When hospice began, there was no competition between us because there was no money involved. But the last ten years has brought an explosion in hospice growth, and today many good hospices find themselves jostling for market share in an ever-more-crowded field.
Beyond offering superb care, delivered consistently, and unfailingly going above and beyond what is expected, how can you stand out from other providers in your market? My work with high-performing hospice organizations inspired me to pull together this list of what I see as the top ten differentiators; here are the first five.
1. Know how you’re different. Every hospice is required to provide basic things under the Medicare hospice benefit. What sets you apart? Key differentiators are the quality of care you provide, the responsiveness you show to patients and families, physicians, and referral sources, and commitment to your community.
2. Be timely and do it right the first time. Determine how long it takes from the referral– the initial phone call informing you of a prospective patient– to when your staff first visits that patient face to face. It should be a matter of hours, not days.
3. Know the answers to “Why would I choose you?” Everyone in your organization should be able to answer that question. Whatever your differentiators are – whether they’re physicians or nursing staff or great patient-to-staff ratios – be clear on what they are and why they make you a better choice.
4. Be easy to work with. If a hospice staff member puts up more blocks than avenues of welcome, referral sources will label you as difficult to work with and go to the next hospice on the list. Say, “Yes, we can” more often than “No, we can’t” to build the kinds of relationships you need to grow.
5. Take a tip from the hospitality industry; the customer may not always be right, but the customer should always be listened to and acknowledged. Staff must be flexible, kind and thoughtful as well as smart. Do you have a system for effectively addressing feedback – not just the good, but the not-so-good?
Stay tuned to my next newsletter for Part II and the rest of the story!
Stand out from the competition and shine!