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Why The Best Drug Rehab Referral Network for Nurturing Leads Is Your Intakes

Posted on Feb 28, 2019 by Jim Peake

Why The Best Drug Rehab Referral Network for Nurturing Leads Is Your Intakes

If you own a drug rehab or know someone who does (hint, hint referral?) you’re probably scrambling to do what you can to make the phones ring and convert admits. If you don’t have the LegitScript certification, you’re not running social paid ads so you’ve got to make up for that marketing funnel loss elsewhere. If you do “have it together” and enjoy the world of paid advertising, you know it can cost you a pretty penny, and then some. While most addiction treatment businesses will focus on external ways to get more business, your best drug rehab referral network is already built in to what you have, your intakes.

Ask and You Shall Receive

It continues to baffle me when I ask drug rehab owners and their marketers when the last time it was that they sent out a client email, during treatment and after a patient has completed their program. And you know the response I get more than anything? That deer-in-the-headlights look.

We’ll get back to email marketing and drip campaigns in a few but let’s first give some attention to client or patient surveys.

Sure, no doubt that the drug detox and treatment process is arduous. It may not appear to be a good idea to ask your intakes for feedback about their experience while they’re still going through it. It might seem unfair to ask their opinion about the care being provided while they are in the middle of it.  But it’s actually the perfect time. And here’s why.

Intakes Tell You What You Don’t Want to Hear But Need to Hear

Ironic, isn’t it, that they very thing that an addict in treatment fears could be the same thing you fear about their treatment—the truth. Because it hurts. However, the truth is the starting point in learning what you’re doing wrong, what you’re doing right, and discovering new opportunities that will set you apart from competitors.

And it begins by asking your intakes two simple questions:

  1. How are you doing?
  2. How are we doing?

Survey Says… There’s Always Room for Improvement

When your client or patient has a therapist or counselor ask “How do you feel” it creates a sense of caring. So, when was the last time the same question was asked by your administrative staff or, dare I say, the corporate side of your rehab?

A survey that comes from an administrator and delivered to a patient during their stay sends a very powerful message. You are telling them that their care matters while it’s happening and if something isn’t right, you are genuinely interested in fixing it.

Considering the amount of recidivism within the industry, a person in your treatment facility who is there due to relapse already has experiences to draw upon when it comes to drug rehab. And those prior stints in rehab will serve as the benchmark (good or bad) for you to exceed or fail.

A Solid Survey Campaign Helps Overcome:

  1. Disconnect between staff and patients
  2. Client perception of being treated like a number and not a human being
  3. Inconsistencies or loopholes in treatment programs or service offerings

Your current intakes are an infinitive resource of vital information that can impact how you do business.

The Path of Least Resistance Lies in a Checkbox

Not all surveys are created equal. The content you put into the surveys will also vary depending on when, in the patient lifecycle, you distribute them. Although I can’t tell you exactly what to include in each, I can offer guidelines to help increase their effectiveness and build a better client experience.

Survey Guidelines to Maximize Client Responsiveness:

  • Make it easy – It should be a non-stressful exercise
  • Make it time sensitive – Deliver it during key moments in the patient journey with a deadline in receiving it back
  • Make it brief – No more than 4 questions, yes or no answers, and the final question (optional) as a place for comments

During the initial intake process, include a brief survey as part of the enrollment. It will give you an assessment of how the patient/client feels when entering detox or treatment. As you know, these are not the most positive moments of the recovery process but for a survey, it will help set up a benchmark for the patient to improve upon during treatment. And self-improvement from this point onward is more than likely.

Once you include the survey in their enrollment, bring attention to it by discussing it with each patient, as a means to understand how they are feeling. If needed, you can read aloud the survey (or ask their loved one to do that) so that all the patient needs to do is provide quick verbal answers—yes or no. This survey also sets up an indicator that you and your staff genuinely care about the patient’s wellbeing.

Make sure that the intake administrator, or other person responsible for enrolling the patient into your program, makes a copy of the survey and answers.

Halfway through a person’s treatment program, ask them to complete another survey. You might even include the same questions as the first survey. If the client is at your facility undergoing inpatient care, consider providing them a hard copy survey to fill out. If there are safety concerns about them handling a pen or pencil, use a digital version and send via email (if online communications are allowed).

Have an open conversation with them about their care. Show them their initial survey and compare it to the one that was just completed. You can talk about the progress made and address any inconsistencies or disappointments due to unrealistic expectations. While this conversation is important, perhaps the most beneficial aspects lie in the fact that the discussion is happening. Again, this is another instance showing that you care. Keep a copy of this survey with the client’s answers for your records.

Provide an exit survey, when the client goes from being a patient to alumni member of your program. You will learn valuable insights that can be applied to future clients and their treatment experience. You can also show the answers from surveys 1 and 2 to further illustrate their progress and reinforce your appreciation in the hard work completed. Keep a copy of the survey.

Anonymity Is Great But It Doesn’t Guarantee the Truth

Contrary to how surveys are usually done, the above survey schedule includes interaction between patient and surveyor. This style is deliberate, as it leads with an element of transparency – different than what anonymous surveys will do. But they do have their place, once a client is done with treatment.

If you prefer to have your clients do surveys 1, 2 and 3 anonymously, you can certainly set them up that way but you lose the opportunity to engage in a conversation about how their treatment experience is going, throughout their time in your program, minimizing their voice in the overall strategy of their care.

Send out one more survey. Once the patient has left the umbrella of their treatment protocol and begun to live life on the outside, send another survey to them (via email or text). Make it a point to let the client know that their answers are anonymous. However, also ensure them that their feedback is immeasurable and will help improve their treatment offerings for others.

Drip Email Campaigns to Alumni Keeps the Referral Network Alive

Drip email campaigns will pick up where your patient surveys leave off. Incorporate a drip email campaign from the time a patient becomes an alumni of your program.

You can design this type of campaign by using a flowchart of the addiction recovery journey. It will begin at the point of alumni status, as I mentioned, and include specific targeted timelines to send a specific type of message to the alum.

Each email is a client touchpoint that can provide the following:

  • New information
  • Alumni engagement
  • Reason to socially share
  • New client/patient referral

Timing is everything in life, including drug rehab and the addiction recovery cycle. Unfortunately, so is relapse in using. But if you had a patient lifecycle touchpoint program in place from the initial point of entry into your program, you’ve already increased your level of patient care, concern and trust. Here’s why that matters.

In the event that one of your graduates suffers a relapse, he or she might consider returning to your program instead of going elsewhere. Why? You’ve actively followed them in their journey through surveys and drip email.

You Don’t Get If You Don’t Ask

Remember, you are offering a life-saving service and there’s nothing wrong with asking for more business. In fact, when former patients share their story, they have a hand in helping someone else. Email campaigns indirectly can serve the same purpose, which benefits the new referrals, the alumni or family members referring them, and you.

Survey Feedback, Revisited

One last thought about the surveys you conduct during a patient’s treatment. Look through the information you’ve gathered over a six month period of time. You can use the positive information to send out a client satisfaction email to all your clients, alumni and their families.

For example, let’s say one of the questions on surveys 1 and 2 is:

Does the staff make you feel well cared for?  Yes or No

If 92 percent of your survey respondents (patients over the most recent six-month period) answered “Yes” to this question, you can use this information and share it in an email to your database. Perhaps position this as part of a marketing strategy focusing on your level of patient care and how they feel in your program. This kind of data would also be useful when doing a marketing campaign to business partners: private practice doctors or hospitals that could refer you patients as well.

Another example is when a hiccup in your treatment is identified, where multiple clients have shared the same type of feedback, and you’ve made an improvement to it, post the improvement into your drip email campaign. Again, it isn’t just about getting the update to your database. The email touches each person again as a reminder of who you are, what you offer, and how you can help someone they care about who might need help at that moment in time.

Ask Us about Creating a Survey and Drip Email Marketing Strategy for You


Jim Peake

Jim Peake

Jim is an Internet Oldtimer, literally, and he was making a living online before Yahoo and Google were incorporated and even before Al Gore “invented” the Internet. Jim was the catalyst for putting the internet on the front page of every newspaper around the world in one day when he sold the website design and development to IBM for the Kasparov vs. IBM’s Deep Blue chess tournament in 1996. Jim has been in the direct response and advertising industry (printing) since the early 1980’s. Jim’s primary focus is the healthcare and addiction treatment field where he is a management consultant as well as an analytics and digital marketing consultant. - Learn more about Jim Peake, President

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