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Making the Hospital Short List: Three Essential Strategies for Skilled Nursing Facility Marketing

Skilled nursing facility (SNF) marketing isn’t what it once was. There has always been the challenge of drawing patients and their caregivers to one facility over others. But with 16,000 facilities in the United States and more and more hospitals participating in risk-based programs (accounting for over 10,000 episodes as of April 6, 2017), healthcare executives are becoming even more selective about the facilities they recommend.

For skilled nursing marketers, this selectiveness presents a new challenge: making the hospital short list. Facilities must be able to deliver high-quality, low-cost care that not only meets patients’ needs but also relieves the pressure on hospitals. Below are three strategies to give your clients a bump onto the ever-shorter shortlist.

  1. Understand the Pressure on Hospitals

When hospitals participate in programs like the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative (BPCI) and the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement movement (CJR), the responsibility for care that patients receive inside and outside the hospital falls on the hospitals themselves. Understandably, then, healthcare executives must be certain that the skilled nursing facilities they are partnering with will offer the best care at the lowest cost.

SNFs must be sensitive to the increased responsibility and pressure that hospitals are facing. Create marketing content that assures potential partners that your SNF will support the reputation and well-being of both patients and hospitals.

Three qualities that hospitals look for in an SNF are low readmission rates, high patient satisfaction ratings, and relatively short length of stay. Low readmission rates are correlated with “more hours per resident day of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nurse aides.” Long lengths of stay have an even greater effect on the risk of readmission than demographic factors.

  1. Be Consistently Visible to (Potential) Clients

But don’t be a botheruse knowledge of new developments in the healthcare industry to be an intelligent contact with the clients you’d like to have. Create press releases, attend hospital events, and contact your clients regularly to remind them of your services and also to keep up with changes in the healthcare industry. Additionally, it is helpful to place marketing content where it will be visible to patients: physician offices, senior and community centers, places of worship, or on local media.

Ultimately, though, your main client is the hospital case manager. Fifty percent of hospitals refer their patients to 18 post-acute providers, with some hospitals referring their patients to as many as 40. For hospital case managers to consistently refer patients to your SNF, it will take consistent effort and a good relationship with the hospital.

  1. Focus Content on the Patients

While content and presentation should show awareness of the hospital and healthcare world, content should focus on patients. Ask two question: (1) What will make the patients feel good? And (2) How can we differentiate this SNF in the marketplace?

What will make the patients feel good? For patients and their caregivers, the most important part of deciding on which SNF to choose is how it will make them feel emotionally. This is because “decisions serve as the conduit through which emotions guide everyday attempts at avoiding negative feelings. . . and increasing positive feelings.” Make it easy for future patients and their caregivers to visualize experiencing positive feelings at the SNF you are marketing.

How can we differentiate the SNF in the marketplace? In other words, why should a physician recommend the SNF to his or her patients? Give potential clients something easy to grab onto: an appealing solution to a common health problem, a popular amenity the SNF provides, or a high rate of patient satisfaction.

Making it onto the hospital short list is crucial if SNF marketing is to be truly successful. Make it happen by understanding the pressure on hospitals, being consistently visible to clients (especially hospital case managers), and focusing content on the patients. As you keep repeating and adapting these strategies, you won’t ever be left at the bottom of a long list.