There are forces at work that require us to develop new strategies and tactics to market our programs, services and facilities. These forces, which include Medicare compensating providers for quality services, expansion of Medicare Managed Care, hospitals focusing on readmissions and difficult economic conditions, influence the behavior of referral sources and families who are making healthcare decisions.
The following strategies I’ve been developing for a client may help you deal with these new forces.
1. Develop and market new clinical programs. The movement by Medicare to compensate providers for providing high quality services has just begun and will be building momentum. The focus on readmissions and the development of observation status patients/units has resulted in opportunities for providers at all levels of the elder care continuum. Our nursing home and home care clients are developing specialty programs for patients with pulmonary and congestive heart failure diagnoses, adding advanced practice registered nurses and developing clinical pathways to prevent readmissions. The observation status opens opportunities for private pay home care and assisted living communities to develop referral relationships with hospitals.
2. Form strategic partnerships. Develop strategic partnerships with other healthcare providers to expand your capabilities to meet the needs of your referral sources and your residents. Examples of strategic partnerships include: CCRCs that are partnering with local hospitals to provide primary, specialty and ancillary healthcare services on campus for their residents; and hospice and Medicare home health providers partnering with private pay home care providers to expand the services they provide their patients.
3. Employ the CEO-to-CEO marketing strategy. This isn’t the first time that I’ve mentioned this strategy here in this blog, but this strategy is becoming more important given the forces at work in the healthcare market. You are the CEO of a substantial business, whether you are the owner of a single nursing home, assisted living or home healthcare office, and even if you are the administrator of a business unit in a large regional or national chain. You should be meeting the CEOs of the other healthcare providers in the market to help you develop new clinical programs, strategic partnerships and discuss broader issues in the market. In every case that our clients have executed this strategy, referrals and admissions have gone up from that referral source.
4. Try direct admits to hospitalists. Our nursing home clients are direct admitting to hospitalist services at their local hospitals. Hospitalists have different guidelines for hospital admissions than an emergency room when treating your residents. This builds an excellent relationship with the hospitalist group, increasing returns from the hospital with three-day qualifying stays and increasing new referrals and admissions from the hospitalists.
An ever changing marketplace requires us to respond with new strategies and tactics to meet the needs of our residents and referral sources. While the strategies above aren’t the only strategies you should be employing, they represent some of the most successful.