Promise Ring Referrals (and what to do about them)
During yesterday's Home Care Marketing Accelerator webinar (week 7 of 10 for this current class), I asked which students had generated "walk off" referrals. That is, referrals where you make a sales call and walk off with a referral(s) in hand. One of my students said "I sort of got one". Of course, I had to hear more about the "sort of" part.
It turns out he'd made a professional and well planned sales call (like we teach everyone to do) with follow up from a previous referral. At the end he asked "Since I'm here, who else can I help you with that will be needing in home care?" (perfect way to close, by the way). The answer was something to the effect of, "I do have this patient but I'm not sure about their discharge date yet, and I need to speak with the family. I'll give you a call on Thursday".
So, did my student asked, "Did I walk off with a referral?".
Technically, no. I characterized this as a "promise ring" referral. You tell someone you are going to do it, and you intend to, but until you do it it's not real. This is actually a very common occurrence in the home care industry. So, the question came up, "What do I do next?"
First things first. I'm NOT an attorney, but I am offering guidance based upon the attorneys that I have worked with in the industry.
In order to abide by HIPAA guidelines you should receive NO personal health or demographic information about any patient until an actual referral has been made. In this case, a referral has not been made so the referral source should not share any personal health information about the patient. If you are being given information that you shouldn't be receiving, it's up to YOU to let your referral source know you are willing to wait until the referral is ready to be made.
Ok, so....what do you do next?
1. Get the best estimate possible of the discharge or referral time frame
2. Get the approximate location of this unknown patient (to make sure you can service that area)
3. Find out what payor source is involved (to make sure you accept that payor)
4. Set up a follow up that YOU can take action on (do not wait for days for the phone to ring).
5. Thank the referral source for trusting you with this potential referral, and ask them, since you are there, what patients you can help TODAY.
There....you've done well grasshopper. You have potentially secured a future referral without violating HIPAA laws, you have a firm next step in that referral process, and you've given your referral source the opportunity to refer to you right now for any other patients in need. Remember, if they trust you enough with this future referral, and you are standing right there in front of them, they will very likely trust you with another referral. Make it easy for them to say yes, and they just might do that.
Promise rings are great, as long as they represent a promise kept.
Get out there and make it happen today. Good Selling!