Webinar Recap: Operational Strategies for Growth in 2021

By: Ashton Harrison | December 3, 2020

As post-acute agencies plan their growth strategies for 2021, two emergent forces continue to shape their decisions: COVID-19 and the use of data to drive decision making. Tyler Rardin, VP of Sales at Trella Health, hosted the webinar and examined how post-acute agencies can continue to accelerate growth within increasingly competitive markets – despite the hurdles posed by the pandemic.

The first guest speaker on the webinar included Tom Maxwell, Co-CEO of Maxwell Healthcare Associates, a consulting company for home health and hospice. Tom is also co-founder of . The second guest speaker was Robbie Redlin, Chief Strategy Officer at Enquire, an advanced CRM that ties together a referral management system with marketing automation and analytics.

On the webinar, these experts outlined their perspectives on four critical questions around operational strategies for growth in 2021, recapped below. While we hope you find this information useful, there’s much more to learn from the full webinar. We invite you to watch now!

How has COVID-19 influenced the value of post-acute care?

COVID-19 has elevated the need for agencies to transition to value-based models to grow their businesses instead of relying on volume. Currently, there’s an urgency to get patients out of overfull hospitals; therefore, physicians are evaluating where they can transition patients safely.

Robbie notes that post-acute agencies who have partnered well, upstream and downstream, will fare best. By presenting yourselves collaboratively to physicians and hospitals, you’ll offer a streamlined, broader continuum of care with more opportunities for cost efficiencies. And by having one salesperson represent your group, you’ll also minimize the number of reps knocking on doors at a time when people are hesitant to open them.

While partnerships can be loosely based, some home health agencies are expanding their continuum of care by acquiring hospice, and vice versa. Others are getting creative; for instance, a home health agency might deliver nutritious food to their patients and assist with transportation to appointments. Post-acute agencies are increasing value in all these cases by bringing what patients and referral sources need right now.

How do you accelerate growth within a competitive market?

Utilizing CMS claims data, as well as managed care data, is pivotal to ensuring you’re finding the right referral sources for your business and creating compelling sales and marketing messages.

Tyler suggests using data to understand the practice behaviors of every physician, every facility, every SNF, etc., in your market. Look for the gaps, and then build clinical pathways and programs that fill those gaps for a specific customer. This level of sophistication can move you forward into market share. And while it sounds time-consuming, the technology solutions that exist today make this level of analysis surprisingly easy.

Tom adds that looking at referral sources from a “benefit” perspective is as important as the “care” perspective. Within hospice, for example, meds, DMA equipment, nursing care, chaplain care, social care, spiritual care, and bereavement care are all part of the hospice benefit. Finding the physicians who refer patients earlier allows you to have a more significant impact on end-of-life care.

Once you’ve leveraged the data to create your strategy, you’ll have the intelligence you need to develop very targeted sales and marketing presentations. You’ll be able to demonstrate how your agency can help a physician or hospital improve outcomes and reduce costs or show another agency in your community how a partnership could benefit you both. Many of your referral sources are unaware of the opportunities you can provide them and their patients.

Lastly, always measure your ROI so you can continue to improve: How many referrals did you gain related to specific activities? Which activities worked and which didn’t? You’ll start to see how you can lift your entire organization to meet your top salespeople and carve out clear pathways toward growth.

How do you successfully move into new markets?

Whether you’re considering an acquisition, merger, or de novo operation, up-front market research is critical.

First, you’ll want to determine the viability of the market itself. Are there enough referral sources and patients to sufficiently grow your business? Can you compete with a five-star agency that’s already in the market? Do referrers already have loyalty to one provider—and if so, why? Make sure the market you’re reviewing can support the growth you want.

Then, start to vet specific opportunities. For instance, Tom takes the following approach when considering an acquisition, using Trella’s data and insights to focus his search. The same could apply when looking at a merger or well-partnered de novo.

  • He starts by looking for and eliminating publicly traded companies, which will be very expensive to purchase.
  • Next, he narrows his list by for-profit or non-profit—although every agency will have different high-level criteria.
  • When he finally has his top candidates, he reviews each for culture and business model fit and the care metrics that are most important to him.
  • Then, he starts knocking on doors and discussing partnership opportunities

Whatever type of relationship is formed, once you hit GO, put intentional energy into nurturing it. And take excellent care of your newly acquired or referred patients. Bottom line: make sure you have everything aligned for a safe transition and quality care.

How are post-acute agencies leveraging technology to increase efficiencies and staff productivity?

Technology is continually changing the post-acute landscape from platforms that reduce double data entry to robust telehealth programs. Providers can now do remote patient assessments by phone, with the in-house admissions team right there in the loop. Sales teams are managing larger customer rosters, reducing the need for additional hires. And eligibility checks are possible with the click of a button, costing-out patient care instantly.

Some of this functionality relies on improved interoperability, seamlessly pulling from multiple data sources, and ultimately, having one unified health record. We’re not there yet, but we’re headed in that direction.

Other technologies provide productivity benefits via straightforward platforms. For example, by giving your mobile reps an application they can talk and type into, they won’t have to take time out of their week to sit down and catch up. Many agencies already lean on technology, such as a CRM like Enquire, to communicate with customers, patients, and families. Robbie suggests setting up auto triggers to automatically send out thank-yous, confirmations, and other essential but routine messages.

The most important points when considering new technology are making sure you’re purchasing the right solution for your business and having the resources to implement it fully. Today’s tech tools are powerful, and they shouldn’t be thought of as just another product on the shelf. Tap into that power, and the growth will follow.

If your agency would like to incorporate more data-driven insight into your growth plans, there are several options available. Most EMRs highlight high–level performance metrics, such as length of stay and readmission rates, which you can use to research your market. The Medicare compare website is a useful tool, as well. If you’re seeking complete data about your market, targets, and competitors, Trella’s Marketscape solution has the most current and complete data available.

We recently loaded Q2 2020 Medicare claims data into our solution, which customers can see now. If you are not a Trella customer but are interested in learning more about our market intelligence solution, Marketscape, you can request a demo here.

Finally, if you have additional questions about growing your organization or if your team has a new approach you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Join our Post-Acute Care Leadership Network on LinkedIn to add your thoughts and ideas. And be sure to check out Trella’s other blog resources. From email marketing best practices to finding success with an effective website, you’ll find it all here.

About the Author:

Ashton Harrison

Ashton Harrison, Marketing Engagement Manager

With a diverse background of sales and healthcare marketing, Ashton manages Trella’s events, press releases, and media and association relations.

After graduating from Florida State University with a major in communications, she began her career at Greenway Health, a EHR company, where she found her passion for the healthcare industry.

At Trella Health, she’s able to do all the things she loves about marketing — engaging at events, interactions with partners, and creating marketing pieces that share insight on Trella’s journey.