February may be half way over, but it is never too late to realign market priorities and strategies to increase cardiovascular service line growth. To build a strategic service line, the key ingredient is data. There are extensive sources of data such as: internal (encounters financial trends, referral analysis), external (market share, network connections, census data) and field data (outreach activity, issue trends, visit intelligence, competitive analysis). By using a mix of field intelligence, internal data and external data, your team can take advantage to use data to better understand:
- Services that define your organization
- Where you stand in the market compare to your peers
- How to identify “good volumes”
- How patients get to your organization
- Actions to advance network relationships
- Impact of new reimbursement models and plans
In order to not jump too far ahead, the first part of the equation is to really understand those “sources’ of data mentioned earlier and the value they can provide in helping build those service line initiatives. Here are a couple sources of data to examine and the implications they can have on your bottom line.
This is probably the best starting point because it is typically the easiest and most cost effective data to access. In fact, most business development roles have access to internal data that helps highlight procedural and referral trends as capturing with the hospital or clinic EHR. As a business leader, internal data can help you answer:
- Based on referral logs, what business can you not afford to lose? What can you do to maintain these partnerships?
- Do first referral trends indicate there new patient pipelines out there? How can we further explore and maximize these opportunities?
- How can we further connect with our own patients to build brand loyalty?
Another great source of internal data is patient data and if you are on the marketing team, you are likely also involved with purchasing consumer data. A mix of both will allow you to reach out and educate prospective patients regarding new services, providers, special events etc. Some great examples of patient engagement regarding strategies used by one of our clients for cardiac service line growth are:
- Invite females within community to a Heart-to-Heart event that features the unique symptoms, diagnostic tools and treatment options specific to women with heart disease and how to protect their hearts through key transitions
- Email an invite to all patients in a PCP practice who are over 50 to promote a complimentary vascular screening offer to all patients who met specific criteria that placed them at high risk. These screenings were done in conjunction with the PAs from an affiliated cardiovascular practice. In addition to generating a couple of vascular bases, the event was also used to promote and extend the cardiovascular clinic’s brand to potential prospects.
- Provide a welcome mailer to all consumers between 55-75 who were moving into a specific zip code (retirement community) to introduce our team of cardiac specialists; including a health profile that could be placed on consumer’s fridge in case of emergency
Transitioning to sources of external data, there are a lot of different ways to study what is occurring in the market. Until there is a single payer system or EHR in place, no one source can give a complete outlook, but this is where something can be better than nothing. Internal data only allows you to see what’s occurring within the walls of your system. External data allows organizations to peek what’s happening in other systems and compare trends to our own. When it comes to accessing state, CMS or claims data, these are the questions external data can help answer:
- Based on your organization’s strategic plan, which service lines are poised for growth and why?
- What growth accelerators (new physician, procedure, demand, etc.) are driving these assumptions?
- Are there any growth barriers that need to be mitigated?
- Who are the top providers and where do they prefer to practice?
Shared Patient Analysis
In shared patient analysis, identify weak connections and realign accordingly. Researching shared patients allows an organization to get targeted and define physician loyalty.
A loyal physician should be referring over 80% of patients to your organization or providers within your organization. Determining physicians that refer less than expected, causes you to define how missed connections are happening and alter for a better future outcome.
Impact reports aren’t a source of data necessarily but just as important as developing a growth strategy, is the ability to track and communicate the impact of specific efforts. It’s important to find ways to use data to tell your story. A great example of how an impact report can be used leveraging Ascend, was by a client whose team made a concerted effort to reach out to surgeons about changes in the OR. They also implemented an advisory group to help close reoccurring issues and equipment needs. By tracking their visits and issues within Ascend and tying those against surgeries, they were able to demonstrate the impact their efforts had on volumes.
Even though heart program start ups or expansions have been largely flat or declining across the US, cardiac services, regardless of the various reimbursement models that have been introduced, still represent the opportunity for hospitals and systems to generate significant contribution margins. To build a strong service line, focus on utilizing data as described and have processes in place to target, track and trend your results.