Brands are for blue jeans, cars, and phones, not home health or hospice care.
That’s a common misconception in the industry, according to the growth experts at SimiTree, and it cheats agencies of the chance to increase referrals, boost employee morale, attract stronger talent, and grow profitability.
Home-based care providers tend to shy away from branding, but its impact on sales and profit margins is the same for businesses delivering patient care as for businesses manufacturing ice cream.
"Your brand is your voice in the market," said SimiTree Growth Solutions Director Melynda Lee. "Branding is how an agency establishes presence and reputation in the communities it serves. Home health agencies and hospices with great branding connect and communicate in a way that resonates with patients, referral partners and employees."
Branding is more than selecting a logo and colors to represent the agency, Lee said. It encompasses an agency’s overall messaging.
"Branding is the story you’re telling potential partners and the community at large about your strengths, capabilities, and value. Branding also lets your customers know what you stand for, and what that means to your customers. When it is done effectively, it generates growth and loyalty, and drives long-term results," she said.
Agencies sometimes struggle to find the right messaging to describe how they excel at caring for patients. Many fall back on generic themes such as compassionate care and miss other opportunities to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Start by determining what your agency offers that is above and beyond or better in some way than services offered by other agencies, and why it matters to your customers, Lee said.
"Wherever your agency is already excelling, outperforming competitors, there’s an opportunity to build your brand and establish your market niche," she said.
“Does your agency have a faster time to admission than your competitors? Do you have lower hospital readmission rates? What about a smoother care transition process? Those are the strengths to build on, the foundation for your brand. This is how you create and articulate your value proposition."
The benefits of branding
Smaller business desiring to scale up can see quickly realize returns from investing in branding, particularly in a competitive marketplace.
"Branding is a powerful but cost-effective way to increase business visibility and grow your agency," Lee said. "And for smaller agencies with limited budgets, who can’t afford to run expensive marketing campaigns, the right branding and messaging are essential components for growth."
A strong brand benefits agencies in the realms of recruiting and retention as well, Lee said.
“Top talent gravitates to agencies with stronger brands and a well-defined mission," she said. “Strong brands help establish the culture of an organization, keeping employees engaged and driving productivity."
Find your niche in 2023
The growth experts at SimiTree can help your agency develop its branding strategy and grow in 2023 with informative, market-specific data to guide your decisions, followed by targeted sales and marketing efforts.
SimiTree consultants recommend these three growth steps.
1. Start with market analysis.
Take the guesswork out of growth with the market data you need to learn exactly who your competitors are, with specific referral sources, what they are doing, and what your agency is doing better. With that knowledge, your agency can take informed steps forward.
"Knowing your competitor’s sources of referrals, service footprint, and quality scores allows you to effectively target both your approach and your message," said SimiTree Director of Data Analytics Christine Lang.
"If you know, for example, that a hospital or physician currently refers patients to a competitor with lower performance scores in specific measures, emphasize how your agency’s strengths can benefit them."
The SimiTree Market Analysis Platform (MAP) pinpoints high value referral targets and provides details about practices, patient volume and quality scores of both competitors and referral sources.
“This knowledge allows an agency sales representative to prioritize time with providers more likely to refer to home health or hospice and present information about their agency that’s most likely to move the conversation forward,” Lang said.
A free MAP report for your agency is available here.
2. Showcase your successes.
Do you have better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction than the competition? Does your organization offer specialized services such as CHF or wound care?
Armed with market data offering evidence of what your agency is doing better than the competition, start telling your story.
The Growth Solutions team at SimiTree works with agencies to develop important brand-building tools, refine messaging for referral partners and digital platforms, and put in place new sales and marketing strategies to develop and sustain a growth trajectory.
No matter the size, budget, or unique needs of a home care or hospice agency, SimiTree’s growth consultants deliver recommendations and training for smarter, more effective sales strategies and market approach. In some of our top success stories, clients have seen growth that doubled referrals and admission in less than a year.
3. Outsource to drive efficiency.
Efficiency is a third component for strategic market growth, SimiTree consultants say.
“Capitalize on what you do well," said SimiTree Principal Rob Simione, SVP of Financial Consulting. “Pare down the distractions to focus on delivery of care, continue to pursue those areas of excellence and focus your efforts on building your market niche there."
Small agencies in particular need to narrow their focus, honing and refining their strengths to develop a niche in the market, Simione said.
Agencies benefit in many ways from the expertise of reliable and trustworthy outsourcing partners for billing, coding and other tasks not related to direct care. The relationship with the outsourcing partner can be leveraged for staff education, quick answers for resolving questions and access to many helpful resources that spur continued growth.
SimiTree’s outsourcing team gives healthcare organizations access to a robust array of crucial services, from coding and OASIS review to full revenue cycle management. Our experts handle billing, collections, insurance verification, cash posting and all aspects of the revenue cycle.
SimiTree offers full QAPI outsourcing and Review Choice Demonstration outsourcing as well.
SimiTree can help
As your agency looks for ways to increase profitability this year, SimiTree has all the resources you need to initiate and sustain growth, pinpoint high value partnerships and referrals, and ensure peak performance.
Our expertise is the foundation for your agency’s growth and profitability. Use the form below to email us today and let’s get started.