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Increasing Rehab Census - A Two-Fold Revenue Builder

Clint Maun, CSP

In many facilities an increase in census is necessary to increase Rehabilitation productivity. To improve your census opportunities, first identify your major referral source(s) and stay in direct and continued communication with them. In addition, review and consider carrying out the steps in the following Marketing Plan which is designed to market facilities that are:
  • Experiencing a negative profit margin.
  • Geographically located in a "cluster" group where aggressive marketing can impact the most facilities within a compact area.

Begin by implementing these 8 steps in your plan toward revenue enhancement:

I. Identify your major referral source(s) by location and contact person
  • Example: Mary Smith, Discharge Planner, County Hospital, or Dr. Johnson, neurologist, etc. The Admissions office should be able to supply you with this information. Are these "solid" referral sources, or challenging?
II. Send out an introduction letter to all referral sources (present and past) from your rehab team. Include:
  • Who you are: The Rehabilitation management team for (xyz) facility.
  • Disciplines - PT, OT, SLP. Include brief staff profiles if appropriate, i.e., name, title, experience, specialized training.
  • Present what you do: deliver quality rehabilitation services in a caring environment.
  • Mention other facilities in the general area (if you are a multi-facility organization),
  • Promotional item: Consider printing bright yellow rolodex cards with all your organization’s "cluster" facilities listed including fax and phone numbers.
III. Letter #2
  • Send a follow up letter approximately 10 days to 2 weeks after the 1st letter, to include:
    • The specific types of rehab diagnoses you provide treatment for in the rehab department. (Under the broad headings of neurological and musculoskeletal, include more specific diagnosis).
    • General positive information about your specific facility, i.e.: 24-hr. admissions, nursing services, dining and social activities.
    • Mention again other company facilities in the general area if applicable.
    • Promotional item: Pen - With a window on the side which changes messages each time the pen is clicked. Several "cluster" facilities could be listed along with their phone number.
IV. Thank You Cards - Multipurpose
  • Send a thank you note from the rehab department for every new admission.
  • A brief discharge summary note must be sent to the attending physician for every Medicare discharge.
  • Follow-up on all discharged patients. A simple "hope you are doing well" along with your business card, and signatures from the rehab staff is sufficient. Studies show that 62% of all Medicare rehab patients will eventually need rehab again.
  • A simple rehab notebook of successful outcomes is a great tool to have when corresponding or meeting with referral sources. Information should include the patient’s name, admission and discharge date, diagnosis treatment and how quickly and effectively they were treated and returned home.
V. Become a part of your facilities’ census building and marketing team!
  • A member of the rehab team should be present at each facility meeting to help coordinate the RUGs level of each resident.
  • Become aware of the type of admissions that are received.
  • On new admissions consider up front whether the patient might be a candidate for a long-term care stay in the facility. If so, are we speaking with the family along those terms? Every patient is not necessarily a good candidate to return home. This type of patient awareness can help build long term census.
  • Be willing to take on "tough" cases and be a part of the total team which can treat patients successfully even if other competitors cannot. Being able to tell referral sources that we "admitted 36 patients and refused, only 1" will demonstrate our collaborative facility approach among therapy, nursing, and other departments.
VI. Direct external marketing visits and networking by the rehab team.
  • Visit at least two referral sources, or potential referral sources per month (Visits may be made with other facility personnel). Take along all necessary marketing information and items.
  • If rehab recognizes a situation where a patient would better benefit in another of the companies’ facilities, (because of any number of reasons), discuss this at the morning meeting. It would be better to transfer a patient to another company facility than to lose that patient to a competitor.
  • Network among your friends who are therapists in other rehab settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc. Let these professional friends know of the services offered in the rehab department and the facility.
VII. Inexpensive brochure (optional)
  • List the features on all "cluster" facilities in your area. A brief questionnaire can be sent from your corporation to gather general information.
VIII. Medicare Discharge Plan
  • Upon discharge after a Medicare rehab stay, therapists must send a note to the referring physician or referral source which reads - (example):
Dear Dr. (xyz):

We were pleased to complete rehab work today with Mrs. Jane Jones, who was referred to us by your office. We are sending her home from our rehab unit successfully and according to our rehab/care unit plan. We met our goals of sending her home/off rehab in the appropriate time frames and with the expected/better than expected outcomes. Thank you for referring her to us and as you know, this is the 12th patient of yours we have sent home according to our rehab goal plan. Thank you for the confidence you have placed in us and for working with our staff to deliver these great results to your patients.

Best Regards,