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Help Hospitals Slow the Growth of Health Care Costs

Several years ago, Dr. Corey Waller, an emergency department physician at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI, noticed a small group of patients were frequent flyers in the emergency department.  Dr. Waller decided to quantify what he had noticed anecdotally.

Blodgett Hospital, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, MI

The result was a list of 950 patients who had visited the Emergency Department at two of Spectrum’s hospitals more than 10 times each in the previous year.  These frequent flyer miles totaled up to 20,000 hospital visits and an estimated $40 million in costs.

Another study at Southcentral Foundation Health System in Anchorage, Alaska, discovered that most of their system’s high utilization patients fall in to three categories:

1.  Patients with chronic mental illness
2.  Patients who are “medically fragile elderly”
3.  Patients who engage in self-care and have few family resources

How Can Home Health Help?

What if you were to approach the director of the Emergency Department of your local referral hospitals and offer to work with them to help identify their frequent flyers.  Then develop clinical pathways to deal with these frequently recurring chronic conditions that result in return visits to the ED, or readmission to the hospital.

Get the ED Director to encourage the Emergency Room staff to refer their frequent flyers to your home health agency.  By applying your clinical pathways to these folks, and by tracking the results, you’ll be able to demonstrate to the ED Director, and the hospital administration the value of home health care in reducing readmissions and overall costs.

Apply These Same Principles to the BIG THREE Medicare Diagnoses

Once you have developed a relationship with the ED and have proven that you can help them reduce readmissions,  then approach the Director of Nursing and the Chief Financial Officer to see if you can work with them to identify the frequent flyers with the Medicare BIG Three … Heart Attack, Congestive Heart Failure, and Pneumonia.  Over 2000 hospitals will be penalized 1% of their Medicare reimbursement.  Beginning this past Monday, 10-1-12, because their readmission rates for these three diagnoses are higher than norms set by Medicare.

Muffin Marketing is Dead.  C-Suite Marketing is IN

You can no longer grow your home health agency by bringing muffins to the hospital discharge planners and trying to build a personal relationship.  Hospitals today are blocking the way for sale reps to reach the discharge planners.  There are too many reps, and the discharge planners are over run with sales people.

In the future, you will get referrals from hospitals by proving to the C-Suite officers … Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer … that you can get results that are measurable, and that save them money.  In the future, content marketing is king. The agencies that can provide concrete data and information and show they can get results will get the referrals.

The future of strategic marketing in home health care will be focused on developing proven methods to help your key referral sources solve their most pressing problems, and then developing a sales and marketing message to convince them that you can be an integral part of the future.

Stay tuned for future articles as we continue to research and report on C-Suite selling and Content Marketing.  Call us if you would like to facilitate a new strategic marketing planning process for your home health agency or hospice.


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