As we near closer to the holidays, it is a good time to think about how you want to end your business year. Have you met your company goals for the year? Are there referral relationships that could use more attention? How can you gain momentum now to carry into the next year? Considering these questions will help you prepare a plan for the months ahead and allow you to finish this year strong.
Of course, there are many business priorities for home care agencies, but relationship-building with referral sources should be near the very top of the list. Case managers and social workers are key contacts that many agencies would like to focus more time and attention on in an effort to stay top-of-mind in a crowded market of providers.
How to Make Strong Connections with Case Managers
Case managers work closely with vulnerable individuals, often those who are being discharged from the hospital, and their loved ones. An endorsement of your services from a case manager can carry a lot of weight for someone looking for support at home following a hospital or rehab stay. Case Managers and social workers play a significant role in helping individuals find the services they need as well as reducing hospital readmissions by ensuring patients have access to the support at home needed to follow their healthcare plan. Relationships with these professionals can blossom into significant referral sources for a home care agency, but first, work must be done to establish a relationship, communicate, and grow.
If you have yet to build a strong relationship with a case manager or social worker or have been neglecting those relationships this year, the following tips can help you end the year with momentum for next year’s success:
- Think from their perspective. Being a “problem solver” is key to success in any business relationship. Consider what a case manager’s or social worker’s day-to-day challenges are, so that you assist with problem-solving and serve as the solution. For a hospital-based case manager, the primary focus is usually on finding and coordinating quality care during a transition from the hospital in order to prevent readmission. For a payer-based case manager, the concern is more associated with a patient’s insurance plan coverage and how to provide care in the most cost-effective way. Understanding the goals of each case manager will help adapt your approach as you offer your services as a solution.
- Highlight relevant differentiators. Relay the unique qualifications of your care team as well as the differentiators that are relevant to the case manager’s individual goals. For instance, if the referral source has clients with dementia, outline for them your robust dementia care training program or implement a plan that can set your agency apart. Any data relevant to their goals, such as customer satisfaction or a reduction in hospitalizations, can help reinforce the value of your services.
- Emphasize your readiness to accept clients on short notice. The holidays are a busy time when many families discover the need for in-home care. For example, a daughter goes home to visit Mom for the holidays like always, but is surprised to find that her health has declined. The daughter doesn’t want to travel back home until care is in place. Often, family members involve case managers and social workers in these urgent cases, so offering to come in to be the hero on short notice is a great way to end the year with a strong relationship and pave the way for more referrals.
- Be the backup plan. It’s no secret that staffing shortages are affecting all industries, and the day will undoubtedly come when another home care agency is unable to accept a new client or continue serving an existing one. Offer to be a case manager’s backup plan in the event that their regular provider falls through, and let them know you are able to work on short notice to ensure all of their patients get the care they require. When it happens, this trial referral will give your team the opportunity to shine and win more referrals by offering top-notch customer service and good communication.
- Emphasize the holistic nature of your services. Case managers are invested in the health of the whole person, including the physical, emotional, social, and behavioral wellbeing of their clients. Home care providers are uniquely equipped to notice and report any deficiencies in resources, decline in health, safety, mental and behavioral changes, and other concerns that may arise at home. Communicate success stories from current or past clients as well as any measures your agency has taken to improve health outcomes.
- Seek opportunities to give. With the holidays approaching, gift giving is often on the mind. While, ethically, it is usually not recommended to give tangible gifts to referral sources, what you can give, in the spirit of the holiday season, is an offer of goodwill that could also solve problems for the case manager or social worker. Ask if they have a client who has unfilled needs this holiday season – maybe a low-income family needs food or a gift donation. Or perhaps a client lives alone and would benefit from a holiday meal delivery. Offer to bring food or a donation to the case manager that they can share with vulnerable members of the community. Although the recipients of these gifts will likely never become clients that your agency serves, giving back to the community is a great way to demonstrate your genuine values and mission, and it helps solve a problem for the potential referral source who has an interest in their wellness.
- Take a step back from a sales role. Towards the end of the year, which is often an especially busy time for healthcare professionals in both their work and personal lives, referral sources don’t typically appreciate being the target of a sales pitch. Try to get in the spirit of season by finding opportunities to demonstrate giving, helping, and community support. Stay in the relationship-building zone, and avoid giving a sales pitch. Identify what case managers, and other referral sources, need from you and be the solution. Doing so will likely pay off in the form of referrals in the new year.
With the need for in-home care growing by the day and caregiver shortages continuing to be an issue, making time to build strong relationships with case managers in your area is more important than ever. These tips, along with the marketing expertise from corecubed, can help enhance your communication and position your agency as a leading provider in your community. Contact our team today to learn more about home care consulting, sales training, and our full suite of marketing services. And meet us at the 2021 Private Duty National Conference & Expo for a presentation on Closing Business Starts with Call #1.