I've often been asked (and 2x in the past week) what is the future of marketing home based healthcare services in the future. While on a call with a consultant new to this industry last week I delved a bit further into my predictions than I had previously. If you're interested in where the industry could be going, and how to adapt to stay ahead, read on.
Healthcare Sales in 2025
For certain, the landscape will look different than it does today. While a large majority of sales in our industry is still done at that 1 to 1 level of sales rep to referral source, that is changing rapidly even today. More and more systems and facilities are entering into preferred partnerships with (usually) large, innovative providers of home based services, thereby locking most other competitors out. Building a single source, or small network of high quality providers just makes sense to a referral partner with a significant number of discharges. It eliminates the "roam the halls" mentality of many sales reps since their presence isn't needed, it facilitates easier communication by not having to determine which of 100 providers is taking care of a certain discharge, and it keeps a cap on quality, providing the referral source properly vets their chosen providers.
Additionally, many patients are being "wrapped up" into large volume post acute payor models. Bundled Payment Providers, ACOs, Medicare Advantage Plans, and traditional private insurance payors all use some sort of sub network of providers, thereby leaving a vast majority of other agencies outside of the network. With the need for economies of scale in healthcare, and the consolidation in the hospital, sub acute, and homecare spaces, these types of networks should continue to grow leaving standalone providers outside of the network to compete for a shrinking number of patient referrals.
In 2025 a single sales rep competing for single, one off referral against a large number of other similar providers is going to find business harder and harder to come by.
So What To Do To Prepare For 2025?
The first thing is to "get good" at something. That is, have a service, service area, or speciality that a larger "network" is going to need in order to get good outcomes with reasonable cost. Forward thinking agencies are going to (or already are) find a niche(s) that they can fill better and more cost effectively than their competitors so they have something to sell when they get to the bargaining table.
Second, your sales team should consist of professionals that can sell at the C suite. This is where agreements for large numbers of referrals are formed. Properly cultivating these high level relationships over time, and understanding the wants and needs of larger referral partners is the first step toward 2025 success. Understanding how to position your strengths and leverage them is the domain of professional salespeople. Many of today's marketers simply will not thrive with the coming changes.
Finally, the use of technology for a well equipped and effective sales force is an idea whose time is already here. CRM, discharge and referral data, and data analytics are keys for salespeople to make the right decisions, and to make them quickly. Not a day goes by when I don't talk to a sales manager, rep, or even agency owner who cannot access key critical data about their agencies referral, sales, or reimbursement patterns. That must change if you're going to compete.
Is It Too Late To Start Now?
The answer to that is no! It's not too late. You might be behind the curve in some progressive markets, but in others you will be an market leader. A fundamental change in sales philosophy with all of the accompanying personnel, leadership, and technology changes can easily take 12-18 months. You can begin now and be running at full speed well before the industry begins to close out less assertive providers.
Change is coming, and continuing in our industry. There will be no hiding from it, so open your front door and embrace it so that your agency is prepared for 20205 and beyond.