Hospices have seen a shift in their referral mix during the past year and a half during the pandemic, with patient flows shifting away from institutions and towards doctors’ offices. Adapting to the way they market, train and coordinate nursing and nursing with referring partners, as well as building and expanding those relationships, Hospize has put a focus on time and technology management.
Nearly 70% (68.32%) of hospice, home health, and palliative care providers recently surveyed by Hospice News and Axxess said they had lost relationships with care facilities and other referral partners due to pandemic-related impacts.
Doctors’ offices have become a more important driver of hospice referrals as more and more patients are unable to see family and friends for fear of contracting COVID-19 or for safety reasons.
Hospices are navigating new barriers to traditional hospice referral sources and are rethinking their outreach tactics and relationship management methods. In order to continue to reach patients with their illnesses at the forefront, Erika Gaudio, Senior Vice President of Sales at VITAS Healthcare, a subsidiary of Chemed Corp. (NYSE: CHEM) to sharpen the focus on creating timely connections with patients and other providers across the continuum.
“We needed to learn how to provide nursing staff and how to use telemedicine on the sales front,” Guadio said during the Hospice News Elevate conference. “What we all learned during the pandemic is the word ‘time’. How do we reach the right target groups to give patients more time to access care? It means going further upstream and not spending all of your time in the hospital, but also not neglecting the hospital. They still need us. It really uses the technology and thinks about time. “
New doctor relationships represented the biggest growth opportunity for referral partnerships in 2020 and 2021, according to Hospice News Forecast report for the hospice industry 2021. Just over 40% of hospice directors identified doctor’s offices as their greatest opportunity, up from 27% in 2019. In 2020, this outperformed other referring institutions such as hospital systems and assisted living Facilities at 24% and 15% respectively.
The complexity of Recommendation management poses a significant hurdle. Hospices are a tightrope act to balance existing partnerships while building new relationships to build volume. To achieve this, providers are to use Technology, including electronic health record (EHR) interoperability. This can help one timely response Referral sources, which is a top priority for medical offices.
For many, however, their interoperability skills are not yet where they need to be for the best results.
“The level of connectivity in the post-acute phase is already complicated, but the more technology is needed, the more difficult it becomes for the technology to connect,” said Laura Montesantos, vice president of product management at Forcura. “You don’t need any more challenges or interruptions to connect these systems. Interoperability is really a problem. It will take a lot of effort and a lot of cooperation so that everyone in the hospice is networked. “
Data is also an important element in helping hospices grow, according to Guadio. Hospices can use evidence-based information to demonstrate their effectiveness and quality of care, Gaudio said, especially when it comes to patient outcomes and reductions in hospital admissions or emergency room visits.
“With the data from the individual providers, you can show them at an early stage which opportunities they can refer to [to hospice], be it through your own claims data or perhaps referred patients, ”said Gaudio. “It’s about telling the story through a patient they’re familiar with and using metrics, facts, and data to show that provider what that means and how it could help their practice. That is enormous for practices, institutions and hospitals. “