Leveraging Data to Grow Your Organization
By Melynda Lee
A new era in health care data is here. Information that just a few years ago seemed impossible to obtain is now at our fingertips. The breadth and depth of data readily available today is unprecedented and growing exponentially. The greatest challenge facing health care executives is not how to find and manage data, but how to arm sales staff with the right data, optimally presented and organized, from a burgeoning sea of information.
While post-acute care providers have traditionally primed their sellers with the previous year’s quality and satisfaction scores, advances in innovative applications and analytics make it simple and affordable for agencies of all sizes to acquire the tools and information that drive true market intelligence and competitive advantage.
Advancing the data revolution is the integration of real-time patient referral data between care providers with detailed patient claims data, including patient demographics, payer breakouts, and readmission rates by diagnosis. This level of data, when used correctly, will inform your sales strategy and direct your sales tactics by illuminating the greatest opportunities for growth in your market.
As consultants to post-acute care providers, HomecareCRM is one of the leading organizations driving this revolutionary change in the health care industry. Our data experts help agencies look at their markets like never before, using the key data points that guarantee their sales people are focused on proven referral sources, not just a network of contacts.
Smart health care leaders are directing their business development resources to insightful data. The number of vendors and channels to access this information is endless, but a few critical steps can make the difference when putting your data to work and quickly showing a return on your investment.
Invest in relevant and timely data
Starting with your business processes and strategic goals, identify the key information you need to grow your enterprise before you begin shopping for market data. It’s likely you’ll want some basic information about local physicians, hospitals, and other facilities and agencies that is much deeper than just contact names and specialty.
Map out your ideas and dream big. The vast amount of available information about providers and the markets they serve will tell you everything from average length of stay or service by referring physician to patient mix by demographics, diagnosis mix, and market share of referrals to your agency compared with your competition. You’ll be able to quickly calculate where the gaps exist and the greatest opportunities should be pursued.
When you are ready to evaluate data resources, inquire about the timeliness of the information. You want the freshest data available for this level of investment in the future growth of your organization. Also, clearly articulate your objectives to the vendors and be sure you know what’s included in the data you purchase — and what’s not.
If your business model changes, you add or eliminate service lines, expand your service footprint, or retool your sales and marketing team, be sure your market data is updated or expanded as your organizational goals change, especially when using this type of intelligence to make strategic decisions and significant financial investments.
“Data scripts should be constantly reviewed to ensure they are still applicable to the business requirements. Data for data’s sake is not valuable,” says Keagen Brown, senior vice president of product and strategy with HomecareCRM and the visionary behind the company’s market-leading Harvest data product.
Manage your data well to monitor causality
Over time and generations of staff assignments, it’s likely the integrity of the data integrated between your CRM and EMR systems will erode if not managed properly. Protect your investment by frequently auditing and reporting any changes you see at the time they are exposed. If your organization doesn’t have a dedicated IT department, rely on your system administrator to schedule periodic checks of your integrated information. Consult your EMR and CRM vendors for further guidance.
Recognize the facts
Data that has been validated must be trusted, even when you don’t like the answers it provides. We frequently hear from agencies challenging the accuracy of the data we share about their market. Most agencies are confident in their knowledge about their referral-source patterns, and are often surprised when claims data shows a competitor’s share trumps their own slice of the market. Claims information is straightforward. If a bill was submitted by a service provider, it has been validated and reported before it makes its way into the data set.
We advise our clients to put a positive spin on this information when coaching their sales teams, and employ the data to revise their sales strategy using measurable objectives guaranteed to boost market share.
Educate your sales staff, and hold them accountable for using the data wisely
Improve the real-time performance evaluation of your sales staff by making your data easily accessible and simple to use. When facts and figures about the market place are integrated with the information housed in your EMR, the convergence reveals a powerful image of where and how your sellers are spending their time and the results they are achieving. If your market data indicates a physician refers less than one patient to your line of business per quarter, is it worth your salesperson’s time to call on that doctor every week? Probably not. This integration of market data and information from your EMR is the cornerstone of CRM and central to the growth strategy of our clients.
It’s critical to train your team to interpret and employ the key data points. Emphasize the value of the information and how to make the market intelligence work to your competitive advantage. While managers should use data to measure sales performance, your team needs to feel confident when looking deeper than just the numbers. So teach them how to analyze the underlying information about their accounts and prospects to find hidden and untapped sources of growth. A good example is identifying a physician who serves patients matching your target demographics but makes significantly fewer referrals than their peer providers in your market.
Once your business development team has studied the data and identified where the greatest opportunities for growth exist, be sure the information is leveraged appropriately in pre-call planning. Study the story the data provides and build your sales strategy around it for each prospective referral source.
In closing, consider arming your sales team with mobile devices in the field to truly maximize the value of your integrated data. It’s a strategy guaranteed to ease the fear of cold calling and eliminate downtime on your sellers’ calendars.
Join us next month, when we’ll share some leading trends in training technology for health care solutions that save time and money while optimizing the strength and knowledge of your sales team.
About the Author: Melynda Lee is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations with HomecareCRM and a former hospice executive. HomecareCRM is the leading premier growth partner of post-acute care providers. Melynda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-314-0431.