America is getting older. Over the last 100 years, the portion of the population aged 65 and older has grown from 5% to over 16%. For many people in this age group, long-term care offers the ideal balance of independence and support for evolving personal needs.
Long-term care supports people of all ages, but around 93% of residents in long-term care facilities are 65 or older, according to the CDC. As the nation ages, the long-term care market grows (Grand View Research specifically projects a 6.62% compound annual growth rate from 2023 to 2030). And along with this growth come some considerable challenges around staffing, costs, referrals, and discharges.
If you’re doing business in this space, these challenges are also opportunities to highlight the usefulness of your product or service. But there’s more to selling and marketing to long-term care than having a good value proposition. You also need the right data to understand the scope of your market opportunity, as well as access to the right contacts with the decision-making power to close a deal.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to use healthcare commercial intelligence from a variety of sources to market and sell to long-term care facilities. After reading, you should understand how to use multiple data sources—including reference and affiliations data, clinical and quality scores, and medical claims—to segment your market, identify the best contacts, and engage with them effectively.
Understand the challenges facing the market
Long-term care involves several distinct care delivery models: assisted living facilities (ALFs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), hospice, and home health care. While this guide focuses on selling to ALFs and SNFs, the strategies outlined here can still be used to sell to hospice and home health care programs, as they share many of the same challenges.
Staffing is a top concern across healthcare, but the long-term care industry faces unique challenges around employee attrition due to difficult working conditions. SNF turnover rates are above 40%, while home health agencies see turnover above 60%. Not only does this level of turnover create critical gaps in operational capacity; it also presents a compounding expense, as recruiting and onboarding a new worker is often more costly than taking measures to keep an existing worker happily employed.
Long-term care work is often mentally and physically taxing, requiring workers to use their own bodies to move patients (to and from the bed or bathroom, for instance) and provide intimate care during particularly vulnerable, stressful periods in patients’ lives. For many workers, the pay doesn’t fit the bill: While the median hourly pay in the U.S. is around $20, long-term care workers’ median pay sits around $15.
But staffing isn’t the only challenge facing long-term care. Referrals are the lifeblood of the industry, but many SNFs and ALFs are seeing once-reliable and well-reimbursed services—like injury rehabilitation and aftercare for joint replacement—shift to outpatient centers and home health care, where they can be delivered at a lower cost to patient and payor.
As referrals for high-paying services dry up, the costs related to other, less-profitable services rise. The combination of an aging population with a turnover-prone workforce means long-term care labor is in high demand and staffing costs are beginning to reflect the situation. A global macroeconomic downturn has driven up other key costs, from real estate to overhead.
More than ever, long-term care facilities are looking for opportunities to cut expenses while attracting high-value referrals and retaining talent. If you can communicate your business’s ability to deliver these opportunities, you’ll be well-positioned to engage prospects and win deals in the space.
Identify where your solution is needed
Examining industry trends and simply keeping up with the news will help you know where to find an opportunity, but you’ll need healthcare commercial intelligence to intimately understand your specific market. You should tap into a variety of data sources to single out the organizations that can best benefit from your solution.
Clinical and quality data tracked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are useful for determining where a facility is struggling. These include:
If you’re in the facility sanitation business, for instance, you might look for SNFs reporting high levels of facility-associated infections. Or, if you’re selling a patient management solution, you could target facilities with low HCAHPS scores and highlight the impact of your product on patient and family satisfaction.
You’ll also want to leverage healthcare reference and affiliations data—these are the firmographic and financial details that define providers and facilities:
- Financial data like net patient revenue, departmental expenditures, and payer reimbursements can help you determine whether a prospect is positioned to make a purchase.
- Affiliations data reveal the relationships between facilities, providers, and systems, making it easier to identify key relationships and target decision-makers and influencers.
- RFPs and Certificate of Need applications can help you spot opportunities around an organization’s expansion.
- And contact data, of course, enables you to actually engage with a potential buyer.
Procedure, diagnosis, and prescription claims data provide additional insights into prospects: Who are their patients/residents? Which diagnoses and services are their key sources of reimbursement? From where are they receiving referrals? Claims-based intelligence on secondary diagnoses and comorbidities may also help to identify potential buyers.
If you know who your ideal buyers are, you can leverage the types of data mentioned above to find them in your market. After you’ve sized up the opportunity, you can appropriately allocate resources and start your targeted outreach.
Tailor your messaging to the prospect
Once you’ve segmented your market and identified the facilities that meet your target criteria, you’ll already have the intelligence you need to build detailed profiles of each prospect and shape your messaging to their unique needs. Beginning outreach equipped with a thorough understanding of a business’s needs and challenges—and speaking directly to the metrics and scores that define its success—helps to demonstrate your value from the first engagement.
The metrics that matter most will depend on what you’re selling. Reimbursement-driving procedures and diagnoses, referral sources, HCAHPs scores, technology installs—what’s irrelevant to a staffing firm could be solid gold to an IT agency. Think carefully about your value proposition and focus on the relevant data points when building out profiles.
Ideally, you’ll already have contact information for the key contacts at a target facility. Keep in mind the contact’s role; the concerns of a C-suite executive are going to be different than those of a nursing manager, for instance.
Good contact data can reveal who has purchasing power within an organization, but the person holding the purse strings isn’t always the ideal point of first contact. Influential doctors (identified through claims volumes or referrals) or technical administrators (like heads of IT or radiation technicians) who are closest to a problem can often sway purchasing decisions, even if their signatures won’t be on the contract.
Consider not only the needs of your contact and their business’s bottom line, but also of the people who report to them. The size and makeup of a facility’s staff, turnover rates, salary budget, and demographic information provide insights into the needs of the employees who your prospect likely wants to keep satisfied.
Compared to the overall labor market, long-term care workers are more likely to be women, Black, or immigrants, all demographic groups that are disproportionately under-compensated. Workers in this industry are also less likely to have access to employer-sponsored retirement and health plans, and are more likely to work multiple jobs. You may be able to use census and employment data for your market—and even public social media information—to get a better understanding of the local labor force.
What it all means
Using healthcare commercial intelligence built on a variety of data sources—including claims, reference and affiliations data, clinical and quality metrics, and primary research—you can segment the long-term care market, find the ideal contacts, and craft highly tailored outreach to speak to prospects’ unique needs and challenges. With the right intelligence, you can boost engagement rates and close more deals.
Working with this intelligence can be incredibly tedious or relatively effortless depending on the quality of your data and your means of analyzing it. Unless your marketing department features a full-time, in-house team of data managers and analysts, you’ll likely need external support to deliver high-quality data at the scale and cadence necessary to support your sales and marketing strategy. You’ll save time by partnering with a data vendor that offers intuitive and robust analytical tools, too.
For more information on developing data-driven sales and marketing strategies, check out these resources: