Do you have a plan for if and when your census drops below a certain threshold? Does this always happen around a certain time of the year? What can you do to understand and plan for it?
Having a plan for when your census is lower than expectations is crucial. However, these plans need to be thought out and developed well before the census drops below hospital expectations. Not having a well thought out plan can cause you to frantically scramble to generate referrals from anyone and anywhere. While it is true that referrals can come from anyone and anywhere, the places that have historically been a top referral source for you should be your first priority. This goes back to knowing who your top referral sources are. If you can make targeted efforts to referral sources that have referred in the past, you have a higher likelihood of receiving a referral as opposed to a general marketing plan to the public.
Here is how I would begin to formulate my Low Census Plan. First, create the plan when your census is relatively high. Odds are, the times that your census is highest, your referrals are highest as well. Take notes of who is making the referrals, why they are making them, and where they heard about your program. Second, maintain or amend the plan by adjusting who your top referral sources are throughout the year. You might see that one particular referral source sends more during a certain time of the year. Find out why that is and utilize that knowledge if your low census is during that time. Last, share this plan with your staff and administration prior to your census getting low to make sure they know that you are prepared. If and when your census gets low, remind your staff and your hospital administration that you are prepared for this. If there is anything your staff or administration could do to help improve the census, make sure it is spelled out in your plan so that it does not come as a surprise.
Times of low census happen and are sometimes unavoidable. For instance, if you have a number of unexpected abrupt discharges and a relatively low number of referrals. This can significantly impact the census. However, if we are prepared and respond quickly, we are better able to address these concerns. If you need help developing this plan, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Director of Business Development