Keeping referral rates steady and healthy is particularly important in the increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace. Hospitals are under intense pressure to reduce their 30-day rehospitalization rates or face reductions in reimbursements. And while post-acute care providers that help keep patients out of the hospital are more likely to receive hospital referrals, getting the attention of healthcare influencers isn’t always so easy. These four tips will help you boost your organization’s referral rate.
1. Take a Look at the Facts and Figures
Hospitals want proof that you can deliver the results they need. If your metrics aren’t outstanding, you’re likely to be passed over in favor of another post-acute provider or skilled nursing facility. Evaluate your sub-acute and long-term metrics with a critical eye. If your numbers aren’t as high as you would like, hold a brainstorming session with your staff to identify issues and come up with new ways to improve your processes and procedures to improve your facility reputation.
2. Embrace New Technology
Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) allow doctors, hospitals and post-acute care providers to easily share information about patients. Coordinating the transfer of patients is also much easier when both facilities use EHRs. Long-term care facilities have been slow to embrace the technology, due in part to the expense of purchasing and maintaining EHR systems.
Remember the equipment you use can transform your reputation in the market as well as the outcomes you achieve. Take time to carefully consider rehab equipment before you invest, and ensure staff is well-trained after you’ve implemented new technology.
As usage of this technology becomes more widespread, providers who don’t participate will lose referrals. If your staff is highly proficient in EHR and has the best-quality rehab equipment on the market, you’ll gain a competitive advantage over facilities that aren’t skilled in this software.
3. Reach Out to the Real VIPS
Contacting hospital administrators is never a bad idea when you want to improve referral rates, but targeting the people who actually make the referrals is more likely to yield results. Doctors, case managers and discharge planners are the people you want to get to know. When you impress them with your metrics, your facility’s access to EHRs and your commitment to reducing rehospitalization rates, they’ll be more likely to remember the name of your facility the next time they make a referral.
Don’t forget about other people and organizations that often play a role in the referral process. Drop off brochures to senior centers, veteran’s groups, estate planners, eldercare lawyers, home care agencies, pharmacists, ophthalmologists and others who may offer informal referrals.
4. Spread the Word
It’s not unusual for patients and their families to pick a post-acute care facility based on its location or name. If they know your name, they’re more likely to choose you when the hospital discharge planner hands them a list of facilities with beds available. Keep your social media accounts updated and make sure that your website is aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-navigate. Consider adding a blog to the site with posts that explore commonly asked questions and concerns.
The internet offers a simple, inexpensive way to communicate with the public, but don’t give up on traditional outreach methods yet. Although more than 80 percent of people who live in the United States have an internet connection, some seniors citizens aren’t interested in cyberspace or don’t have a computer or smartphone. Direct mail still provides an excellent way to reach these potential patients.
The rehospitalization concern is forcing hospitals to re-examine their relationships with post-acute care facilities. If you can offer proven results and know how to reach influencers, you’ll develop a steady source of referrals.
Ready to rise above the competition and become the post-acute care facility hospitals choose most? Contact us to learn how we can help provide your facility with everything you need to get ahead.