There’s a lot of advice out there on how to get home health referrals, and how home health agencies (HHAs) can build strong referral partners with hospitals, independent living facilities, physician offices and rehab centers. But as is often the case, the best way to boost referrals has more to do with how you’re managing the referral process itself, than any single home health care marketing idea. For many HHAs, especially smaller ones, referral management is still very much handled the way it was done years ago – through folders, spreadsheets and other paper-based processes.
However, with ever-increasing regulatory pressure to reduce costs, lower readmission rates and improve the quality of patient care – HHAs that continue to rely on paper-based systems will be at a greater disadvantage. It’s not only more time-consuming and error-prone, it’s virtually impossible to manually track every aspect of the referral process – from inquiry to admission to point of care – and gain the kind of insight you need to position your agency for long-term success.
How to Manage Home Health Referrals
This is where EMR software can play a critical role, because it’s not just about helping you eliminate paper – though, this is a key benefit – it’s really about empowering your agency to be more proactive. Instead of spending time trying to stay on top of basic information – who’s following up on what referral, insurance eligibility, patient records, discharge orders, census data and more – you’re free to focus on more high-value activities, such as evaluating who are your best referral partners and why, what are your opportunities for growth and how you measure the effectiveness your referral process.
Here are a few ways that home health software can help your agency get the upper hand and boost your relationship with both existing and potential referral partners.
- Refine your home health care marketing strategies by demonstrating the value you deliver – EMR software with role-based dashboards and real-time reporting tools makes it easy to share key metrics that matter to your referral partners – such as how efficiently you move patients from intake to admission to the start of care, your financial performance, patient case mix or your agency’s impact on 30-day readmission rates. Let your partners know that you have processes in place to ensure a smooth transition and help support patients at risk. HHAs play a valuable role in helping hospitals lower their readmission rates – and any snapshots of data you can provide on how your agency is improving patient outcomes – well, that’s only going to help you improve and expand your referral network.
- Get real insight into inquiries – Many home care agencies don’t track inquiries, and this is a missed opportunity to get a complete picture of your conversion rates. The right EMR solution will automatically track incoming referrals at all stages – from initial inquiry to pending hospital discharge to approved admission. This way, you can you start to identify which inquiries failed to convert and why. For example, if all your failed inquires came from one or two sources, perhaps those referral partners don’t have a full grasp of your services. This is the type of insight that opens the door to more meaningful interactions with partners to ensure they’re sending you the right types of patients. Even better, it’s an opportunity to identify new areas of service growth (and revenue) for your agency.
- Motivate your team for success – EMR software allows you to associate your marketing or sales reps to referral sources. With the ability to easily track, measure and monitor each team member’s effectiveness, you can put data-driven programs in place to help them move the needle on partner relationships and reward their efforts accordingly. All of this, of course, without any painstaking time or effort spent comparing staff activity or manually inputting data into spreadsheets.
- Fine-tune your processes – There’s something to be said for simply being more efficient throughout the referral process. The right home health EMR software will support the reality of how your agency, intake coordinators and clinicians work, so you can minimize errors, save time and reduce costs. These include:
- Automatically verifying insurance to prevent ineligible admissions and costly mistakes.
- Seamlessly tracking all patient information, including scanned documents, through the entire referral process – eliminating the need for clinicians to make unnecessary trips to the office.
- Empowering intake coordinators to deftly manage multiple referrals at a time, without missing a beat or losing information.
- Providing greater visibility and control by associating intake coordinators with referrals. As staff go on vacation or join/leave the agency, you can easily shift the workload based on your unique circumstances.
Ultimately, a proactive referral management process is one that frees your agency to be more strategic about attracting and developing a strong referral network. Your EMR partner is an important partner in this journey – so take the time to find out what capabilities your agency needs.
For more information about how Optima can help you get home health referrals, watch our home health demo or contact us to schedule a personalized demo. To learn more about our home care solutions, visit www.optimahcs.com/home-care-software.