Selecting just five key bits of wisdom from the hour-long webinar Forcura hosted with three outstanding consultants on May 20 is like trying to name your favorite child - I like them all! Take this bulleted list as a starting point for diving into our not-one-minute-wasted discussion with Jeff Aaronson of McBee Associates, Samantha Soulas of BlackTree Healthcare Consulting and Cindy Campbell of WellSky as they discussed what it takes for your home health agency to own the best referring provider relationships possible. And for even more detail, download the white paper, “Today's Best Practices For Provider Relationship Management,” that featured these same three experts.
1. There is no post-Covid crystal ball
No one knows for sure what business will be like after the pandemic, but what agencies can anticipate are potentially sicker populations and spikes in referral volumes, says Sam with BlackTree. And if you’re expecting your staff to increase productivity, Jeff with McBee warns the days of a paper-based environment are gone: “everything needs to be at your fingertips and in a virtual work environment.” He adds an “easy prediction” that “innovators” who fully pivot to the new normal with a dynamic business model that capitalizes on virtual visits, can deliver excellent care and tightly manage productivity - will succeed.
2. It’s time to look at your intake team in a whole new way
Cindy with WellSky reminded our audience that intake is “the front door to your company,” and the team should be scripted, trained and coached to manage provider relationships similar to how a sales team is expected to perform. Focus on the soft skills for these employees as much as you do technical expertise, and you’ll be rewarded with better relationships with provider staff. For maximum results, Cindy recommends that setting expectations for what your back office teams should be doing, how they should do it, and how they’ll be evaluated are all essential.
3. Want great physician relationships? Don’t do this
Doctors don’t like getting bombarded with calls, especially for patients they’ve not treated for months. With tighter margins, few agencies can afford such inefficiencies either. Right this glaring wrong with an end-to-end process redrawn for the PDGM age: train your teams to capture all necessary data upfront. Be intentional about follow-up with clear protocols on how and when to engage the physician, and ensure your technology facilitates this outreach and can provide insights into your operational and staff performance, advises Sam. Jeff adds home health agencies should strive to decrease the number of orders written late in the 30-day billing cycle. If you capture the right data at the start of care, not only will treatment plans be more comprehensive and accurate, your teams will be more productive not having to chase after late-cycle orders. The bonus: your revenues will increase.
4. Technology should be the Robin to your Batman
The right technology - and tech vendor - is crucial to your success and will empower your end-to-end process. Not only should your tech and corresponding functions be cloud-based (see #1 above), Sam states it should automate lower-function tasks and help your teams do more with less. Your technology vendor should be able to articulate not just the value of their solution in real-world settings, says Cindy, but also ensure the end-user has a clear understanding of how to use the technology to its fullest potential (and isn’t relying on spreadsheets or other workarounds). To paraphrase Cindy, the last thing you want to do is buy the 767 and fly it like a Cessna.
5. Target these benchmarks for the win
In addition to reducing those late-cycle orders (see Jeff’s point in #3), our experts recommend the following metrics. This topic starts at the 33:55 mark in the webinar, you’ll definitely want to catch the commentary that was shared with each of these goals.
- 90% of outstanding orders returned within 7 days
- Days to RAP between 5 to 7 days
- Days to final claim at 14 days
- Monitor percent of referrals by source and your relationship with those top physicians (ongoing)
- Keep outstanding face-to-face documentation older than 30 days to 10% or less
- 30 calls per employee per day and monitor each employee for how many orders they can complete in a day (your technology solution should help you create realistic goals)
- Not more than 2 to 3 orders per patient per episode
Perhaps no other industry is as relationship-driven as healthcare: it is both our best and sometimes most challenging attribute (particularly when revenues are at stake). Forcura is fully organized around our clients and optimizing the relationships we have with them, and each other, drives all we do. If we can be the Robin to your Batman and help make your provider relationships more dynamic and rewarding, I urge you to connect with us today!
As Forcura's Director of Communications and Brand Strategy, Kate brings a robust background and knowledge of the healthcare and post-acute industry to Forcura. She also represents Forcura as a social media ambassador at events around the country, is an on-camera reporter and interviewer, and host of our Innovate Jax podcast.