There are many valid ways to increase home health referrals, but if you are an established home health agency with a flow of incoming home health referrals of ten per month or greater, one method stands head and shoulders above the rest. You may receive a great deal of advice about developing special programs and treatments, hiring the right marketing reps, training the marketing reps better, getting online reviews, joining an accountable care organization, etc. The list goes on and on. These are all valid considerations, but home health agencies that don’t do first things first are missing profitable opportunities for marketing a home health agency.
Don't Over-Focus on Growing Your Referral Base
The first fact to understand is that it is much easier to garner additional referrals from active referral sources than it is to win over new referral sources. When Medicare implemented the prospective payment system (PPS) in October of 2001, they opened the flood gates for home health agencies marketing themselves like for-profit businesses. By now, anyone who can make home health referrals on a regular basis has been courted by more than one home health agency for years. Every referral source already has loyalties or at least firmly held beliefs that may be preventing referrals to you. Changing those preferences and beliefs is possible, but not without significant, sustained effort over time or the luck of approaching them at just the right time. Constantly trying to earn the loyalty of new medical referral sources is an important part of any healthy plan for marketing a home health agency. However, because of the hurdles now inherent with recruiting new referral sources, growing the referral base is not how to increase home health referrals quickly.
Home Health is Commonly Underutilized
The second fact to understand is that the majority of doctors and discharge planners are making fewer home health referrals than they could. You should be well aware that across this country, grandparents are being sent home with healing wounds and instructions for families to perform wound care while the families are getting frustrated and fighting over perceptions of the work and responsibility. Elderly patients at home are non-adherent with therapeutic diets and medication regimen due to a lack of understanding and/or lack of appreciation of the benefits available through the treatment plan. Look through the roles of hospital admissions, and you will see a plethora of scenarios such as these where a timely home health referral could have protected the patient and family. Your active referral sources are no exception to this trend. In the rush to recruit new referral sources, one thing that the home health industry as whole has done quite poorly is educating and reminding doctors and discharge planers how to use home health. Your doctors receive constant continuing education on diagnostics, pharmacology, and surgery. If you want your home health agency to be fully-utilized as part of their treatment plans, you have to provide education and reminders at a comparable level. Just because a general practitioner sends a home health agency three referrals every month and sings the praises of that home health agency does not mean that referral source is referring every patient he could or should.
Educating and reminding your active referral sources about how you can help their patients is how to increase home health referrals. If you are not already presenting your active referral sources with new education and reminders on a monthly basis, then implementing such programs effectively will be the single fastest and most cost-effective marketing strategy you can use to increase home health referrals. Many agencies have doubled, but on average, we see a 30% increase.
Of course, not all referral source education programs are equal, and only programs done correctly will continuously garner the attention and respect of referral sources. For more information on how to increase home health referrals and samples of education materials with a proven track record of doubling referrals from active referral sources, request Brazzell Marketing Agency’s Referral Doubling Strategy in Home Health Marketing.