Referral Targeting Strategies Series: Diagnostic-Specific Targeting

By: Liz Gombosi | November 13, 2020

As part of our physician targeting series, we’re highlighting the most common, effective, and essential ways post-acute care organizations can grow their agencies – either through revenue or patient admissions – by strategically identifying and messaging to the right referral sources. In our first three blogs, we covered the basic targeting strategies for engaging with underutilizing, unaffiliated, and competitor affiliated physicians. Over the next three blog posts, we’ll explore diagnostic-specific targeting strategies to help you grow your existing relationships and diversify your patient mix.

By focusing on building a reputation within a specific diagnostic category, your agency can deepen partnerships with existing referral sources and initiate new relationships. You can become the go-to agency for a given diagnostic group, opening the door for specialty expansion and strong partnerships in the future.

The next three blog posts will cover the diagnostic-specific targeting topics of:

  • Your market’s diagnostic landscape
  • Strengthening existing diagnostic relationships
  • Breaking into new diagnostic categories

Before we begin, a quick note: while this series is primarily intended to help sales and marketing professionals in the post-acute care industry, the next few posts are also applicable to those making organizational decisions. Whether you’re looking to improve operational efficiencies by focusing on your highest-performing diagnostic category or if you’re looking to diversify your patient mix by adding new specialties, the metrics we cover can help guide your strategic decisions as well as your tactical ones.

Strategy 4: Diagnostic-Specific Targeting

What it Means

Unlike our previous strategies, today, we’re looking at the broader landscape of your market first and drilling down into specific physician trends later. Your market’s – and your agency’s – patient diagnostic mix refers to the that contain similar patient diagnoses. At Trella Health, our diagnostic categories are based on the ICD-10-CM Chapters but grouped by initial reason for care rather than the post-operative treatment required. While the post-operative treatment itself may be very similar for a trauma-induced knee replacement as it would for an elective knee replacement, the patient needs will be slightly different – and so should your approach to their care. And, by breaking them up in this manner, we allow agencies to develop programs targeted to the treatment plans patients in specific diagnostic categories need.

Why it Matters

Each diagnostic category requires a different skillset and approach. While some post-acute care agencies may be able to provide care for patients in any diagnostic grouping, their staff may be more well-equipped to handle certain patient types than others. For example, the skills needed to treat post-acute patients with mental disorders will vary greatly from those needed for musculoskeletal patients. A larger agency may have enough varied staff expertise to handle both, but it’s likely that smaller organizations may be more focused or specialized on one or two diagnostic groupings. Specialization can lead to better patient outcomes and make it easier for your referral partners to decide where to send their patients.

Key Metrics: Diagnostic-Specific Targeting

The first step in developing a diagnostic-specific targeting strategy is knowing what the patient mix is in your market. Start by identifying your own patient mix. Is there a diagnostic category that your agency treats more than others? How do you compare to your county and state averages? Take a look at the example below:

Patient Acuity Mix - Diagnostic-Specific Targeting

This home health agency sees more circulatory and endocrine patients than anything else but those aren’t necessarily the most prevalent categories in their market. In the screenshot above, the county and state columns highlight the overall breakout of the market. For instance, over 17 percent of the Medicare claims in their state came from injury or poisonings – this agency’s claims in this category make up less than 10 percent of their patient mix. They could gain more referrals if they target physicians that specialize in this category.

Aligning your physician targeting strategy with the patient mix in your county or state allows you to do several things. First, you can focus your marketing efforts on building a compelling story for your agency’s performance in this category over your competitors. Alternatively, if your agency doesn’t already have any existing performance metrics for this category, you can build out a program that lays the foundation for positive outcomes for these diagnostic-specific patients.

Speaking to Diagnostic-Specific Physicians

Once you identify the diagnostic categories and physician specialties you want to target, you need to build out a compelling story. Why should they start referring patients in these categories to your agency? We’ll explore the details of growing your affiliation with a specialty or breaking into a new diagnostic category later, but let’s first outline the basics of building a diagnostic-specific presentation:

  1. Do your research!
    Once you identify the specialties you want to target, try to dig into why this specialty is so prevalent in your market. Are there any influencing factors that are causing this specialty to rise? Seasonal trends, pandemics, or even the average age of the patients in your market can have an impact on the types of post-acute care that is needed. Try to think beyond the numbers to understand the underlying factors.
  2. Pull the metrics!
    There are a few things you need to look at when you’re building out your presentation:

    • What percentage of your market’s patient mix is made up of this specific diagnostic category?
    • For the physician, how much of their patient mix is made up of this category?
    • What are your agency’s patient outcomes for this diagnostic category?
    • What about your competitors? Where does this physician send the bulk of their patients in this category?
      • If they’re highly affiliated with your competitors, find out why. Check out our for more information.
      • If there seems to be no pattern to where they’re sending their patients, you have a chance to become their top referral destination. Check out our to learn how to approach this situation.
    • Build your story!
      Based on the metrics, build the story of why this physician should partner with you. Make sure that you’re speaking to what matters to the physician and how you impact outcomes – whether you’re already performing well in that category or if you are debuting a new care program, the physicians need to feel confident that their patients will be in good hands with you. Make your destination the obvious choice.

Next Steps

Diagnostic-specific targeting tactics can be advantageous for your agency, the referring physician, and, most importantly, the patients themselves. By growing your relationship and market share in a specific category, you can hone your care program and positively impact patient outcomes.

Trella Health customers have access to all the metrics we discussed in this article. For more information on how to use Marketscape to identify specific diagnostic categories to target or to create sales collateral, contact your Customer Success Manager or request personalized training.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Marketscape from Trella Health can help you improve patient care and increase admissions with this and other targeting strategies, schedule your personalized demonstration today.

Stay tuned for our targeting strategy series’ next installment, which dives further into how to grow your affiliation and reputation with one specific diagnostic category for which you already perform well. And don’t forget to check out the rest of our targeting strategy series.

About the Authors:

Liz Gombosi

Liz Gombosi, Product Manager

Shelly Wing

Shelly is a passionate B2B marketing and content strategist. She creates and executes demand generation programs to make it easier for potential customers to learn about Trella’s solutions. She studied English at the University of Georgia before entering the world of sales and marketing. With experience in multifamily, SaaS, and IoT companies, Shelly consistently creates content that engages buyers at the right time and in the right way. At Trella Health, she’s excited about helping make a meaningful impact in all areas of post-acute healthcare.