Survival Skills for Hospices

Part D, ICD-10, regulatory scrutiny, rate cuts, increasing costs, competition – the list of challenges facing hospices is beyond daunting.  Hospices that had previously experienced a growing census and healthy bottom line are, at best, watching their operating margins shrink.

Whereas the previous decade was one of growth and innovation, the next decade could see more hospices closing, merging or just struggling to keep their doors open.  Being a hospice leader has never been more challenging.

Survival Skills

In order to survive or better yet thrive, hospices need to develop the skills to sustain their organization.  Survival skills for hospices include these four critical areas:

  1. Improving your market penetration  
  2. Developing new revenue streams
  3. Leading your organization
  4. Improving efficiencies

The first two areas are focused on increasing your revenue by growing your census and developing new revenue to offset cuts in reimbursement and decreasing your dependence on the Hospice Medicare Benefit and philanthropy.  Strengthening your intake and admission processes, identifying and reaching underserved populations, and implementing integrated outreach, education, social media and marketing campaigns can help you identify and serve more eligible patients earlier in their disease progression. 

Yet as Jim Collins told the hospice community years ago, hospices that continue to rely on the Medicare Hospice Benefit as the primary funding source are at the mercy of rate cuts and regulatory challenges that threaten the solvency of hundreds of hospices.  That’s why it’s imperative that hospices find new ways to get paid for things you are so good at. Case management, pain and symptom control, reducing hospitalizations and ER visits, grief counseling, caregiver support and education, advance care planning, care transitions, etc.

The third and fourth survival skills are critically important as you put the revenue-generating strategies into place.  Leading your organization through turbulent times requires a strong partnership with your board, a realistic and actionable strategic plan, and the ability to lead your organization through the constant changes and challenges you face.    

Improving efficiencies is another essential strategy during lean times. When facing shortfalls, people often look for items to cut from their budgets, rather than ways to work smarter.  When was the last time you looked for ways to improve your systems, optimize your purchases, realign staffing, leverage the untapped talents of your staff and volunteers, invest in technology to reduce expenditures, collaborate with new partners to achieve economies of scale? These strategies are not luxuries for those with time on their hands; they are necessities that all hospices should explore to ensure fiscal viability. 

New Collaboration Focuses on Survival Skills

Weatherbee Resources and the kb group are collaborating to help you learn and implement these survival skills.  Our goal is to help hospices survive and thrive so that you can continue to provide the highest quality care to those you serve. 

Learn more about Survival Skills for Hospices on Weatherbee’s website and give us a call to learn how we can help your program. 

Posted by: 

Kathy Brandt, MS, Principal, the kb group