Since mid-March, I have heard many hospice leaders share that their organizations have been unable to continue strategic sales initiatives due to “the COVID effect.”
While it does seem that the entire medical community has been turned upside down, the very reason for our motivation for hospice sales strategies still exists:
Patients with life-limiting illnesses still need our services.
Families of these patients still need the support offered by hospice providers.
In fact, according to many medical professionals, patients with serious illness have been less likely to seek medical attention for fear of increasing their risk to exposure.
While the term ‘hospice strategic sales initiatives’ still gives many in the industry pause, it is increasingly important that we approach our work methodically and with strategic intent. I believe that we owe it to hospice-eligible patients to properly educate our referral partners so that we can earn the privilege of providing care…and that we do so earlier in the final phases of the disease. Doing so ensures that we earn the privilege of providing care and that we do so earlier in the final phases of the disease.
Certainly, most folks within the hospice industry absolutely agree that longer lengths of stay are necessary to provide for a better patient and family experience, as well as for the wellbeing of our clinicians, and for the fiscal stability of our organizations. However, many hospice growth team members have pushed back on their ability to deploy strategic, educational sales during this time of diminished access to decision-makers. While we cannot conduct business as usual, we can continue to be value-added consultants to our referral partners.
You may ask, “How do we do that?”
We should be using this time to connect in new ways with our referral partners, making sure that those connections are value-added. Teleios Collaborative Network member organizations are finding that this is a prime time to connect by phone, fax, and email with folks who had previously been beyond our reach.
One of my favorite stories from this COVID period was from a TCN member organization. A sales representative texted a message about a COPD patient’s hospice eligibility to a nurse at a physician’s practice. The nurse, who had never referred a patient to the organization, then contacted the intake center to discuss one of their favorite ladies who lived alone and had suffered for years with COPD. Despite using continuous oxygen, she experienced shortness of breath that made it impossible to fix meals or provide adequate care for herself. The risk of COVID exposure made her uncomfortable coming into their office due to COVID, and she struggled to use telehealth effectively. The physician’s nurse asked if the organization would be willing to visit her to see if they could help. After quickly responding to that referral, the organization conferred with the physician and advised that the patient was hospice eligible. Working collaboratively with the physician’s practice to get needed medications, equipment, and supplies, the hospice organization provided great comfort to this lady. She was better able to care for herself, after only a few weeks of care. The physician and his nurse are thankful to know that their patient’s symptoms were managed more effectively.
Even as our referral partners are beginning to open to our Growth Team members, we are maintaining those virtual touches as well, which is increasing the number of touches made on a daily basis…and in turn, we experience increased referral volume and ADC. Although we are under siege by the COVID pandemic, we are able to continue to develop and deploy sales strategies. Patients who are eligible for hospice services count on us to connect them expediently and empathetically with the services they need in a timelier manner.
An organizational model that allows not-for-profit hospices (Members) to leverage best practices, achieve economies of scale and collaborate in ways that better prepare each agency to participate in emerging alternative payment models and advance their charitable missions.