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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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Building Home Care Relationships: Social Networking vs. Face-To-Face

  
  
  
  
  

Social Media and inbound marketing expert Jeremy Hammel helps Ankota manage our sales lead flow, and he contributed today's blog article.

Last week I talked about some of the virtues and challenges of social networking as it relates to the private duty home health industry.  To be sure, social networking plays a big part in the marketing of a whole host of products we buy daily.  Jed HammelMoreover, it's clear that social networking is here to stay in our culture overall.  But the question still remains:  Should social networking play a part of the marketing/sales strategy for private duty home care business?

Most business owners understand that we have to utilize social networking in some form or another to keep pace with our competition and to keep up with "the times."  That said, I would wager that if given the choice, those of us who prefer using social networking and those of us who prefer face-to-face networking would be divided into two separate groups.

To me, the question isn't so binary.  Face-to-face networking and outreach is vital to most businesses.  That said, social networking provides a unique opportunity to reach an almost limitless audience on a personal level, and at a low cost to your business.  But in order for social networking to work effectively, you must optimize its use so that it espouses the values and "feel" of face-to-face networking.

Just like in The Real World, generating business through social media is all about building relationships.

Businesses can sometimes make the mistake of simply setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account and update them when time permits. Perhaps they do update it regularly, but without giving it much thought.  Or perhaps they hire a recent college-grad to maintain the accounts for them.  But again, social media is about relationships, and any worthwhile relationship deserves and requires our time and effort.  Your pages should not just be maintained.  In order for social media pages to bear fruit, they need to be nurtured, to be grown.

For any one of us who have networked or promoted our product our ourselves In The Real World, as I imagine everyone reading this has, we know that networking is as much an art as it is a science...and it takes time.handshakeIt takes careful planning, a consistent effort, and regular practice.

If all that hard work pays off, then the sales process seems effortless, natural, and organic.  Some of us may not enjoy it, but to be sure, networking is an effective and invaluable way to generate new business.  The same can be said for social media.

Social media, when used properly, is just good ol' fashioned networking that happens to be facilitated by the internet.

Aside from the implications of social networking on our sales process, it is particularly well suited for the private duty and the home health industries because we are in the "People" business.  We are in the business of earning our client's trust, nurturing our relationships with them, and understanding their needs.  Often we become a part of their lives in any number of ways.

Social networking allows us to do everything I just mentioned, but on a grander scale.  Its very nature encapsulates all that a good salesperson should do to generate a lead, close a sale, and serve her or his clients:  Connect with your customers personally, understand their needs, and engage in a two-way discourse about your products with them.

Make no mistake, a big part of why customers chose to give us their business or why industry leaders recommend us to their audience is because of social factors.  When used thoughtfully, social networking simply packages those social factors in an easy way for millions upon millions of people to digest.

What are some of the techniques that you have used in your face-to-face networking initiatives that you think can be applied to the online platform of social media?  Are there any techniques that you have used in your social networking that were particularly effective?  And lastly, do you believe that social networking can come close to the effectiveness, or be more effective than face-to-face marketing?

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Is Overtime Pay for Home Health Aides a Good or a Bad Idea?

  
  
  
  
  

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog article entitled "Home Care Dilemma: Why I'm Glad I'm Not Bill Dombi" and the subject was whether legislated mandatory overtime pay for home health aides is a good idea or a bad one...  Most people I've spoken to about this (who are people running home care businesses) say that the legislation will force them to cut back the hours of their workers to 40 or less because their clients can't afford the extra pay.  The other side of the issues claims that it's unfair not to pay overtime.

The New York Times recently addressed the issue in an article called "Fair Pay for Home Health Aides" by Paula Span.  Her article is very well written (but let's face it - she writes for the New York Times, whereas I write software).  She provides both sides of the argument but in her case she leads and emphasizes the "it's unfair not to pay overtime" position whereas I come at it from the "overtime will be eliminated and caregivers will make less" position.

NYT Fair Pay for Home Health Aides

In addition to giving you the opportunity to read a better written article than mine which spins in the other direction, the other great thing about her article is that she tells you how to weigh in on the issue with legislators.  So please check it out if you want to know how to have your voice heard.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Home Care and Social Networking: Have We Figured It Out Yet?

  
  
  
  
  

Social Media and inbound marketing expert Jeremy Hammel helps Ankota manage our sales lead flow, and he contributed today's blog article.  We're hoping that it will be the first of many. Enjoy!

A recent survey of private duty home care companies revealed some surprising data about the use of social media by the industry. 


The survey, conducted by Leading Home Care in the Fall of 2011,Jeremy Hammel reported that out of 88 respondents, nearly 47% felt that social media was either "Critical" or "Very Important" to their company's success.  Despite this belief, only 11% of respondents reported receiving new business from their blog, and only 9% reported receiving new business from their Facebook page.

Does this new data prove that social media is not an effective tool to generate new business for private duty companies?  Or, should we discount the findings because we feel that the survey's sample set is too small to get an complete picture of the industry's practices?

My answer to both of these questions is a resounding "No."

As I see it, the data merely suggests that our industry knows that social media can be a cost effective tool to create new business, but that many of us have yet to harness its power to our full advantage.

But if we know just how important social media is to creating new business, then why aren't we having success with it? 

I believe that a big part of the problem is that the way many of us frame social media is that of a time-waster or a chore to have to get through.home care social media  It is often thought of as a nebulous concept with no way to measure its results, rather than a key part of your sales strategy that can bear solid and easily tracked results.  

Social media is a new medium, only about 10 years old, and its applications and iterations are ever changing.  So, to be skeptical of it is as a business tool is reasonable.  To take time and energy away from sales strategies that have worked in the past to focus on a completely new, generally untested, way of doing things doesn't sound like the best course of action.  Agreed.


However, if you're skeptical about social media, consider framing your thinking about it this way:

Social media gives you free access to an almost limitless audience to which you can promote your business, share your product, and connect with your customers on a closer personal level than any form of traditional advertising could ever do.

And try this one for size:

Social media offers you free access to a global network of like-minded peers, colleagues, and vendors, all looking to find and share new ideas, opportunities, and resources.

At Ankota, we believe in the value of social networking and in doing whatever we can to reach out to new customers, partners, and colleagues.  We're a part of the online conversation, are you?  If not, what is your marketing strategy?  If so, what has worked best for your business?

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Home Care will create 1.3 million American Jobs from 2010 - 2020

  
  
  
  
  

A great deal of Americans have been without jobs in the past few years.  Home Care is coming to the rescue with the creation of 1.3 million jobs between 2010 and 2020.  According to the article "Healthcare jobs will grow the fastest of all industries" by Karen Cheung in the February 3rd edition of FierceHealthcare, here are the highlights:

Fierce Healthcare Logo

  • 706,000 home health aide jobs will be created
  • 607,000 personal care aide positions will be created

Other key predictions in the article include the following:

  • 712,000 Registered Nurse positions will be created
  • Overall 5.6 million healthcare jobs are expected to be created

As a home care business leader, these statistics are encouraging but also require some thinking and planning.  What's your action plan around the following opportunities and concerns:

  • Hiring and Retaining Top Talent:  What are you doing to attract quality caregivers to your agency?
  • Getting your share of the Growth: How do you differentiate your service in order to win more clients?
  • Operational Efficiency: How strong are you at scheduling, billing, and payroll?  Can you grow without adding back office staff?

The above topics are covered frequently in this blog, and helping with operational efficiency is what our home care software does.  Let us know if we can help!

why-not-get-a-demo-to-see-whats-possibl

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Home Care Blogging: Why and How

  
  
  
  
  

One of our goals in the Ankota blog has been to encourage the use of social media in home care.  Usually we share a short topic, but today we're going against the grain and sharing quite a long piece, courtesy of Leading Home Care's Jason Tweed.  The length is worth it - Jason's post is almost like a textbook on the do's and don'ts of blogging...  Enjoy!

Blogging for Business

One of the most powerful free marketing tools is blogging for business. Other than time, which is already built into your head, the costs of running a business blog can be less than $100 annually. Unfortunately, because the cost is so low, a mistake business owners and marketers make is investing in very little time learning the craft. Blogging can be a powerfulI love home care blogging tool in your marketing arsenal, but only if you learn how to use it properly. Here are a few quick tips to get you going in the right direction.

 

 

 

Blogging can enhance your brand, or it can detract from it. Blogging can be less formal than other areas of your website, however it should still integrate well with your website. Use your blog to strengthen your brand.

 

  • Build your blog within your own domain name. There are two ways to do this. Create a subdomain, for example,blog.XYZhomecare.com or create a Web folder such aswww.XYZhomecare.com/blog.
  • Alternatively, create a blog with its own domain name. This can be easier for those less technical among you. For examplewww.XYZhomecare.com may use www.XYZblog.com as a standalone website. If you use this technique, make sure to link frequently to your primary site.
  • Do not use free services such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr or TypePad, particularly where your domain appears asXYZhomecare.blogspot.com. This can damage your search engine optimization as well as making you look unprofessional. If you're going to commit the time to blogging, don't cheapen it by saving a few bucks on hosting. You can still use these free platforms, by use your own brand name and artwork.
  • If you use a template, make sure to have your web designer customize the template to integrate with your website, or at the very least maintain brand consistency.

 

Content is King! Creating original content, and lots of it, is important. You certainly can link to your other information you find on the web, but it's far better to create posts that are original and fairly in-depth.

 

  • Constantly use your core keywords. Remember, one of the primary values blogging offers is improved search engine optimization. However, if your blog and your primary website needs of both are about homecare services.
  • Local content is best. Remember, unless you are blogging for a national chain, one of the primary search terms is your region. Most blog platforms have the ability to tag your community. Additionally, talking about local people can make sure search engines recognize your place in the universe. This can be as simple as "Mary, a longtime resident of Cook County, receives homecare services daily."
  • Don't be a blogging commercial. No one would watch television if it was all commercials. The same goes for your blog. If every post promotes a product or service, people disappear never to return. Conversely, then to mention your services or promote them in sidebars doesn't generate sales. I recommend the 75% information/25% promotion mix.

 

Words sell. Video helps. One of the benefits of blogging is its multimedia capability.

 

  • Today there are Vlogs (video blogs) and Phologs (photo blogs), however research shows that these are not as effective selling tools as written blogs.
  • Adding video and photos to your website and blogs. However certainly has a positive impact on sales.
  • Remember, amateur video looks amateur. Make sure you create videos that put forward your image.
  • Photos aren't free. Doing a Google search and stealing photos is, well, stealing. Additionally, you run the likelihood of having your blog with the same graphics as other competitors. Use original photography when you can, and get permission or buy licenses when you find a photo from another source.

 

Consistency is critical. Blog often and regularly, or don't bother.

 

  • Blogging weekly is good. More frequently is better. Monthly blogs are useless.
  • Create regular readership by staying on topic. It's okay to stray occasionally, but your blog needs to be about something.
  • Don't stop. Imagine looking at a blog that has been delivered regularly for a year, then suddenly stops. Did the company go out of business? Did the blogger quit, retire, die?
  • You can slow down. To my clients I recommend 30 posts in 30 days to launch their blog. After that, tapering off to weekly is okay. You can make your topics more in depth, or you can simply save the post and schedule it to be published later.
  • Blogging is habit-forming. In the beginning, finding and creating content is a challenge. The good news for blogger, and reader, is that practice improves skills. You'll start identifying content that fits your blog more easily, and you'll be able to post more quickly with more depth. Having a regular schedule helps.

 

Focus on the "Who" more than the "What". Your blog has two functions. It needs to retract an audience, and then it needs to call them to action. Write your blog with one target audience in mind. Here are three options:

 

  • Referral sources: Focus on the people who refer customers most. If you cater to healthcare professionals, find information that they want to read. If your referrals are from senior service agencies or Medicaid providers, focus on them. Identify content they need/want. Your content doesn't necessarily have to focus 100% on homecare. You need to create something your referral sources will want to read consistently.
  • Clients and their families: Focus on seniors or people with disabilities and their families. Offering this added value customer service information has two great benefits. It creates the perception of expertise in the minds of your customers, and it can encourage word-of-mouth marketing. Make sure to ask clients and their families to share links on social networks, and talk about your services to others.
  • Employees: Creating a caregiver blog can be valuable. Giving your caregivers information helps them stay informed about your business, and helps them stay up to date on best practices. Home care companies have used employee newsletters for years, but now with automated timekeeping and direct deposit, many of your employees may never stop in the office. Reinforce your company and their importance to it by staying in touch. A blog is a cost effective way of doing this.

 

Variety adds spice. Don't be afraid to vary your content. While I recommend articles written that are customer focused, pepper them with other content.

 

  • Embed videos from YouTube or link to cartoons and comics.
  • Write a humorous story or inspirational illustration about one of your clients (don't violate privacy, however).
  • Identify other bloggers, and trade guest posts. This can benefit both blogs.
  • Create graphics or charts. Infographics that illustrate a point are becoming very popular.

 

Search Engine Optimization is important, effective, and relatively easy.

 

  • Identify keywords used for search. Use words that people useHow to Blog in Home Care commonly, even if they aren't very eloquent or fashionable. For example one of my clients preferred the term "aging in place" rather than "in-home care". Unfortunately, the preferred term isn't in the general vernacular. You don't need to eliminate jargon, branding, or catchphrases; simply emphasize search terms used by your audience.
  • Remember to use alternatives. I prefer the term "people with disabilities" however I would also use the terms "handicapped" or "disabled people". I would stay away from "crippled" because, while it's an alternative search term, it may offend some readers. Find balance among common word usages, branding, and political correctness.
  • Stack keywords in your post titles! This is critical. Catchy, funny or ironic titles don't work! Search engines don't have a sense of humor. You can use humor and irony in your post, but keep your titles distinct, crisp, and on point.
  • Keep photos and videos on topic. Modern search engines can actually play videos and identify content. Photo recognition software can tell whether it's a nurse, a skyscraper, or a fire truck. It's expected that photos and video will have increasing importance in the future of search recognition. Start today to stay ahead of the curve.

 

Become a social butterfly! Blogging and social networks work together hand-in-hand. Every major blogging platform has the ability to promote individual posts on social networks.

 

  • Twitter: a quick tweet is a great way to let people know in real time when a new post is up on your blog. More importantly, twitter can interact with most other social networks. You can send a tweet, and have it replicated on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ simultaneously. There's a joke in here somewhere about three birds with one tweet.
  • Remember social media isn't about your followers... it's about their followers! Make it easy for your readers to pass along your content. It multiplies your reach exponentially.
  • Monitor your reach using Klout.com. It analyzes your influence on social networks. Don't try comparing yourself to others. The information is more valuable when examined over time. Eventually you will find content that increases your likelihood to gather viral momentum.
  • Social networks are instant, but also eternal. It's a great way to push a message quickly, but make sure you want to be tied to that message forever. If there is any doubt in your mind, don't post it.

 

Have realistic expectations. I have a T-shirt that says "nobody reads my blog". Expect little, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Expect miracles and you will be downtrodden.

 

  • In fact, for the first 30 days you should expect absolutely no value, that's why I recommend 30 posts in 30 days. It gets a nice chunk of content up on your website. It also gives you practice using the software platform and generating ideas.
  • Save the good stuff for later. If you write a blog post that's fascinating, clever, well-crafted and generally awesome... don't post it, at least not in the first month. Save it for a time when you have more readers. The exception is when the topic is very timely, such as a news event or natural disaster.
  • Monitor traffic. Your blog will receive hits from day one. Unfortunately, these are usually computer-generated or your friends stopping by. Use this time to identify the base traffic your blog will receive.
  • Track referrals. Blogs receive referrals from search engines, social networks, other blogs, and e-mail newsletters. The tracking software can tell you generally what's working.
  • Every blog improves over time. Every blog post is more valuable than the previous. I've been blogging consistently since 2001 both personally and professionally. I have seen constantly increasing flows of traffic, referrals, business growth and search engine rank. Keep it up. Producing content becomes easier, and that content increases in value.

 

In today's environment blogging is one of the most effective marketing tools. It allows you to reach a distinct audience with a carefully crafted message. It enhances your social networking, your search engine optimization, and the perception of expertise in the minds of your stakeholders. It has extremely low out-of-pocket costs, and, done right, can be one of your most valuable uses of your marketer’s time.

 

Be consistent. Be persevering. Be educational and entertaining.

 

This is the tip of the iceberg. Blogging can open many doors down the road, as well

Jason Tweed from Leading Home Care

. Bloggers generate millions in direct sales each year. Bloggers open doors for other advertising revenue. Bloggers have turned blogs into books, movies, magazine articles and much more.

 

Blogging for your business is cheap to start, easy to learn, time and cost effective and open doors to other opportunities.


Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

  

How Should Home Care Hack-proof your Passwords?

  
  
  
  
  

Criminals are getting smarter, so should you. 

Home Care Professionals access Ankota and other sights every day with passwords.  It is important those passwords you use are protected.  Our protection of your client data is only as strong as the passwords you use.  I am outlining what I believe are the mostHome Care Hacker Avoidance important password-protection measures experts recommend to keep hackers away: 

  • Do not use the same password twice. 
  • Make passwords strong. 
  • Avoid obvious passwords.  
  • Keep passwords safe and up-to-date. 
  • Secure your computer and browser. 

 

Don’t use the same password twice.  If a hacker obtains a password you use from one site, he will have access to your other accounts.  To make passwords easier to remember, it’s OK to use similar character patterns from site to site, varying part of it in a way that is intuitive to you, but not obvious to anyone else. 

 

Make passwords strong.  Surveys have found that 29 % of people who use passwords on their most sensitive accounts use one with seven or fewer characters.  That is too short.  Use at least eight characters.  Include an uppercase and a lowercase letter, plus a digit and a special character.  That will better protect you from someone guessing it. 

 

Making a password longer helps.  Experts estimate it would typically take a $2,000 computer 2½ hours to crack the strongest seven-character password.  An eight-character password would hold up for about 10 days, and a nine-character password would last for approximately two and a half years. 

 

Avoid obvious passwords.  Hackers have extensive “dictionaries” of widely used passwords.  When you are composing a password, do not use common words, names, or facts from your life that are likely to be in such a dictionary or that someone might guess or find out, for example a birth date or child’s name.  Avoid predictable patterns, such as starting with an uppercase letter. 

 

Keep passwords safe and up-to-date.  Don’t write down full passwords.  But if you must, keep them under lock and key.  Based on survey results, experts estimate 34 million adults keep a list of passwords or clues in a place that might be insecure. 

 

Experts say they stored their lists –

  • On an encrypted flash drive. 
  • Used an online service such as LastPass (www.lastpass.com). 
  • Stored them encrypted on a computer using KeePass (www.keepass.info), a data-protection application.

Hackers can be quite skilled at conning people into disclosing their passwords.  Don’t give passwords to anyone over the phone, via e-mail, or through a social network. 

 

If you have an old password, it may once have been strong enough but now may be too weak for today’s hackers.  Consider replacing it with a stronger one. 

 

Secure your computer and browser.  Keep your operating system and major applications up-to-date.  Run an effective security software suite that automatically updates itself.  

 

When browsing a password-protected website, look for “https:” in the site’s address. Sign into accounts by typing the URL into your browser, not by clicking on a link in an e-mail; the link could take you to a fake site.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Working in Home Care enlightened me on Long Term Care Insurance

  
  
  
  
  

A few mornings ago, I spent some time with my wife and a representative from AARP/Genworth Financial to look into long term care insurance for our future.  I probably never would have thought to do this if I didn't work in home care and have daily views on the cost of long term care.  Even though I'm in my 40s and in excellent health, this seems like an importantaarp logo consideration for our future and our children.  Here are a few things that I learned:

  • Unlike life insurance, long term care insurance is something that you're very likely to use in your lifetime
  • The care insurance that we looked at would help pay for home care when we need it
  • The cost comes down to your age and your health (the insurance company bases rates on how long you're likely to live and to pay into the program)
  • We can also consider an option where we pay off our coverage over a 10 year period
  • We also looked at an option where we contract for care for the two of us, but there is flexibility so that the benefit can be used more for one or the other of us

At the end of the day, our perspective is that this can be very valuable for us both financially and from a peace of mind perspective.  It can make it so our kids can care about us when we're old, but not have to care for us, and we're interested in paying it off while we're still in the peak earning time in our lives.

Genworth logo

But the question is "so what?"

As you know, Ankota likes to share our expertise with you not only via our products and services but in other areas like social media and entrepreneurship, and I see an entrepreneurship opportunity for home care agencies here...  What if, as a public service you team with your local AARP Long Term Care Insurance rep to do seminars in the communities that you serve to educate people on the costs and options for long term care, the associated costs, and the potential of long term care insurance to offset those costs.  This will get your name in the newspaper (PR instead of advertising) and help establish more of a name and reputation for your agency.  Plus, it's an ongoing need so perhaps you can do it every six months.

What is your agency doing to differentiate?

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Firing Home Healthcare Staff: The 10 Worst Things You Can Say

  
  
  
  
  

Whether you are part of a hospital system like Johns Hopkins Home Care Group in Baltimore or an independent Physical Therapy agency like Rehab Maxx in Chicagoland, Ankota's customers must sometimes face the very difficult task of firing people. As anyone who has mishandled a firing before will tell you: Don't mess it up. (Our customers don't mess it up...we're just sayin').

jeffhaden.bucket 11526Inc logo

It's awful and no one ever enjoys it. If you are like most people, you dread firing staff and, let's face it, you're probably not very good at it anyway (don't feel bad: no one is). There are some definite "do's and don'ts" that you MUST follow and this article by Jeff Hayden of Inc. does a good job of synthesizing a lot of concepts into "The 10 Worst Things you Can Say When Firing Someone."

Says Hayden, "Firing someone is hard -- but getting fired is always harder. Don't make it worse by putting your foot in your mouth." Hayden continues, "Never say the following..."

1. "Look, this is really hard for me." 

2. "We've decided we need to make a change."

3. "We will work out some of the details later."

4. "You just aren't cutting it compared to Mary."

5. "Okay, let’s talk about that. Here’s why..."

6. "You’ve been a solid employee but we simply have to cut staffing."

7. "We both know you aren't happy here, so down the road you’ll be glad."

8. "I need to walk you to the door."

9. "We have decided to let you go."

10. "If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know."

 

You can read Hayden's article in its entirety here, including a discussion of each of The 10 Worst Things You Can Say When You Fire Someone

Home Care Software Geek explains what we can learn from Facebook

  
  
  
  
  

The Home Care Software Geek posts in this blog don't talk about Home Care Nursing Software, Private Duty Telephony, DME Delivery Software, Home Infusion Care Management 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 from the big-boys like Microsoft, Google and Apple.

There's a lot of talk and news recently about Facebook because they're on the verge ofMark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of their stock.  Candidly, most of what I know about the people behind Facebook comes from the movie "The Social Network."  Until I pulled the picture for this article, I didn't even know what the CEO Mark Zuckerberg even looked like (I just pictured the kid in the movie), but I recently read an article about them called "The Hacker Way" that talks about how Facebook works and saw some interesting parallels with what we do in Ankota and perhaps what Home Care leaders do (or should do) in running their business.

The Hacker Way

The Hacker Way is how Zuckerberg describes the culture of development at Facebook.  Of course, the term Hacker has a negative connotation in general, and is either used to refer to someone trying to break into computer systems, or someone who just doesn't know what they're doing when developing code.  Zuckerberg uses it as more of a term of endearment, and describes the Hacker Way in a letter to Facebook share holders as follows:

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement andThe Hacker Way iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

He goes on to explain this further by explaining that hacking is hands-on and active.  Rather than debating about what can be done, hacker cultures just go and do what they can do and the best results win.  As such, hacking is meritocratic.  And even though these principals stem from the way they build software, their five corporate values are derived from hacking, as follows:

  • Focus on Impact
  • Move Fast
  • Be Bold
  • Be Open
  • Build Social Value

I think home care can learn from these values in approaching the needs of our aging population, engaging health care reform, and transforming the way we do work.

What do you think?

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Good Communication in Home Care is about Listening!!!

  
  
  
  
  

I really enjoyed this short but powerful post on the blog at KevinMD.com.  It's written by the Reverend George Handzo, a pastor in New York City.  In home care nursing and caregiving, we have a great opportunity to listen and to be the main point of communication and advocacy for the people we serve.  Enjoy the post:

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Good communication in health care is about listening

A great deal of effort in the current health care environment is being put into improving communication – between patients and families and members of the health care team, among family members, and among members of the team. The case can be made that good communication is at the heart of patient safety, cultural sensitivity, and the pillar of palliative care — aligning patient’s wishes and goals with treatment plans.

So all we have to do is communicate. Much easier said than done. Yes, in some of this communication, a big part of the equation is learning to use words that adequately communicate the message we are trying to convey while using language that the patient and family fully understand.

But the core skill of good communication is listening. Listening requires that we put aside any thoughts of what we want to say next and just attend to the person talking. It requires that we be curious enough and interested enough in the other person to make sure we are clear about what they are saying, asking for clarification and reflecting back to make sure we have heard correctly. It is about taking seriously that the conversation is not about us but about the other.

And finally and most importantly, good listening is about understanding that good listening is often enough. I still find myself thinking sometimes that the patient or family member actually wants an answer to their question when, indeed, they only want me — as the chaplain — to listen to them. They want to be heard and, through that hearing, respected. They don’t want my words; they want my attention and presence. Even when the patient is looking for an answer, listening and creating a space for the patient to reflect is all they need to come to the answer themselves rather than having me impose it on them.

We so often minimize listening by saying we “just” listened. Indeed this so simple but soReverend George Handzo powerful process can often be one of the best interventions we can make with our patients and their families.

The Rev. George Handzo is vice president for chaplaincy care leadership and practice at HealthCare Chaplaincy in New York and a past president of  the  Association of Professional Chaplains. 

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Leading Home Care launches video series for Private Duty Care

  
  
  
  
  

Through their outreach to the home care community, Ankota has had a chance to learn aStephen Tweed Home Care lot from Stephen Tweed's company, Leading Home Care.  We've shared content from Stephen and his team, including his son Jason Tweed, on numerous occasions.  Here are some prior posts:

For 2012, Leading Home Care has announced the creation of a video series to help private home care agencies grow and thrive.  As an apetizer, we've included the first video in the series, which among other things, cites three reasons why they expect 2012 to be a great year for Private Care, as follows:

  • Improving Economy
  • Turmoil in Home Health
  • Growing Consumer Awareness

To benefit from the full series, you should go to the website for leading home care and subscribe to one of their newsletters.  For Private Care, the best is likely to be Private Duty Today

Leading Home Care Newsletter Sign Up

 

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

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