Yesterday’s tactics will not work in today’s LTPAC marketing game
When I was operating SNFs in the late 70’s through the early 90’s, the traditional way to forge and foster a solid referral pipeline was to schmooze the hospital discharge planners by visiting them, occasionally taking them to lunch, sending periodic greeting cards, and doing a good job. That “good job” meant that the discharge planners didn’t receive any complaints about the care given to those they referred to us. That was about the extent of it. Like most sales, it was all about personal relationships supported by the absence of complaints. But times have changed.
Today, we’d lose with just schmooze. In this data-driven world of ours and closer scrutiny of functioning relationships between acute care and post-acute care providers (read, hospital readmission rates, for example), we have to demonstrate that our goals and performance align with each hospital’s expectations. Those providers which are able to share statistics vital to acute care providers have a significant advantage over those who can’t. But to be able to do that can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
Data – the LTPAC marketer’s (not-so) secret weapon
Data mining and business intelligence technologies simplify the collection, storage, retrieval, and conversion of data into readily retrievable and actionable information practically in real time. The information BI offers comes in the form of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which can include census, labor, wages, admissions/discharges/readmissions, cash and collections, clinical, 5 Star, and RAC audits, customer satisfaction, QAPI, actual-to-budget spend, job postings, and more. You get the idea. If the data exists, it can be mined and reported. As you read through this list, you can also see that a tremendous opportunity exists for providers not only to establish a substantial and mutually-beneficial relationship, but one that is easy to maintain. The key here is transparency. It’s no longer, “Just take my word for it.”
But where do you start? First and foremost, find out what matters most to the hospitals in your area. What services do they need post-acute care providers to offer? Do your services offerings align with what they need? Assuming they do, what data points/KPIs would indicate that you are in alignment with their goals? Readmission information? Customer satisfaction survey results? Staffing levels? Lengths of stay? Discharges destination? Clinical trending? Quality measures specific to the services important to the hospital? BI becomes your scorecard in the game of 21st century census building.
Visualize your marketing team walking into the hospital’s conference room where you are introduced to its team of discharge planning stakeholders. Following introductions and the usual “getting-to-know-you” banter, you start your presentation. Now, here’s the fun part. At the right moment in your presentation, you pull out a report generated by your BI tool and distribute a copy to each person. You discern some “Aha!” facial expressions as they easily interpret the charts, graphs, and tables illustrating the KPIs germane to their specific needs. Further, you sense the building excitement as you report that you can provide updates as frequently as they require. You’ve added credibility to your claims that your facility can be the go-to facility for their post-acute discharges. This is the stuff of solid partnerships.
Let’s take rehospitalization KPIs, for example. With hospitals and SNFs under close scrutiny regarding rehospitalization rates, being able to quickly report up-to-the-moment current and trending readmissions-related KPIs by payer, by diagnosis, and by risk levels can be a positive game changer for you.
Using BI can help providers confidently say to their acute care referral sources, “We’re in this together.”