Skilled Nursing Facilities Lose 13% of Referrals to Competitors

Skilled nursing admissions are driven largely by referrals from area acute-care settings, but that doesn’t mean that operators can’t look at their marketing efforts the way private-pay senior living providers do.

The vast majority of inquiries and admissions to skilled nursing facilities — 87% and 90%, respectively — came from unpaid referral sources in 2017, according to a new survey from Enquire Solutions, a Colorado-based CRM provider that specializes in senior housing.

Those figures actually mark a substantial shift in a short period of time: In 2015, only 62% of referrals came from unpaid sources, with call-ins and other non-internet sources accounting for 27%. Just two years later, call-in/other represented 3%, with online referrals sitting at 10%.


Senior living operators generally look at a wider swath of metrics when breaking down how they attract potential residents. Since seniors interested in independent and assisted living generally have fewer health issues and are paying out of pocket, they have more choices. As a result, providers in those spaces pore over conversion rates, sales cycle lengths, and a variety of other stats that gauge potential residents’ interest.

Still, SNFs can learn something from this data. For instance, Enquire found that the average skilled nursing resident takes just five days to move from referral to admission, with a 5.24-day rate for unpaid referrals. Web referrals turned around the fastest, at 2.16 days, while those who found out about a SNF through print advertising took 6.38 days.

Out of every 100 referrals to a skilled nursing facility in 2017, 68 turned into residents, with 16% denied based on insurance or behavioral issues, Enquire determined. An additional 13% were lost to competitors.


For comparison, independent living has a close rate of just 23%, while assisted living sits at 35%.

Written by Alex Spanko