Home Health Referrals: Grow Your Network

It’s clear that home-based care is experiencing a growth phase. That’s certainly no secret to agency executives looking to take advantage of the boom. But to successfully capture more home health referrals and benefit from this growth, providing superior care in the home is essential.

Cultivating your referral sources for home health requires attention to three pivotal elements:

  • Care quality
  • Risk reduction
  • Marketing your success

Improve Your Quality Ratings

Keep in mind that your referral sources for home health are actively looking at your quality ratings. For Medicare claims, you already track care quality and report it to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Those quality ratings appear on Medicare’s Care Compare website and inform prospective clients how well you’re achieving positive outcomes.

To take advantage of the growth opportunities in home health, you want your quality rating to be higher than your competitors’ scores. Shoot for four or five stars on the Care Compare website, and you’ll be sitting pretty at above the average. That’s the way to gain more home health referrals.

Let’s be realistic, though. You can’t guarantee excellent performance on every quality measure for every patient every day.

What you can control, however, is your team’s training and attention to the process and outcome measures for home health. That means making sure they are compliant with all required training, are up to date on evidence-based practices, and have the knowledge and skills to consistently provide high-quality care.

Bear in mind that your rating depends on accurate documentation of your initial assessment of the patient and in your Medicare claims for the care provided. You want to be sure your team helps patients get better at elements such as mobility and taking medications correctly.

A competent, confident team will give consistent attention to high-quality care. They’ll make good decisions and score good outcomes for your home health agency.

Manage the Risks

The flip side of positive outcomes is risk reduction. The obvious goal here is avoiding patient harm.

Pay attention to your record on patients having urgent, unplanned emergency room visits or hospital readmissions within the first 60 days of care by your agency. It is important that patients released from your agency’s care are positioned to avoid hospital admissions for potentially preventable conditions within the first 30 days of release.

Once again, training and experience will better-ensure success for your team, as well as your clients. Your team must educate patients and family caregivers with clear instructions on medications and ways for patients to become more independent in their own activities. Staff training will ensure your staff is observant, can identify risks, and will promptly communicate problems to the patient’s physician.

Another goal is setting your patients up for success after home health services end. Your reporting should show that your patients remain alive with no unplanned hospitalizations in the 31 days following discharge from home health services.

Clearly, it is important to monitor your track record on these risks. You can bet your referral sources for home healthcare will be paying attention to these risk scores, too.

Market Your Successes

You’re already tracking your agency’s ability to achieve patient improvements and prevent patient harm, as well as the other quality measures required by CMS. As previously noted, to be an attractive choice for home health referrals, you need to score higher than your competitors.

When you do have a great track record, you will want to find ways to capitalize on your successes and expand your client base. All the work you’ve done to raise your scores will set you up to be an attractive referral option for hospitals, health systems, skilled nursing facilities, and other referral sources.

Marketing your four- or five-star rating includes sharing it with staff, your network, and the public. Promoting your high quality and low risk scores in strategic ways will help you garner more home health care referrals.

Keep in mind that your impressive reputation requires sustained awareness. To keep scoring well on CMS quality measures and gaining the attention of referral sources, your team must keep providing excellent care. And that requires continuous attention from your leadership team and opportunities for your staff to advance its education.

And don’t forget to praise individual staff members for a job well done. Recognition of their positive achievements will keep them engaged with their work and with your agency. It is vital to retain talented people so their personal and professional expertise continues to grow along with your positive reputation.

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Manager of Content Marketing, Relias

Terrey Hatcher has worked in professional development and curriculum design organizations for more than 20 years. At Relias, she has collaborated with physicians, nurses, curriculum designers, writers, and other staff members to shape healthcare content designed to improve clinical practice, staff expertise, and patient outcomes. Besides her current focus on healthcare solutions, her experience includes sharing best practices in education, IT, and international business.

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