Why is data valuable?
Like all other business decisions, a hospice marketing plan must be data driven. More progressive hospice agencies have increasingly begun to understand the value of many types of data in supporting business decisions. This includes internal data such as patient EMR data, financial data including general ledger revenue and expense data (at various levels of aggregation), and quality data. It also includes external data such as publicly available claims data, cost report data, and referral data.
This article published in June 2021 discusses how hospice agencies are using data analysis as a tool to gain an edge over competitors when engaging with potential referral sources. The discussion focuses on use of data analysis to identify which physicians represent referral sources that are more likely to produce (higher quality) referrals. This 2016 NHPCO article discusses the use of hospice metrics as a marketing tool. For example, a hospice agency can share statistics on reduction in hospital admissions for its patients in hospice compared to hospital admissions prior to hospice admission. Other metrics on cost of care or patient satisfaction are of interest, depending upon the referral source.
What data is valuable for designing a marketing strategy?
A hospice should gather data so that it can develop a complete picture of the customers that it serves. It should analyze its patients – including referral sources and patient attributes such as patient diagnosis, length of stay, and patient demographics. Referral sources can be analyzed at different levels of aggregations such as geographic location, facility type, physician type, and physician name. Analysis of hospice patients should be compared to analysis of data for the entire market (in the relevant geographic region). This can help a hospice agency identify where it may have strengths or weaknesses and contribute to its marketing strategy.
Analyze the data: gain input from multiple sources
When analyzing the output of the data analysis, the hospice agency should solicit input from multiple sources in the organization. Combining different perspectives on the data such as input from the executive, marketing, and clinical teams will provide a more holistic view and a more accurate assessment of the current marketing performance and how the go-forward marketing strategy should be designed.
How can the data be analyzed?
The simplest method for analyzing the data is to use Microsoft Excel. Excel is widely used in most organizations, so gaining access to this software should not be difficult. With relatively simple commands, one can analyze data and create charts to visualize the results of data analysis. Another benefit of using Excel for data analysis is that a lot of educational material is available on the Web to answer any questions that you may have about using Excel – in case there are data analysis functions that you want to learn more about.
What other information may be relevant to developing a strategy?
Patient data and claim data are historical data that are important inputs to a developing a marketing strategy. A hospice agency should also analyze forward-looking data as well as more general information such as:
- What are hospice market trends in the geographic region?
- How competitive is the marketplace and are there expectations for change in competition in the near term?
- How well is the role of hospice understood by communities in the geographic region?
- Is the use of hospice accepted by communities in the geographic region?
- Is hospice understood by the medical community in the geographic region?
- What are the demographics of your geographic region and are they expected to change in the near term?
Combining analysis of historical and forward-looking data and soliciting input from team members with different perspectives such as operational, clinical, and marketing will help a hospice agency develop an effective marketing plan.