The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

How Much Do Home Care, Assisted Living, & Nursing Home Care Cost?

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 27, 2010 11:20:00 PM

An updated study published by MetLife shares the 2010 costs for various elder care options.  Here's the bottom line:

  • Nursing Homes average $83,585 per year
  • Assisted Living averages $39,516 per year
  • The article quotes that the average cost for private home care is $21/hour and implies that 24/7 care would cost $183,456 per year.  What the article fails to share is that Live-In care can often be provided at a reduced rate closer to $200/day and totalling $73,000 per year
  • Adult Day Care costs $67 per day maaking the annual cost $24,455, but note that the other options above are 24 hour coverage whereas this is only daytime care

The full article details other trends, such as that the costs of assisted living and nursing home care have risen while home care has stayed flat.  You can read the full article here.

MetLife

Seeing statistics like this makes you really think and get nervous about what your clients will be able to afford, and of course what you'll be able to afford to contract for care for your parents.  We at Ankota believe that the demographics (more elderly people and less available caregivers) will result in new models of care, such as a combination of caregivers for some hours of the day and tele-monitoring for the other hours (see a blog post about this concept here), or perhaps elderly people will move in with their friends and hire shared caregivers to deal with their needs.  Home care agencies may want to innovate and deliver new services like these or others to differentiate and stay competitive.

A quick note of thanks to Laurie Orlov, our friend and aging in place expert.  I was made aware of the MetLife study through her blog post 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: Senior Demographics, Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, Aging in Place Technology

Ankota Happy Halloween Video for our Home Care Friends

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 27, 2010 2:20:00 PM

Thanks to all of you who use our products, read our blog, and make home care a wonderful profession.  Please see our official happy halloween video below:

 

Happy Halloween from Ankota from Ankota, Inc. on Vimeo.

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: Holiday Wishes, Elderly Care

12 Instant Health Boosts for Home Care Recipients and Caregivers

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 20, 2010 10:32:00 AM

The road to recovery, or better health and quality of life for a home care recipient or caregiver starts with a single step, so today we're happy to share a list of little instant ways you can boost your health, courtesy of Prevention magazine and author Alyssa Shaffer.  You can access the full article by clicking on the banner below, where you can get detail on each "boost."  We offer you a teaser below by letting you know what each boost is and the way it can help your health:

Prevention Mag Health Boosts

  1. Giggle: Improve blood flow by 21%
  2. Brush and floss: Cut risk of head and neck cancer by 400%
  3. Brew a pot of tea: Cut stroke risk by 21%
  4. Pen a thank-you note: Feel 20% happier
  5. Hide your TV remote: Whittle 2 inches from your belly
  6. Doodle during work meetings: Improve memory by 29%
  7. Keep your doctor on speed dial: Slash medical mistakes up to 25%
  8. Squeeze your husband's hand: Slash stress by 200%
  9. Strike a warrior pose: Ease back pain by 56%
  10. Grill some fish for dinner: Lower risk of dementia by 19%
  11. Drink milk at breakfast: Shed 5 pounds
  12. Pour a glass of Pinot: Live 5 years longer

Give one or several of these ideas a try for your clients or for yourself!

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, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices

How to Determine Pay Rates for Home Care Caregivers

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 18, 2010 8:38:00 AM

Today's post comes courtsey of Jason Tweed from Leading Homecare and is an exceprt from the October 13th, 2010 edition of his weekly newsletter Private Duty Today.  Below are links to his home page and his newsletter sign-up.  On a related side note, I'm a great admirer of Jason and his business leadership and teaching, which he accomplishes despite struggling with personal disabilities.  Jason's personal experience as a recipient of care gives him a unique perspective on how to choose, train and retain a high quality care provider, and we share a glimpse of his expertise below.

 

Starting Pay Rates for Home Care Caregivers

by Jason Tweed

 

One of the questions I refuse to answer is "What should I pay my caregivers?"

 

There are two reasons I don't answer. Locally, pay rates for caregivers are heavily influenced by several factors. There is no concise answer and averages aren't terribly meaningful. Second, as one of the more prolific writers serving home care companies, I want to avoid even the appearance of antitrust.

 

leading homecare newsletter signupInstead I'll share an example and a method.

 

I lived in Reading, Pennsylvania up until five years ago. When we moved, to prevent interruptions in care, I hired privately for a period of time. I traveled to our new home in central PA and interviewed caregivers in hotel lobbies as moving day approached. When I told them the starting pay rate was $10/hour (which was on the low side of competitive in Reading) their eyes lit up as if they had won the daily lottery. I had only moved 50 miles. But moving from a midsize city to a rural agricultural-based community, the economic conditions that influenced pay rates were substantial. Today $10 isn't a lottery win, but it's still competitive here.

 

Here's the method I encourage clients use to determine appropriate pay rates. It's fairly easy.

 

·         Step one: Go to The Gap.

·         Step two: Read the newspaper.

·         Step three: Look deep into their eyes.

 

Go to The Gap: Often home care companies base pay rates on what competitors pay. The mistake, however, is calling other home care companies to determine rates of pay. So-called "mystery shopping" doesn't work and is dangerous. When you mystery shop your competitors will pad their starting pay quote slightly. They will also lowball pricing. Mystery shopping tends to give you high numbers on pay and low numbers on price, and if you use this information you will be less profitable.

 

Instead, look to your real competitors for pay rate information. A typical home care worker is a woman with a high school education. Look to other companies who employ the same demographic. Your competitors for workers are retail, fast food, wait staff and other service-oriented jobs.

 

I like looking at retail because they don't have to pad pay rates to attract people. Visit The Gap. Most of their staff are young, attractive women. They hire staff that meets their ideal customer demographic. They attract them not with pay rates, but with store discounts. By offering a store discount as an incentive, they are more likely to attract candidates similar to their customers. Therefore, if The Gap tells you $8/hour, this is a competitive rate that just keeps potential candidates from walking out the door.

 

I tell people to look at The Gap because it's a competitor that most people understand. However, each community has its own set of competitors and pool of potential applicants. Communities heavily focused on tourism are going to have greater demand during vacation season. Communities with manufacturing economies fluctuate with the national economy. The number of first-generation immigrants, the presence of a university, availability of mass transit and other factors can all influence starting pay rates. Make sure to look carefully into your community to determine demographics for your ideal caregivers, then identify the employment competitors trying to capture their attention.

 

Read the newspaper. Many of your potential candidates will come from newspaper ads. Even if you don't recruit using newspapers, your candidates are reading the classifieds. Look at the methods your competitors are using to attract people. Are they publishing pay rates? Are they offering bonuses? You shouldn't base your decisions on your competitors' offerings, but you do need to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

Are you going to compete on price, or are you going to compete on quality? By competing on quality, your advertisements should be focused on the candidates to whom quality is important. Focus your ads on making a difference in people's lives. Focus your advertising on the warm fuzzy things that make for great caregivers. If you want dependability and enthusiasm, ask for it in your ads.

 

You'll find that, by knowing your competitors, you'll be able to reduce the competition by crafting good quality recruiting materials.

 

Finally, look deep into their eyes. When offering a pay rate to real candidates, watch their reaction. This is critical. Do their eyes light up and sparkle? If so, you're paying too much. Do they leave the interview saying "Don't call me, I'll call you"? If so, you aren't paying enough. Generally when you have the right number most of your interviewees will smile and ask more about the work. Good caregivers usually aren't motivated by cash. They simply want enough income and benefits to provide for their families and personal needs.

 

As your company grows you're going to have to constantly monitor the reaction you get from applicants.

 

Choosing starting rates of pay is more a process then an answer. It's one of the critical components to good recruiting.

 

My final tip... Don't use current salaries of workers to influence starting salaries. Having a significant pay differential between long-standing workers and starting workers can be dangerous. You make the most money on workers who stick around quite a while, but it doesn't do any good to offer them significantly higher pay because that eats those profits quickly. Conversely, paying competitive wages to current workers and lower wages to new workers will handicap your recruiting efforts. I'm a fan of focusing retention processes away from cash. Find other reasons for your workers to stick around and you will capture the best, keep them longer, and ultimately be more profitable.

Private Duty Today Banner

 

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

Home Care Caregiver Makes an Impact and Shares his Story

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 14, 2010 7:22:00 AM

Being relatively new to home care, one of the things I enjoy the Right at Homemost is hearing about the experiences of care givers and the way they're able to improve the lives of their clients.  Thanks to the people at Right At Home, I can share one of those stories with you today in the form of an acceptance speech from a caregiver named Greg Schaffner who was recently recognized with a RightCare Award from his employer.  Here's an excerpt from his speech:

Thank you for this wonderful award.  I accept on behalf of a thousand other caregivers who could just as easily be up here instead of me, good people who do good work day in and day out with no thought of an award such as this.

I suspect that I am a little different from most caregivers in a few ways: one is the beard, another is that I primarily take care of men and I primarily offer companionship as opposed to housekeeping or medical chores.  My life is like the book Tuesdays with Maury, except that in my case:

I spend Tuesdays with Clyde, a born again son of a Kentucky moonshiner and coal miner. 

I spend Wednesdays with Roger, a former navy pilot who flew dive bombers off aircraft carriers and then had a long career in medicine.

I spend Thursdays building a wooden boat with Jim, who survived a major stroke that left him with a partially paralyzed body and major aphasia.

Greg Schaffner Care Giver

(photo courtesy of the Star Tribune - see www.startribune.com)

I spend Fridays with Bill, a Jehovah’s Witness, a widower, and one of the funniest and most interesting men I’ve ever met.

These wonderful men widen my world.  They have experiences I don’t have and opinions I don’t always share.  They have attitudes that inspire me, and together they have taken away some of the deepest fears I have: poverty, stroke, memory loss, loneliness.

This kind of rich opportunity doesn’t happen without a structure, and I am lucky beyond measure to be part of the Right at Home team assembled by Paul and Bob.  I depend on them.  They depend on me. 

I am especially grateful for the two wonderful social workers on staff.  The boundaries between caregivers and clients can be tricky.  There aren’t black and white answers.  Often, they will tell me “well, you might try this...”  And usually what they suggests works.  In one case, I needed to report a situation of possible neglect to the authorities.  I didn’t want to, but it was the right thing to do.  And when the family got angry, guess who they took it out on?  Not me.  The social worker.  But you know what?  In the final analysis, the Right at Home team took care of a client who needed and subsequently received 24 hour care. 

That’s why I say that I depend on them just as they depend on me.  We’re just one big co-dependent family. 

I’d like to conclude with a paraphrase of a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me a channel of thy care.  Where there is loneliness, let me bring company.  Where there is regret, let me bring hope.  Where there is sadness; cheerfulness.  Where there is paranoia, let me bring calm.  Where there is confusion, let me bring clarity.  Help me to seek to serve rather than be served.  And to offer care to others rather than seek care from them;  For it is in caring that we fulfill your will for us.

Amen.

In addition to the speech itself, there's nice coverage about Jim Baker (Jim from Thursday) in the StarTribune including a video that you can see by clicking here.

If you have a story about an exceptional caregiver, we'd love to hear it and share it on this blog.  In addition to recognizing the caregiver, stories like this benefit our new agency and franchise owners and those of us who aren't on the front lines.

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

Freakonomics Author to Home Care: Redefine the Problem

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 13, 2010 8:37:00 AM

In the past, if I was having trouble falling asleep at night, thinking about economics might have been the answer (counting sheep is economics), but that all changed after I read a book a few years ago called Freakonomics.  The authors "redefined the problem" of boring statistical data analysis and came up with a fascinating set of non-fiction stories uncovered by analyzing data.  Now the book has been made into a motion picture.

Freakonomics   Super Freakonomics

Yesterday I had the chance to meet and hear from Stephen Dubner, Stephen Dubnerone of the authors of Freakonomics and their new book Superfreakonomics.  He was speaking to entrepreneurs (in this case technology entrepreneurs but the same message applies to home care leaders) and his challenge was for us to redefine the problems we wish to solve and slso to not accept "the way it's always been done" as a boundary to what is possible.

To make his point, he gave the example of Takeru Kobayashi, the skinny (130 pound) Japanese guy who wins all of the hot dog eating contests.  As it turns out, Kobayashi is an economist and studied the problem from many different angles to develop his technique, and in his first competition in New York he didn't just beat the Takeru Kobayashiprevious record, he doubled it.  To relate this back to home care, we're in the situation of needing to significantly increase our capacity to provide care, and to do it at a lower cost.  So redefining the problem is critically important to our businesses.

Another example that he spoke about at length was about washing hands after using the restroom.  He started by asking the room full of approximately 150 people who doesn't wash their hand bacteriahands after they use the restroom.  One person raised their hand* (I'd imagine that typically there are none).  They did some research and found that 30% of men don't wash their hands in public restrooms.  But that it was even worse for doctors in hospitals...  Then he went through the series of steps that a hospital followed in order to solve their handwashing problem (memos and signs didn't work, $10 Starbucks cards didn't work, and ultimately the problem was solved by forcing a picture of hand bacteria onto the screen saver of everyone at the hospital).

Anyway, I highly recommend the books, and I hope that you can each find a way to redefine a problem that makes your business or your life better.

* As a footnote, the one guy who raised his hand and said that he didn't wash his hands in public restrooms later admitted to being a doctor and explained that he believes he has less chance of picking up bacteria by not touching things in the restroom...  Food for thought.

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 Industry, Elderly Care, thought leadership

Home Care Software Geek Predicts DROID will win the Smart Phone Wars

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 12, 2010 8:35:00 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

There's an ongoing battle in the cell phone industry to determine the future of smart phones...  Top contenders include iPhone DROID Smart Phone(apple), DROID (google), Blackberry (RIM) and Windows Phone 7 (Microsoft).  I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that DROID (pictured at left) will win (where I define winning as having the largest share of the market - more phones than anyone else).  I'll explain why (below), but first let me take a crack at explaining why this is important:

  • Whereas today Smart Phones are generally used by business people and affluent people, the mass-market smart phone is on the way and in the next few years the phones that come free with your subscription will include smart phones.
  • Another trend is for more applications to move to Tablet PCs and most new tablet PCs are coming out with cell phone operating systems (e.g., the iPhone and iPad essentially run the same software)
  • Home Care Applications will move more and more to smart phones, and the "winner" is more likely to have applications available sooner
  • Similarly, applications will be developed for the winner and then adapted for other devices

Why do I predict this?

The "main" smart phone, used primarily by business people in the past few years has been the Blackberry.  It's what I use today and have for 4 years.  The iPhone came out almost two years ago and leapfrogged the Blackberry.  The iPhone had all kinds of apps available (games, health apps, etc.) and offered a significantly richer experience (GPS, graphics and videos, etc.) and bottom line is that it was very cool and very trendy.  More recently the DROID phones came out.  DROID (based on the "Android" operating system by google) isn't quite as intuitive as an iPhone and it isn't inexpensive (yet), nor has it targetted or embraced the business community, so there are numerous reasons on the surface that don't make it sound like the winner, but I'm going out on a limb and predicting that in three years there will be more Android phones than any other kind, here's why:

  • It's the easiest and most accessible environment for app developers
  • It's available to be licensed by multiple phone makers who will continue to compete with one another and drive the price down (ultimately to the point where it's affordable to almost everyone)
  • Apple does a great job and is incredibly successful, but they are focused on a community of people who pretty much buy into their product lines across the board (e.g., they use a mac, and an iPad and sign up for mobile me and get their cool <myname>@me.com email address).  Other than the iPod, they don't seem to try to be the solution for everyone.
  • Blackberry users will realize that what they really use is email and calendar on their smart phone, and will adopt a different phone that gives them other cool stuff too (like watching movies).  I'd expect that Blackberry will lose more business users to the iPhone than to the DROID, but ultimately they're on the decline.
  • Note that Microsoft is coming out with the Windows Phone 7, but they're coming to the party a bit late and in general they haven't fared well in the consumer market (with the exception of X-Box video games)

Pictured below are the iPhone, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

iPhone 4   Windows Phone 7   Blackberry 9700

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: home care software geek, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions

Home Care perspectives from Senator Scott Brown

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 8, 2010 11:50:00 AM

This morning I attended a Medical Technology Investors conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Medical Device Society (www.massmedic.com) and the keynote speaker was US Senator Scott BrownSenator Scott Brown, republican from the state of Massachusetts.  Senator Brown was elected early this year to fill the seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  His address was geared towards medical technology companies, however many of the ideas that he shared are relevant to the home care industry as well.  Below are some of the key takeaways:

  • In seven months as Senator, Mr. Brown has travelled extensively around the country and the world (e.g., to Afghanistan, Israel, and other locations).  He said that everyone everywhere talks primarily about one thing – JOBS!  People want to work.
  • He expressed frustration that in the same timeframe that congress has spent less than 10 days on jobs (but for example they spent over three days before adjourning their last session on campaign finance reform).
  • He also pointed out that in his 7 months as a Senator that the national debt has grown by over $1 Trillion dollars (and he reminded us that a trillion is a 1 followed by 12 trillion).
  • He spoke about how republicans talk about him being the 41st vote in the senate (note that passing a bill requires 60 out of the 100 votes), but he said that he can also be the 60th vote to pass something, and said that his vote does not belong to the republicans, but rather to the people of Massachusetts who he represents.
  • He explained he’s trying to bring the discipline of “spending from the bank account and not with the credit card”
  • The main thing he spoke about was how he needs to fight for jobs and for business leaders, and specifically that he needs to work to cut the regulations and taxes that keep business leaders from hiring and keeping workers.

On a side note, I think that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Scott Brown.  He seems to be well in touch with the pain that individuals, families, and businesses are facing.  He’s also a handsome guy and a great speaker with a lot of personality and even a good deal of humor in his delivery.   His campaign in Massachusetts was very positive and about helping the people, and he travelled around the state in his pick-up truck (that he pointed out was outside and now has 210,000 miles on it).

MassMedic

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: Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, Health Care Reform

Home Care, HME and Private Duty Leadership: Sources for Creative Thinking

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 6, 2010 11:09:00 AM

idea man weird

One of my (almost) daily rituals is to read through articles or blog posts on topics like innovation, creativity, leadership, execution, or the like. I do not spend a lot of time on it, often as little as 5 minutes and no more than 10-15 minutes. The idea is is to provoke my own creative thinking and provide better insight into our customers.

I will tell you how I do it -- feel free to post your resources & links in the comments section for all to see. 

Here is how I approach it to keep it simple and save time: I use a bookmark folder in my browser window, easy-to-create filters in my email inbox, Twitter and LinkedIn, and I subscribe to a few listserves and email newsletters. That’s it. And I don’t read most of it. I'll explain and share some of the links I use below.

This approach also eliminates most of the time that people spend searching online for something worthwhile to read. I always have more readily available than I need and it has already been searched and sorted for me. All I have to do is scan through it until I see something interesting.

Bookmarks I have a folder bookmarked in my browser window where I save links to good blogs or magazine sites that I stumble across. You might name this something as simple as “TO BE READ” or “GO TO.” I don’t bother to organize them beyond this. I also subscribe to several blogs and receive email updates when new articles are posted. I include links to these blogs in the “TO BE READ” folder, and I have a “TO BE READ” folder on my desktop and in my email inbox.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the pieces you get. Here is the trick to dealing with the traffic:  Ignore them. Most email systems like Outlook and Google’s gmail will allow you to create filters and rules that will automatically sort through your email and file these messages away in a folder that you designate, like my folder named “TO BE READ.” Scan through the headings and titles periodically and only look at the ones that interest you.

The ones that interest you will do so at a time when it matters. Maybe something has been on your mind because of a recent problem client. Suddenly, you notice a piece that discusses ways to deal with problem customers. That piece may not have interested you a month ago and would have been a complete waste of time to read when there were more pressing or relevant topics. Today it matters to you.

Listserves I subscribe to a few listserves that are used by Ankota’s customers and prospects. Listserves are unique in that they allow me to sit in on the conversations our customers and prospects are having. For me, the primary value is that I can hear first-hand what’s on our customers’ minds. They share problems, solutions, and more. It is like a virtual support group for your employees and it makes them much more productive.

The people who make the decision to purchase Ankota’s technology are usually CEOs, CFOs, VPs and other executive leadership. They rely on Ankota to help run their businesses more efficiently, but they are not the people who operate our products on a day to day basis. Executive management is interested in things like efficiency data, on time performance (a key indicator of customer satisfaction) and whether they are reducing expense items like number of miles traveled per order, not how difficult it is to schedule staff and plan travel routes. Those on listserves are the people who interact with our product and our competitors products every day. We can learn more about what works and does not work and what troubles them in their jobs.

How To:

Use your browser to bookmark links to sites, create a folder just for these types of links and add to it as you come across ones you like. Here are a few to get you started

Decision Health

21 Ways to Generate Business Boosting Ideas

Home Health Interactive - a service of Decision Health

SmartBrief on Leadership (click to subscribe)

 

Blogs

 http://www.ankota.com/blog/

Ankota Blog

 

Aging In Place Technology Watch Laurie Orlov

 

Tim Rowan’s Home Health News (5 newsletters here)

 Home Health News, Tim Rowan's Home care Technology Report

Listserves

Decision Health has several for various home health care segments

Private Duty

Medicare Certified

 

Social Media

describe the image

Click here to learn more, and click on these lists to

Follow Twitter Home Care List

Follow Twitter Private Duty List

Follow Ankota http://twitter.com/ankota

describe the image   Good for connecting with colleagues, technology companies, and industry insiders. There are user groups for home health care, telehealth, HME /DME , and so on. Go to my profile (Will Hicklen) and you can see the healthcare related groups that I am connected with.

Topics: Recommended Reading, Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Coordination, thought leadership, Aging in Place Technology, home care software geek, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, HME, DME, Home Care Technology, Will Hicklen

Independent Living Assessment for Seniors, Families & Home Care

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 5, 2010 3:51:00 PM

Boston University Independent Living Asessment

Great news! This is a very short post. I thought I would pass along this excellent tool to help seniors and their families assess how well suited a person is to live independently. This was developed by the Health & Disability Research Institute of Boston University’s School of Public Health. The tool queries the user with a series of brief questions related to three areas of function that support independent living. The results are quick, and easy to read and understand.

Phillips Lifeline has sponsored the assessment, and the results are intended to help seniors and families initiate a dialogue between themselves as well as with caregivers, such as doctors, Home Health workers, or Private Duty home care agencies. Home care agenciees would do well to share this tool with their clients and family members as a means to discuss some of the issues that determine whether seniors can live independently or might benefit from some assistance in the home. Many types of assistance are available in the home, both medical and non-medical.

Simply click here or on the button below to get started. If you have questions, start here with the excellent FAQ that is provided.

 

Independent Living Assessment button resized 600

Phillips Lifeline Logo

Philliips Independent Livign Assessment 2

Topics: Recommended Reading, Senior Demographics, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, transitional care, Aging in Place Technology, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Home Care Technology, Will Hicklen

Home Health Care & HME Under Duress: Ankota White Paper Abstract

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 4, 2010 5:48:00 PM

Understanding “Economic Pressure” and Major Opportuities for HME Providers, Home Health Care Companies, Private Duty, and others.

measuring operating efficiency for HME businesses

The following is an abstract from an upcoming Ankota white paper:

This paper is intended to examine some of the forces placing at risk the profitability of Ankota’s customers and suggest immediate steps to improve operations. This is especially critical for those businesses whose revenues (payments or reimbursements) are regulated, such as certified Home Health Care and Home Medical Equipment (HME or DME) providers.HME providers face additional extremes now with competitive bidding.  I would include therapy businesses such as infusion therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and others in this discussion, as well. Anklota refers to this industry collectively as “the Home Care Ecosystem.”

It should be noted that companies in markets that are under duress are often presented simultaneously with great, new opportunities. As your competition is focused on their problems, most of them will suffer and miss these opportunities. Those that do not adapt and improve are more likely to fail. 

This discussion should help you to understand some of the forces at play and help you focus on your immediate response. The key is understanding these forces and focusing on ways to improve company performance immediately.

The paper analyzes what economic forces are acting upon businesses in the home health ecosystem. Businesses under duress tend to experience one or two key pressures:

1)    Downward pressure on revenues.

2)    Upward pressure on costs.

Collectively, these pressures have a profound effect on profitability, disrupting entire industries and often driving many companies out of business.  “Survival of the fittest” is a term that often refers to the companies that make it.  But what makes companies fit to survive?

Most companies tend to retreat in a crisis. They lay off staff and cut back on marketing or other expenses, and so on. This tends to only accelerate their demise. They tend to continue to do business the same way, with the same poor levels of productivity. They market themselves the same way and offer the same services. These companies effectively concede market share, unwittingly reduce their capacity, and are the ones that are most likely to fail.

 

So what do successful companies do?

Yes, scrutinize costs and cut any that are unnecessary. I spoke with an agency last week that said they called their insurance broker and told them they wanted to shop their policies. The broker contacted the insurance company, and their premiums were dropped immediately. Now is a great time to shop all of your insurance coverage. That's just one simple idea.

Improve productivity. Many companies learn to measure capacity and productivity only as a result of facing a crisis. Learn to do it now. This includes the development of key performance indicators by which to continually measure your business going forward. Don’t try to solve every problem, just pick off some big ones now and then continue to improve.

Invest for growth or to reduce operating expenses. If your agency is looking to grow and you have access to capital, there are businesses under duress that might make great acquisition targets. Likewise, you can improve the value of your business by utilizing technology that helps you to reduce marginal costs and scale capacity.

 

Major findings:

Home health and HME have immediate opportunities to reduce operating costs & expand capacity using existing resources.

Private Duty Providers are uniquely positioned to grow, avoiding pressures from regulated reimbursement models.

 

Keep an eye on the Ankota blog for the complete paper to be released.

Topics: Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, HME, DME, Home Care Technology, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Will Hicklen

Home Care Expert shares insights on selling to Adult Children

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 4, 2010 9:30:00 AM

Last Thursday, I had the chance to attend a presentation by Andrea Cohen, the CEO of Houseworks, which is an innovative and successful private homecare agency serving clients in  Boston and Andrea Cohen CEO of House Worksthe nation's capital.  One of the features in Andrea's presentation (to an audience primarily comprised on entrepreneurs) was a focus on how to sell to Adult Children.  Her insights were outstanding and I share some of her key points below.  The significance here is that products or services related to elder care are often sold to the adult children of those in care, as opposed to the individual receiving the care.

Characteristics of Adult Children involved in Care Decisions:

  • They are unfamiliar with elder care issues and need to be educated
  • They realize that they're making high stakes decisions (e.g., how to care for mom)
  • They are generally busy with their jobs, their kids and their lives and often need to make decisions quickly
  • They generally get involved when there's a crisis rather (like dad is being discharged tomorrow) as opposed to arranging for care proactively
  • Often times, they are funding care from their parents savings (and are unfamiliar with the details of those resources)

What Do Adult Children Want in Searching for Care:

  • Information about how mom or dad is doing
  • A roadmap
  • Easy to reach care providers
  • The ability to manage care remotely

What Adult Children Find Attractive About the Technology:

  • Ability to communicate
  • A way to connect with care providers
  • Ability to get help (e.g., volunteers in mom/dad's community such as those facilitated by Beacon Hill Village)
  • Updates about mom and dad's care (some want updates daily)

Andrea Cohen Aging in Place Technology Slides

Click the title page above to see Andrea's Slide Deck

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

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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 www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

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