Blog > Sales and Marketing

How to Increase Hospice Referrals (with Expert Insights)

Expert care physicians and sales consultants weigh in on how to increase hospice referrals in our 3 step hospice marketing plan.

Amanda McGrory-Dixon, 31st August 2021

Do you utilize the referral avenues with a large population of people in need of hospice care? What better gateway than their doctors and care physicians?

The challenge is, every other hospice liaison and sales manager is following this same golden rule. And now, as the pandemic continues to fill hospitals and separate families, hospice care plays a much larger role in health conversations- further increasing the competition for referrals.

Below, we’ll cover how to increase hospice care referrals by standing out in a crowded healthcare industry, maintaining long-term referral relationships, and automating lead generation from multiple referral sources.

Step 1: Standardize the hospice referral process

Nearly every product-led company uses sales playbooks to standardize their sales process and boost the number of leads they close. But this is severely lacking among hospice liaisons.

You’re often left to your own devices, implementing your own strategies, and developing relationships in different facilities from the rest of the sales/ admissions team.

While this leaves some “creative” room, it also separates the individual from the facility or healthcare provider. It may mean some liaisons are using more effective relationship-building techniques and bring in more referrals than competition.

Share the referral tactics that work best across the entire team by standardizing the referral process.

Here are the steps to start standardizing:

  1. Monitor all your referral sources and identify which brings in the most qualified leads.
  2. Identify the reasoning behind these higher numbers (is it something you’re doing? Or is the physician/ facility a naturally high source of qualified referrals?)
  3. Which hospice liaisons are bringing in the greatest number of leads? What are they doing differently than the rest of the team?
  4. Create a guide outlining some of the best strategies mentioned by your top hospice liaisons. This should include specific strategies for specific types of care, facilities, and physicians.

For a playbook to work, every individual and department along the referral process has to be on board. All hospice liaisons should all have standardized responses and workflows to ensure the admission process runs smoothly.

Step 2: Automate the hospice referral process

The more automation you build into your processes, the more time you have to market and build real relationships with referral sources. Essentially, the easier the referral process is, the more likely you are to get more qualified referrals.

You also tend to lose fewer leads because you can respond faster, and spend less time and money on administrative tasks.

Automation in the hospice referral process also has these benefits:

  • Creating a centralized inpatient intake- grabbing referrals from multiple market types (senior living communities, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, therapists, social workers…) and funneling them into one channel, where you can engage on one platform.
  • Cutting ties with time-wasting efforts- if you’ve spent months or years developing a relationship, and nothing has ever come from it, cut the ties. Automation allows you to spot these inefficiencies.
  • Greater level of care for patients- when a system automatically transfers a patient’s information over with their referral, notifies families of changes, and populates reports, you spend less time worrying about the paperwork and more time providing a greater level of care.
  • Eliminating referral redundancies- you might not be the only person working on a referral. You might not even be the only one within your organization talking with the patient or caregiver- especially when their information pops up multiple times in your referral pipeline. Automation eliminates those redundancies so you can move on to help the next patient.

There are several enterprise risk management (ERM) systems today that provide automation of patient reports, background checks, and insurance checks.

Most ERMs, however, focus solely on the compliance and care factor, and can often streamline communication by breaking down barriers between the different silos of care.

A customer relationship management (CRM) platform, on the other hand, focuses on building relationships and centralizing your hospice leads. That’s where you want to be.

Step 3: Develop relationships with physicians for referrals

The phrase “build it and they will come,” has never been a reality for business. During a presentation to the Illinois Homecare & Hospice Council, Shelley Cartwright reworks the phrase to: “build relationships and your business will grow”.

Physicians are the gatekeepers to the rest of the healthcare system, particularly hospice and palliative care.

If the physician does not like the agency their patient is currently working with, or personally does not get along with the staff, it can greatly influence the referral partnership.

In other words, you need these relationships. But we come back to the same old quandary- how do you stand out among the dozens of other organizations competing for referrals?

Tips for increasing referrals from physicians

Physicians may be a source of referrals and business growth, but they’re just people, and more likely to trust and refer their patients to you if they feel connected to you.

Bolster those relationships with some of these great tips.

Personalize your first interaction

If you’ve ever received a very generalized pitch, you know how easy they are to dismiss. On the other hand, if someone approaches you as if they’re a friend that knows all of your pain points and how to solve them, you’re not likely to turn them away.

For hospice personnel, this may mean looking at staffing data, surveys, or even talking to patients and their caregivers to identify pains you can solve or areas of conversation to touch on with the physician.

Gathering as much information beforehand and tailoring your interactions can go a long way.

Cater a lunch or bring other goodies to the staff of the hospice facility

This can get a little expensive, but Christina Rowe, an RN with Allegiance Home Health & Rehab, states that catering a lunch is one of the best ways to get in front of all of the staff at a hospice agency at once, including the care workers.

“Ask the office manager if you can cater a lunch for the doctor and nursing staff… then you can talk about your service while they’re eating.”

Charles Bollman, Founding Member of the American Holistic Medical Association and the owner of Bare Skin Care boldens this comment with one of his own:

“I would probably advise emulating the drug companies. They hire intelligent, interesting people who are good at sales, and who go around to the doctors’ offices, and they bring goodies like bagels for the doctor’s staff to get by them… It always worked with me.”

Make it exceptionally easy to refer hospice patients to you

This goes back to the automation in the referral process to standardize your systems across all departments and hospice liaisons. The fewer hoops people have to jump through, the more referrals you’re likely to attain.

But it’s not just about automation and standards that make workflows much simpler. It’s about the individual contact. You have to come through, and facilitate the flow of documentation.

Don’t ask for hospice referrals

It may seem a little counterintuitive, but Paula Melley, former VP of Marketing at FirstChoice Home Health, states that it’s absolutely vital to wait until you’ve earned the right to ask for referrals.

Even then, “It’s not about the referral- it’s about the relationship”.

The physician knows what you’re there for, and what you represent, but in building that relationship, they’re more likely to see referrals as less as an obligation and more like a friendly exchange.

Key takeaways to increase hospice referrals

  • Hospice admission tools like CRMs can automate much of the hospice referral process and decrease the time you spend on administrative duties.
  • The easier you make it for a care organization to refer to you, the more referrals you’re likely to generate.
  • Relationship building is necessary to get more patients into your pipeline but put the relationship ahead of the referral. Build that credibility before asking for anything from your referral source.

Marketing to physicians for referrals is less about sending them the right messages and more about forming a type of bond, making sure they know all that you do, and making it really easy to work with you.

Want to see how we can simplify your hospice referral process? Schedule a demo today

Related Content

Blogs, stories and studies from the forefront of senior living operations

The 2023 Aline Annual Sales & Marketing Benchmark Report for Senior Housing is here! Download Now!.