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Best practices, news & advice to help fill your building.

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For a large amount of the population, the internet has become a digital playground; an area to share thoughts, ideas, information, a place to research and obtain knowledge. LTC facilities need to take advantage of this and turn the internet into their newest referral source opportunity.

Most people know this already. But now what?!? The first step is developing a website. Not just any website, but one that is designed from the ground up by LTC experts to get your organization found. From navigation to content a site developed by someone who knows our industry will get you found and help you stand out.

While having a website is crucial, it is only the first step in helping your facility get found. The website needs supplementary pieces (legs to stand on), in order to be found. A website without legs is like an unlisted phone number. Yes it exists, but no one will be able to contact you.

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Reducing re-hospitalizations can increase referrals but only if referral sources know you are focused on this important issue. Keep them informed about your program’s results and you will gain a competitive advantage over other facilities for Medicare Part A referrals. The more you communicate with referral sources and keep them aware of your efforts to reduce re-hospitalizations, the better.

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Step 1: Turn your short-term rehab patients into “ambassadors” for your facility

It’s no secret that there’s been a significant increase in the growth of this group over the past 10 years, and statistics show that 40% of short-term rehab patients return to the senior care system in just 7 months.  By making every effort to achieve high levels of satisfaction, you will not only ensure that many of your former patients will come back to you, they’ll also become a great source of word-of-mouth referrals and admissions.

Keep in mind that short-term rehab patients bring with them a whole new set of criteria in terms of achieving high levels of satisfaction.  They are, for the most part, younger and more discriminating in what it takes to satisfy them and their family members.  Focus on meeting and exceeding their expectations by developing specific quality service standards, and make sure all employees are fully trained on those quality service standards.  

 

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Tracking and sharing resident & patient satisfaction is essential for today’s SNFs and CCRCs. Much like reading an online product or service review, consumers want to be assured that others are happy and content with the care and service provided at a LTC facility. Sharing positive satisfaction survey results through methods like email blasts to family members or direct mail to the trade will build a positive reputation for your organization and help put you top of mind for the next referral or admission

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A three step plan for getting found online

Step Two: Get Found

In my last article I discussed creating a digital footprint, the first of three necessary steps to using digital marketing to generate inquiries, referrals and admissions (click here to view). This week I will discuss the second necessary step to getting found online - promoting  your content in an efficient & effective manner.  Over 60% of people searching for healthcare services turn to the internet first.  People are looking for the services you offer, but do they know that you provide those services?  In order for them to find your building’s digital footprint, you must employ a variety of tools that attract people who are actively searching.  Since the majority of internet information is found through a search engine, ensuring that your building appears in the first few results is key.  Search Engine Marketing (SEM) allows your building to immediately compete for that prize real estate at the top of the search results.  However, make sure that your SEM campaign is built by an expert in the LTC community who knows how consumers looking for LTC services behave when searching online.  Otherwise you will end up with a generic cookie cutter SEM program that will not deliver the desired results.  Make no mistake; being among the first results that appear on an internet search is a powerful endorsement.  From a practical perspective, it usually means you’ll be the first facility they’ll consider.

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A three step plan for getting found online

Step One: Create a digital footprint

The central location for all digital activities is your website. It serves as a hub for all your online communications. In digital marketing, your website acts like the front door to your facility. It is your opportunity to make a good first impression. A well designed website with the right functionality will work to immediately engage visitors – using the content on the site to quickly create a positive feeling about you and your credibility as a senior care expert.

Most people have heard the expression, “in the digital world, content is king.” That’s because the content on your website is how you communicate. It’s through your content that people get to know you. It’s your content that is the “story” of who you are and what you do. A successful digital marketing program requires that your content communicates a powerful, positive “story” about who you are, what you do and why you are the best option for the care needed. The website and its content are your building’s digital footprint.

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All staff can be a partner in reducing re-hospitalizations by being trained to immediately inform their supervisor of a change in a resident’s condition. Reinforce your staff training by posting “reminders” throughout the building and be sure to make this a focus in all your staff meetings.

Click here to see a sample poster to reinforce this message with staff.

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Typically, marketing is thought of as running print ads in the local newspaper or having a listing in a senior reference guide. While there may be some value in these programs, one of the most overlooked audiences to communicate with is your internal audience. Everyone always talks about how word-of-mouth referrals is key to generating inquiries, but few owners or operators actually take advantage of this “lowest hanging fruit” opportunity.

The internal audience can be defined as anyone who already “knows” you and has a relationship with you (either current or past). This includes residents (especially for ILs and ALs), family members / responsible parties of residents, short-term rehab discharges that have successfully returned home, donors (for non-profits) and staff. Everyone listed here can turn from friend to referral source if the relationship is leveraged effectively.

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How important is the ability to convert routine inquiries into actual admissions?  Data shows that converting just one phone call could produce over $10,000 in added Medicare revenue. To take advantage of this opportunity, educate your staff on the value of every call and set up the systems to ensure that you realize the potential of each one.

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Today, marketing plays a key role in creating inquiries for you to turn into admissions.  With newspapers closing up shop in favor of online web papers and with most research today done online, it’s only a matter of time before all media and marketing is digital. However, right now and for the foreseeable future traditional media must take a prominent role in marketing activities.

The AARP recently conducted a study on the usage of internet among midlife and older adults.  Their findings while not unexpected clearly highlight the reality we live in. Nearly 68% of the people surveyed age 50 and older do in fact use a computer, either at home or at work.  What this means though is that nearly 32% of this important demographic does not use a computer at all, not even at work.  So, the time to dedicate all your marketing activities to the digital world is not yet upon us, unless of course you are you willing to neglect a third of your market share completely?

In order to get full value from your marketing campaigns, you need to find the right balance between digital and print media.  In some markets traditional media will be prominent and a digital program will supplement it. In other markets digital marketing will take precedence.  To determine what balance is correct for your organization, test out your marketing campaigns in both forms; then, most importantly, track the source of inquiries as they come in.  After a certain amount of time, you’ll be able to analyze the data and determine what’s working and what’s not, giving you better information to make the appropriate adjustments.

Tagged in: Inquiries
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Recent studies show that 33% to 50% of SNF resident hospitalizations are the result of family demands. Educate family members that:

  • Changes in condition are a normal part of the aging process
  • Your skilled nursing facility has the capabilities to manage the changing needs of their loved one
  • Hospitalization carries its own set of challenges and problems.

Click here to see a family education pamphlet on reducing hospitalizations as well as other educational materials.

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Establish a pre-surgery orthopedic rehab orientation program for the patients of a local orthopedic surgeon.  This will provide the opportunity to create a connection between his/her patients and your facility prior to their surgery and will virtually ensure that the patient selects your facility for their short-term Medicare Part A rehab – regardless of what the discharge planner may suggest.

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Sometimes opportunities to increase census are “hiding in plain sight.”  For example, just having your administrator (corporate office or owner) review all denials daily, may yield insights into opportunities for changing your acceptance criteria and reducing denials. Likewise, focusing on, and tracking your inquiry-to-admission ratio is another census-builder that is often overlooked.

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“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet

Protecting your LTC building’s reputation has never been more important. Inc. Magazine recently reported that 97 percent of consumers conducted online research to find local businesses. The information about your senior care facility that’s available on the web is absolutely critical.

Customer reviews, social media mentions and online name visibility directly influence a senior care provider’s ability to generate inquiries, referrals and admissions. A strong online reputation promotes consumer trust and is a testimony to your high quality of care, while negative reviews, or a tarnished online reputation, can cost an LTC facility thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

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Perhaps the most important lesson learned from 2013 is the need to maintain a positive attitude and continue to focus on ways to increase referrals, admissions, revenues and profitability. For example, here are five areas you can focus on immediately:

  1. Increase admissions: Raise awareness of your facility to attract more referrals. Read more…
  2. Enhance case mix: Position yourself to generate high reimbursement referrals. Read more…
  3. Increase revenues: Focus on Medicare Part A referrals. Read more…
  4. Improve performance: Get more value from the referrals you’re already getting. Read more…
  5. Enhance reputation: Build a positive brand image using these LTC marketing Best Practices. Read more…
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Regardless of your facility’s CMS Five-Star rating score, remember that the quality associated with your brand is not based on any single survey.  If you did well, be sure to leverage your rating.  But if you were less than perfect, don’t despair.  Evaluate your scores and develop a response that explains those scores in the most beneficial way.  That should include tried and true previous performance measures – community reputation, word of mouth referrals, and satisfaction surveys.

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It’s true; out of sight is out of mind. Even your long-standing referral sources need to be reminded of the key advantages that separate your facility or community from your competition. Reinforce your points of difference and remain “top of mind” by communicating with them every month.

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Achieving successful outcomes [1] and letting all your referral sources know about them is one of the best ways to increase your Medicare referrals in 2013. This year, hospitals will be making important decisions about who to partner with, especially as the ACO issue heats up. Successful outcomes and high satisfaction levels will be rewarded with more high reimbursement referrals.

For ways to promote your outcomes CLICK HERE


[1] For example: Your percentage of short term rehab patients that return home, satisfaction survey results, average rehab LOS, numbers of cases treated by diagnosis, re-hospitalization rate, etc.

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