Referral Inquiry to Admission Conversion Rate

Why invest one more dollar to make the phone ring if we cannot convert the referrals received to an admission??? I have seen so many health care organizations pump money into referral development as oppose to referral conversion. Just doesn’t make sense to me? And here is why!!

A real life example. This is a 65 ADC hospice receiving about 50 referrals a month (or 300 for six months), LOS of 65 and a conversion rate of 66%. The Gold Standard by the way is an 85% conversion rate. The per diem rate for this hospice is $150. This example does not include any GIP. Being able to move the conversion needle by just 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 percent will yield the following…..

1% = 3 more patients served. Generating 195 DOC (days of care) x $150 = $29,350
2% = 6 more patients served. Generating 390 DOC x $150 = $58,500
3% = 9 more patients served. Generating 585 DOC x $150 = $87,750
4% = 12 more patients served. Generating 780 DOC x $150 = $117,000
5% = 15 more patients served. Generating 975 DOC x $150 = $ 146,250

If this organization was able to achieve the Gold Standard of 85% (a 19% improvement) it would generate $555,750!!!!!!

All this without making the phone ring any more than it already is!!!

To achieve these results, I built a program around some words of wisdom I once received from a Nun who was my CEO in a past life. Mary Ellen Howard, RSM. “To drive good outcomes, you need excellent structures and process in place” Simple but powerful words!!!

Here is brief look at some of the key structures and processes

  • Widen the top of the referral funnel and make sure to capture and record all referral inquiries; even those “napkin” referrals. Some organizations selectively record only those referrals they know will convert. Heck, this way I could manipulate the process and have a 100% conversion rate!!
  • Become very clear about the criteria making a referral Not Taken Under Care and thus taken off the radar screen!!!
  • Create and organize a pending list that will allow you to work 90-days to convert a referral to an admission. Assign a pending referral to one of the following buckets: Physician related, a family issue, using skilled days, does not meet eligibility or went with another hospice.
  • During your morning stand-up meetings, review those pending referrals that are a few days new. On weekly bases with your clinical leadership, marketing staff and Referral Intake Coordinator (use the collective wisdom of the group), scrub all the pending referrals and update their status.
  • Training and education on how to be innovative thinkers to break through barriers that are preventing pending referrals from converting to an admission. Truly thinking outside the box can move the conversion needle. Tell success stories to the organization that inspire folks.
  • Measure, measure and measure using a 90-day rolling conversion rate. The reason for doing a rolling 90-day conversion rate as oppose to a monthly conversion rate is as follows. If you received 5 referral inquiries the last day of the month that do not convert till the next month that one month conversion rate would be skewed low. Completely a 90-day rolling conversion rate “smoothes” out the fluctuations of referral inquiries and admission in a 90-day period.

The bar chat below show the results of an 85 ADC hospice conversion rate as they put in place a new referral inquire to admission program. The starting 90-rolling rate was 68% and after 12-month improved to 79%.


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