A big focus of the Ankota Blog is Home Care Entrepreneurship. We introduced this topic in our post entitled For Home Care, the way forward requires you to think like a start-up, where NAHC's Bill Dombi talks about both the opportunity and the way non-home-care companies are looking to capitalize, and how Right at Home is setting an example. Earlier this week I learned that home care expert Stephen Tweed is leading a seminar intended to help home health agency increase referrals by selling to physicians (as opposed to focusing on discharge planners). Stephen's seminar is directly in line with our focus on entrepreneurship. Ankota had a chance to interview Stephen and learn more about this opportunity.
Why has it become harder to get referrals from discharge planners?
There are two primary reasons why it's harder to get referrals from discharege planners:
They are under great pressure to get patients out quicker, and they don't want to take time to see home health sales reps. Most discharge planners are bombarded by home health sales reps as the competition increases. There were 10,581 home health agencies at the end of 2009 as compared to 6,681 at the end of 2001. With a 58% increase in the number of agencies, you can see why discharge planners are overwhelmed. Many hospitals have set new policies prohibiting home health sales reps from calling on their discharge planners because it's taking up too much of the Dx planners time.
With the proliferation of hospital based home health agencies, and the rules about patient choice and freedom of choice, it is more difficult for discharge planners to make referrals to a specific non-hospital based agency.
Why, then is it more effective to get referrals from Physicians?
Based on the facts and data above, it just makes sense that there is a much larger opportunity for most home health agencies to generate referrals that turn into admissions by calling on physicians and their office staffs. However, the increase in the number of home health agencies means every physician practice is being bombarded by home health sales reps. Just getting past the gatekeeper is much more difficult than ever before. The highly effective home health sales rep has a proven process for selling, and is focused on a clearly defined set of current referral sources and high probability prospects. When a skilled sales rep applies this proven process, they are able to generate measurable increases in referrals. We see way too many sales reps who struggle with selling home health to physicians because they can no longer get in to have a meaningful dialog with the doctor by bringing donuts or buying lunch. It will require a whole new skill set for successful sales to physicians. There is no better way to develp that skill set that my role playing sales calls with a real doctor.
How important is it for home health agencies to consider new offerings and sales approaches?
As the marketplace continues to become more and more competitive, it will be critical for growing companies to consider new approaches. This means new approaches to clinical programs and services, and new approaches to sales and marketing.
From a clinical perspective, the big opportunity will be to partner with hospitals and physicians to reduce re-hospitalizations for CHF, Heart Attack, and Pneumonia patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. From a sales and marketing perspective, it will be about creating new sources of competitive advantage, and the marketing and sales message to go with them.
One of Ankota's recent care transitions whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful. Please download click the link or the picture blow for tips on how to construct optimal care transitions offerings and sell them to hospital partners in your geographies. If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click here: