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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

25 Lessons for Managing your Home Care Workforce

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 30, 2010 7:27:00 AM

I usually don't share 25 of anything, but these are quick and great lessons for home care managers.  The original author, Tamsen S McMahon, introduces her article by recounting that early in her career a manager advised her to "do her hair and wear more lipstick" - obviously not appropriate employee feedback.  Perhaps this inspired her to focus on the things that actually do matter and do work in sharing this inspired list...

Tamsen S. McMahon's 25 Lessons of Management:

  1. Understand that your primary job is to remove obstacles from your staff’s path.That includes you. If you’re in the way, move.
  2. About Tamsen S McMahonEmpower them. Give them authority, give them confidence, give them space to do their job.
  3. Be their best advocate. Your staff always gets the credit for a job well done. You take the blame when things don’t go well. This is a conscious decision. Never throw your staff under the bus.
  4. Be empathic. Empathy is required, and can’t be taught. Improved, yes. Taught, no.
  5. Don’t give anyone a task you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. And if it’s a real crap task, make sure you acknowledge that. Bonus points if you apologize for it, too.
  6. A corollary: Don’t establish (or enforce) rules you don’t follow yourself. What’s good for you is good for them, and vice versa. Different sets of rules for management and staff breed discontent.
  7. People will reach the bar wherever you set it. If you set the bar low, don’t be surprised when they don’t aim higher.
  8. Set expectations, not executions. Your way is not the only way—and their way could be better.
  9. If there’s a problem, address it. Right away. Privately. Problems don’t just go away. Respect your staff enough to give them a chance to correct what’s wrong. Shame doesn’t motivate.
  10. Go for “no surprises.” Just like a performance review shouldn’t be the first time your staff hears about a problem, the day of a deadline should not be the first time you hear something’s not getting done. Don’t blindside them, and they won’t blindside you. But set this expectation up early.
  11. When hiring, temperament is more important than experience. Typically, we hire for skills and fire for personality. But skills can be taught, fit can’t.
  12. Your staff don’t belong to you. You have succeeded as a manager when you coach someone into a higher and better position—whether in your organization or out of it. Don’t be selfish.
  13. 99% of the time people do the right thing without being told. Don’t manage to the 1%. Trust people to do the right thing. They will.
  14. Tell them what you know. Tell them what you don’t know. And tell them what you know but can’t tell—and why. Overcommunicate. Lack of information causes many more problems than too much.
  15. Praise in public. Critique in private.
  16. Only critique the professional, not the personal. Yes, that’s hard to do when you’re addressing a personal behavior, but you have to do the work of figuring out how to relate that to the professional environment. Otherwise you’re in the realm of telling people to “wear more lipstick.” Not acceptable.
  17. Respect their time. Especially when they’re meeting with you. Be punctual. Be relevant. Be useful. If you meet over lunch, feed them. If you ask them to work late, let them have that time somewhere else.
  18. Let them vent.
  19. You don’t have to know how to do what your staff does. But you do need to know what they need from you, what they care about, what gets in their way, and what their goals are. And you need to know why they consider what they do important.
  20. Don’t micromanage. Goldfish will grow as big as their tank can accommodate. Give your staff an ocean, not a teacup.
  21. They don’t have to like you, but they do have to respect you. But you have to earn respect. You can’t legislate it. Oppression breeds rebellion, especially if it seems arbitrary. You’ll get as much respect as you give.
  22. Mistakes are fine. Just not the same mistake, and not more than once. The first mistake is usually your fault. The second is theirs. Or yours, if you didn’t address the first one.
  23. When something goes wrong, blame is useless. Find out what happened only so you can help your staff figure out how to avoid repeating the mistake. If you use the discovery process to lay the basis for punishment, you’ll never, ever get the real story again.
  24. Your staff will do what you do, not what you say. Your staff is a reflection of you. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, look to yourself.
  25. You are nothing without them.

Tamsen S McMahon Intellectual Magpie

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.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Home Care Best Practices

Ankota Guest Blogger Sherri Dorfman discusses the Silver Tsunami

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 29, 2010 6:46:00 PM

One of the people who helped to organize last weeks session on the Silver Tsunami was Sherri Dorfman, from Stepping Stone Partners.  She shared with me some great insights from her blog and I share them with you here.  Click on the title below to go to Sherri's blog, or click on the Stepping Stone banner below to learn more about Sherri's company.

Ready for the Silver Tsunami?

by Sherri Dorfman - CEO, Stepping Stone Partners

Last week, I attended Mass Technology Leadership Council’sSherri Dorfman CEO Stepping Stone Partners event on the Emerging Technologies for the Silver Tsunami: Aging in Place through the use of Integrated Technology.  The room was packed with interested stakeholders from HIT technology companies, hospitals, home health agencies and senior living communities.

This is one of several events across the country focused on opportunities that will be brought in with the new waves of seniors.

Beginning in 2011, the oldest of the 78 million baby boomers will turn 65 years old. According to the Stanford Center on Longevity, the "number of older people (age 65 and over) will double over the next 30 years, from 40 million to 80 million, and the percentage of older people in the population will increase from 13% to 20%".

Given the size of this new segment of seniors, their education, affluence and comfort with technology, they will have a powerful impact on healthcare delivery, health plans and aging services.

Riding the Waves:

Leveraging my extensive consulting experience and knowledge about elder care technologies, I have defined five requirements for HIT solutions to meet the needs of seniors, families, caregivers and  the care team.

1. Extending Solutions for Care Management

“I want my mom’s doctor to know what is really happening when she is away from his office”.

Through acquisition and partnerships, companies are combining their “point solutions” to bring new capabilities to seniors and their care circle. HIT suppliers are also proactively seeking ways to tie their solutions into the EMR and Health Information Exchange to bring needed insight to the clinician and support the  medical home care team.

2. Expanding Solutions across the Care Continuum

“I do not want to have to purchase, learn and manage all different technologies as my father ages.”

There is an opportunity for health information technology firms to design their solutions with a set of capabilities that can be turned on as the senior requires the support. Considering the burden of the adult children and caregivers, the solution for this market will meet the needs of seniors across the care continuum; preventative, acute, chronic and long-term.

3. Guiding Care Decisions

“We are all taking turns caring for my father and we are exhausted since his health is deteriorating each day.”

Most of us have access to calendars and communication  technologies which we can use for personal reasons. The problem is that we do not know what to expect each day and find ourselves reacting instead of planning for the care of our loved one. When we have a few minutes, we call our friend who just went through this with her mom. Think about how social networking can be leveraged to help families anticipate, plan and make the best decisions with the guidance of experts and other experienced caregivers.

4. Supporting Service Delivery

“I need to know what our caregivers are observing and be alerted when mom needs additional care.”

Whether they are busy raising their own families or living in another state, adult children struggle to care for their elder loved ones. Professional caregivers including home health works can use technology to record observations of daily living and engage in shared decision making with the family.

5. Supporting Self -Management

“My dad needs to be able to manage this diabetes on a daily basis”.

With the shortage of health care professionals, older consumers need to take care of their chronic conditions and understand how to make changes when they run into many different situations common to their condition. Technology can serve as an enabler by reminding the senior to take medications and perform certain behaviors, tracking these activities, educating them what to do when these activities are missed, monitoring their vitals  and alerting caregivers when problems arise.

Getting Ready for the Silver Tsunami:

As you define/refine your own product strategy for the senior market, think carefully about the steps you will take. The senior market is made up of many different “sub-segments". It is important to identify and understand how these sub-segments differ in their needs, behaviors, technology usage and preferences. This research will provide the insight to guide your product development to meet the requirements of your target audience(s). 

Stepping Stone Partners

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.

Topics: Senior Demographics, Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, Health Care Reform, Aging in Place Technology

Introducing the Aging Technology Alliance: A Home Care Resource

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 27, 2010 12:24:00 PM

Last Thursday, I attended a seminar that I helped to organize entitled "Emerging Technologies for the Silver Tsunami" which Laurie Orlovwas presented by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (www.masstlc.org).  It was a fantastic program with a keynote address by Laurie Orlov from the Aging in Place Technology Watch (www.ageinplacetech.com).  The event started with Laurie's keynote, then had presentations and a panel discussion with Judy Willett from Beacon Hill Village and Andrea Cohen from Houseworks.  The latter portion of the meeting was a panel of Aging in Place Entrepreneurs including big company representation such as Philips Home Care, and small companies like BeClose (see related posts here and here). 

I will have several forthcoming blog posts based on this session, but today's post in particular was inspired by a question asked by attendee Lisa Fuller from VNA Home Care and Hospice (affiliated with Mercy Health System of Maine).  Lisa asked, "With all of these technologies emerging, how can I even find out what's out there?"

Two answers were offered:

  1. Read Laurie Orlov's Blog (www.ageinplacetech.org),

  2. Check out the Aging Technology Alliance (www.agetek.org)

We've featured Laurie and her blog numerous times here at the Ankota blog, such as here, but the Aging Technology Alliance is something new that might be a good resource for you... 

In a nutshell, AgeTek is a consortium of providers of Aging in Place Technologies.  They offer a listing of such vendors here and benefits to their members such as discounted booths at tradeshows and events.  They are also starting to have an impact on getting the word out about the industry and have been behind several recent high profile stories, including the ones you can see at these links:

  • The CBS Early Show: here
  • ABC News: here
  • The ABC "Gotta Know Show": here
  • New york Times: here

We hope that this alliance will provide valuable information and visibility to benefit the home care community!

AgeTek dot org

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.

Topics: Elderly Care, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology

Home Care Software Geek explains the Impact of Software Company Size

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 22, 2010 6:59:00 AM

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.

A few weeks ago, I did a piece called Home Care Software Geek explains How to Buy Software, where I talked about how to partner with your software vendor(s) to develop a trusting and mutually beneficial working relationship with them.  I got some feedback that it was a great piece for dealing with samll to mid-sized software companies (like many who support home care, private duty and DME) but that it must be different to deal with software companies of different sizes.  So here's the sequel.

Software Companies

Your ability to engage with a software vendor will be impacted by there size.  Here are a few generalities that you should consider:

  • A very large software company (like Microsoft) is unlikely to be able to do things in a special way for you, so you need to either use the software or not.
  • Larger software companies generally deliver changes via "Software Releases" so even if they agree to make a change for you it might take months or years for the change to become available, and it might be difficult to upgrade to the new version.  You often engage with these companies by participating in their "user group" or going to their conferences to lobby for your changes.
  • Larger companies generally have a "Professional Services" group or partners who can tailor the software to your specific needs, but these groups generally charge by the hour, and the more that you customize, the harder it will be for you to upgrade.
  • More software is moving to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)Home Care Software Partnership model today where the software is hosted online and the vendor deals with all of the hardware and upgrades.  When done right, this should get you up and running faster and give you continuous improvements.
  • Working with small companies can have many advantages but also some risks.  In general they'll be more nimble than large companies and more responsive to your needs.  Deal with the risks in your agreement.  For example, specify that in the event they are acquired that your pricing will stay the same for one year and that they need to provide you with all of your data.  This will give you a full year to make a change even in a worst case scenario.

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.

Topics: Aging in Place Technology, home care software geek, Home Care Technology

Giving Good Feedback to Home Health, HME, Private Duty Employees

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 21, 2010 8:30:00 AM

Wow—I like this arcticle! It is a quick, simple read and you can put the information to use instantly, no matter what your role is in the home care ecosystem.

smartBlog on workforce logo

Home health care, HME, Private Duty… everyone has supervisor—employee relations to manage. Feedback is critical, but often an area that is poorly developed. Get it wrong, and you risk de-motivating or alienating employees. Get it right, and you improve their performance and your company’s bottom line.

Halverson offers three rules for providing feedback, and expands on them here on SmartBlog on Workforce. In summary, the three rules of providing feedback are:

Home health employee feedback

Rule #1: When things go wrong, keep it real. It’s not easy to tell someone that he screwed up, knowing it will cause him anxiety, disappointment or embarrassment. But don’t make the mistake of protecting your employee’s feelings at the expense of the truth, because without honest feedback he can’t possibly improve. 

Rule #2: When things go wrong, fight employee self-doubt. He needs to believe that success is within reach, regardless of the mistakes he has made in the past.

Rule #3: When things go right, avoid praising ability. Studies show that when we are praised for having high ability, it leaves us vulnerable to self-doubt when we encounter difficulty. Instead, praise aspects of your employee’s performance that were under his control.

Click here for the complete article and more specific ways to put these riles into action


Heidi Grant Halverson is a motivational psychologist and author of “Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals” and “The Psychology of Goals.” You can follow her on twitter at @hghalvorson



Topics: Recommended Reading, Home Care Industry, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Will Hicklen

The Joint Commission to Launch Primary Care Home Option in 2011

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 20, 2010 3:38:00 PM

Joint Commission Primary Care Home



(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. – September 7, 2010) Beginning in July 2011, The Joint Commission will expand the process of accrediting ambulatory health care organizations to those who are also interested in electing the Primary Care Home option. A Primary Care Home is a model of care whereby services are provided to patients by a primary care provider or team that increases access to its services, tracks and coordinates a patient’s care delivered by other providers and facilities, uses evidence based treatment protocols, and focuses more on patient and family education and self-management. This helps to ensure the patient receives timely and appropriate treatment. The Primary Care Home option will help accredited organizations to increase patient satisfaction, improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall costs to the health care system.

This initiative complements the Ambulatory Care Accreditation Program and is consistent with the new health care reform efforts to improve the coordination, quality and efficiency of health care services. This initiative is designed to combine the improvements in quality of care and patient safety achieved through accreditation with reimbursement from third party payers when the additional requirements of a Primary Care Home are met.

Standards for the Primary Care Home Initiative will be posted for a field review in November 2010, and pilot testing is expected to begin in early 2011. The final standards are expected to be available in March 2011, and on-site surveys will begin in July 2011. 

click here for complete news release by the Joint Commission...

Topics: Home Care Industry, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, thought leadership, Aging in Place Technology, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Home Care Technology, Announcements, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Will Hicklen

Is Home Care ready for the Silver Tsunami?

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 15, 2010 11:05:00 AM

There are some amazing elder population statistics that Home Elder Care Management SoftwareCare needs to take notice of, one of which is that there are 78 million baby boomers who will reach age 65 starting next year at a rate of 8,000 people per day.  Wow!  Are we ready in home care?  I just attended a presentation by Bill Dombi from the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), and he started with the strong statement that he's "bullish of the future of home care" but that traditional home care players need to watch out because the market is looking very attractive to other players (such as hospitals who are starting to repackage themselves as "Community Care Centers."  What this means is that Home Care needs seize the opportunity like an entrepreneur starting a new company.  This is a key reason that the Ankota blog focuses a lot on home care entrepreneurship and keeping home care up to date on technologies and opportunities that can lead to growth and success...

To that end, Ankota has helped to organize a seminar next MassTLCThursday, September 23rd called "Emerging Technologies for the Silver Tsunami" which is sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (www.masstlc.org).  It will be held in Cambridge at the Microsoft New England R&D center (which they appropriately call the NERD center).  Full details are below including the link to sign up.  MassTLC will let home care companies sign up for the half day seminar at the member rate of $50.  I hope to see you there!

Emerging Technologies for the Silver Tsunami

Here's a list of confirmed Speakers:

Silver Tsunami Speakers

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.

Topics: Senior Demographics, Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, Announcements, NAHC

Family Caregiver Compensation: What Home Care Agencies Should Know

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 14, 2010 7:09:00 PM

Family Caregiver compensation

One of Ankota’s customers, a very successful and well run Private Duty Home Care agency with a staff of about 350 aids and RNs, has a situation where they communicate with multiple offspring of an elderly parent that is under their care. Two of the adult children live in other states, and two are local. There are adult grandchildren in the mix, too. Most of the burden of caring for mom falls on one local sibling in particular.

Not uncommon, right?

The CEO of this agency called me this morning and asked, “Do you think it is common practice for a family caregiver to be compensated for taking care of an aging parent?”

He went on to explain that the family asked for guidance on whether the adult child—the family caregiver—should receive compensation. In this case as with so many others, this person is clearly shouldering a big responsibility. Our customer, sensing that this could be a common problem, decided to solicit some thoughts from others.

They turned to Ankota because we study how caregivers communicate with family members. We do this to help guide us in the development of communications tools like FamilyConnect, which have been shown to improve the consistency and frequency of family communications (and save caregivers time!). In so doing, we have interviewed the caregivers, their supervisors, clients, and family members.  As an aside, we may explore this with future focus groups to see if it suggests some new types of communications between caregivers and family.

The answer is this: it is not uncommon at all for family caregivers to be compensated.  However, home care agencies should be aware that clients may require an elder care attorney’s guidance before writing checks.

Howard S. Krooks, an elder-law attorney who practices in Boca Raton, Fla., and Rye Brook, N.Y., says in a recent Wall Street Journal article that nearly all his clients who serve as caregivers are compensated. Such cases make up about 20% of his workload. Click the image below for the complete article.

compensating a family carvgiver WSJ

Concerns over what is fair and how much to pay abound, but are only some of the questions that family members should pay attention to. If, for example, the elderly parent may need to rely on Medicaid to fund nursing home expenses in the future, there are laws that they need to be aware of:

 “Before Medicaid will pick up the tab for nursing-home costs,” the same WSJ article reports, “it requires applicants to recoup certain payments made to relatives over the previous five years -- and use the money to pay the nursing home.

But if payments to relatives are made under the terms of a written employment agreement, often called a personal-care contract, the law allows it. To pass muster with Medicaid, it's important to have such a contract in place ‘before the services are rendered,’ says Jeffrey Bloom, an elder-law attorney at Margolis & Bloom in Boston.”

Sounds scary…and more than a little unfair, but it’s the law. It is not difficult to address so long as you get some good advice and do it in advance. I am not a lawyer, so I will point you to a few resources that might help prepare you for when you get this question. Click on the images below to be directed to their respective web sites


Elderlawanswers logo


NAELA logo

Topics: Recommended Reading, Elderly Care, thought leadership, Will Hicklen

Developing Leadership in Home Health Care, DME & Related Companies

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 9, 2010 2:32:00 PM

As a reminder, you can register to receive automatic email notices when new entries are posted to Ankota’s Healthcare Delivery Management blog. Simply look to the right side of this page and you will see the place to enter your email address. No other information is needed. I am excited to report that our registrations and readership have more than DOUBLED over the last month. So, if you are one of the people who have passed along the link or posted it on your own blog—we thank you very much!

Now, on to today’s post about Leadership…

A couple of great pieces on the topic of Leadership hit my inbox today and I thought I would pass them along. Rather than analyzing or summarizing each, I will tell you what I like about the article or the site and provide the link so you can read it directly. Enjoy!


10 Good Things for Home Care, DME Leadership


1)      10 Things Good Managers Believe  on bNet, by Steve Tobak, a well known business strategist and executive coach. bNet is part of the CBS interactive business network, focused on business issues that Home Health Care, DME, Infusion, RT and other home care related companies might find very useful.

 describe the image



2)      Tobak’s article draws from another piece that I really like, 12 Things Good Bosses Believe, by Robert Sutton. Sutton writes on leadership for Harvard Business Review and is the author of books such as his newly released Good Boss, Bad Boss (click on the book cover below to see on Amazon.com)


Leadership development for Home Health CareGood Boss for DME, HME, Home Health, Private Duty



3)      Leadership & Perfectionism, by Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer for N2growth. Myatt poignantly acknowledges, “This may be difficult for some to get their heads around, but perfectionism is not a leadership trait.” My natural tendency is to be a bit of a perfectionist in business, but I am much more effective and accomplish more when I’m not. Maybe you are the same way. Either way, this piece might provoke some thought.


Leadership perfectionism

Topics: Recommended Reading, Home Care Industry, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, HME, DME, Will Hicklen

Home Care Software Geek uncovers Four Key Mobilization Trends

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 9, 2010 8:35:00 AM

My friend Barbara Bix from the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (www.masstlc.org) was able to attend a Barbara Bixsession on the future of mobility sponsored by MassTLC and featuring John Donovan, the Chief Technology Officer for AT&T.  We're in an exciting time of "disruptive technology" (learn about disruptive technology here and by video here) with respect to mobile applications running on phones.  Due to the availability and improved affordability of wireless data to cell phone a whole consumer industry has been born for "mobile apps", led primarily by the iPhone and the Droid phone.  The importance of this for home care is that the consumer market will drive down the prices for phones and data plans and will rapidly improve the user interfaces for these mobile apps; and will thus pave the way for rich home care applications to move to cell phones.   Here's Barbara's article:

Mobilization: 4 trends to watch

By Barbara Bix

iPhoneThis morning John Donovan, AT&T’s CTO, spoke to the Mass Technology Leadership Council about four trends that will shape the future.  For each trend, Mr. Donovan described the trend, illustrated it with some examples, and provided data on how fast the trend was accelerating.  Here are my notes.

Always on networking

“Always on networking” has shortened the distance from intent to action.  Now, that people can get information immediately and effortlessly, consumption of applications has exploded.  An increase in WIFI connections has also caused consumption to increase since people can now access the network from more places.

As application consumption has increased, network demand has soared.  Mr. Donovan pointed to people addicted to watching the stock market as examples.  In the past, due to delay and access issues, there were limits to the information they could consume.  Now that they can get updates immediately, they check the market at every opportunity.

Similarly, as an outdoor enthusiast, he checks the weather constantly.  Moreover, because he can, he checks the weather in each of the places his family members live.  His parents, on the other hand, could only get weather reports for the next day on the nightly news–and not until 20 minutes into the program.

To give us a sense of the growth rate, Mr. Donovan said that the range of error in AT&T’s demand forecasts now exceeds their total activity 3 years ago.  Nevertheless, he noted that the pace of growth, while still strong, is now slowing.


Mr. Donovan sees video as the next frontier.  Now, rather thanAndroid Video “talk to me” it’s “show me”.  Asynchronous communication enabled people to time shift work.  Video allows you to place shift work.

Demand for video is growing so large, we’ll need to find new ways to carry more data on the network.  The number of YouTube videos doubled in the last six months.


A common language drives integration.  IP and interoperability caused network growth to explode.

Application Program Interfaces (APIs) can eliminate the silos of voice, wireless, and Internet data because they now speak the same language.  The availability of standards has caused the pace of development to accelerate.  What IPs did for network growth, APIs now do for consumption.

The Cloud

cloudThe shift from the cloud to the network is an emerging trend. Today, people have duplicate systems on their cell phones, PCs, etc.  Moreover, each of these devices has its own processor, power cord, etc.

We’re wasting a lot of storage and too much processing power goes unused.  The situation is even worse at the enterprise level.

Standards will enable device independence and will increase efficiency.  Intelligence will move from the device to the network.

We’ll be able to put computing power and storage in the cloud.  Availability, search, redundancy, and latency will all improve.

The network will manage storage, security, consumer applications, business applications, and personas. You’ll no longer need both a home and work device.  Content and applications will adapt to users’ needs rather than the other way around.

What's Next?

Mr. Donovan said the innovation he personally would most want to see is integrated medical monitoring.  Now, there are apps to report weight, blood pressure reading, sleep restlessness etc.; but they are all point applications.  He wants his clinician to see an integrated report.

His response was timely.  MassTLC will present Emerging Technologies for the Silver Tsunami: Aging in Place through the use of Integrated Technology on the morning of September 23.
Click here to learn more or attend.

BB Marketing Plus

Barbara Bix is a fantastic B2B marketing professional with great credentials such as a Wharton MBA, but she really excels becuase of her ability to take a customer view.  Learn more at www.bbmarketingplus.com

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.

Topics: Aging in Place Technology, home care software geek, Home Care Mobile Solutions

Elder Care Tips from CNN Money Magazine and Ankota

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 7, 2010 1:00:00 PM

Home Health and Private Duty agencies might share this with their clients or repost on their own web sites.

Caring for an elderly parent consumes tremendous time and effort and is often an emotional and financial drain. No matter how devoted they are, family members have limited time and proximity is often a challenge.

Here are some helpful ideas from CNN Money magazine, “4 Tips for Caring for Mom and Dad,” and ways to manage family communications from Ankota. Additional resources are listed below.

CNN Money careing for momanddad

It is estimated that 7 million Americans care for an elderly relative from a distance.  48% of them have to use sick or vacation days, and 38% report that they have to stop or reduce their savings during this time, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC). The same study reports that long-distance caregivers spend an average of $8700 per year providing support, roughly twice as much as nearby relatives.

CNN Money Tips:

1)      Know Mom’s Needs. Things to look out for: “You’re looking for significant changes from normal patterns,” says Donna Wagner, a gerontology professor at Towson University.

2)      Create a DIY Plan. Identify local friends or family who can help, and put together a checklist . Local grocery delivery might be useful, for example.

3)      Get Low-Cost Help.

4)      Bring on a Professional.

More on getting help or hiring a professional: Personal Care or “Private Duty” Aids range from $15-30/hour and are ideal for helping with things like cooking, housekeeping, baths, and so on. Nurses can be hired through Private Duty and Home Health care companies in your area for those who need medical care.

For more comprehensive help, a geriatric care manager can be hired. You might check out Caring For Your Parents by Elinor Ginzler of AARP. Ginzler’s article The Cost of Caregiving on AARP’s website is also an excellent resource.

Ankota Tip About Caregiver-to-Family Communications:

In focus groups sponsored by Ankota, a recurring frustration among family members is the inconsistency of communications from caregivers to family members. This should not be left only to phone calls and the bill should not be a primary means of communication. Family members should insist on regular electronic updates. Technology like Ankota’s FamilyConnect ensures secure and consistent, proactive communications that leverage text messaging and email, and provide a family portal.

By staying informed and on top of things, family members can alleviate some of the stress that comes along with caring for an aging parent.   



FamilyConnect from Ankota automates repetitive communications between caregivers and family members. All home health and private duty agencies should use some form of communicating like this.

Informal Caregiving by and for Older Adults by Donna Wagner, Professor of Gerentology and Health Sciences, Towson University, Towson, Maryland.

Lotsa Helping Hands is a free, private, web-based community that can also help organize family and friends.

The Cost of Caregiving an article by Elinor Ginzler on AARP’s web site

Caring for Your Parents a book written by Elinor Ginzler

Learn more about using checklists in these two recent Ankota articles: The Checklist Manifesto  and Checklists Improve Quality of Care

BeClose Simple, unobtrusive home monitoring provides real-time, remote activity monitoring in the home.


Topics: Elderly Care, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, thought leadership, Aging in Place Technology, Will Hicklen

Aging in Place Technology Update for Home Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 7, 2010 9:11:00 AM

We often blog about "Aging in Place Technologies" and the reason is that we beleive that these technologies represent an opportunity for home care companies to do two things: 1) keep abreast of what's available (and often marketed direct to consumers and their families) and 2) Look for ways to grow your businesses with this technology.  As an example, two weeks ago we did a blog post entitled Wired Homes for Tracking the Elderly: A private Duty Differentiator that you can read here.  That post talked about home monitoring solutions that families are considering in lieu of private duty care, but then outlined a way that you can in fact grow your business by embracing the technology.

Today we bring you an update from Laurie Orlov, who is an expert consultant in all matters related to aging in place.  She publishes a blog at http://ageinplacetech.com.  Below is a sample of her research and writing with information to connect you to her site.

Aging in Place Technology Watch August Newsletter

by Laurie Orlov

August was a bonanza of buzz, buzz, buzz.  Usually August is a snoozer (and a slow news month) in the business world, what Laurie Orlovwith vacations and organizational regrouping. But beginning with the August 3 Intel-GE Joint Venture announcement that fueled hope and speculation about accelerating intentions, more activity and media tracked right behind. During August, Great Call announced a new Jitterbug medication reminder service, Healthsense received a round of investment led by Radius Ventures, a $1.3 billion M-Health market sizing got Qualcomm and AT&T excited. Or maybe that that was 'mHealth' -- Best Buy (re)surfaced with health-related stuff in stores. Within the general what's-it-all-mean confusion, more press followed last month's NY Times series -- this time NPR offered up a series on aging and technology as well. Never one to shut up, I offered my own 'bah humbug' assessment of the assessment.

Alzheimer's hype, hope, oops...reality. Speaking of saturated media coverage, August was a month in which the unsuspecting might actually think an Alzheimer's revolution was at hand. Following July's news of amending (expanding) criteria as to what consitutes the disease, next came identification of biomarkers as possible early warning indicators. But stay cautious about remedies and prevention: see yesterday's NY Times published the NIH jury and Duke 'meta' study -- a study of all previously published studies about what's proven and what's not. The short answer about the various prevention and remedies studied to date -- the answer: NOT PROVEN. Implication? New criteria potentially broadens the population beyond the current 5 million, diagnosis is potentially going to be at an earlier age, and nothing has been proven to work at staving off or curing the disease. To me, this signals an opportunity to create or re-purpose smarter GPS and geo-fencing apps (not just technologies) to prevent wandering, not just find those who are lost -- and while we're at it, let's see some studies that prove which ones work best and under what conditions. We're going to need them.

And how long before the iPad solves everything? Ah well, sigh, I guess it will be just a bit longer, judging from the Nielsen study noting that only 15% of iPad buyers are over age 56. I bet that even those (no demographics to prove) are not that much over, either. And will the smart phone be the remote monitoring and fall detection device of choice, meaning all others rest? Not in the near term -- seniors aren't buying or using them either. So for all those who ask about this -- I doubt it. Remember, Apple doesn't even want admit to marketing to baby boomers!. And carriers express interest and even dabble a bit here and there, but invest little or nothing in marketing. So in the meantime, keep on keeping on with solutions for the foreseeable future. When there's a big change, you can read it on this site early and often.

And for those who might be running around here and there like I will be in the fall -- look on the left side of the website at http://www.ageinplacetech.com for a list of events.


For any of you who are interested in aging in place technologies and who will be in the Boston area on September 23rd, Ankota helped organize a great event featuring Laurie.  You can learn more and sign up at http://silvertsunami.eventbrite.com/.

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.

Topics: Alzheimer's, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, Announcements

Home Care in a Hurricane - Are you Ready?

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

We love planning, and scheduling!  We love to be organized and efficient! We pride ourselves on being in control!  But we don't always get to dictate how things are going to run in our home care operations - sometimes mother nature has the last word.  With Hurricane Earl running its course, it's good to prepare for home care in a hurricane...

Hurricane Earl Splash

(phote courtesy of National Geographic web site)

Here are some ways you can plan and respond for the hurricane:

  • Be Proactive in Your Agency: Are there weekly visits in your plan that can be pulled ahead to avoid the heavy weather days?  Are there other routine tasks like creating next month's schedule or preparing your payroll that can be done now?  Do them!
  • Help Your Clients be Proactive: Can you get the groceries earlier than normal?  Can you make sure that your client has water, blankets, prescriptions filled, easy to eat food, a movie rented?  Help them be prepared and avoid strife when the storm hits.
  • Can you provide additional Services?: Do the patients or clients you care for need help with their storm shutters or making sure that their sump pump is plugged in and ready to go?  Given that they need your services for medical care or help with other ADLs, there's a good chance that
  • Don't start what you can't finish:  If your patient is due for a 48 hour chemo infusion to go from Thursday through Saturday and the storm is supposed to be heaviest in your area on Saturday, you might want to rethink.  Once you start that treatment, you're commiting that you'll be there within a 4 hour window on Saturday to turn it off.  So think twice!
  • Set Priorities and Back-up Plans: If you can't get to everyone in the height of the storm, know which patients are urgent and which can wait.  Know who has a backup plan for ther care and who doesn't.

Hopefully you the storm will be mild when it gets to you, but if you follow the above steps, you'll be prepared for the worst.  The projected path of the storm is below.  Will you be ready?

Hurricane Earl Projected Path

As you go through this process and "weather this storm" I'd also challenge you to see if your software is helping you during the storm or just getting in your way.  Can you reschedule visits easily?  Can you update your worker's shifts?  Can you visualize which caregivers live near which patients?  If not and you're ready for an upgrade, be sure to let us know!

Related articles you might be interested in:

  • Managing Home Care in a Blizzard here
  • Maximizing the Value of your agency software here

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.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Home Care Scheduling Software

Blackberry & Home Care Businesses

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 1, 2010 1:55:00 PM

I usually leave this type of information to the Home Care Software Geek to report on, but some news is just too good not to pass along right away.

You can now get Blackberry Enterprise Server Express for free.

So what? Well, let me first say that we are not taking a position on one mobile device vs another. We at Ankota like to profess that we are device agnostic, choosing instead to make even our most advanced technology available via web browsers and common mobile devices that our customers have readily available. Frankly, we don’t want to force new infrastructure or hardware requirements on our customers. That just wouldn’t be efficient...and those of you who know Ankota know that we are efficiency zealots.

A more pragmatic description of our position is that we are in favor of anything that helps mobilize technology for our customers and does so securely, productively, and affordably. Blackberries have proven to be excellent mobile devices for many of our customers. Our customers include Home Health, DME, Private Duty, Infusion, Respiratory Therapy and other companies that we say make up the “Homecare Ecosystem.” In the past, the cost of purchasing mobile devices like this (& their service plans) has been a deterrent to many. As devices and plans continue to get cheaper, more and more of our customers will buy them. This announcement helps make it cheaper and easier for our customers to manage their mobile staff and their Blackberries.

Blackberry Enterprise Server Express synchronizes wirelessly with Microsoft Exchange, calendars, contacts, and provides remote file access & access to your intranet. It will run on your existing mail server whether you run that yourself or have that managed for you by another company.

Of course, schedules, calendars, POC forms, and even optimized route plans created in Ankota HDM can be pushed to Blackberry devices in real time. You can still utilize Ankota's telephony interface as you would with any other mobile phone.

Click on this image to view key features:

Blackberry Enterprise server resized 600

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside of 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.


Topics: Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Care Coordination, home care software geek, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, HME, DME, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Will Hicklen, Home Care Scheduling Software

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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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