How to get hospital referral sources to open up

Many hospitals are reducing access to case management departments and other referral sources, which limits our ability to educate them about our products and services through traditional marketing tactics. However, creative marketing techniques can help open the doors.

Continuing Education Credits (CEUs)

When a provider has new programs and services or is offering continuing education credits, it provides an opportunity to meet with case managers. Providing CEUs is one of my favorite marketing strategies for two very good reasons:

  1. CEU programs provide access to case managers, social workers and other healthcare professionals.
  2. Events that offer CEUs are highly effective ways to develop relationships with referral sources by providing them with significant added value.

Ways to execute the Continuing Education Credit strategy include hosting live CEU events and offering self-study CEU programs.

Live CEU events

One of my favorite engagements was creating a live CEU program at an assisted living client community. We were able to get the program certified for 3 credit hours for case managers, social workers and nurses. Nearly 70 professionals attended from local hospitals, home care agencies, hospices and skilled nursing facilities—all potential referral sources for an assisted living community.

I encourage clients to host events like this either first thing in the morning and providing breakfast, or late in the day and providing snacks or dinner. The event at the assisted living community was held from 3-6 p.m. with the host offering drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Another approach is to offer CEU programs over lunch at the hospital or other targeted referral source. One of my early clients had created a library of educational programs approved for physical, occupational and speech therapy CEUs. The strategy was to offer a monthly CEU series along with lunch to therapy departments at hospitals, acute rehab hospitals, outpatient rehab and sub-acute rehab facilities.

Self-study CEU programs

Adding self-study CEUs to other events is another way to increase attendance. Clients who add self-study CEUs to networking events, thank-you events, facility tours (like breakfast-on-the-go or dinner-on-the-go) and open houses usually see participation in these programs increase.

New programs and services

Whenever you develop a new program or service you may have an opportunity to gain access to case managers and other referral sources because of their need for information about what has recently been developed to meet the needs of their patients. Recently clients who had developed memory care neighborhoods, early stage dementia programs, hospice care programs and ventilation units saw the doors to referrals open that had been previously closed.

Another example of new program development is the NextStep program we developed for our assisted living and skilled nursing clients. NextStep is a short-term respite program combining assistance with activities of daily living, nursing support, meals, activities and outpatient rehabilitation to help patients return to home after an acute hospital stay who might not be quite ready to go home. Clients who implement this program have been able to get into case management departments and see an increase in admissions.

Getting face time with hospital case managers may not be easy, but creative marketing strategies that offer something of value can provide opportunities for long-term care providers to show the value of a relationship.

Luke Fannon, CEO of Premier Coaching & Training, is a speaker and consultant on topics related to census and marketing within the senior care industry. He can be reached at

Topics: Business Marketing Including Social Media and CRM , Executive Leadership