early Market Intelligence report. Every agency wrestles with different questions and needs to choose a slightly different path toward success. Early Market Intelligence simply gives the lay of the land. Here are some decisions that agencies have made as a result of knowing the census of their competition.

  • Gift Giving: Home Health Care Agency A had ongoing concerns about a competitor that was putting on extravagant luncheons and was providing gifts larger than the OIG will permit. Medical professionals had actually commented to Home Health Agency A that they did not provide gifts at nearly the same level. Agency A wrestled with tough decisions such as whether to report the competitor, whether to adopt similar illegal marketing tactics and assume the legal risks, or whether to launch a major physician education program to teach physicians about the rules surrounding gift receiving. When Agency A ordered their second home health market intelligence report, they quickly knew exactly what to do. Studying the total census of their market and the census of their home health competitors, Agency A learned that this gift giving competitor was much smaller than Agency A, and the competitor was not growing. In other words, all the gift giving was a waste of the competitors' marketing dollars. Through market intelligence reports, Agency A saw that they did not need to respond to the gift giving competitor at all.

  • Finding Doctors Who are Ready to Switch: Studying Early Market Intelligence, the administrator of Agency A noticed that one of their top competitors, Agency X (an arch rival in fact) had a census declining at an important rate. The administrator asked her top community liaison to touch base with one of their known referral sources for some clues as to why this might be happening. The community liaison returned a rumor that Agency X had a bad inspection and had become hard to work with in terms of paperwork, skilled need, and homebound status. The administrator of Agency A was able to direct her community liaisons to go back to the referral sources loyal to Agency X in past marketing calls. It turned out that Agency X's referral sources were unusually receptive to a conversion. Early Market Intelligence helped Agency A identify a sizeable but weakened competitor and subsequently identify a set of referral sources who would be more amenable to reconsidering their loyalties.

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  • Inspired to Greater Action: Home Health Care Agency A knew that Agency X was a major competitor. Although Agency X was slightly newer, they had grown quickly, and Agency A felt like Agency X was probably larger. As far as Agency A could tell, Agency X was like them in almost every way. Quality of care seemed equal and one did not seem to have any particular advantage over the other, but the administrator at Agency A had a feeling that Agency X was doing a better job at sales. All attempts to retrain and improve the sales force were met with strong resistance from the sales force. Agency A's sales force insisted that they were doing the best job that could be done. The administrator finally ordered a market intelligence report. Agency A quickly learned that Agency X was three times larger! Since Agency A and Agency X seemed alike in every regard other than their sales force, Agency A's administrator was able to use market intelligence to motivate the sales force to accept change. Knowing the facts inspired the sales force to take an objective look at their own performance.

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  • Taking More Private Insurance: The marketing representatives at Home Health Agency A had long told the administrator that they were losing referrals because hospital case managers found other home health agencies more convenient to work with. In particular, the marketing reps said that case managers were frustrated that Agency A was only in network with Medicare and Medicaid. To test the marketing reps' theory, the administrator did the legwork necessary to get in network with one private insurer. This resulted in very few if any extra referrals, so the administrator concluded that the marketing representatives were wrong about needing to get in network with private insurers. Later, Agency A ordered a home health market intelligence report. The marketing representatives noticed that some very similar agencies were getting more Medicare patients. They also noticed a correlation between agencies with a higher private insurance mix and agencies that were larger in general. Using home health marketing intelligence, the marketing representatives were able to demonstrate that agencies taking more private insurance were getting more referrals in general (private and Medicare). With new facts in hand, the marketing representatives were also able to advance the case that their market had several major insurers and that getting in-network with one of them was not enough to make Agency A more convenient to hospital case managers. While correlation does not necessarily prove causation, the marketing representatives were able to use knowledge of other home health agencies' censuses to make a more reasoned, fact-based appeal to management for a desired marketing strategy of getting in-network with more private insurers. (Note: For various reasons, this correlation does not hold up in every market. Order Brazzell's Early Market Intelligence for your counties to see how much difference the Medicare to private insurance ratio makes.)

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  • Learning from Agencies that are Successful: Home Health Care Agency A sat down at a marketing meeting where BMA was present as a consultant. BMA challenged the sales reps and administrator to name the most important competitors and describe how Agency A's strengths and weaknesses compared to the strengths and weaknesses of the most important competitors. Agency A staff named all the wrong competitors. They were shocked to learn which agencies had recently passed them in terms of new patients. They declared that the agencies passing them had lesser service and lesser quality of care. This actually pointed to two possible problems. (1) Agency A was not doing a good enough job of teaching referral sources about their strengths (which was unlikely under the circumstances). (2) Agency A was not doing a good enough job of identifying the fastest growing competitors and reporting back to headquarters on what marketing plans in the area were the most successful. The administrator began stressing the importance of gathering intelligence while in the field, and the marketing meeting started producing ideas on how Agency A could do a better job of gathering marketing intelligence. Agency A now knew to ask specific questions about their fastest growing competitors and to find out why they were getting beat.


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Early Market Intelligence

How to know the census of
your home health competition

How to know the census of your home health competition

How to know your market share
as a home health agency


  • Data as recent as six months old.
  • Data delivered as both a PDF and spreadsheet
  • Know whether your market is growing or shrinking, whether you are getting your share or holding your own.
  • See who your real competition is. Who is succeeding, and who is just distracting.
  • Practice more informed goal setting by knowing how many home health patients are in your market and how other home health agencies are doing.
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 How to know the census of your home health competition

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  • Hospital Cherry Picking: Independent Home Health Care Agency A noted that they received several LUPAs, complex cases, non-payers, and private insurance cases from the hospital. They were concerned that the hospital was passing the less profitable cases to them, but hospital case managers denied any such behavior. They considered instituting ratio plans such as needing three Medicare referrals for every one private insurance referral. Agency A ordered The Brazzell Report so they could demonstrate to their local hospital that the hospital was getting more than its fair share of the higher paying cases. Much to Agency A's surprise, The Brazzell Report showed that the the hospital's census was 34% Medicare while Agency A's census was 66% Medicare! The Brazzell Report also showed Agency A that the hospital had a higher percentage of LUPAs. The information in The Brazzell Report helped steer Agency A away from putting demands on the hospital that may have put Agency A in a bad light.

  • Advertise Your Strengths that Compare Well Against the Largest Competitors in Your Market: Home Health Agency A had been rebuilt from zero. A previous administrator had gotten the agency in trouble with regulators, abandoned Agency A, started Agency X with the help of investors, and stolen all the doctors from Agency A while she was still working there. The plan worked well for Administrator X and the new Agency X. Agency X had a great new branding image and marketing plan, and they quickly grew to be larger than Agency A ever was. Home Health Agency A managed, by the hair of their teeth, to stay in business. For years, they operated as if they were out to get Agency X. This also worked. Within about five years, Agency A grew back to be larger than Agency X. Agency X had started to move backwards in terms of census. As Agency A started its new marketing plan, they continued to focus on the weaknesses of Agency X, but this had become the wrong move. After about five years, it was time for a change. Using information from home health market intelligence reports, BMA was able to counsel Agency A to focus on competitors that were more poised to make a difference to Agency A. Market intelligence showed that Agency X was now significantly smaller than Agency A and shrinking, but there were still four agencies larger than Agency A and growing. The most profitable advertising plan would be one that focused on the agencies with larger market share, because they had more patients to earn. However, sales efforts could continue to focus on the known referral sources of Agency X since Agency X was clearly dissatisfying many of their referral sources.

 

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