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5 steps to convert LTC referrals into admissions

February 15, 2012
by Luke Fannon
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My last article for Long-Term Living focused on developing relationships with referral sources with the goal of increasing a LTC facility’s number of qualified leads. However, to maximize the number admissions or move-ins a facility or service generates a team must also increase the number of referrals converted into admissions.

In working with all segments of the industry I’ve identified five key stages of the conversion process and the skills a team needs to maximize results. The five stages are: Initial Contact, Critical Next Step, Close, Follow-up and Handle Objections. 

1. INITIAL CONTACT

As the name suggests this is the first contact with the prospective resident/patient/client and his or her family. Initial contacts can take the following forms:

  • Call/email: Family calls looking for information about services. Or, a referral source provides the facility with a referral on a prospective resident and a call is placed to the family.
     
  • Walk-in: Family walks into the facility.

The goal of the initial contact, especially call-ins is to gain the prospect’s commitment for the critical next step. “I understand from our receptionist that you’re looking for information about our facility. I’m the admissions director and my job is to help you. The best way for me to do that is to schedule a time for you to take a tour of our community. When is the best time for you to do that?”

2. CRITICAL NEXT STEP

Each conversion process has a critical next step, which is so named because the admission will only take place if the family commits to this stage in the process. This doesn’t mean that every family who commits becomes an admission. It means no prospect will become an admission if the critical next step isn’t achieved. 

There are different types of critical next steps based on the type of service provided. In some cases a process may have more than one critical next step. Here are examples:

  • Skilled nursing: Patient must be approved clinically and financially for an admission to occur. In many cases admissions for short-term rehab and long-term care in a nursing home take place without any contact with families.    
     
  • Assisted living/independent living/adult day care: Has anyone moved into your community or begun adult day care services without taking a tour? In addition to the tour, a nursing assessment or financial application must also be completed and approval given for an admission/move-in to take place.
     
  • Home care: A home visit must occur.

During a tour or home visit the skills team members require include uncovering the needs of the prospective resident/client and their family; demonstrating how your services will meet their needs; presenting price, Medicare and other financial information; and closing.

3. CLOSE

In every conversion process your admission’s team must ask for the family’s commitment. In some cases the commitment your team asks for is to move on to the next step. 

While there are many ways to ask for commitment from a family we teach a simple phrase: “What is the next best step for you and your family to take as you move through this process?”

4. FOLLOW-UP

Many times in dealings with families who are making healthcare decisions we must facilitate or follow-up on the next steps which the family defines. 

5. HANDLE OBJECTIONS

Objections are real or perceived factors which de-motivate the family from choosing a facility or service to meet their loved one’s needs. They can arise at any point in the conversion process. Handling objections is by far the most difficult skill for admissions and marketing team members to master.“We’re not ready” and“We’ve chosen a facility that’s closer to home” are statements which can be overcome.

The process of handling objections is to understand, empathize and answer. To overcome an objection one must understand it from the family’s point of view. This helps you craft the most appropriate answer to their objection. By empathizing with their issue or concern, one reconnects with them emotionally and builds trust.

Converting referrals into admissions is a complex process in which a team’s objective is to motivate a prospect and their family to choose a facility or service to meet their needs. It takes considerable skill, hard work and persistence.    

Luke Fannon is the Founder and Principal at Premier Coaching and Training (PCT), Unionville, Penn. PCT provides healthcare sales and marketing training, admissions and marketing team coaching and other strategic consulting services. For more information, email lukefannon@premiersalesconsulting.com.

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