Care Disruptors & Hospital Zones

Marketing your home care business can be hard. It can feel like you’re out there doing the same thing, talking to the same people every day. Today I want you to think a little bit different about how you organize and prioritize your focus for marketing to referral sources. I want to talk about finding new clients in the ‘flow’ of the care continuum and putting the odds in your favor.

Two concepts that I have been thinking more and more about are: Care Disruptors and Hospital Zones.

Think for a minute about the new clients you have signed up for service in the last 30 days.  How many of those signed up for services after a change in their health status?  Maybe they had a fall and had to go to the hospital. Or they moved into an Assisted Living. Or they had knee surgery and discharged back home.  Often times this is where home care is called in to help stabilize a new baseline for your client, a change in condition that needs assistance.  I refer to these as Care Disruptors.  A change (usually big) in the normal everyday living for a senior that now requires a need for services. 

So, when Care Disruptors occur, so do opportunities for clients. And to be more precise WHERE they occur.  Having your home care company be brought up at the right time after a Care Disruptor is the name of the game.  Focusing on being in those right places and conversations should be your plan.  Like success in Vegas, play your odds for success. To do that, divide your territory into Hospital Zones.

The typical pathway for care for our seniors almost always involves the hospital.  There is a Care Disruptor like a fall at home that results in a senior being taken to the hospital.  That hospital stay might include a surgery or a stabilizing of the patient and then involves discharge.  Discharge can of course be many places, including back home, skilled nursing, assisted living, CCRC, hospice, etc. The ‘flow’ of care goes from highest level of care and then down to lower level of care.

If you look at the geography of your home care company’s territory or service area, chances are there are some hospitals (hopefully).  These hospitals were some of the first buildings built to care for people in your community.  As caring for people, including the elderly, continued to evolve over time there were more buildings built in proximity to the hospital, sometimes on the same campus or a few miles away. These ‘nursing homes’ and ‘rehab centers’ helped get patients stronger and healthier before returning home. With seniors living longer and more and more independent independent and assisted livings were built and increased in popularity. Then, services like home health, hospice and home care came to where the seniors were to provide services.  And this process was rinse and repeat as metropolitan areas grew with increased populations, creating Hospital Zones.

Look at the map of your service area and look at your Hospital Zones.  Each zone has its own personality and unique mixture of referral providers.  A large university research hospital campus is going to have more physician groups and ancillary buildings that may include ltacs or intensive therapy programs. Versus a smaller rural hospital with a nursing home next door. And each Hospital Zone has a mixture of SNFs, ALs, ILs, CCRC, Hospice inpatient, etc. These physical buildings are then provided services from mobile health care providers like hospice, home health and home care. It’s a web of providers and each zone has key referral providers that might be different than other zones.

For example, in Hospital Zone A the hospital is known for providing a large volume of ortho surgeries (hips, knees, elbows, neck, back, etc.) There is a large Ortho physician group in the hospital and they emphasize to patients the ability to go directly home after surgery.  This ‘flow’ of care through the zone goes more form hospital directly home, surpassing skilled nursing facilities.  Discharging larger volumes of patients home develops a need for strong home health partners.  Home health partners are considered strong by the hospital because of the outcomes they provide, which involves keeping discharged patients out of the hospital.  Staying a preferred home health partner with the hospital is a vital relationship.  This creates opportunity for your home care company.  Home health needs a home care partner to keep patients out of the hospital. This is where your focus should be for this Hospital Zone A.

Plan your marketing by understanding how seniors progress through each Hospital Zone.  When Care Disruptors happen in the hospital zone, where do they occur? Where does the senior end up?  Usually starts at the hospital, but then where? Are skilled nursing facilities prominent and capture most of the discharges from the hospital?  This should be your homework to understand each Hospital Zone. Once you better understand the ‘flow’ through the care continuum, then you can position your home care services to be the solution.

Learn your Hospital Zones, position your home care company as the solution to the Care Disruptors.