Throughout The WCA Network and across the country, wound centers took a hit to their volume as COVID-19 shutdowns were put in place. Much of this was due to their own patients canceling appointments out of an abundance of caution. The secondary cause was a slowdown in referrals from once reliable sources. As restrictions begin to ease across the country, it’s time to start strengthening your referral base. Here’s how:
Do your best to be available to your referral sources to answer any questions or concerns they may have about their patient. If they call and leave a message or send an email, get back to them as soon as possible. Always be prepared to answer any questions they might have about their patient.
Send regular, consistent reports to keep the primary physicians apprised throughout the patient’s healing journey. Offer an appropriate amount of detail. Reports should tell them what they need to know without overwhelming them with endless, unnecessary notes.
Keep in mind, wound centers aren’t the only service line struggling. It’s likely that your referral sources are doing everything they can to maintain their own volume and may be wary of other offices ‘poaching’ their patients. Put these fears to rest during your initial communications, letting them know that they will be kept updated throughout their patients’ treatments and that you will discharge them back to their care once the wound is healed.
Rediscover Former Contacts
Is there a once-dependable referral source that has dwindled during Covid? Now’s the time to rebuild that relationship. They already have an understanding of the services you offer and they’ve seen your treatment first hand. Reach out and let them know you’re still available to them for their wound care needs.
Self referrals are often an untapped source of revenue. Remind your patients that they can always reach out if they have any questions following their “healed” status or if another non-healing wound begins to form. Additionally, let them know you’re available to their friends and family who may also be struggling with a non-healing wound. These conversations can lead to self referrals. Even better, they may introduce you to their doctor, letting you build a new referral relationship.
In person visits have been off the table for two years now. If you haven’t embraced digital outreach, now’s the time. Even as Covid winds down, digital communications will continue to be an important tool to use in maintaining your referral streams. Do you have promotional materials for your center and services that are informative, appealing, and easy to read? Partners in The WCA Network are given access to a wealth of promotional templates that can be customized for any center. Are you comfortable scheduling and using video conferencing to discuss your services? Do some test runs to make sure your technology is reliable and that you can quickly and easily display slides for a presentation.
WCA has many resources available to make finding referrals easier. The most effective is FlightPlan. Available to all partners in The WCA Network, FlightPlan manages and modernizes your entire referral program. It identifies nearby physicians who are billing to codes associated with non-healing wounds (i.e. venous ulcers, cardiovascular conditions), letting you narrow your efforts to physicians you know have a need for your services. It lets you track each of your visits/outreach efforts, organizing your notes in one place for easy review. And as in-person visits become an option again, FlightPlan creates the fastest route between multiple offices letting you get more done with less time.
Having a strong referral base leads to strong volumes, strong revenue, and ultimately a strong wound care program. It requires service line directors to take an active role in outreach and relationship building. We often see programs neglecting to dedicate time to seeking out new referral sources, turning their attention instead to the more immediate demands of their center. They often fail to see the long-term benefits of the investment. Start using these strategies today and you will see improvements to your volume and revenue.