26 Mar Making your agency the expert on homecare
Six ways to make your agency the premier community home care expert
Becoming the leading community home health agency is a challenging goal. There are multiple competitors from the public and private sectors in most locations. Agency time and effort focus on compliance with regulations, staffing, and budget concerns. It’s hard to stand out. Let’s explore six strategies you can use to make professionals and community members immediately think of your agency when home care is needed.
1. Look at where you are
The first step is to identify and assess where your agency currently is. This step can be performed using a variety of methods. Technology and statistics can be valuable tools during this stage. Examine your agency’s strengths, challenges, and weaknesses. Do you need to re-evaluate your mission statement? Work with your team to create a detailed vision of being a leader for your agency.
2. Decide what kind of outstanding home care agency you envision
What does being a leading community health agency in your community look like to you? Some things are obvious such as being profitable, well-staffed, and delivering expert care. Those factors alone are not enough to make your agency stand out; however, it’s vital to consistently ensure profitability, great staff, and outstanding care.
What do you think would make your agency stand out? Talk with your team. Make sure you include staff members from every level to get a well-rounded perspective on what an outstanding agency would look like to them and, more importantly, to the people they serve.
Are you thinking about specializing in providing home care to a specific population, such as those with dementia or people who have had joint replacement surgery? Would it be best to expand your range of services? Do you want a large agency that offers a wide range of services to a diverse population, or do you want to scale back?
3. Identify community needs
Once you know your agency’s current status and a direction to pursue, ensuring you have a viable goal is critical. Find out what community members identify as problems. This should always be an integral part of delivering care, but this is a time to focus on it precisely. Talk with referral sources, patients, and families. Consider the following questions.
- What do the people you speak with identify as needs?
- What are other agencies providing?
- What is being presented at industry conferences?
- Are there issues with the delivery of care that are consistently identified?
- Are there gaps in services?
- Is there an underserved population?
- Should you form a partnership to work together to solve an issue?
- What can your agency do to expedite referral processes?
4. Strengthen your agency
It’s time to create a plan now that you have insight into your agency and the community’s needs. Focus on your clients, staff, and marketing.
It’s vital to have staff invested in the goal. Don’t be surprised if there is grumbling and resistance at times. People generally don’t like change. Including staff in the plan from the start, implementing changes in small steps, and sharing the agency’s vision is crucial. Your team is your greatest strength, and each member is an ambassador of your agency. Positive interactions between clients and staff are key to a successful home care agency. Ensure every team member is empowered to provide top-quality services with adequate resources and outstanding interpersonal skills.
Marketing isn’t optional. When budgets tightened during Covid, many agencies reduced or stopped their marketing efforts. Regardless of your budget, you must have a marketing plan. Investment in proper organizational and workflow management tools such as home health software, equipment, and standard homecare supplies is also a key component of providing the best care, which goes a long way in establishing and maintaining a reputation as a business.
Hire exceptional sales representatives. Be on the lookout for energetic individuals who are self-driven with relevant industry experience, the ability to make connections, and a proven track record. Hire a consultative salesperson who uses educational-based sales techniques to achieve long-lasting success.
5. Find your competitive edge
Identify the unique features of your agency that can be summarized in short presentations. Create an array of presentations that focus on the needs of your audience. Here are some examples:
- Prepare a powerful five-minute deck to show how your agency can help physicians achieve their goals and provide excellent patient care.
- Have another presentation for discharge planners focusing on making the transition from facility to home health care easy.
- Create a presentation for families caring for loved ones who have dementia.
In each of the above examples, you can see how varied the listeners’ needs would be. While your goal is to demonstrate what makes your agency the best choice, you must meet the audience’s needs to do that. The presentation solves problems, fosters ongoing relationships, improves care, and ensures that your agency is respected and gets referrals.
6. Be visible
It is crucial that your agency is constantly visible. The three sectors to focus on are healthcare professionals, former clients, and the general public.
This is the group that most referrals come from, and the one with whom you are likely most familiar. Rather than simply focusing on physicians and discharge planning departments, consider offering educational opportunities for other staff to learn about home health care. For example, workers on a medical-surgical unit may know that many patients go home with home health services, but they may have a limited understanding of what kind of help is offered. The more they know, the more they can advocate for patients. If your agency educated them and helped them solve their patient’s concerns, they will be more likely to speak highly of your agency.
Former clients and their families
Connect with former clients and their loved ones to gain insight into their home care experience. This is crucial for quality management and an essential marketing tool. A trusting relationship with clients makes it easy for them to recommend your agency to others who require home care or health care services.
Help the public recognize you as the premier home care agency in your locale
Use a wide array of strategies to reach this vast resource. Here are some ideas:
- Host an open house
- Speak at events relevant to your services
- Offer to write a column for a local newspaper
- Consider billboard and radio advertising
- Offer free services and information at health fairs and health-related gatherings
- Have an active website geared toward the public
- create informative and engaging blogs on healthcare topics
- connect on social media
Be the premier home health agency in your area
The six steps above will help you become the go-to home care agency in your region. These steps are just the beginning. You must continually reevaluate, improve services, ensure staff is happy, and innovate.
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