The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

Home Care Safety Tips Courtesy of Brightstar

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 31, 2010 4:29:00 PM

Even if Ankota delivers the best home care software ever conceived, there are certain basics of patient/client safety that we can't help with.  This article, shared with permission of the Brightstar Blog shares some terrific safety tips relevant to home healthcare, private duty care, and other aspects of elderly care and patient safety.  Enjoy!

For everyone, from children to seniors, the thought of leaving the familiarity of home can be a scary and intimidating experience. Relocating to new surroundings can prove to be a huge lifestyle shift for anyone at any age. Whether it's after treatment, post-op, or even elder care as we age, homecare can mean more than just comfort, but also health and safety. 

Researchers from the UK have reported that symptom management for patients with breast and colorectal cancer treated with oral Xeloda® (capecitabine) was better for patients who received home care nursing than for patients receiving standard care. Another study has indicated that half of infection deaths are linked to hospital care. According to a Wall Street Journal article, sepsis and pneumonia, two infections that can often be prevented with tight infection control practices in hospitals, killed 48,000 patients and added $8.1 billion to heath care costs in 2006 alone. And yet another study has indicated that, given they are seeking the appropriate treatment for their condition, patients with chronic heart disease fare better at home versus the hospital. 

So the question remains - what can be done to keep a family member or loved one in their home? Is there something you can do to ensure a loved one can remain home both healthily and safely? The answer can vary depending on each unique situation, but generally, yes. Mobilize your family and friends to set up a plan of care for your loved one, assigning each person a role; enlist supplemental caregivers where needed. Or, enlist the help of a home health provider. You can also make these easy modifications to the home to make it safer:

  • Make sure area rugs have non-skid backing and are not placed in high-traffic areas
  • Place electric cords along walls, not under rugs, and away from traffic areas
  • Place a non-skid mat or strips in the standing area of the bathtub or shower
  • Install handrails securely on the walls of the bathtub and near the toilet
  • Make sure that the carpeting on stairs is securely fastened and free of fraying or holes, or place non-skid strips on uncarpeted stairways
  • Equip hallways with nightlights
  • Properly secure interior and exterior handrails on staircases and ramps
  • Ensure light switches are located at the top and bottom of stairways and at both ends of long hallways
  • Equip gas stoves with pilot lights and an automatic cut-off in the event of a flame failure
  • Repair steps and walkways with cracks, potholes and erosion to even it out

Often times, a visit to the hospital is unavoidable, but if you or your loved one has the option to receive care and/or recuperate at home, there are resources available to help you to make this happen.

Brightstar Banner

Ankota is dedicated to improving the quality and efficiency of care delivered outside the hospital.  Ankota provides web-based software for home health and home care (private-duty non-medical care).  To learn more please visit or contact Ankota.

Topics: Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership

A Simple Tool for Driving Big Change

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 26, 2010 1:34:00 PM

Whether you're trying to improve profitability for your organization, reduce your "cost of quality", or even reform the US Healthcare system, one of the best tools I've ever found is a simple one.  It's called "The Pareto Chart".  I was lucky enough to grow up in my career at GE when Jack Welch was the CEO and this was one of the key tools that we used.  A Pareto chart is simply a bar chart showing improvement opportunities where you put the biggest bar on the left and order the rest in order of decreasing height as you move to the right.  Here's an example of a Pareto chart, for determining why customers are unhappy with a company's call center:

Pareto Chart Example

Building a Pareto chart is simple and is also a great way to foster participation in an improvement process.  You empower your team to come back with their best ideas and to quantify the impact of the idea (in dollars saved, defects reduced, hospitalizations avoided or any other unambiguous metric).  When people bring their ideas, the team listens to the idea and agrees on its impact (for example, you might have to lower the impact of one suggestion because it has a higher cost or time to implement).  Then you build the chart with your biggest ideas on the left, and start executing them moving from left to right.

Although this is a simple tool, it can have a big impact because it gives everyone a chance to contribute and the group's course of action is based on data rather than other factors. 

Like most people I've spoken to, my views about the  Health Care Reform bill that was recently passed into law are that 1) I think it's good for all Americans to have Health Insurance, 2) I don't know enough about the bill to fully assess what will be good about it and what will be bad (but I'm sure that there will be plenty of both), and 3) It's very clear that it's going to cost more, not less, and I'm disappointed about that.

My view has always been that we should reform healthcare using the Pareto chart, doing it a piece at a time where each one improves the quality and coverage of care and lowers the cost.  The good news is that it's not too late for this approach and hopefully the new health care reform will be implemented a piece at a time and we'll see real results like addressing malpractice tort reform, or the mismatch in what America pays for prescriptions vs. the rest of the world first. 

The great thing about the Pareto chart is that you can get great ideas "on the radar screen".  For example, broader use of telehealth, home dialysis or home infusion can result in billions of dollars of reduced cost while also increasing patient satisfaction and reducing infection.  While these ideas are too small to make the big healthcare reform headlines, they are potentially huge ideas for home care agencies to implement in the short term, that can then be adopted more broadly on a national scale.

Ankota provides software to improve the quality and efficiency of health care delivered outside the hospital and to promote aging in place.  Learn more at or contact Ankota.

Topics: Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, thought leadership

Wireless Home Health Technology Forecast to Grow 15-fold by 2013

Posted by Will Hicklen on Mar 23, 2010 6:13:00 PM

I read a great new article on, predicting that the market for wireless home healthcare technology will grow by 15-fold by 2013. I have provided the link to this piece below, along with another related link, and offer the following observation as we, Ankota, see this space:

New wireless solutions will make a tremendous impact on home healthcare worker productivity and help fuel home healthcare industry growth. We have staked our future on it.

The companies that provide homecare staff and services, or those which deliver equipment, medications and supplies are incredibly inefficient by other industries' standards. There are tremendous opportunities to reduce operating costs and fuel growth largely through process improvement. Much of this will be technology-enabled. We at Ankota are first and foremost process management experts, and we develop technology which enables process innovation. In short, we help these companies achieve new levels of efficiency and productivity.

Studies show that the companies involved in home healthcare  can reduce operating costs by 25% or more through better planning and utilization of staff and resources. These same companies can also free up 10-20% of their workers' time, enabling them to spend more time on activities that help patients and drive revenue for their companies.

Ankota has bet its future that wireless & mobile technologies will be critical in making homecare more effective and profitable.

Read more:

And a related piece:


Topics: Home Care Industry, Home Health Aide Software, Health Care Reform, thought leadership, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Will Hicklen, Home Care Scheduling Software

Adapting Technology for Healthcare is Still Early in its Life Cycle.

Posted by Marc Ottinger on Mar 17, 2010 12:13:00 PM

I ran across an article last night about EHR's.  In the article Terhilda Garrido at Kaiser Permanente stated that surveys and Marc Ottinger, COO/CFO of Ankotaanalysis performed by Kaiser demonstrate "computerized systems" have lead to better care and "some" cost savings.  She went on to state that results will improve as people adapt to the technology.  The quote that caught me was, "If you give a chainsaw to a lumberjack who's been using an axe his entire life, and he starts hacking at the tree with it, it's not going to help at all.  It's what you do with the technology that makes the difference."  This explains why a new Harvard Medical School study "suggests" that EHR's do not save hospitals money.  In fact, they often end up costing the institutions more.  Lead author David Himmelstein of this five year, 4,000 hospital study, stated the study did find several hospitals where EHR's improved efficiency and quality, just not many.  The study is available as a PDF document by clicking here.

Often healthcare is attempting to take processes that may not be Lumberjackefficient and effective and automate them.  With the technology that is available healthcare needs to do what manufacturing did in the 1980's and 1990's.  They need to reexamine and "reengineer" their processes to ensure they are not only efficient, but effective as well.  The lumberjack needs to understand the power of the chainsaw and how use the tool. 

Ankota is the pioneering company in the field of healthcare delivery management and is dedicated to improving the quality and efficiency of care outside the hospital.  Our leadership team has a strong background in business process reengineering and brings this discipline to home care.  To learn more about Ankota's software for Home Care, please go to or contact Ankota.

Topics: Elderly Care, Health Care Reform, thought leadership

NPDA 2010 Highlights from Philadelphia

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 13, 2010 6:20:00 PM

Ankota had the chance to attend the 8th Annual NPDA Leadership Summit from March 10th-12th in Philadelphia.  We wish to thank everyone who participated in the event, and especially thank our customers and interested prospects who stopped by our booth to see our Private Duty Software, our new Family Connect feature and our beta product for nursing assessments on a tablet PC.

Please enjoy video highlights from NPDA 2010:

NPDA 2010 Highlights from Ankota, Inc. on Vimeo.

Ankota is the pioneering company in the field of Healthcare Delivery Management and provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, including a comprehensive solution for managing Private Duty Care (for a brochure, click here).  To learn more about Ankota, please visit or contact Ankota.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, NPDA, Video

Elder Care Nutrition Tips for Cancer, Arthritis and Diabetes

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 10, 2010 12:47:00 PM

We recently posted some best practices for elder Erik Durekcare nutrition inspired by a presentation that we attended by Eric Durak, MS, an elder care wellness expert, and president of Medical Health and Fitness.  If you missed that post, please read it here.  The presentation was at the NAHC 5th Annual Private Duty Summit and Exhibition in Phoenix, for which you can see some highlights, including a glimpse of Eric in action here.  Today Ankota is at the NPDA Summit in Philadelphia and we look forward to bringing you highlights and best practices from NPDA over the next few weeks.

Today's post picks up where we left off last time; once the basics of elder care nutrition are under control, a more personalized approach is required, especially when it comes to improving quality of life for patients dealing with chronic illness.  Below, thanks to Eric, we share nutrition tips for Cancer, Arthritis, and Diabetes.

Nutrition Best Practices for Cancer Care:

  • Use of powders for nutrients
  • More Water (filtered)
  • Use of Raw Foods
  • Less Sugars
  • Good Snacks
  • Smaller portions more times per day (three meals plus snacks)

Elderly Care Nutrition

Nutrition Best Practices for Arthritis:

  • Use of glucosamine / chondroitan
  • Use of natural food products
  • Omega three fatty acids (fish, walnuts, flax oil)
  • Vitamin C foods (fruits, lemon, broccoli, white potato)
  • Selenium foods (light tuna, pasta, grains, turkey)
  • Bioflavonoid (onions, kale, tomatoes, apples)
  • Spices - turmeric, ginger

Elder Care Nutrition

Nutrition Best Practices for Diabetes:

  • Keeping glucose levels low
  • Use of protein at every meal
  • Less total calories
  • Limited use of sugar concentrate foods
  • Eating several small meals per day
  • Monitoring blood glucose 3-4 times/day


If you're interested to learn more about these nutrition approaches, I'd encourage you to contact Eric by clicking on the banner below.

Ankota provides software for home healthcare delivery management and is dedicated to improving the quality and efficiency of the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Ankota is working to help Private Duty agencies, plus home care nursing, DME delivery, Respiratory Therapy, Infusion Therapy, Physical Therapy and post-acute Transitional Care.  We are interested in helping to streamline the care delivery operations and also to help pioneer new delivery mechanisms that will improve care.  For more information, please visit or contact Ankota.

Topics: Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices

Twitter Lists created for Home Care and Private Duty

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 8, 2010 7:56:00 AM

Back in October, we introduced twitter on this blog.  If you don't know what twitter is, you can see the original post here.  Those short five months ago there wasn't a lot of conversation occuring about Home Care on Twitter, but since then things have started to pick up and many agencies, individuals and vendors are using twitter to share news and best practices 140 characters at a time.  On a broader scale, Twitter last week surpassed 10 billion tweets - that's a lot of messages!


Today I did some searching on twitter for titles and profiles of users with Home Care or Private Duty in their Title or Bio, and the number is over 1,000, so slowly but surely twitter is catching on.

But finding and following individuals interested in home care or private duty care can still be tricky if you look for them one-by-one.  To make this easier, twitter recently introduced Twitter Lists, which are essentially groups of people with a common bond.  By visiting a twitter list, you can see what a whole group of related people are talking about.  There's a great explanation of twitter lists in this article (courtesy of - the social media guide)


Based on my searches for twitter users who talk about matters related to home care and private duty care.  I created some twitter lists that you can explore with a single click.  For the home care one, go to and for the Private Duty one, go to  Note that you don't have to be a twitter user to check these out, but if you are a twitter user you can click "follow" and then the list will be available on your profile page so you can check into the conversation at any time.  To make it even easier, you can push one of the buttons below.

Home Care Twitter List   Private Duty Twitter List

Note that the Home Care list has 75 members so far and Private Duty has 33 (but we'll try to build this one up this week at NPDA in Philadelphia).

If you'd like to be added to (or removed from) either of these lists, we'd be happy to take care of that for you.  You can comment on this post or contact Ankota.  Be sure to tell us your twitter name (like mine is @AnkotaCTO).


Topics: home care software geek, NPDA

The Wireless Future of Medicine - Video

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 5, 2010 2:35:00 PM

Many of the people interested in this blog want to be pioneers in Dr. Eric Topolchanging the delivery of healthcare.  This entertaining and informative video is a "must see".  It features Eric Topol, MD who is a cardiologist and geneticist and is the Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute.  A more complete bio for Dr. Topol is below.  The challenge for each of you is to think about the technologies shown in the video, many of which are available today, and to think how it can bring individualized medicine and home care to the next level.  Enjoy!

The video is courtesy of

WWW dot TED dot COM

The following bio for Dr. Topol is courtesy of Wikipedia:

Eric Topol, M.D. is a noted American cardiologist, geneticist and administrator. He is the Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, in La Jolla, California, which is a National Institutes of Health funded flagship grant, to accelerate research to change medicine. He also serves as the Chief Academic Officer for Scripps Health, a Professor of Translational Genomics at The Scripps Research Institute, and was recently named The Gary and Mary West Chair of Innovative Medicine. In addition, he serves on the Board of the West Wireless Health Institute as Chief Medical Officer.

In 2008, Topol launched an impressive large-scale long-term study of personal genetic testing to assess its impact on people who choose to get tested.[1] Through the Scripps Genomic Health Initiative, his team is following 10,000 people who take a Navigenics genetic test to see if the knowledge they glean from the process encourages them to improve their lifestyle and get regular and recommended health care. Topol's team is also assessing the psychological impact of genetic testing, and whether participants are able to prevent or delay diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers, Alzheimer's disease and more by taking action after getting their results.[2] Besides the Scripps Translational Science Institute, study partners include Navigenics, Affymetrix and Microsoft.

Before this, he was Professor of Genetics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He was the Founder of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.[3] Prior to moving to Case Western, Topol was Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic where he is widely credited [4] with leading its cardiovascular program to the topmost position in the US. Topol left the Cleveland Clinic in early 2006 after drawing "attention to the mounting tensions between the clinic's research mission and its deep ties to the businesses that finance that research."[5]

Topol gained prominence as the first physician researcher to raise questions about the safety of Vioxx. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He was named Doctor of the Decade by the Institute for Scientific Information for being one of the top 10 most cited medical researchers.

Ankota is the pioneering company in the field of Healthcare Delivery Management (HDM) and is dedicated to improving the quality and efficiency of the delivery of care outside of the hospital setting.  Ankota offers products to improve the efficiency of home care, private duty care, medical equipment delivery, and specialty home care services including infusion therapy, respiratory therapy and home physical therapy.  In addition, Ankota does research and development into advanced care management technologies to promote aging in place.  For more information please contact us or visit

Topics: thought leadership, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Video

Home Care Software Geek explains SEO and Inbound Marketing

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 3, 2010 12:00:00 PM

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 and Google.

Today we talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Inbound Marketing.  These topics are not the same, but they go hand in hand.  The concept of Inbound Marketing comes from a realization of how people find the services they're looking for today.  If you're like me, you might start with a google search (or maybe you like bing or yahoo or another search engine).  Then you type in what you're looking for, so if I need home care for my mom, I might type something like "Home Care Tavares FL".

Let's look at the result:

Google Search for Home Care

I personally tend to ignore the "sponsored ads" up top and on the side for a couple of reasons: 1) often they're not really what I'm looking for (like the assisted living ad), 2) I'm a bit more skeptical of a company who is paying for advertising than I am of a company who I found organically.  Some takeways are as follows:

  • People search the internet for home care
  • They search based on the words that they think of
  • They search geographically
  • They might search for a neighboring town (like where they shop or where their friends live)
  • The DON'T search for a specific company name unless they know it
  • They might ignore paid advertising
  • They will most likely look at the choices near the top of the list

This basically outlines the concept of Inbound Marketing.  It's all about helping potential customers to find your company.

SEO is one of the key techniques that helps you with this.  First you need to think about what the customer is likely to search for and come up with the best possible list.  Perhaps this is your initial list:

  • Home Care Tavares FL
  • Home Nurse Tavares FL
  • Visiting Nurses Mt. Dora FL
  • Non-Medical Home Care Tavares FL
  • etc.

They type these searches into a search engine like google, and of course you want google to find your agency and put it on the first page on the top.  The way you do this is through search engine optimization (SEO), which is accomplished by including the words people are looking for on your website, and placing the words that are most likely to be searched in prominant places.

We can talk lot's more about how this works and we'll do so in future posts, but for now let me explain the best way to get a good score for a key word, which is to have your page title (the title at the top of the browser when you search), the URL (which is the web address they searched like, and the header at the top of your page (which your website people will know as the H1 header) match your keyword.   See the example below:

SEO Trinity (title, url, H1 header)

The first question you should ask yourself is whether your agency's website supports SEO.  Here's the test:

  1. Go to your home page on the web and see if your title matches the most likely phrase that people would search for (the likely case is that it's your company name - which is great if the name is meaningful like "Tavares Home Care" but usually it's not).  Note that home pages are tricky because you probably want your name in the title, but I'd recommend putting the search phrase first and then the name, such as "Home Care Tavares FL - TLC Care Group"
  2. Go to other pages on your site and verify that they have different titles (intended to track different audiences - such as "Nursing - Tavares FL" or "Private Duty Care - Tavares FL").  If every page has your company name as the title, such as "TLC Care Group", then people are likely to only find you on the web if they search for that name.

If you pass these two tests, you're off to a good start.  If not, you can probably fix this by the end of the day today.  We'll cover more advanced SEO topics in future posts. 

Topics: Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, home care software geek

Maximize the Value of your Private Duty Software

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 1, 2010 2:09:00 PM

A few weeks ago at the NAHC Private Duty Summit (see conference Pat Drea, COO Visiting Angelshighlights here), I attended an outstanding presentation by the COO of Visiting Angels, Pat Drea, where she shared many of the best practices in her playbook.  A few weeks ago, we posted a story inspired by Pat entitled Establishing a Customer Service Culture in Your Home Care Agency which you can view here.  Today's post, also inspired by Pat, is about maximizing the value of your private duty software.  Pat recounted a situation where she helped a struggling branch to generate almost immediate savings of over $80K and a big portion of the benefit came from better use of the software that they already had.  Here's a summary of Pat's best practices to maximize the value of your Private Duty software:

  • Use the Matching and Filtering Tools: If you're not using these, chances are that your scheduling people are keeping track of all of this in their heads which slows down the process.  Your software should check for the following:
    • Right skills and certifications
    • Match customer preferences (e.g., Spanish Speaking)
    • Proximity
    • Preferred Caregiver for the client
    • Available when the work is needed
    • Worker not designated as "do not send" for this client
  • Detect Sheduling Conflicts: Your software should inform you if there is ever a double booking or other availability problem
  • Alert you when an assignment is missed: Does your software let you know when a worker has not reported their arrival?  You don't want a dissatisfied customer or missed revenue
  • Telephony: Cuts your data entry by four hours
  • Family Member Communications: Does your software allow the family members of your clients to know how things are going with their loved one?
  • Web-enabled: Can your office managers and caregivers securely access their schedules from their home internet?

These are some of the features that can help your organization increase its productivity.  Thanks Pat!

Visiting Angels

If your Private Duty software doesn't perform the features listed above, Ankota would be happy to help.  You can learn more about Ankota's comprehensive solution for Private Duty care here.  As a private duty business owner, you are in the enviable position to have a growing client base, but if adding clients forces you to add back office staff and increase your costs, it might not be worth it.  To see how Ankota can help your organization, please contact us or come see us at NPDA in Philadelphia in booth 32.

Topics: Elderly Care, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, NAHC

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About Ankota

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 or contact Ankota.

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