As hospitals look for ways to reduce readmissions and avoid costly reimbursement penalties, many are reevaluating their relationships with post-acute care facilities. Facilities with poor metrics or inefficient communication methods are likely to find themselves excluded from the hospitals’ new referral systems. Fortunately, maintaining a high patient census and a healthy reimbursement level can be as simple as improving your rapport with local healthcare facilities. Here are three steps you can take to make your relationships stronger.
Fill a Need
Does your post-acute care facility offer a cutting-edge therapy modality or an innovative patient follow-up program that reduces readmissions? When referrals are on the line, providing hospitals with detailed information regarding specific ways you can help them solve their problems can win your facility a spot in their preferred provider networks.
Successful salesmen know that addressing their potential clients’ pain points and offering solutions is the key to increasing sales. The same approach can also benefit your post-acute care facility. Determining pain points is often as simple as asking each hospital a series of questions about what they need and expect from post-acute care facilities. You may find that you already have programs in place that address those needs. If not, it may pay to develop new strategies to ensure that your facility stands out during the decision-making process.
Make Communication Easy
Electronic health records (EHRs) were designed to make communication and information transfers between various healthcare facilities seamless and instantaneous. Unfortunately, systems that don’t interface easily with the ones hospitals use won’t help you boost your referral rate.
More than 70 percent of respondents in an NEJM Catalyst survey reported that improved communications between hospitals and post-acute care facilities could improve transitions between care settings. In addition to making changes to your EHR system, it’s also important to speak or meet regularly with case managers, physicians, or others directly involved in transitions. Although emails and text messages are certainly effective in relaying information, there’s no substitute for establishing personal relationships.
Prioritize Staff Recruitment and Development
It’s no secret that high-quality candidates look for jobs that offer salaries commensurate with their skills and experience. Even a slight boost in your payroll can help you attract qualified candidates interested in making a long-term commitment to your facility. Ongoing training and learning opportunities can help improve morale among your current employees and add an incentive that will encourage potential employees to consider working at your facility. Low turnover and impressive staff qualifications are important selling points when you’re sharing your list of strengths with local hospitals.
In addition to providing regular training opportunities, encourage (and pay for) your staff to join professional organizations, attend conferences, and subscribe to professional journals. Well-informed employees can help you identify new trends and modalities that will help your facility remain in demand and meet hospital needs.
Focusing on relationship building is the key to ensuring that your post-acute care facility remains an integral part of your community. Although strengthening relationships may require a few alterations to your budget, those increases will be money well spent when your referrals begin to rise.