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Reaching the Real Referral Decision Makers

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, August 25, 2010

"We know physicians are interested in clinical outcomes, transition for the patient, and what kind of feedback they'll get,"he said. "Nurses may be a little more attuned to the family needs and communicating with the family. And case workers and discharge planners will be more sensitive to the cost factors. Obviously they're interested in clinical care as well, but the messages will be a little different."

It is crucial to communicate quality outcomes data to all key groups—especially if your hospital's statistics have recently improved.

"Ours is a message of quality care and we're communicating our outcomes,"said Susan Moss, vice president of communications for Kindred Healthcare. "Since most of the individuals we're talking to are clinicians, we communicate our quality metrics and our outcomes measurements to all of our referral sources."

Choosing a delivery method to reach referrers is as important as tailoring information-packed marketing copy. For Kindred, a mix of consumer marketing channels and traditional referral methods works best.

In addition to placing outdoor ads around referring hospitals, Kindred ran Continue the Care ads on National Public Radio and in trade publications. Overall, admissions increased 12% in the markets where Kindred ran the campaign.

Ultimately, the goal is to educate the whole patient care team so each member can have all the information needed to help patients make the right decision for them. The next time you're looking for ways to increase referrals, remember to reach beyond physicians to the whole patient care team.

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