From Referral to Admission in Four Hours
How Hospice Centers of Excellence Achieve Longer LOS Despite Workforce Shortages
The COVID pandemic has been hard on hospice providers. For many, census, length of stay and workforce retention all suffered. At the same time, consumer and referrer expectations of responsiveness and service increased, taxing already strained teams. In many markets, referrals have become a footrace, and whoever responds first wins.
New data from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, unveiled at the recent Financial Managers’ Conference, quantified just how bad this footrace has become and how much it’s costing providers. According to the study, hospice centers of excellence are admitting eligible patients within four hours of the referral. That’s at least 20 hours ahead of most providers. And, these faster-moving hospices also tend to have a median length of stay that is at least 10 days greater than other hospices (33 days versus 23 days).
These hospice centers of excellence span sizes, geographies, CON conditions and tax status. We’re proud to count most of Transcend clients among the group.
When I share these study findings with hospice executives, I’m often met with the reaction that they’ll address admission processes when they have the staff to do so. While I understand the reality executives find themselves in these days, this thinking is shortsighted. In particular because it’s directly counter to what your employees want.
Transcend’s latest research shows process improvements have a direct impact on the job satisfaction of homecare workers that is second only to pay. And, for roughly a third of the workforce, improving these work conditions is key to preventing turnover. That means by improving your admissions process, you address staffing challenges AND significantly improve your financial position.
Ready to get started improving your admissions process? Here are some key questions we encourage our clients to answer:
- When was the last time we audited our admissions process and made meaningful changes?
- What is our current average time from referral to admission? What is our current average time from referral to assessment? How have these metrics changed over the past three years?
- What are the real or perceived barriers to improving admissions responsiveness?
- Who should be involved in improving the admissions process? Would we be able to go further faster with outside help?
- How does our process currently work? Are each of these elements essential and adding value to each of the audiences?
- What do our referral partners think of our responsiveness?
- How satisfied are patients and families with our responsiveness and admissions process?
- Does our admissions process set the tone for the rest of our relationship?
- Does our admissions process set our team up for success?
It can be tempting to prioritize new service lines over this important work. In a recent straw poll of providers, most are planning to add another service line in the next year or two. Honestly, adding a service line is far more stressful to a team than prioritizing process improvements. And, the launch of your new service will go much more effectively and generate faster results if it’s rooted in an optimized process that works well for employees, referrers and patients. So please, don’t even think about launching another service line or strategic partnership until you address this critical aspect of your business.