The Front Office: Gatekeeper for Your Rehab Facility
At most rehabilitation facilities, the “front office” and/or the admissions coordinator shoulders a variety of responsibilities, including facilitating the intake process and serving as a liaison between his or her organization and its referral sources. As a critical cog in the referral process, the admissions coordinator must have the ability to build relationships with referral sources and patients and their families.
The admissions coordinator, or person in a similar role, might not think of him or herself as a marketer. However, this person works as a marketer every day, promoting the rehabilitation program and its services. The balance between promotion of services and the organization must be expressed in tandem. Too many marketing messages focus solely on the organization itself, not the benefits it can provide to the patients receiving care. Adversely, messages that focus solely on services provided miss a chance to brand the rehabilitation program as a whole. When defining rehabilitation programs, remember to include the services provided without losing the organization’s central message.
Because of the key responsibilities of building contacts and generating referrals, the admissions coordinator must be personable, efficient, and knowledgeable. Even if he or she has other responsibilities (such as scheduling or other registration work), management must think of the desired skill set for an admissions coordinator from a marketing perspective before making hiring decisions. This individual’s important job isn’t restricted to finding referrals and passing them off; it might include actually greeting and registering the patients he or she worked to locate.
A rehabilitation program’s marketer or admissions coordinator must know the exact number of referrals that translate to profit. Knowing the exact number of referrals needed to operate within budget is critical when evaluating the success of an organization’s marketing programs. If marketing objectives are backed with data, it becomes easier to set realistic goals and identify if those goals are met.
When looking for these referrals, admissions coordinators can draw from their role as hospital liaison because of their direct contact with referral sources. From their hands-on experience, they can determine barriers in the admission process, the facility’s general reputation, and solutions to any pressing problems. A recent webinar from the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association stated that as a general rule, the first step to increasing volume should be to identify the market segment that comprises greater than 60% of current admissions. This “60% rule” helps organizations design a focused, tailored organizational definition for its target demographics.
Admissions coordinators are an integral part of the referral process, and hiring a marketing-minded individual will help translate more referrals into admissions, which will boost the bottom line. The quality of the relationships these individuals build will determine the success or failure of the organization. If they can maintain a high standard of personal care throughout the referral and intake processes, they’ll help ensure the long-term success of their organizations.