How and Why to Choose a CRM For Your Home Care Agency

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In today’s very competitive world, agencies should invest in a CRM that is simple to use, secure, affordable, and tailored for agency operations. 

Guest article written by David Cole and Tony Onaissi, CEO of Isoratec

Like it the old fashioned way?

Technology.  The very sound of the word can send shivers down the spine of a homecare business owner.  For years vendors have been hawking products that while useful and important, can be a nightmare to implement and more disruptive to their business operations than beneficial.  But there are a few areas where the technology is worth the pain.

For example, if you are in the homecare business, you likely need to have an electronic health records system (an EHR or EMR) to manage your client records in a HIPAA-compliant manner.  If you bill regulatory authorities such as Medicaid waiver programs, you probably need to have a system that manages electronic billing and payroll as well. And Medicare, with its OASIS, RAPs, and final billing is even more complex and nearly impossible to do manually.

There are systems you need to have in place for client management, service tracking, billing, payroll, and human resource management.  The best back-end vendor systems will handle most all of this in an integrated and seamless manner for you.  But these systems leave out, bypass, or forget the most important part of the puzzle… getting the client to begin with!  For that, you need a CRM or customer relationship management system.

CRM systems represent the first step in new client acquisition (read: getting more business).  A good CRM system will provide a couple of very specialized functions that aren’t found in most back-end systems. Let’s look at a few of these important functions…

  • Determining who your marketing reps should call on – This involves understanding the territory you service, who the referral sources are in that area, and what motivates them to refer.

  • Managing the contacts and interactions between the rep and the referral source – All CRM systems keep track of the calls, visits, emails, etc., but the best systems include forward-facing tickler systems to remind reps of when to re-connect with a prospect, and ensure promises made to prospects are kept and on time.

  • Ensuring referrals come with all necessary data – In the “old days” a referral could be a name and phone number, but today, many referrals come from clients with diverse pay sources that can range from private pay to Medicare waiver program, to private insurance, to Medicare. Some clients can also represent a mash-up of multiple payers, such as the “dual eligible” Medicare-Medicaid patient who is qualified for personal care services through a Medicaid waiver program, skilled service through Medicare, and private pay services to supplement them both.

    The fact is that ALL different types of clients can come from the same referral sources, hospitals, SNFs, ALFs, physician referrals, and word of mouth. Your reps must understand the different types of referrals and be prepared to handle them, regardless of the situation.  A good CRM system will set the reps up for success, by ensuring the referrals include all of the required information.

  • Interfacing with your agency management system – It’s hard enough to manage the use of one system, but most homecare agencies manage several systems including their agency management system, billing system, payroll system, background check system, HR management system, and the list goes on. The last thing you need is one more system to manage, so you need to make sure your CRM system works seamlessly with your agency management system.

    This means your CRM needs to do a one-time import of all your referral history data so it can serve as the “system of record” for referral management.  Once this is complete the CRM can then provide a one-way data flow from the CRM to the agency management system as referrals are received.

  • Flexibility! – While most agencies get to the same point eventually, no two get there the same way. Your CRM system needs to have the flexibility to adjust to your business model, NOT the other way around.  It should allow for changing labels on fields, so the fields are meaningful and clear to busy sales reps.  If you are in Louisiana, you need to change the “County” field to “Parrish”.  And you might call referrals prospects, or clients, or patients, or something else.  Your system needs to be flexible enough to manage it.

  • An edge over competitors – If you didn’t have any competition, you wouldn’t need a CRM system at all, the referrals would all just come to you. But you do have competition!  And your CRM system needs to be the edge you have over them.  Better intelligence, better preparedness, better referral data, and less wasted time, all add up to give you a competitive advantage.

  • A means to reliably measure rep performance – All performance is not the same! Some reps may have reliable referral sources that they don’t have to spend any time on at all and they still get great results.  Other reps are working like crazy and hardly make any progress at all.  Sometimes this is a function of effort and sometimes it’s just luck.  You need to make sure your CRM has the tools to help you see what’s really going on.

  • A roadmap for the future – Your CRM system is not just about hunting for new business, it’s also, and arguably more importantly, for maintaining your relationships with existing customers. Reps need to know when to re-contact their referral sources, plan for follow-up visits, and be able to “rank” referral sources based on their production.

With COVID-19, the best reps are finding that a combination of sales calls, materials sent, personal interaction to enhance the personal relationship, anything that helps builds relationships works!  When working like this it is critical that the reps can keep up with the information they need to gather, the promises they make, and to track future events.  CRM is the solution!

In today’s very competitive world, agencies should invest in a CRM that is simple to use, secure, affordable, and tailored for Home Care agencies. This investment will absolutely increase the number of your referrals and help you keep a tight lid on expenses; the two key ingredients for any successful and profitable business.

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