What makes your hospice special?


Have you ever asked the question? There are hospices all over the nation that, at the end of the day, really do the exact same thing as the hospice down the street. Which begs the question, Why does a family choose one hospice over the other? Is it location? Referrals? Reputation? Google reviews?

I’ve been working in the hospice industry for a handful of years now and I have always wondered what makes one hospice different than the next. Why are some successful and others aren’t?

My Hypothesis

Successful hospices are master salespeople and simply have a better value proposition than the local competition.

But if you’re reading this, you probably know that a hypothesis is no good until it’s been tested. So that’s exactly what I set out to do. I wanted to find out if hospices really did have compelling value propositions and if they really were master salespeople. After all, hospices are businesses and businesses have to make money. Even the non-profit hospices.

The Experiment

I decided to call 50 random hospices all over the United States and ask them a simple question, “What makes your hospice special?”

Here were my rules:

  1. Always ask the same simple question, “What makes your hospice special?”

  2. Only allow the first person to pick up the phone to answer the question. I thought, surely if there existed a value proposition at the hospice, then the person who answers the phone should know it… right?!

  3. Log their response word for word including detail about whether they hesitated or tried to pass me off to someone else in the company.

I just wanted to know what made one hospice different from another.

It only took 10 calls for me to realize that this experiment wasn’t going to turn out quite like I had hoped. I expected each hospice to have a rehearsed answer to my question. A battle of the value propositions, if you will. But this was not the case, not even close.

Instead, over 90% of the people that I spoke with were reaching for anything they could think of to provide an answer to my question. By the 18th call, I realized that hospices don’t actually have value propositions. They don’t have rehearsed responses about what makes their hospice special.

But I could give you the high level stuff all day long. I’m sure you’re itching to read my Response Log.

Here are some of the answers (word for word) I received:

Response Log

“We Offer EMC. We stay with the patient towards the end of life so no one dies alone. We really care.” - A Hospice in Missouri

“Our nurses. We care about our patients.” - A Hospice in Oklahoma

“We focus on care first and we are available 24/7 365.” - A Hospice in West Virginia

“I don’t really have an answer for you but I guess I would say that we are very community focused.” - A Hospice in Wisconsin

“Our nurses are special.” - A Hospice in Vermont

“We have a great reputation and we take great care of our patients.” - A Hospice in Virginia

“Our staff are what make our hospice special.” - A Hospice in Utah

“We go on a journey with our patients and their families. We are a team.” - A Hospice in Texas

“I wouldn’t know what to tell you. I just answer the phones.” - A Hospice in Tennessee

“The care we provide for our patients.” - A Hospice in South Carolina

“It’s our great nurses.” - A Hospice in Florida

“Our staff. Our people. The nurses and the CNA’s.” - A Hospice in Georgia

“The high level of care that we give our patients.” - A Hospice in California

I’m sure you noticed the trend here. Most answers pointed towards the staff or nurses, or the level of care provided to the patients. Most of these responses were pretty obvious and exactly what you’d expect a hospice to say. It’s worth mentioning that none of the answers I received were rehearsed, which I did appreciate. But the uniformity of answers really started to get to me until my 37th call to a small hospice in Dadeville, Alabama.

Their answer to my question literally brought me to tears. Partly because I wasn’t expecting it and partly because in that moment I realized that there may not exist a better answer to my question.

“The patients that we get to take care of is what makes us special.”

- Ivy Creek Hospice in Alabama

“The patients.” Let that sink in for a minute.

In the world of hospice, we are all doing great things and caring for patients to the best of our ability. But only this little hospice in Dadeville, AL was wise enough to know what truly made their hospice special. It’s their patients. The lives they get to care for every single day.

In conclusion, my experiment turned out to be very personally rewarding. I started this experiment eager to learn about what really makes a hospice any different than the rest. I expected to get scripted answers to my question. And as you know, I didn’t. Not a single hospice gave me a scripted answer about what makes their hospice special. In fact, there were 4 hospices that couldn’t even think of an answer to give me. But everyone I spoke with was honest and genuine. By far the most common answer I received pointed to the nurses and staff being what made their hospice special, and I don’t doubt it for a second.

However, it was the answer I received from Ivy Creek Hospice in Dadeville, AL that truly opened my eyes to what hospice is all about.

“The patients we get to take care of is what makes us special.”

- Ivy Creek Hospice in Alabama

Jordan Evans

Senior Accounts Manager at PDCRx