As the number of seniors continues to rise in the United States, so does the need for home health agencies that are instrumental in providing lower cost, long-term care in the home. Among the 67,000 long-term care providers who took care of over 9,000,000 patients in the year 2014, the CDC reports that roughly 13,000 were home health agencies charged with taking care of patients in the home. In the recent years, the increasing pressure from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to bundle payments and reduce hospital readmissions has led hospitals to seek out home health agencies that can provide the most optimal and efficient care for their patients in the post-acute care setting. Now is the time for home health agencies to differentiate themselves in a fragmented market. A sound marketing strategy, consisting of three key steps, can make a meaningful difference.
1. Establish the right marketing infrastructure
Having the right marketing infrastructure in place allows you to measure the results of your marketing activities and determine what is driving your referrals and revenue. While setting up a business website is a good start, a tool like Google Analytics is instrumental in measuring who is visiting your site, where they are coming from, and what they are viewing on your site. Moreover, quality content is of utmost importance in driving traffic to your site. In order to effectively manage the content on your site, a platform like Hubspot is key in not only effectively disseminating content but also in creating natural pathways for users to learn more about your agency and engage with your site through embedded call-to-actions (CTAs). Hubspot also enables you to manage user databases, site forms, and social media postings. Aptly named, it becomes the “hub” for all of your marketing activities.
2. Understand your value proposition and key differentiators
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, evidenced by the sheer number of home health agencies who promote their services with the exact same stock art of nurses taking care of elderly patients. In order to create meaningful differentiation, you must understand why patients and providers choose to work with you. Does your agency offer translation services? Does it allow for high quality communication between all care providers and the patient? Do you show evidence of better patient management in your agency through data collection? Once you understand the unique qualities that differentiate your services from others, aligning the messaging on your website becomes a much easier task. A new software platform allows home health agencies to capture important patient data and establish a trusted referral network. Building on the adage that “a network is not who you know but who knows you”, the platform not only provides home health agencies with a meaningful way to connect to their network partners but it also allows them to differentiate themselves from their competitors by presenting successful patient management data back to their referring health systems in a HIPAA-compliant manner.
3. Invest in what’s working
Rather than falling in the trap of doing the same marketing activities over and over again, you should double down your investments behind revenue-generating activities while abandoning those that bear no fruit. Again, having a marketing infrastructure in place to understand which of your marketing strategies is successful is important. By applying the 80/20 rule, you know that 20% of your marketing activity is accounting for 80% of your patient referrals (actual data tends to skew even greater, with fewer activities generating over 90% referrals). Focus your time, effort, and marketing dollars on those key activities that generate the most business.
The work of home health agencies is critical to the future of healthcare, especially in this time when patients, providers, and payors are placing high value on the post-acute care setting. A successful marketing strategy should ultimately allow you to save time and money, or at least be more efficient in the way you spend your time and marketing dollars. By adopting the steps above, your home health agency can distinguish itself in an already crowded market.