The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

Improve Elder Care: Patients are Happier when their Doctor Sits Down

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 29, 2010 8:22:00 AM

I live very close to Babson College, the school where I earned my MBA. The close proximity gives me a chance to participate in certain campus activities.  Although I don't go very often, I especially like to volunteer for their Coaching for Leadership and Teamwork Program (CLTP).  This program gives undergraduate students an opportunity to get feedback from professionals who observe them as they discuss case studies in a small group and give a 1 minute "job talk" (where they share a personal elevator speech explaining why you should hire them).  I enjoy giving feedback to the students, but also enjoy hearing the feedback that other mentors provide.  Being a technology geek, I tend to focus on the substance and the content, such as what ideas they contributed and whether they helped bring the group to concensus.  The last time I participated (about a month ago), several of the mentors working with me seemed to give most of their feedback about body language, along the lines of "I like how she leaned in when others were speaking", or, "he didn't make enough eye contact with his team members, but he smiled a few times".  So sorry for the long introduction, but this experience raised my awareness of the importance of body language, and especially the impact of body language as a part of patient care.

A recent University of Kansas Hospital study, showed that patients have a more positive perception of their visit with their doctor when the doctor sits down to speak with them.  You can see the full article, entitled Sitting Down on the Job: New Data Finds That Patients Are Happier When Doctors Sit Down, Even If They Don't Stay As Long on the University of Kansas website by clicking on the banner below.  

University of Kansas Hospital

Some key takeaways from the study were as follows:

  • When asked how long the doctor spent with them, patients reported the time to be 40% longer when the doctor sat down to speak with them
  • When the doctor sat down, 91% of patients' post-visit comments were positive, as opposed to 65% when the doctor stood up
  • Per the article "When patients think the doctor is in the room longer, they express a better understanding of their condition and greater satisfaction with their care, which can be factors in decreased lengths of stay, decreased costs, improved clinical outcomes and decreased litigation"

This really helps to solidify the importance of body language in the perception of the quality of healthcare in general and specifically for home care/elderly care, Sitting Down improves Patient Satisfactionand it also potentially gives us a nice reminder for our caregivers that they should sit down when speaking to their patients/clients.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

Topics: Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, Home Healthcare Delivery Management

Home Care Featured in the WSJ: But not in the Best Light

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 28, 2010 12:34:00 PM

Monday's Wall Street Journal featured a prominent article about home care, but it wasn't the story we would have hoped for.  Instead of focusing on the opportunity for home care to increase patient satisfaction, lower costs as compared to hospital and nursing home stays, reduce the risk of infection, free up hospital beds, and create jobs, the Journal instead shared a story about how reimbursement incentives have influenced the delivery of care.

You can see the article, entitled Home Care Yields Medicare Bounty (by Barbara Martinez in the April 26th edition, by clicking on the image below:

WSJ - Home Care Yields Medicare Bounty

The synopsis of the article is that Medicare reimbursement for Home Care Services was structured so that an episode of care with 10 or more visits paid the agency $2,200 more than an episode with up to 9 visits, and that research showed that when this provision was in place, that a lot more episodes had 10 visits than 9.  Most of the data for the article came from Amedisys, but it was clear that the practice of "more 10 than 9" occurred industry-wide (sadly for Amedisys, their leadership in the industry made them easy to pick on).

As a taxpayer, of course I'm not happy that the industry opted for the reimbursement option that paid them more, but can you really blame them, or should we instead be looking at the reimbursement policy.  To draw an analogy, movie theaters offer different sizes of popcorn where the small bag costs some crazy amount like $6.00 and the big bucket with twice as much popcorn costs $6.50.  Are the buyers of the big bucket wrong to get more value by shelling out the extra 50 cents?

But there are several differences between the popcorn analogy and the Medicare example, as follows:

  • With popcorn, the buyer got 100% more product for just over 8% more money, whereas with Medicare, the patient got 11% more service for 67% more money - the opposite of a volume discount
  • With popcorn, the buyer made the decision and the buyer paid for it, whereas with Medicare the seller made the decision and the taxpayers paid for it
  • If the buyer who set the policy of "We'll pay a lot more money for a little bit more product" had worked somewhere like at GE, they'd likely be fired

So shame on everyone...  Yes it's likely that 10 visit episodes didn't deliver better care than 9 visit ones, so shame on home care.  But shame on the policy makers who crafted the reimbursement, too.

As we've shared in previous posts, the definition of health care reform needs to be "Better Care at Lower Cost".  And when this policy is applied, home care will deliver a win/win and the Journal will be able to tell a much more positive story.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

 

 

Topics: Elderly Care, Health Care Reform

Doctors can Save Lives by Learning a Lesson from Home Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 28, 2010 6:47:00 AM

One of the key successes in home care is following checklists.  Home Health Aide Software Telephony software puts the checklist of care activities right on the phone so that care givers know just what to do to care for a client.  But can simple checklists save lives?  A new book, The Checklist Manifesto - How to Get Things Right, by Dr. Atul Gawande gives us a clear answer that YES, checklists can make a significant difference in patient outcomes and the quality of care.

Here's a picture of the book cover (click on it for a link to the book at Amazon.com).

Checklist Manifesto

The book uses compelling examples to show how "the lowly checklist" can be a powerful tool to improve outcomes in health care and in other industries as well, and then goes on to teach us how to make a good checklist - a lesson we can all apply.  Plus, Dr. Gawande has used the book to lauch a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to improve care globally.

For those of you who don't know Dr. Gawande, you should!  His first breaktrhough book, Complications, provides a compelling view into medical decision making and medical rounts (and frightening but true, it emphasizes the importance of trial-and-error and making mistakes in improving care).  He also wrote a piece in the New Yorker called The Cost Conundrum that explores the disparity between Medicare costs in different geographies of the US.  This was the subject of one of our very first blog posts (click here).

The book is easy to read and uses memorable examples throughout.  We highly recommend it and will give it strong consideration for the Ankota Book of the Year (which was last one by Clayton Christensen's, The Innovator's Prescription).

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

Topics: Recommended Reading, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, thought leadership, Checklists

Generate Home Care Referrals for Free

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 26, 2010 8:15:00 AM

Having attended several recent home care trade-shows for Private Duty (NPDA and NAHC Private Duty), and for Home Health Care (e.g., NAHC in LA), I've tried to participate in the education sessions as much as possible so that I can learn what our industry is learning.  Not surprisingly, a large number of the sessions are dedicated to marketing and sales, and teaching you ways to close more business for your agencies.  So when my CEO passed along an article about Generating Referrals for Free to my sales team, I immediately wanted to share it with our readers.  The article came from American Express Open Small Business site and is entitled "11 Free Ways to Generate Referrals".  Here's a link.

American Express OPEN

First and foremost, the author, Julie Rains, encourages us to remember that the best kind of referrer wants to solve a problem for a friend.  So our goal is not to get them to promote our business, but rather to make it clear that we can solve an important problem.

Here are a few pieces of advice from the article:

  • Thank all customers who attempt to make referrals (not only the successful ones)
  • Offer a unique product or service
  • Truly understand and convey your market positioning
  • Interact with customers consistently well
  • Be easy to find and contact

Be sure to check out the full article for detail.  If you are thinking about attending an industry tradeshow, here are links to some highlights from recent shows we've attended:

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

Topics: Home Care Industry, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, NPDA, NAHC, New York State HCP

Avoiding Infection is a Great Reason to Opt for Home Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 23, 2010 11:09:00 AM

There are many great reasons to choose home care rather than care in a hospital or other multi-patient facility.  Of course, the number one reason is for the comfort of home, and to be surrounded by the people and surroundings that you love.  Another reason is the growing population of seniors putting stress on available beds, doctors and nurses.  In today's post, however, we share a few scary facts about the risk of infection.

Approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections, also called noscomial infections, occur annually in the US according to the CDC.  In a recent New York Times article (Rising Threat of Infections Unfazed by Antibiotics, by Andrew Pollack on February 26, 2010), it claims that these infections cause or contribute to 99,000 US deaths per year.  Our cost report friends at Boyd and Nicholas recently shared an article stating that the average 200 bed hospital incurs $252,600 per year in costs for treating infection.

This is yet another reason to opt for care at home, and a reason The Innovator's Prescriptionwhy we expect more treatments to move from clinical settings to the home, especially in dialysis and home infusion, and via telehealth monitoring units.  According to our 2009 Book of the Year, The Innovator's Prescription , we can expect more innovation in medical devices that allow medical treatments to be performed in home settings and by lower skilled workers.

In the hospital setting, the best defense against the spread of infection is old-fashioned hand washing. And although we don't generally have to worry about transferring infection-causing bacteria from one patient to another in the home care environment, we should always emphasize the importance of hand washing to our nurses and care-givers.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

 

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

Remembering Names can help grow your Home Care Business

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 21, 2010 11:31:00 AM

If you're like me, you probably find the title of this post both obvious and frustrating.  You know that you like people to address you by name when you're buying something, but often when you meet someone, their name escapes you instantly.  Many of our readers are selling home care services to referral sources or private duty care services directly to clients and their family members.

Forbes magazine comes to our rescue with this article, entitled Ten Simple Tricks to Remembering Names.  Here are some of the tips:

  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Do this both in your head and out loud (try not to overdo it - but they'd prefer that you remember than forget)
  • Use the F.A.C.E. Method: Focus (on their face), Ask (what they like to be called - e.g., Robert or Bob), Comment (I have an aunt named Mabel), Employ (great to meet you Sarah)
  • Be Honest: Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry I missed your name", or "I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name"

ForbesRemembering Names 

 

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

 

Topics: Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices

Woohoo! Home Healthcare In A Crisis!

Posted by Will Hicklen on Apr 15, 2010 5:49:00 PM

Or: The double edged sword of health care reform

Or: What should YOU-the Home Care Provider (HHC, PD, DME, RT, Infusion ...)-do RIGHT NOW to improve your business.

There are a number of companies, like Ankota, that make their business in various healthcare markets. For many, healthcare reform presents both opportunity and risk.  I recently did an interview on this topic with Elain Pofeldt of the Atlantic Monthly, which you can read here:  http://bit.ly/cNFomN

To be sure, the constant escalation of health insurance premiums affects Ankota like any other business. It consumes financial resources that could otherwise be directed to product development, hiring and fueling the company's growth. Recent legislation adds to that uncertainty, but we were in an uncertain market before, as well.

So why are we so excited? Because our customers' businesses are in crisis. "Seriously?" you say. I don't mean to celebrate any misfortune, but consider what this means for a company like yours as well as Ankota.

Markets in crisis tend to exhibit certain behaviors. Businesses in crisis tend to innovate. They find new and more productive ways to manage their business. They are less likely to stick to old, inefficient ways. Or they die. They find ways to cut spending and reduce operating expenses.  They leverage technology to improve efficiencies, to utilize staff better, and to get rid of old, tedious (and often paper-based) methods. In short, they look to do more with less. And markets in crisis are motivated to act immediately.

Companies making decisions to spend money in this type of environment do it for one reason: to become more profitable. Often times, they do it just to survive. They hold would be vendors to a very high standard, saying,

"Don't waste my time: Show me exactly how you are going to save me money, help me bill faster, or increase my revenues."

They want immediate, quantifiable results and they want to pay for enabling technology as they use it (like current subscription based models). They won't spend a lot of money today to see nebulous returns a year or two down the road.

The exciting news for Ankota and other Health IT companies is that companies in the home care ecosystem are under extreme pressure to improve productivity immediately. A business in crisis is motivated to act. Winning technologies will help them cut operating costs by better planning and delivering home health care. The providers who adapt and innovate will ultimately thrive.   

The exciting news for those that provide home health care (Certified or Private Duty) and related services (such as RT and Infusion), and those companies that deliver home medical equipment (HME/DME), pharmaceuticals and supplies, is that there are a number of ways you can immediately improve your business:

  • Get rid of paper-based processes such as scheduling and reporting. Use technology to plan schedules and routes for your mobile staff and vehicles more efficiently.
  • Coordinate Care Plans with the staff and resources needed for execution. Good intentions are not enough. Efficient follow through and execution are critical.
  • Keep track of work performed in real time via technology such as "telephony" that anyone with a cell phone can use. This is inexpensive and requires no additional investment in equipment. Whatever telephony solution you choose, make sure that it is integrated with the care plan and schedules.
  • Measure your performance. Much of the technology mentioned above will begin to help collect the data such as time and cost information that you need to measure performance. This will lay the foundation for continuous improvement.

Topics: Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, thought leadership, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Will Hicklen, Home Care Scheduling Software

The Magic of Maple Syrup for Preventing Cancer and Diabetes

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 7, 2010 2:13:00 PM

The vision for this blog was not to talk about the home care software that we make, but rather to share information of interest to the broader home care, hospice, private duty care and general elder care community.  It's especially rewarding when readers ask us to cover a topic of interest to them or to let them share their expertise with our readers.  Today's post comes from one of our readers, Sandy Harris, who is an expert on nutrition for Diabetes and writes for the blog at http://www.diabeticsnacks.org/.

Diabetic Snacks dot org

The Magic of Maple Syrup for Preventing Cancer and Diabetes

by Sandy Harris

 

Did you know that your favorite maple syrup is effective in fighting cancer and diabetes?  According to the studies conducted by US researchers, there are strong evidences showing that maple syrup can substantially slow down the growth of cancer cells and can effectively reduce the risk of diabetes. 

The new research shows that your favorite maple syrup has thirteen active compounds that serve as antioxidants. These thirteen compounds were previously unknown. The discovery proved that maple syrup could be very effective in fighting bacterial infection, diabetes and cancer.

Maple Syrup as an Anti Diabetic Food

Considerable amounts of the phytohormone, abscisic acid, are found in maple syrup. This acid is a powerful defense against diabetes and metabolic syndrome, because it encourages the release of insulin through pancreatic cells and enhances fat cells' sensitivity to insulin. Seeram revealed the results of his tests on Canadian maple syrup during the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

Anti Cancer Action of Maple Syrup

Quebec researchers, on the other hand, conducted a study to probe the impact of maple syrup on cancer cell growth. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. According to the researchers, your favorite maple syrup can significantly slow down the growth of cancerous cells. It has been found that the syrup is effective in inhibiting the growth of brain, prostate, and lung cancer. However, the efficacy of the syrup on breast cancer growth was less significant.

A Delicious Option in Fighting Cancer and Diabetes

There is no doubt that maple syrup is the favorite of everyone. This is probably the best anti cancer and anti diabetes food today. The studies have shown that the syrup could be more effective than broccoli, blueberries, tomatoes, and carrots in fighting cancer growth.

 Further testing also revealed that maple's syrup extracts are more effective compared to maple sap. For fighting cancer and diabetes, experts suggest that dark colored maple syrup should be used. Dark syrup has high color oxidation which makes it more potent against cancer and diabetes. So if you want the best anti cancer and anti diabetes food, then maple syrup is your answer.

Reference: Journal of medicinal food. 01/02/2010; ISSN: 1557-7600, OI: 10.1089/jmf.2009.0029

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery 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.

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

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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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