Using Your Relationships – A Little-Known Nursing Home Marketing Trick

One of the tricks I came across in marketing nursing homes is to partner with other vendors and providers in the industry.  “Well, that’s not a big secret, Mark.  Everyone knows this,” you might think.  But, do you know how to utilize these relationships?

For example, one of the areas my facilities specialize in (because I make sure they specialize in it.  I make sure we get tons of the education, the right supplies, and the proper equipment and that we are successful in managing these types of residents) is woundcare.  Specifically negative pressure – wound vacs. I will take a resident with terrible wounds, infected wounds, still on their IV Vancomycin, with an order for negative pressure. I like those types of residents.  I like to heal wounds everyone else is afraid of.  I ask for those types of residents when I’m marketing and other nursing homes are denying admission for the referral citing how they cost too much, etc.  Have they ever actually done a cost-out?  Most likely not.  Vancomycin is not a deal breaker.  Cubicin, maybe; but Vanc, Zosyn, etc. are fine.

It also doesn’t matter what type of negative pressure product (“Wound vac” is the term commonly used when referring to a negative pressure product; however, KCI owns the patent on the actual wound vac and has the rights on the term “v.a.c.“).  Blue Sky, KCI, Medela, it doesn’t matter.  You can make arguments all day long about the subtle differences in how these products function.  One uses a sponge that may leave particles in the wound bed, the other uses an antimicrobial gauze which actually may do the same thing.  On one you have to use a higher pressure setting, on another a lower.  At a higher setting, there may be more pain to the patient.  One has an alarm, one doesn’t.  One has a smaller, portable size.  One has a larger size, but also a larger canister. 

Guess what?  I have gotten positive results with each of these products and didn’t see a huge difference either way in comparison.  If your wound isn’t healing with negative pressure, it may not be just the pump due to the fact that the pump itself is not a total solution.  It doesn’t relieve you of ensuring proper nutrition and supplementation, proper turning and repositioning, proper skincare and incontinence care.  The list goes on and on.

So, we’ve established I like wounds.  Here’s the part most facilities don’t do.  I like to partner with the provider of my negative pressure product and take them on a sales call with me.  I let them bring a medical model that most of their sales reps have and they will demonstrate negative pressure therapy on the sales call. 

The medical model is a lifelike rubberized mold of an actual patient’s backside that has examples of different types of wounds.


” Displaying the following pressure ulcers* (NPUAP 2007 – National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel): Stage I, Stage II, Stage III with undermining, tunneling, subcutaneous fat and slough, deep Stage IV with exposed bones, undermining, tunneling, subcutaneous fat, eschar and slough. Also shown are a suspected DTI (Deep Tissue Injury), unstageable full eschar/slough wound, and a 5 1/2” dehisced wound. The Stage III and Stage IV are positioned so that a “bridging” dressing for use with a vacuum assisted closure and negative pressure wound therapy devices can be demonstrated and practiced.”

Pretty neat, huh?

I will allow the negative pressure representative to do an actual dressing in front of the group I’m marketing to – usually a room full of discharge planners, sometimes physicians – and hook up the negative pressure pump to the mold.  It makes for a very interesting demo and leaves a visual in the minds of my audience.  I follow up this demo with my own presentation for my nursing facility and our success with wound patients.  I inform them of how my facility is able to assist them with receiving and providing top care for those difficult-to-place wound patients.  I usually get several referrals with this technique as the hospitals generally have patients with wounds that other nursing homes are not excited about accepting.  Some of the other nursing homes actually deny readmission to their own patient if they have orders for a wound vac or are still on IV antibiotics.  The negative pressure representative is also usually happy to help because it helps them place a product if I get a patient needing this type of wound therapy.

Here are some places you can get your own “butt model” in case your rep’s company doesn’t offer this:


Health Edco


As we talked about, it’s about using your relationships to your advantage.  I just used negative pressure and wounds as an example.  You can use the same concept by partnering with your therapy company, your DME supplier, your hospice provider, etc. 

There you have one of the little secrets in nursing home marketing that actually works.  Stay tuned for more to come!

P.S.  Here’s a little bonus – a video courtesy of YouTube that actually shows a negative pressure dressing change if you’re interested:

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