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Good care requires good business

Home health agencies operate on thin and uncertain margins, so maximizing billings while controlling costs ought to be an easy sell. Alarm bells sounded when potential clients were cool to HealthCareFirst’s software and services. With a significant private equity investment from The Riverside Company to fund growth, Bobby Robertson, HealthCareFirst’s CEO, needed to figure out why his slam-dunk product wasn’t generating the expected growth.

Thinking LIKE Your Clients Is More than a Cliché

In-depth interviews with existing and potential clients revealed a huge mismatch between nurse-owner clients and the company’s efficiency experts. Nurse-owners simply don’t think in the same terms as other business owners. Without the interviews, no one would have believed different priorities created so much distance between buyer and seller.

Nursing is as much a calling as a vocation, and nurses-turned-business owners operated most of the agencies served. With patient care as their driving force, the nurse-owners were wary of the big, profit-driven healthcare companies they felt prioritized profits ahead of patient care. Nurse-owners didn’t see a difference in priorities; they saw an offense against their values.

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“Bruce exhibited a great ability to ‘dig in’ to get a real understanding of our clients’ needs / wants / perceptions that we missed with our traditional tactics.”

Bobby Robertson, CEO, HealthCareFirst

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The spreadsheets demonstrating profits and efficiencies that worked so well in other industries came across as a lack of concern for patient care. Routing software for mobile devices that minimized travel time between home visits was a particularly hard sell. Nurses assumed it was a stealth way to increase each nurse’s workload.

Only after the interviews was it obvious that HealthCareFirst needed a new approach. The company’s offering would continue to be viewed skeptically until the company won the trust of nurse-owners who spent their careers fighting faceless, profit-driven bureaucracies on behalf of their patients.

Fizzle to Dazzle

Repositioning the company to directly align with nurse-owners’ overriding concern for patient care generated a remarkable and an almost immediate reversal of fortune. The actual service and pricing remained completely unchanged.

The entire HealthCareFirst organization stopped thinking about nurses, and began thinking like nurses. Operating efficiencies and improved billing became the means to fund the care patients deserved rather than a threat to that care. The scorned mobile application was suddenly welcomed; with less travel time between patients, nurses would have more time to spend with patients who needed extra care. Once they started using the application, nurses were willing to see reduced paperwork as another gain for patient care.

Suddenly, HealthCareFirst was wearing a white hat. Nurse-owners embraced an offering that allowed them to provide improved care to patients within the confines of complex Medicare reimbursement policies.

Making the effort to understand the real motivations of their clients changed everything without changing that much. With new positioning, the exact same product with the same economics went from strikeout to homerun. The entire company benefited from the resulting market success and felt energized by the knowledge they were supporting the dedicated work of the home health agencies. The marketing strategy was the catalyst for becoming a true partner of home health agencies and supported a series of acquisitions that turned HealthCareFirst into a market leader in a highly fragmented industry.

Turn your Marketing into a Virtuous Cycle of Best Clients.

When you know Why You Win,
you Win more often.


Your Best Clients have shorter sales cycles, bring you better projects,
and are happy to pay what you’re worth.
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