The 2020 Home Care Pulse Annual Benchmarking Study takes a look at data submitted by agencies all over the country. They include data from Private Duty home care agencies, Medicaid and Medicare home health agencies. About half of the home care in the US is funded by the federal government’s Medicare program. They are almost exclusively skilled medical care. The other half of the funding pie is made up of Medicaid (state funded home health), Private Duty, Veterans Administration and Long Term Care Insurance and a very small portion of miscellaneous programs. These programs do mostly non-medical care with some exceptions.
In this blog we’ll take a look at the Referral Sources that can benefit a Private Duty agency with the caveat that this is a general look. You may find that, depending on your location, different Referral Sources would be available to you. It is the job of your marketer or client procurement officer to discover what is available in your area for your business. I hesitate to put these Referral Sources in any particular order because what might actually be available to you in your particular locale can vary wildly countrywide.
Veterans Administration (VA) Programs
Find your nearest VA medical Center. Make sure that you have a National Provider Identifier (NPI). You will need the NPI to do business any kind of business with the VA even if you are not doing Medicaid or Medicare. Your NPI is easy to obtain if you go here for information. Walk in and introduce yourself and say that you would like to provide care for veterans in their homes. You may want to speak to a social worker or patient advocate there. If you hit a brick wall, look for a representative with the Veterans For America (VFA) or the American Legion. Be persistent and respectful to gain their trust.
Last year the Home Care Pulse Benchmarking Study listed Hospice tenth on the Referral Source list for revenue. It has moved up the list to number six. Hospice is often an overlooked or underutilized Referral Source. Americans are increasingly choosing to die at home, more than in any time in recent history. Hospice programs provide limited nursing, CNA and chaplain services. Minimal hours per week are permitted by Medicare so other sources of care are needed to cover the gaps. So the kind of blanket care coverage that one would expect for this kind of circumstance is just not available. When longer periods of terminal care are needed Private Duty caregivers can be the answer to many families’ needs.
This is where you could be of help. Contact the discharge planner at the facility if your Hospice program has a facility or the Director of Nursing (DON) or case manager at the Hospice business office. Have a conversation with them to establish a relationship. One owner expressed to me that this is her top Referral Source.
Hospital Discharge Planners
Discharge planners have to make sure that their hospital patients are going from the hospital to a situation that does not end with the patient back in the hospital in less than 30 days. The reason for this is that, if the hospital has too many patients ending back in the hospital in less than those 30 days, they will get dinged by the government funding sources with fines and decreased funds. It can be very costly for them. If your agency can show that you have a good track record for keeping patients out of the hospital, a good discharge planner will want to send you business. Make sure you are keeping good records on this subject with a home care management system. It could be very beneficial to your bottom line.
Assisted Living Facilities
There is going to be much more of a fluid movement between Assisted Living Facilities and home care. Being a partner with that type of facility can really take the aggravation out of what to do if a COVID-19 situation happens again. While we are still in this pandemic, more and more families are moving their loved ones back home. It would be good to be on the list of these facilities as the go-to agency.
Home Health Agencies (Medicare Certified)
It cannot be overstated how important this category is. With Medicare Advantage starting to take hold, Medicare agencies are going to be looking for great partnerships. They often call themselves “skilled” agencies (that is, providing nursing care, therapies and CNA services). Non-medical care is not usually a big part of a Medicare agency. Most non-medical care is not funded by Medicare, so home health agencies are not set up to provide that type of care nor bill for it.
If your agency isn’t a home health Medicare agency’s go-to for personal and companion care, they will find another. Get in the game now before they figure out how to do it themselves. If your agency provides companion and personal care you could fill some care gaps that leave some home health agencies wanting.
This category did not appear in last years’ study. There could be several reasons for this. I think it speaks volumes about how the home care ecosystem is growing and becoming more connected, as it should be; baby steps but still movement in the right direction. Part of making a great connection with a Referral Source is educating them on how it works. Be respectful, carefully broach the subject of how private care can often augment or fill the gaps in care provided by government programs. You could get on their list of agencies who are in-the-know and have resources as well.
Other Referral Sources
Other referral sources that you may find to help you get new clients for your home care agency are your state Medicaid waiver programs and Area Agency on Aging. Learn about your states’ Medicaid through their .gov website. For the Area in Aging see if you can talk to a case manager there.
By far, the number one Referral Source revealed by the Home Care Pulse 2020 Annual Home Care Benchmarking Study are past and current clients and their loved ones. This has not changed over the years that the study has been done.
It is my opinion that you shore up your marketing efforts to your past and current clients and their loved ones first, then tackle the any of the above home care Referral Sources that make the most sense for your business. Taking into consideration your geographical location and what is available to you. Work your way through the list. Over time you will have diversified and strengthened your future revenue sources within your home care management system.
Check out my 2017 blog about this subject, see how things have changed. I love to hear from you about your experience. What referral sources work for you? What is the title of the person doing the job of getting you more clients? In spite of COVID-19, I hope you continue to prosper in 2020!