Growing a home health or hospice requires strategic planning

Every success story begins with an ambitious goal and a business plan.

It's what doesn’t make it into the business plan that can often prove troublesome to home health and hospice organizations as they attempt to grow.    

A host of issues can crop up to thwart the best-laid business plans, derailing all the strategic planning that went into crafting the plan, and making it hard to grow the home health, home care, or hospice organization.

A few common examples of how a business plan for growth can miss the mark:

  • Unforeseen staffing and utilization issues.
  • Unexpected costs associated with a service line expansion.
  • A competitor’s unanticipated move in the market.

The list goes on….

Unless the strategic plan proactively addresses scalability, sustainability, resources and utilization, competitor footprint, market activity, and a handful of other essential components, any number of issues can get in the way of an attempt to grow a home health agency or hospice.  

Building an effective strategic plan

 SimiTree Growth Solutions Consulting Director Melynda Lee uses the term “strategic synergy” to describe certain essential ingredients that are must-haves for a home health, home care, or hospice strategic plan.

By using them, an organization creates a solid framework for long-term profitability and ongoing value. Without them, there may be gaping holes in the business plan.

“An effective strategy takes some time to develop and involves input from every key aspect of the organization,” Lee said.  “Research, analysis, buy-in are all part of the synergy needed for efficient and long-term company growth, achievement of the goals and objectives, and overall employee satisfaction.”

In her consulting role, Lee frequently encounters agency leaders with worthwhile objectives but lackluster plans for bringing those objectives to fruition. She helps agencies see what they’re missing and fill in the gaps with action plans.  

How does a strategic consultant help?

“Some clients know exactly what they want to do, and others don’t have that clear focus. We help either kind of client identify objectives, create goals and measurable objectives with a timeline, develop the action items that need to take place to achieve those goals, and avoid pitfalls along the way,” Lee said.

Much of Lee’s work with agencies is in making certain they understand the full picture. She redirects clients to avoid costly and time-consuming missteps and connects them with resources as needed.

“Let’s say an agency wants to increase revenue by 15 percent this year,” she said. “That’s a great objective. But there are some misassumptions that can go along with that, and one of them is that increasing revenue is solely a sales matter. They may want to restructure sales, provide some sales training to the sales team, and expect that to do the trick. But there’s much more involved, some things that have to happen upstream before it ever gets to sales. Sales training is just a small part of the planning and development. ”

Lee said understanding the market is an essential starting point for pinpointing high-value referrals and developing agency sales messaging. Understanding market share, and how competitors are interacting with referral sources, is essential for increasing sales, but Lee said most clients lack the resources to use market intel to answer important questions about market activity or identify and track trends.

 Lee also encourages agencies to look at pre-acute care market opportunities as well as post-acute care, educating referral sources about the value of home care in preventing hospitalization.

To help an agency grow its total revenue by 15 percent, Lee said, she would also make certain the agency considered and made contingency plans for the impact of growth on clinical operations.

“They’d need to identify the resources needed to accommodate a 15 percent growth, determine whether they have the clinical capacity to in place to accommodate it. Do they have the right operational infrastructure, the right technology, the right staffing and scheduling, and intake workflow?

“What good does it do for a sales team to knock it out of the park if the admissions staff has to turn away patients because there’s no field staff available to send to the home?”

In some cases, Lee said, agencies may look to increase revenue through acquisition, or a service line expansion.

“But there’s a lot that needs to be figured out before making that leap. We’ll help the organization figure it all out and determine whether to move forward with an acquisition. If they do, we’ll help with the targeted acquisition, the due diligence, and the integration afterward,” Lee said.

Lee shares a detailed plan with the client to achieve the strategic objective, then the client determines which parts of the plan to tackle on their own and which parts may require professional services from SimiTree.

“We do as much of it or as little of it as the client wants – what makes sense,” Lee said. “After all, the clients are running an operation, so SimiTree leading the implementation accelerates results.”     

Agencies generally spend the equivalent of one mid-level FTE for strategic consulting services, Lee said, an investment that is quickly returned on increased revenue.

“It takes time, effort and money for effective strategic planning, but the pay-off for agencies is enormous,” Lee said. “It doesn’t just generate the desired growth and circumvent potential problems; it provides the foundation for ongoing, long-term success.”  

Webinars offer strategic planning tips  

Want to learn more about strategic planning for home health and hospice?

Two upcoming webinars from SimiTree in February and March will offer an in-depth look at how organizations can use data to improve strategic planning and outline the essential steps for a robust growth plan.  

Thursday, Feb. 9:
Learn more about the role of data in strategic planning when Lee teams up with Data Analytics Director Christine Lang to present a complimentary 60-minute webinar explaining how to gain access to the most intuitive and powerful market intelligence in the industry. Read more and register for “A Deep Dive into the Power of Data” here.

Thursday, March 9:
Join Lee for a detailed look at effective growth planning in a 60-minute complimentary webinar step by step considerations. Read more and register for “Strategic Synergy: Essential Steps for a Robust Growth Strategy” here. 

SimiTree can help

No matter the size, budget or unique needs of a home health agency or hospice, SimiTree’s growth strategists deliver effective strategies and market approaches for performance, profitability, and growth.

As the industry leader in data analytics and benchmarking, SimiTree pinpoints specific market opportunities, targeting areas for best use of resources and providing actionable recommendations from a knowledgeable team of experts to enable clients to do more with less.

Strategic growth recommendations consider an agency’s staffing and budgeting concerns, focusing on steady and sustainable growth.

 Use the form below to reach out to us and let’s begin the conversation about helping your agency grow.

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Let's work together to improve the health of your organization. At SimiTree, we balance financial expertise and clinical excellence to help our clients grow. How can we help you? Call us at 866.839.5471 or complete the form below.