The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

A Compelling Vision for the Future of Healthcare at Home

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 19, 2016 1:35:49 PM

 One of the industry experts I learn from every time we speak is Ginny Kenyon, principal at Kenyon Home Care Consulting.  Ginny helps open home care agencies and has given Ankota great inputs on our software.  We at Ankota strongly believe that keeping elderly people healthy and comfortable in their homes (and out of the hospital) is an important step in the evolution of healthcare.  Ginny is one of the pioneers driving moves in home health delivery.  Enjoy her post (below).

Recently I have the privilege of presenting at the annual conference for Kinnser Software. My presentation topic was “Surviving and Thriving in the Midst of a Paradigm Shift.” The evidence is clear – we are in the midst of something never experienced in the health care industry. As I watch our sector, home health care, many are hunkering down and just trying to weather the storm. Procrastinating will not work this time!home health care

Study Proves Home Health Care Is The Future

CMS has made it clear they are moving to home and community based services. Costs are out of control and something must be done to break the current cycle. Undoubtedly the finger is pointing towards home health care. Our time has come, but only if we are willing to change into the organizations of the future.

Using the results of the John Hopkins’s ‘Hospital at Home’ study, the evidence substantiated acute care can be delivered in the home. The outcomes showthere is as a much better way to provide services, with quicker results while allowing for major savings to Medicare. Additionally, several chronic care studies are also pointing in the direction of homecare. Although there has been much little change in actual practice, this is the beginning of our future. So let me share mydream for the future of home health care.

Home Health Care Acute Team

All clients admitted to a home health care agency are assigned a Geriatric Care Manager. This manager follows the patient for the current care episode, for all health care readmissions and if the patient’s condition becomes chronic. Potentially this patient gains a case manager for the remainder of life. For this model to work, multiple teams will work from and under the direction of the home health agency.

This acute care team consists of nurses, therapists, physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists. The equipment used in an acute environment is also provided. Nurses work one on one until the home patient stabilizes and ready for the sub-acute team to take over. Physicians, pharmacists, and other allied services are on call and available 24/7 during this acute illness phase.

Sub-acute Home Health Care Team

The sub-acute team, those supposedly providing home health care in 2016, will assume responsibility from the acute team. A hand off to the sub-acute team leader occurs and nurses, therapists and home health aides are scheduled based on patient needs. Unlike how many agencies practice today, staff will no longer set their schedules. The sub-acute team visits daily until the patient stabilizes and is able to manage with less assistance. Aides are assigned 8 to 12 hour in home shifts reducing hours over time based on the patient’s progress.

Patients diagnosed with chronic diseases or conditions not being managed well at home resulting in exacerbations, will be assigned to the chronic care team.  A nurse case manager provides skilled care and the home health aide provides the ADL and IADL support needed for the patient to remain stable at home. However, the chronic care team’s focus will be not only be to provide immediate care. Care will include behavior changes supporting a better quality of life and outcomes resulting in reduced costs.  We know from adult learning and behavior change studies, it takes one to two years to make these new behaviors permanent. Changing the behavior of patients with chronic disease to prevent frequent exacerbations is a long term home health care project.

The Home Health Care Dream

Given this picture of the future, the home health care agency will be the care hub. Contracts will be needed with hospitals, organizations offering acute neuro and orthopedic rehab, transitional care organizations, pharmacies and other allied services. Consequently, with the current bundled payment direction, most likely all organizations involved will be working under a shared risk contract.

Finally, in the future home health aides will be full members of the team. As such, they need advanced education to meet the increased demands placed on them. At a minimum, aides will be require certification in all major chronic diseases. Aides will then have the knowledge required to recognize and report changes in condition early enough to prevent emergency room visits and acute care team interventions.

Contact Kenyon HomeCare Consulting today to learn how we can help you prepare for the home health care future. Ready to provide your homecare aides the in-depth knowledge necessary to provide five-star patient care? Aide University increases the value of your aides and reduces overall health care costs for your patients.

The future has great opportunities for home health care, but only if we are brave enough to step into the unknown and change.  Are you brave enough to dream?

This article, originally entitled THE DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF HOME HEALTH CARE first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, Ginny Kenyon

4 Issues Home Care Attendants Should Escalate to Their Nurses

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 19, 2016 8:10:33 AM

Today's guest blogger is Rachelle Wilber.  Rachelle is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn't on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Rachelle recommends investigating gerontology degree programs for those that are interested in being a caregiver. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelleWilber and on Facebook.

Caregiver and Elderly WomanThe more healthcare providers understand what is going on with your body, the better they can address pertinent issues and prevent them from growing worse. Home care attendants are there to help patients avoid complications and hospitalizations. Attendants can do this by paying close attention to their patients’ behaviors and ailments. When proper attention is given, healthcare costs will go down and patient quality of life will be far better.

 1.) Behavior Changes

It’s important for healthcare attendants that work one-on-one with elderly patients to be cognitive of changes in a patient’s condition. Healthcare providers should pay extra special attention to patients that have unique or particularly severe conditions or diagnoses. Patient cognition and motor skills should be closely monitored. If a patient has trouble remembering simple things like their birthday, address, or if they lose track of important items over and over, these behaviors should be reported to the supervisory nurse.  These could be an indicator of memory problems, up to and including dementia, Alzheimer’s or other conditions. Taking these kind of preventative measures will support patient health and well-being.

 2.)  Changes in Eating and Drinking

A caregiver’s responsibility is to maintain the health of their patients.  Closely monitoring how much a patient eats or drinks is also important.  Possible ailments like gastrointestinal changes, such as constipation or lactose intolerance can affect appetite. Therefore, it’s important for healthcare attendants to have a constant dialogue with those receiving care in home care situations. They should pay make note of how much a patient is eating and drinking each meal.  Building a relationship with patients can help them feel more comfortable when talking about this kind of personal information.

 3.) Skin Condition Changes

Physical changes like skin lesions, bruises, or skin conditions should be readily addressed to help mitigate complications. These could indicate psoriasis, eczema, seborrheic keratosis, or possibly a type of fungal infection. The skin can also show possible changes in liver function as well. A properly-functioning liver is incredibly important to the health of the elderly. Speak with the supervisory nurse if these sort of details are visible and bothersome. Making the appropriate decisions for patient health is paramount to successful healing.  

 4.)  Changes in Mobility

Closely monitoring the motor skills of elderly patients is another aspect of patient care attendants should learn about. If a patient displays decreased mobility problems, these could be indicators of other problems. Conditions like atrophy, osteoarthritis, and bone degeneration are some to be aware of. Talk to patients and other attendants about the patient’s mobility. Maintaining an open dialogue with patients about their physical limitations can also be a great benefit to caregivers.  Attendants should be sure to report these sort of changes to their nurse.

When it comes to a patient’s health, the more information you have about it, the more powerful you are. Well-trained home care aides and nurses make a difference in the quality of life for the elderly.  They can also help lower home care costs.  Speaking with other professionals and nurses that work together can help support optimum patient health.  There is always a way to provide better care for the elderly by taking the needed steps required to maintain their health and independence.

Also, you may want to check out our white paper, Why Care Ankota_New_White_Paper.pngTransitions Is The Next Big Thing for the Home Care Industry If you're interested in learning more, just click the link to download.

Click Here for a Free Demo

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices

5 Tips to Get Your In-Home Care Agency on the Healthcare Radar Screen

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 19, 2016 8:05:00 AM

Care Coordination Concepts, Inc. provides practical approaches to help non-medical home care providers enhance market position by focusing on delivering health maintenance value to clients and their health system providers.  Cathy Meckes was co-founder and president of a licensed and Joint Commission accredited provider of private insurance and waiver program funded in-home skilled nursing, nurse care coordination and non-skilled supportive services.  Cathy has written todays blog (and the white paper below).  Enjoy!

Despite whAAEAAQAAAAAAAAlwAAAAJDk2Zjc5ZWZjLWFjNTgtNDIwMC1hNDY4LTEzYjNhYjA3MTYxYQ.jpgat seems to non-medical (supportive) in-home care providers to be an obvious contribution to effective transitional care, hospital and physician providers are slow to build supportive in-home care into their transitional care processes.  That’s frustrating but why would we expect providers to recognize a supportive services role in transitional care, when they still don’t recognize its role in other parts of the health care system?

That can change as providers expand their focus beyond acute care to health maintenance, where supportive services have the potential for greatest impact. As health maintenance emerges as the focal point for provider systems moving towards quality outcomes based reimbursement systems, establishing your role in health maintenance is the goal with ongoing, long-term payoff.  The in-home care providers who contribute to health maintenance will have a role in transitional care when patients move through that phase following an acute care episode.

Non-medical home care providers can earn a role in long-term health maintenance, alongside patient-centered disease and case management, preventive and longer-term home health care, and monitoring and red-flag technology systems.  But being a part of the system requires the development of processes that mirror those used by established participants and deliver the outcomes providers are seeking.

5 Tips for Making Your Home Care Agency Attractive to the Health Care World

What you do is important, but how you do it is critical to establishing and maintaining a value adding role in maximizing a patient’s health maintenance and minimizing their need for acute care.  To enhance how you provide care:

  1. Consider employing a nurse or social worker to set up and oversee your non-medical care. That may increase the professionalism of your assessment and it will provide an effective peer to peer contact for other radar_screen.pngprofessionals involved in your patient’s care.

  2. Involve providers in how your staff is trained, especially in regard to critical skills for health maintenance such as medication compliance and recognizing and reporting red flags.

  3. Get provider input on the baseline and outcome data they are seeking to enhance their care management and document their outcomes.

  4. Create communication tools that provide appropriate updates to everyone involved in your patient’s care.

  5. Consider upgrading your client information system to provide enhanced assessment tools, red flag alerts, and periodic care summaries and outcomes data.

Health maintenance is the place to be, not just for patients, but for non-medical in-home care providers.  As provider payment systems continue to move toward risk and quality-based provider reimbursement, provider attention will move towards health maintenance and resources will follow.  The in-home care providers who have established processes that incorporate effective leadership, appropriate collaboration and best practices will earn a role in a system focused on health maintenance.

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Cathy has written a recent whitepaper that we think you'll finf useful, entitled "Non-Medical Supportive Services: Establishing a Role in a Heath-Maintenance-Focused System" that you can download for free by clicking the link.

If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo 

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

9 Growth Hacking Tips for your Home Care Agency

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 15, 2016 10:22:00 AM

 One of the industry experts I learn from every time we speak is Ginny Kenyon, principal at Kenyon Home Care Consulting.  Ginny helps open home care agencies and has given Ankota great inputs on our software.  We at Ankota strongly believe that keeping elderly people healthy and comfortable in their homes (and out of the hospital) is an important step in the evolution of healthcare.  Ginny is one of the pioneers driving moves in home health delivery.  Enjoy her post (below).

Embarking on a new adventure in life is always exciting—and usually challenging. You’ll likely need a little help along the way whether you’re starting a new career, getting married, or going down a new path for your existing homecare organization.This article is full of recommendations including a cheat sheet for startups.startups

How to Secure Successful Homecare Startups

Successful homecare startups don’t often come easily. To be sure you’re headed in the right direction, you need several tools. Among those tools? A handy-dandy cheat sheet. Below are 9 hacks you can use to create your own homecare startup cheat sheet.

1. Start with Research

Before you can make plans to move forward with your homecare organization, you should know what you’re getting into. First, consider your location. Is it ideal for the services your agency will offer? Do the clients in the chosen area need those services? Who is your competition? What services and rates do they offer?

In addition to location, research what it takes to run a successful homecare organization. Reaching out to knowledgeable industry experts is often your best resource.

2. Design a Business Plan

Operational systems, policies and procedures, hiring goals—these necessities and more need to be determined before you open your doors or launch a new business line. There are numerous groups and organizations you can join for inspiration and support.

3. Create a Budget

When launching homecare startups, it usually takes six months to a year before you start seeing a profit. Be sure to budget for this time, not only with funds for your personal needs but also money for business expenses. Think overhead, costs to hire staff, business equipment, and required employee education.

4. Get the Word Out

Marketing early and often shouldn’t ever be put on the back burner. It’s recommended to begin your marketing efforts and promote well before the grand opening. Again, seek out industry experts for great ideas on how to most effectively market your new services.

5. Secure Resources

Most successful homecare startups complete this step well before launch day. What do we mean by resources? Mainly, documents needed to run a smooth, competent operation. Everything from aide competency testing kits to policy and procedure manuals should be purchased and customized early to save time and hassle in the long-run.

6. Prepare Your Workforce

Start by hiring the right people, which is much easier once you’ve obtained the best aide competency testing kit. Then provide advanced education for the elite staff who make the cut. This type of training goes beyond the basics and ensures your employees are a step above the pack when providing client care.

7. Form Partnerships

Starting a community business makes you an integral part of said community. As such, it’s important to build relationships with other professionals in your area. Not only does this show that you’re invested in the town, but also benefits your bottom line. For example, in homecare, forging partnerships with doctors, rehab centers and hospitals leads to client referrals.

8. Join an Association of Homecare Professionals

It’s crucial to stay up to date on industry happenings, trends, and news to remain current and compliant. Joining a professional homecare state or national association is a good way to stay knowledgeable and relevant in the industry.

9. Work with an Industry Expert

In homecare, just like as in life, you sometimes need advice and encouragement. Whether you’re expanding your services, it’s your first time launching homecare startups, or you’re opening a new location, support is essential. Working with an industry expert helps you stay on track and experience success.

Finding an Expert in Homecare Startups

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we know what it takes to succeed as a homecare organization in today’s marketplace. From researching a location, to hiring, and acquiring needed resources, we can help with all the steps along the way. Reach out to us to learn how we’ve assisted with numerous successful startups and what we can do for you!

This article, originally titled 9 HOMECARE HACKS: AN INFORATIVE CHEAT SHEET FOR STARTUPS first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, Ginny Kenyon

Can Your Home Care Agency Compete with Start-ups with $40M in Funding?

Posted by Jed Hammel on Sep 12, 2016 10:27:00 PM

We've shared with you several stories about well funded home care start-ups with big venture capital money.  The "big three" are Honor, Home Team, and Home Hero. If this is the first you're hearing about them, please check back with the following previous articles:

Honor Just Raised an Additional $42 Million

Next_Generation_home_care_-_Future_1.jpgOf the three, Honor seems to get the most media attention.  I think that part of this is because they're based in Silicon Valley and run by a Stanford grad who sold his previous company to Google, but of the three their funding was a measly $20 million. That's all changed now as they've added an additional $42 million in funding.  The investment is nicely summarized in this article by Business Insider.

Based on this, you should be asking two key questions: 1) What are they doing differently? and 2) How can we compete.  We'll take them one-by-one.

What are These Tech-Enabled Home Care Players Doing Differently?

Some of the things that Honor is doing differently are as follows:

  • They're catering to clients and families who use smart phones: Honestly, a lot of today's home care agencies (and possibly you) view your market as today's typical 84 year-old who doesn't have a smart phone or Internet access in their home.  Honor and these others realize that ALL of their children are smart phone users and in just a few years the baby boomers will be needing home care.

  • They're minimizing back office work: They're bringing processes like finding an available caregiver to the customer and also giving customers the chance to search for caregivers who they are likely to be compatible with.

  • In the case of Honor and Home Team, they're charging more and winning: They're giving their clients a feeling more like they're at the Ritz Carlton than and affluent families are willing to pay for it.

  • With this new funding, Honor's lead investor, Thrive is saying that it's important for Honor to "own the whole system.": They believe that they will have the technology to deliver a better customer experience, charge more and run agencies at much lower cost.

How Can You Win Against Honor and the Others?

There are a number of things that you can do to win against this very formidable new competition, as follows:

  1. Embrace Technology for Competitive Advantage: If you're still debating whether to automate your timekeeping and billing, you won't have a very long future.  Instead, you've got to be focused on engaging clients and their families in the process and minimizing back office cost.

  2. Look where the market is going: Let's face it, private pay home care is only affordable to the very wealthiest people who are likely to want the Ritz Carleton experience and be willing to pay more.  The other much bigger markets are the Medicaid and managed care world catering to the poor, the emerging ACO and bundled payment markets where hospitals and insurance companies will pay for home care for their expensive patients, and the biggest market, who are families not wealthy enough for private pay but not poor enough for Medicaid.

Bottom-Line is That You Need Next Generation Software

The next time you look for software (which should be now if the list below seems far off from where you are now) should give you the following:

  • Ability to have a mix of private pay, managed care, Medicaid, and other programs in your case mix

  • Ways to help you provide better care with fewer visits.  This will make your service affordable to more families and help you deal with the caregiver shortage

  • Apps to keep your clients and their families connected

  • Optimization of resources such as scheduling cases based on proximity to caregivers and even support models where one caregiver supports multiple clients on the same shift

  • Integration with other systems like hospitals and home health so you can be part of managed care teams addressing bundles and ACOs

Let Us Know if We Can Help!

Ankota is focused on providing the software for the next generation of home care. We support all of the above concepts and are always looking for innovative partners who are ready to innovate in their care delivery models without $40 million war chests.  If you're ready for next generation home care management, please contact us.

Also, you may want to check out our white paper, Why Care Transitions Is The Next Big Thing for the Home Care Industry If you're interested in learning more, just click the link to download.

Click Here for a Free Demo

Ankota_Why Care Transitions is the Next Big Thing in Home Care_White_paper

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, Care Transitions

How Gratitude Can Improve Quality of Life for Your Home Care Clients

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 7, 2016 11:30:00 AM

 

Today's guest blogger is Laura Newcomer.  Though her focus isn't generally on Home Care, this article on the topic of the benefits of gratitude is an interesting way to improve the lives of caregiving clients.  Laura has a wealth of knowledge about the environment and sustainable living. She has taught environmental education in Maine and Pennsylvania, and has had her writing featured in a variety of well-respected publications. Laura practices what she preaches and prides herself on living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

There are many things that you do each day to boost the health and well-being of your caregiving clients. You might help them get up and get moving—even just a short walk. You might work with them to improve daily nutrition. You may also encourage them to reach out to friends and family to reap the benefits of social contact. But there’s one additional thing you may not be aware of that you can do to help your clients improve their quality of life as they age: gratitude.

Practicing gratitude has a host of benefits that many may not be aware of. It can improve physical and mental well-being, which can in turn reduce stress. For patients in your care, helping them practice gratitude may also improve their sleep and their appetites. 

There are a number of different ways your caregiving patients can work on practicing gratitude. You might encourage them to write down gratitude thoughts every morning after breakfast or dinner. They might simply want to talk with you or someone else each day for a few minutes and reminisce about what they’re grateful for that day. However your elderly patients choose to practice gratitude, they’ll help to improve their well-being physically, mentally, and emotionally. Use this graphic for more ideas.

gravitate-toward-gratitude-embed-small.jpg

For more ideas to help improve your home care agency, you can download a free eBook Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.  Just click the link or the picture to download.

If you're interested in scheduling a live demo of our software solutions, just click the button below:

Click Here for a Free Demo

7_habits_effective_home_care-4.jpg

 

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 
If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices

9 Time Management Tips from our Home Care Social Media Expert

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 6, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Ankota's marketing director, Jed Hammel doesn't come from the home care world but instead is an expert is social media marketing, filmmaking, event planning and more.  I found his recent blog article on the website of the Startup Institute to be inspiring and thought that his time management tips could be helpful to our home care audience. Managing time effectively is a skill that every one can benefit from as we pioneer the future of healthcare at home.

Splitting my time as the marketing director for a small startup, teaching as an adjunct video production instructor at a number of schools, putting on entertainment events for the public, building volunteer social impact organizations, running a film festival, producing a feature film, going to Startup Institute’s immersive program, and producing commercial videos for corporations are just some of the ways I spend my daily life.

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Time, as they say, is of the essence for me.  Yet managing that time and finding the productivity system that works best for me has been a challenge

I’ve spent the past three years searching for the perfect productivity or time management system. I’ve read a cavalcade of books and blogs and attended a number of talks on the subject. On top of that, I’ve used as many systems and software that I could get my hands on.  Throughout my research, I found a lot of helpful step-by-step systems available.  But I also found that a lot of them tend to assume that each method works well for everyone.

The number one takeaway I found in my research is that when it comes to managing productivity, one size does not fit all.

More specifically, often the methods are ones that simply could not be implemented by many people.

As an example, productivity expert Tim Ferris and his book The 4 Hour Work Week suggest productivity hacks, such as convincing your boss to let you work from home one day a week.  Another idea he suggests is to only check your email in the afternoon.  I’ve learned a great deal from Ferris’ work and I enjoy his podcasts and blogs, especially 5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win the Day.  That said, neither of those ideas are ones I could ever implement based on my particular work situation.  I’m betting those hacks may also be difficult for a number of other folks to implement as well.

If a person’s  job is to work on as a food server, or to teach in a classroom, or to manage a team on-site, then working from home is an impossibility.  And the idea of only checking email after a certain time during the day is a nice idea, but for a lot of people, their supervisors would never allow it.

My advice is to do some research, try out a lot of different systems and tools, and pick the elements from each that work best for their lifestyle and particular situation.

With all that in mind, here’s a “system,” actually a collection of general concepts, practices, and use of software, that works well for me.  It’s a mashup of elements that utilizes a number of different techniques and tools that have cobbled together over time:

 PLAN YOUR NEXT DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE

The first step is to take time to plan what you want to accomplish during the next day.  For many folks, once the morning starts, their day is a sprint to evening.  I’ve found that if I can take 15 minutes ahead of time to plan my next day before I go to bed, not only do I tend to rest easier, but my day becomes easier to manage and I feel more like my day has purpose.

Another part of this habit is to review what worked and what didn’t during the day that you just had as a way to learn and improve.

Extra credit: I also suggest finding time to plan for a menu of your upcoming week’s meals.

MORNING RITUALS

This is something I don’t do enough, at all!  The excuse I tell myself is that I’m not a morning person.  But if I were to do it, I’d have a few habits:  30 minutes of working out, 30 minutes of meditation, 30 minutes of enjoying a healthy meal, and 15 of reviewing my notes from the night before.

MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE

With work and family responsibilities, plus a longer work week, on top of a commute, it seems to get harder and harder for a lot of us to find time or energy to exercise.  Aside from the obvious health benefits, regular exercise can often affect your brain and your overall mindset in a positive way.

Working out boosts your energy, your mental focus, and releases endorphins that can both figuratively and physiologically improve your outlook on the world.

Extra credit: Check out the Headspace meditation app if you’d like an easy way to do guided meditation.

SCHEDULE FLEX TIME

This is another tip that may be impossible for people depending on your work and life realities.  That said, I do suggest taking a hard look at your schedule to see if there are any nuggets of time—even 15 minutes—that you can schedule in time to do nothing or anything.  Call it a break, free time, flex time, whatever you want—but leave it open.

BE REALISTIC

Don’t try to do or plan too much.  Don’t try to change your habits over night and  give yourself a break if you don’t always maintain the habits you are trying to adopt.  It’s a process, you’re not just flipping a switch.

STEPS AND RESOURCES FOR SUCCESSFUL TIME MANAGEMENT

FIRST STEP: LIST EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET DONE

work-management-907669__340.jpgTrello is an incredibly simple system of “tiles,” similar index cards, that you can use to organize your to-do list and your progress.

From Trello: “A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your team. It’s a lot more than that, though. Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size.”

It is often used in Agile development systems.  But the way I use it is to create a master list of every to-do I have that I can think of for the next three months so that I know exactly what I want to get done.

When I complete a task (or if one is in progress) I move the tile along the pipeline.  It’s a great way to know that nothing can fall through the cracks and it feels great to see the progress I’m making.

SECOND STEP: STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR BIG ACTION ITEMS THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Momentum is a Chrome Extension designed to focus your day.  When you open up a blank browser, Momentum offers a beautiful image of nature and asks you type in the answer to: What is your min focus for today? Throughout your day, if you’re ever unsure of what your priority is, Momentum is there to remind you.

It also has a to-do checklist as part of it, which I like for “broad stroke” to-dos, but I tend to have such a long granular list of tasks that listing them in this fashion becomes counterproductive. But as a way to filter out the noise and be reminded what my big action items are, it’s great.

THIRD STEP:  MANAGE YOUR EMAIL LOAD

Email Game is a great (and free) way to do email “triage,” or organizing your emails to either respond to, delete, or set a “Boomerang” reminder to deal with later.

Essentially, it’s a program that takes the emails in your inbox, offers them up one by one in a barebones UX/UI look, gives you a time limit countdown to deal with each email, and offers you success rewards and a score once you’re done.

FOURTH STEP: BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR TIME

A tomato saved my work life.

No, not really, but sort of. I use the Pomodoro Technique, a time management strategy developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

By breaking up way time this way, not only do I get more total work done, but I also tend to feel more refreshed and accomplished, but I also feel that I did as much as I could throughout the day.  That last part really helps me with feeling that I can give myself a break if I don’t get everything done on my list.

This article first appeared on The Whiteboard.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

5 Benefits of Home Care for Your Loved One

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 1, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan writes on a broad variety of topics including healthcare and is pursuing a masters degree in health informatics. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.Elder woman and her home care caregiver

When you have someone living in your home who needs constant care, it is best to get help. If you try to do all of the care on your own, it is likely to run you down in the long run. In order to prevent this, hiring a caregiver to come in and help is the best solution. Here is a look at five benefits you will enjoy when you get a caregiver to provide home care for your loved one.

  • The Comforts of Home - One of the primary reasons to get help at home is to prevent your loved one from having to move into a nursing home. When loved ones get to stay in their homes, they get to enjoy being surrounded by all their familiar comforts. This makes for a much better life than being surrounded by strange people and things in a nursing home.

  • Professional Care - Another reason to get home care help is to provide professional care. Even if your loved one does not need any kind of specialty medical care now, they are likely to at some point. It is always nice to have a professional worker in your home to handle any of the specialty care that is necessary.

  • Allow Your Love One to Remain Independent - No one wants to move to a nursing home and become dependent on their transportation. If you have a home care worker for your loved one at home, they can keep the feeling of independence that they have enjoyed all of their lives. With the help of the caregiver, they can get everywhere they need to go.

  • Reduce Your Stress - If you are already the caregiver for your loved one, you know just how stressful it can be. Taking care of another human being is a full-time job. If you do not have any help with it, you are likely to get stressed out quickly. Consider hiring a professional that can help complete the daily needs of washing, dressing, and feeding your loved one.

  • Communication - Professional caregivers are skilled communicators. This is especially true of healthcare workers who have a health informatics masters degree. They know how to involve every member of the family in the conversation to make sure that all aspects of care for your loved one will be taken care of. This avoids mistakes and misunderstandings regarding the caregiving, which can happen easily if you try to add caregiving duties to your already full life.

Taking care of your loved one does not have to be a burden. You can share the load without feeling guilty. In fact, your loved one will be better off when they have a professional caregiver. The peace of mind you will enjoy when your loved one is looked after by a professional is amazing.

For more Best Practices, you can download a free eBook Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.  Just click the link or the picture to download.

If you're interested in scheduling a live demo of our software solutions, just click the button below:

Click Here for a Free Demo

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Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 
If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices

How To Solve Retention Problems With Advanced Education

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 30, 2016 10:34:44 AM

 One of the industry experts I learn from every time we speak is Ginny Kenyon, principal at Kenyon Home Care Consulting.  Ginny helps open home care agencies and has given Ankota great inputs on our software.  We at Ankota strongly believe that keeping elderly people healthy and comfortable in their homes (and out of the hospital) is an important step in the evolution of healthcare.  Ginny is one of the pioneers driving moves in home health delivery.  Enjoy her post (below).

There’s a serious crisis going on in our nation regarding patient care. Due to an aging Baby Boomer generation, there is an increase of people needing long-term healthcare options. We’re also experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers, often a result of poor employee retention. In this article, we’ll discuss why this retention problem exists, its effect on patient care, and how you can combat it.

Causes & Effects of the Retention Challengeretention

Nurses, aides, and other healthcare workers are a vital part of the patient care equation. Without qualified and dedicated caregivers, patients fail to receive the level of care they so desperately need. Unfortunately, healthcare employees as a group tend to move around from job to job searching for the perfect career opportunity. Although, what they generally find is:

  • Poor benefits

  • Lack of respect

  • Low wages

  • Few career advancement opportunities

  • Physical and mental demands

Employee retention in the homecare arena is struggling and affects more than the business’s bottom line. It influences the kind of care your patients receive, their quality of life and their health. Continuing retention difficulties will also disrupt your organizational culture and sense of team.

When caregivers stay in the same place long-term, they build strong patient relationships and trust. This means they get to know their patients’ needs and preferences, making life more comfortable for those under their care. But when homecare employees come and go, no one is given the chance to develop relationships. This results in distress, worry, frustration and often discomfort for your patients and their families.

Solving the Retention Challenge

What can homecare managers or owners do to combat the problem of poor employee retention? Start by giving appreciation and respect to your workers on a regular basis, and then consider implementing the following:

While some of these things appear costly at first, they are well worth the price. This is especially evident when you consider the data showing the cost of replacing just one employee costs you between $3,500 and $6,000.

Advanced Education and the Retention Challenge

If resources are too scarce for your organization to increase pay or offer health insurance benefits, consider less expensive options. One opportunity and a proven way to encourage staff to remain in your employ without breaking the bank, is advanced education.

With advanced education, you not only improve the level of training employees receive but you also provide career advancement and growth possibilities. This alone is often enough to improve retention. Advanced education also results in a more encouraging agency culture, improves staff satisfaction and boosts employee confidence with knowledge. So with this one step, you’re knocking out four ways to solve your retention challenge.

Advanced Education and Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

When you’re ready to work on solving the employee retention problem facing today’s healthcare industry, you’ll want to seriously consider providing an advanced education program.

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting’s Aide University, homecare workers receive the in-depth knowledge necessary for providing five-star patient care. With this training, employees also attain valuable skills that allow for career advancement. Reach out to us today to learn more.

This article, HOW TO SOLVE RETENTION PROBLEMS WITH ADVANCED EDUCATION first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, Ginny Kenyon

Home Care Software Geek Explains How Software Customization Should Work

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 22, 2016 3:32:53 PM

The Home Care Software Geek posts in this blog don't talk about Home Care Nursing Software, Private Duty Telephony, DME Delivery Software, Care Transitions or the other topics we focus on regularly at Ankota. Instead, these posts are intended to keep our readers up to date with technology trends that might be useful to your agencies, such as social media technologies, mobile devices, and what's happening with bigger companies like MicrosoftGoogle and Apple.

home_care_software_geek.pngI grew up in my career at GE Healthcare and although I developed and delivered software, we weren't a software company (at least not the part I worked in).  Instead, the software I developed initially ran inside the X-Ray machines and we pretty much had one set of software for all of the customers. 

When I left GE I joined a software company that made software for businesses (similar to what Ankota does but not in the healthcare space).  This was in an earlier era when it wasn't the norm to host software in the cloud as it is done today.  Instead the software was deployed "on-premise" meaning that each customer had their own copy.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing (for example, the apps on your phone all have their own copy), but frankly, the way that company did customization was really bad... and I vowed never to do it that way again.  What they did was to make a custom copy of all the software for that customer, and then a team would make the changes needed by that customer to get them what they needed.  The problems with this approach was that since they had a custom version they couldn't get upgrades and fixes easily, and essentially they were "stuck."

How Customization Should Work

In Ankota's home care software, we have one and only one centralized version of the software. There are three "flavors" of customizations: 1) the customization is a totally separate feature, 2) the customization is requires the software to work one way for some customers and another way for other customers, and 3) the proposed customization seems like a better way than the way that we built it in the first way and should be made available to all customers.  Here's how these scenarios are handled:

  1. Brand New Feature: When the customization is something brand new this is the easiest case. We build it and make it a "configurable option" and then we only configure it for the one customer who needs it.

  2. Some customers need it work a different way than others: This gets trickier, but we isolate the part that needs to be different and then we implement two versions of that small piece.  The trick is that we make it "configurable" so that we can set whether each customer will get the "old way" or the new way and we make the appropriate setting.

  3. Improvement that will benefit everyone: This is especially tricky.  The first thing that we do is make a decision as to whether this change is small and intuitive and we think that the customers will hardly notice the change and will like it better.  If this is the case, we will just release it (after thorough testing of course).  If instead, we think that the customers will like it better but might need some training or at a minimum won't want to be surprised by the change, we first deploy it into our customer accessible staging environment, we notify customers about it, ask them to try it out, offer to go through it with them if they'd like, and then deploy it when they're comfortable.

The Software Should Get Better All the Time and You Should Hardly Notice

In a nutshell, if your software vendor is doing it right, your software should get better all the time and you should hardly notice (except for in a good way).

Signs That Your Software Isn't Built Right

Here are the signs that your software isn't developed in the right way to enable customization and upgrades:

  • Annual Releases or similar: If your vendor does "annual releases" or something similar like a release every six months or more then they are likely on the old model where the code is all connected and one small change in one area of the code might break something else.  For this reason, they do big releases and from your perspective, there will be a big disruptive change wither lots of differences from what you're used to and you will likely lose productivity for a while

  • Come to our User's Conference to discuss desired changes: This indicates that they can't make changes quickly and have likely made decisions about what will be in their next release (next year) already so they're trying to divert your attention away from your immediate need.

  • Prohibitively Expensive Prices for Changes: Some of the vendors charge $225/hour or more for any customized changes.  By setting these high prices, they're trying to put up a barrier and make it your problem (or hopefully talk you into living without the change).  Note that any software company will need to pay their software developers and testers to customize for you so it's reasonable that they charge a fee (so long as it's not outlandish).

You Need Next Generation Software!

Next generation software is flexible and comes from vendors who are excited to meet your needs. The releases are more like your experience from Google and Amazon.  They improve all the time and you hardly notice, but if you think back to the past you realize how much better it's gotten.

To learn more about next generation home care software, please contact us.

Contact Ankota

 

 

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Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, September 2016 Newsletter

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Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

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