Have excellent CMS compare scores? Show them off!

Medicare's Home Health Compare scores have been available for years to assist consumers in choosing a quality home health care provider, but the new Medicare Hospice Compare tool is finally allowing terminally ill patients and their family members similar metrics.

Although the new hospice tool is not as robust as its home health sister, the data provides a great opportunity for companies with positive scores to stand out from others in their market.

  • When approaching physician referral sources, make sure to have materials to leave behind that clearly and visually show how you compare to state and/or national averages. Some companies even choose to display their scores directly beside their competitors. Click on TAG Partners' physician materials at the links located at the bottom of the pate to see graphs we've created to convey the information clearly and immediately.
  • Educate consumers who call you as they evaluate providers about the Medicare tools and encourage them to look up your scores.
  • Contact local media and make sure they know about the scores and about how well you performed. Offer to place them in contact with your medical director and administrator to discuss your philosophy of care and how you are achieving your outstanding results.
  • Home health providers, are you calling attention to your Quality of Patient Care and Patient Survey star ratings that are reported alongside your Home Health Compare scores? Highlight your excellent star ratings by developing a graphic representation of the achievement and adding it to all of your outreach items, including your website, general services brochure, or even the back of your business card. Check out this logo TAG Partners created for this purpose.

Through Oct. 31, the following products are 20% off list price when you use promo code TWENTY at checkout:

Call us at 866-232-6477 to learn more.

Medicare Hospice Compare: A golden opportunity for providers

The new Medicare Hospice Compare website gives consumers a long-overdue tool to begin comparing the quality of care delivered by hospice providers in their communities. But the prospect of choosing the right hospice can remain a daunting task.

The good news is you don’t have to wait for referral sources and potential patients or their family members to stumble upon your data. Take steps to direct them to the Hospice Compare site and to highlight your company’s quality scores and how they compare to the national average.

  • Start by calling attention to your scores on your company website. Create a banner and call attention to it on your home page.
  • If your local newspaper and television news stations haven’t yet run a story on the launch of the site (and your great scores), now is a great time to reach out to their assignments editors and/or health reporters. Tell them about your scores and offer to help them interpret what the measures mean and how consumers can use the tool to find the right provider for themselves or a loved one

TAG Partners has also developed two tools to help you convey this message easily in your ongoing outreach and education efforts, and they are available for 20% off list price through Oct. 31. (Use promo code TWENTY at checkout)

  • The first is the Choosing Hospice Flyer for Physicians. This two-sided sheet easily conveys to referral sources when hospice care may be appropriate, as well as the benefits their patients see when they come under your care. It also has clear graphic representation of your Hospice Compare scores and how they fare in relation to the national average. Presenting your data in an uncomplicated format will add authority to your outreach efforts and make it easy for physicians to make their choice when it’s time to refer to hospice.
  • The second new tool available to you is Choosing Hospice: A Guide for Physicians. This bi-fold brochure helps prospective patients and their families make an informed decision when selecting a hospice. While subtly highlighting your company’s scores, it explains what hospice is and how to access the Hospice Compare website. It also includes a helpful list of questions they can reference when selecting a hospice provider.

The new Hospice Compare website is also a great reminder for home health providers to revisit their own Home Health Compare scores and CMS star ratings and to convey their quality scores to referral sources and prospective patients. Check out TAG’s disease-specific outcomes brochures for physicians and patients to learn more.

Through Oct. 31, the Choosing Hospice materials and Home Health outcomes brochures will be 20% off list price when you use promo code TWENTY at checkout or mention it in your order via phone or email.

To learn more, call 866-232-6477.

June 2015: Celebrate and Educate

Happy birthday to you! Medicare turns 50 years old this July 30. Take part in the celebration of the national social insurance program for older adults. About 55.3 million Americans were covered by Medicare in 2013, and the figure is expected to rise as Baby Boomers continue reaching retirement age.

  • Offer your patients a tool that will go everywhere they do. Give them a protective sleeve for their Medicare card that already includes a card with your agency’s name and contact information. It will keep their Medicare card safe and make it easy to refer to you when it’s time for home care. Find it at www.tagwebstore.com/medicare-sleeve.php/.

  • Host a class at your local library to help acquaint people in your community with Medicare. Be sure to also tell them about Medicare’s covered home care or hospice benefits and how your agency can help. Find a ready-made class at www.tagwebstore.com/healthmatters-education-series.php.

  • Make sure your physician referral sources have an easy way to know what Medicare-covered services are available to their patients and Medicare’s conditions for payment. The physician pocket guide to Medicare tells them at a glance the services your agency provides and includes your telephone number for easy referral. Find it at www.tagwebstore.com/pocket-guide-to-medicare.php.

There’s no mistaking that summer is here. It may be a quiet time when it comes to healthcare observances, but there still are plenty of ways you can keep your marketing efforts current.

We celebrate the independence of our nation on July 4, but it’s also a great time to celebrate the independence seniors in your community are maintaining with the help of family, friends and agencies like yours. Here are some things you can do to reach out to this vibrant community.

  • Visit local senior centers and distribute Senior Fun Packs, which include playing cards and bingo cards personalized with your agency’s logo and contact information. This outreach out to those who are maintaining social activities such as senior center participation will pay off with enhanced awareness of your agency. Find the Senior Fun Packs at www.tagwebstore.com/seniorfunpack.php.

  • Experts agree that one of the best ways to maintain mental acuity (and prolong independence) is by completing puzzles. Connect with seniors and raise awareness of your agency with puzzle books personalized with your logo and contact information. Display them in referral source waiting rooms. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/puzzlebook.php.

  • Plan a Fourth of July-themed event to celebrate the independence of your community’s seniors that also will help prolong their independence and increase your referrals. In addition to a light luncheon featuring ice cream, hot dogs and other summer treats, provide informative booths and educate attendees about an important Medicare benefit they may not realize they have: The Annual Wellness Visit, which includes a review of medical history and risk factors, and a personalized prevention plan. Have a clinician on-hand to perform the annual exams. Find a kit to help you plan and execute the event here: www.tagwebstore.com/annual-wellness-visit-kit.php.

Sandwich Generation Month takes place this July. Join thousands of organizations and communities around the country in recognizing and raising awareness about the Sandwich Generation – the generation of adults who are caring for their children as well as their aging parents. Learn more about it at the sponsor organization’s website www.sandwichgenerationmonth.com/.

  • Take part in community health fairs this month and stress the importance of supporting these caregivers. Have plenty of agency marketing brochures on hand. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/marketing-brochures.php and www.tagwebstore.com/faq-brochures.php.

  • Sign up to speak about the sandwich generation at the community meetings of various local elected officials and local community groups. Educate them about how your agency can help those with a variety of conditions and ease the burden on their caregivers. Find disease-specific flyers at www.tagwebstore.com/health-care-flyers.php.

  • Visit with your referral sources and stress the assistance your agency can provide family caregivers when a loved one has a serious illness or injury. Show them that one of the tools in your caregiving arsenal is zone flyers, which help improve positive outcomes. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/zone-flyer.php.

Offset the 2014 CMS reimbursement cuts by increasing your referrals and census

Medicare’s proposed 1.5% cuts to home health reimbursement in 2014 are leaving many scrambling to come up with a plan to offset the losses if the changes go into effect.

The public has until Aug. 26 to comment on the proposed rule (which can be found at www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2013-15766_PI.pdf) before it is enacted, but you shouldn’t wait until it’s on the books to do something about the big cuts you could be facing next year.

When home care agencies face financial strain, they often look for areas to cut. Marketing should never be one of those areas. In fact, it’s one area where you should increase your investment. After all, you need more referrals in lean times, and today’s growing senior population makes this an ideal environment to increase your census. The only way to get these referrals is to step up your marketing.

By creating a comprehensive marketing plan and investing in areas proven to increase referrals, you stand to place yourself in the ideal position to weather the CMS reimbursement reduction storm.

Here are some ideas that can help.

  • Transitional Care Management is the newest and one of the most effective tools you have to increase your referrals. It took effect in January 2013 and allows physicians to get paid to manage their patients’ care as they transition from hospital to home. Teach them how it works and make your agency their partner in TCM. Check out our powerful new TCM tools at www.tagwebstore.com/transitional-care-management.php.
  • Care Plan Oversight is another way you can position yourself as a trusted partner for your physician referral sources. With CPO, physicians can get paid to manage the care of a patient that is using home health or hospice services. Find our CPO tools at www.tagwebstore.com/homehealthCPOkit.php.
  • Community education and outreach is an incredible way to build agency recognition, reputation and preference among the senior community. One of the best ways to do this is by hosting free educational sessions at senior centers, assisted living facilities and church groups. Our Health Matters Education Series is a series of done-for-you presentations geared toward the senior population that focuses on health issues important to them. Learn more at www.tagwebstore.com/healthmatters-education-series.php.
  • Professional brochures are vital in presenting a polished image to the community. Studies show that consumers choose many of their services – including home care – based on appearance and reputation. Get 50% off all brochures through July 31 when you use voucher code SUMMER at checkout. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/brochures.php.
  • For an intensive three-day course that will give you the education, tools and tips you need to take your agency’s marketing to the next level, check out PlayMaker CRM’s Home Care Sales Mastery University. You will learn strategies you can take home and implement immediately, as well as advice for long-range planning to set your company on course for success. Learn more at www.hcsmu.com.
  • For a larger-scale experience devoted to boosting your business’ bottom line, check out PMX, PlayMaker CRM’s Expo and User Conference taking place in Nashville this September. Find more details at www.pmxusercon.com.