Guest Blogger: Max Gottlieb is the content manager for Senior Planning. Senior Planning provides free assistance to seniors or the disabled and specializes in long term care—mainly finding and arranging care services and applying for state and federal benefits.Building and maintaining a successful home care referral source network is absolutely essential if you want to increase the amount of referrals coming into your home health business. A strong network won’t appear overnight, but with a little patience and a good amount of hard work, you’ll soon have a steady stream of referrals. Each business has specific circumstances, but we’ll discuss five fundamental tips below.
- Keep it Personal: It’s important to keep in mind that each practice, hospital, and company is made up of individuals. Although home health agencies receive referrals from the same source more than once, oftentimes they don’t have a personal relationship with the caseworkers, social workers, or doctors who are making the referral. It is invaluable to know exactly who is referring to your company—not just the name of the hospital, doctor’s office, organization, or agency. Creating a personal relationship will lead to more referrals in the future.
- Regularly Communicate with Referral Partners: Consistent communication is vital, but don’t fall into the habit of always seeking a referral when speaking to a referral source. Think of subjects to talk about beyond what your business does. Find some resources that can specifically help them or their patients. Offer advice, advocacy, and education pro-bono, without seeking anything in return, and your referral partner will begin to see your company as something their patients can rely on. Becoming a resource establishes your credibility, which is important for long-term relationships.
- Stay Relevant by keeping up with Technology: It used to be that digitizing patient records was all it took to stay current, but simply sending and receiving information digitally is no longer enough. There are many software companies bridging the gap across multiple health systems, enabling companies and their referral sources to stay as current as possible. With reimbursement becoming more focused on patient outcomes and penalties for hospital readmissions increasing, companies want to keep track of their patients more than ever before. Become familiar with and begin implementing technologies that allow all providers to access important patient data. Increased speed and fluidity of care transitions will show your referral source that you can keep up with today’s ever-shifting home health landscape.
- Measure and Track Referral Sources: In order to increase referral volume, you need to have a sketch of your current referral trends. Find out who in your network is referring and whether the referrals are remaining constant, increasing, or decreasing. Without measuring your progress, it becomes nearly impossible to know if your outreach efforts are successful. It doesn’t make sense to exert time and effort on a strategy if it proves ineffective.
- Look back at the last 6 to 12 months and identify where each individual referral has come from.
- Tally up the number of referrals per source.
- Assess the trends and figure out the causes.
- Fine-tune your working plan. Increase your outreach with some referral sources while lessening your efforts with the less frequent ones.
- Remember, it’s a Two-Way Street: In order to get referrals, you also have to sometimes return the favor and give referrals, a point many people forget. Strengthen your relationships and encourage people to refer to you again by keeping things even. Most companies don’t have the scope of services to use every referral they get, so why not pass it on to someone who has helped you in the past? Turning yourself into an asset is a great way to encourage people to refer to you again and again.