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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

Top Reasons Home Care Workers should take Clients for a Walk today

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 25, 2011 7:29:00 AM

This week I've been volunteering at an orphanage in Ecuador and although I've been working with infants, toddlers and disabled children up through their teens I've been thinking a lot about caregiving.  Although we make software to improve home care I've come to realize that giving care has little to do with software and much more to do with the personal experience of care experienced between caregiver and client.  Just so my boss doesn't shoot me, let me be clear that the software certainly provides value by helping keep the focus on care rather than paperwork, scheduling, and tracking.

Today's post is about walking...  A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) has shown thatJAMA   Journal of the American Medical Association "gait speed" is a strong indicator of life expectancy.  The article, reprinted here in Science Digest, focuses on the age-old question of what medical conditions to treat (e.g., is the pain, cost and risk of surgery justified by the potential benefit to the patient).  It is traditional in these decisions to look at how old the person is and how long they're expected to live.  But age is not the best indicator according to this study, how quickly the person walks gives a stronger indication.

There's nothing in the article about what this should mean to caregiving, but here are my top reasons to take your client for a walk today:Elderly people walking

  1. They might see something beautiful and fantastic that they wouldn't otherwise see
  2. You might be increasing their physical fitness and walking speed as a result of the walk, and
  3. You might be enabling them to live longer as a result

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, Elderly Care

Home Health Prediction: 2011 will be the Year of Therapy

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 22, 2011 9:43:00 AM

Nobody would argue that therapy services (physical occupational and speech therapy) are a crucial aspect of home health care.  But in the past, therapy services have been somewhat under the radar screen in the overall home health care quality process.  This is all changing!  Here's the intro to a blog post by Julianne Haydel from Haydel Consulting Services that gets directly to the issue:

In reviewing charts lately, there seems to be a severe lack of therapy management in home health agencies that dependHaydel Consulting Services upon contracted therapy. It seems that in some parts of the country, therapists are in such high demand that we allow them to do as they please as long as they will see our patients. We choose between the lesser of two evils – having a rogue therapist or two or not providing therapy to our patients. This can result in poor care to the patient but most often it results in financial disasters. It doesn’t matter how much you are paid for an episode, if you spend more than you make. These are some of the problems I see regularly throughout agencies.  Read Julianne's full post here.

Ankota has risen to the challenge and will soon launch our newest product TherapEZ to help home health agencies and their therapy subcontractors to improve the process of care management.  Key benefits of TherapEZ are as follows:

  • For Home Health Agencies: Full real-time visibility of therapy notes, therapy schedules for your patients, and the workflow of therapy management (patient intake complete,Home Physical Therapy eval complete, discharge and extension notifications, etc.). Plus Ankota is willing to work with your vendor to electronically transfer notes into your point of care documentation system.
  • For Therapy Agencies: Managing your intake, scheduling, billing and payroll plus note processing (including case conference sign-off) is all managed in TherapEZ.  We've been told that the product saves 2-3 days per week for back office staff and enables you to add therapists without adding back office staff.
  • Therapists in particular love TherapEZ because they complete their note (on their tablet PC) during their visit including their time sheet information and signature.  So when the visit is done, the paperwork is done too.  Therapists have told us that they can take on an additional case per day and no longer have to do paperwork in the evenings.

If you'd like more information or a demo of TherapEZ, please contact us and we'll arrange it at your earliest convenience.

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 Best Practices, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Home Care Technology, Home Therapy, Home Health Therapy Software, Home Care Scheduling Software

Home Care Software Geek Demystifies Cloud Computing

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 21, 2011 9:14:00 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.

Today we dig into cloud computing...  More than a buzz-word, cloud computing allows your software applications to run on the internet in shared data-centers that worry about all those pesky details like upgrades, backups and uptime.  Both large and small companies are now adopting this approach to get better more current applications at lower cost.  Here's the overview:

  • Cloud applications run on the web
  • Generally your application is sharing computers with other companies, but the technology to keep your information safe and protected is available
  • The company bringing your application should do backups and frequent upgrades
  • Usually the time and cost to go live is much faster

The following article (excerpt) from Advanced 365 does a nice job explaining what it would mean to move your business to the cloud.


Removing the mist surrounding the Cloud (excerpt)

The hype surrounding cloud computing is expected to reach unprecedented levels over the next few years. According to recent research by analyst Gartner, CIOs view the cloud as their top technology priority for 2011 and it expects the number of organisations using on-demand computing to rise to 43% within four years.

Despite being lured by the prospect of achieving significant costCloud Computing Balloons savings and efficiency gains, not all organizations are ready to embrace cloud computing and some lack an adequate contingency plan in the event of it all going wrong. Neil Cross, Managing Director of leading managed services and cloud computing provider, Advanced 365, says that businesses should consider the following key factors before seeking to introduce cloud computing as part of their IT strategy.

Determine what you want to achieve and why
IT is about delivering improved business services, not just on ensuring the smooth-running of technology, so make sure you understand what you want to achieve as an organisation and why. Cloud options should be thoroughly reviewed alongside non-cloud alternatives with the benefits and drawbacks of each being given fair consideration. Moving to cloud computing just because it’s the latest buzz in IT isn’t a good enough reason and your project is likely to fail.

Understand your business drivers as well as the IT drivers
The pressure to achieve efficiency savings may encourage more IT teams to look at moving to a cloud computing model. However, it’s essential that any changes made to IT infrastructure are suited to the needs of the business first rather than being modified to fit the IT department’s preferred cloud platform.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Adopting a cloud solution can be as quick as going online and signing up or swiping a credit card, but it's important for home care organizations to think about the risks and plan.  Is your data going to be held safely and securely on the cloud and are you satisfied that your cloud supplier is reliable and experienced enough to provide your business with the necessary service-level provision you require?

In the event of a business-critical application going down, you need to be reassured that your cloud provider has the expertise and skills to get it up-and-running again as quickly as possible. Ensure that your provider offers service level agreements (SLA’s) that are appropriate for your business which cover almost any eventuality. The most effective cloud partners can offer multiple SLA’s for a single customer giving the business peace-of-mind at all times.

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 Health Aide Software, home care software geek, Home Care Technology, Home Care Scheduling Software

Home Health and Hospice Executives: It’s Lonely at the Top

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 11, 2011 11:59:00 AM

Today's guest blog comes from my friend and advisor Ginny Kenyon who I really consider a "luminary" in home health and private care.  Ginny has the first hand experience, insight and forsight to set the organizations with whom she consults ahead of the pack.  She's a fantastic coach!

Kenyon Home Care Consulting

Home Health and Hospice Executives: It’s Lonely at the Top

by Ginny Kenyon

Being a Home Health or Hospice administrator can sometimes be a lonely job, particularly if you do not have a peer to talk to. Most of the time there are other Home Health or Hospice colleagues in your community who are peers, but they are also your competition. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to discuss the issues you are facing. So where do you turn when you really need a “sounding board?” Home Health and Hospice executives are turning to a coach for this valuable support.

The use of coaching in the Home Health and Hospice industry is on the rise. It is proven to be a cost effective means of achieving improved results for both the team and the business. In fact, there is increasing evidence that coaching is one of the most powerful ways of developing people and adding to bottom line business performance.

Home Health and Hospice executive coaching creates an environment for the overall growth of the business and assists the staff with changes in the industry. Coaching can also help to develop personal skills and performance. Home Health and Hospice executives who receive coaching can expect guidance concerning the problems they face, insights into daily activities, and assistance with improving methods, systems and procedures. A recent survey on the results of home health executive coaching reported that the individuals who received coaching sawGinny Kenyon improvement in:

  • Working relationships with their direct reports
  • Working relationships with their manager
  • Team building
  • Reduction in conflict
  • Improved business relationships with clients

With the downturn of the economy, many agency executives limited or cut out expenditures for training and support because they could not justify the cost and did not see the results for the bottom line of the agency. However, two studies in the business world found that coaching can turn the investments in training and coaching into positive results to the bottom line.

In one study, The Xerox Corporation found that the impact of using follow-up coaching after formal training gave a massive 87% increase in the effectiveness of training when compared to training alone.

In the second study, the International Management Association showed that training improved the performance of their teams by 22%. When coaching was added to the training program, improvement in day-to-day work performance increased by 88%.

“Coaching is increasingly being utilized because:

  • Small- to medium-sized agencies can experience isolated managers who welcome support and challenge from someone outside their immediate work environment, especially if coaching and leadership development are not available in-house.
  • Attendance at whole-day, or multi-day leadership development courses can seem impossible in an already busy schedule, and involve significant travel expenses. Sessions with a healthcare executive coach, often conducted over the telephone, can fit around other commitments.
  • As organizations operate with a “lean” staff, a shortage of time and increased pressure to perform is always present, and coaching provides “just in time” assistance and individual learning and support.
  • Coaching provides for an individual “thought partner” to help the executive or manager confidentially think through important decisions in an enhanced manner.”(Auerbach, 2005)

An investment with a Home Health and Hospice executive coach pays off many times over by increasing your bottom line, helping you work with renewed passion, working smarter not harder, and adding a more balanced work life. What will be your next step? Contact us to discuss how a Home Health and Hospice executive coach can support your efforts in 2011.

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, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, thought leadership, Leadership

Sell Home Health to Physicians in Order to Grow, per Stephen Tweed

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 10, 2011 1:48:00 PM

A big focus of the Ankota Blog is Home Care Entrepreneurship.  We introduced this topic in our post entitled For Home Care, the way forward requires you to think like a start-up, where NAHC's Bill Dombi talks about both theStephen Tweed Leading Home Care opportunity and the way non-home-care companies are looking to capitalize, and how Right at Home is setting an example.  Earlier this week I learned that home care expert Stephen Tweed is leading a seminar intended to help home health agency increase referrals by selling to physicians (as opposed to focusing on discharge planners).  Stephen's seminar is directly in line with our focus on entrepreneurship.  Ankota had a chance to interview Stephen and learn more about this opportunity.

Why has it become harder to get referrals from discharge planners?

There are two primary reasons why it's harder to get referrals from discharege planners:

  1. They are under great pressure to get patients out quicker, and they don't want to take time to see home health sales reps.  Most discharge planners are bombarded by home health sales reps as the competition increases.  There were 10,581 home health agencies at the end of 2009 as compared to 6,681 at the end of 2001.  With a 58% increase in the number of agencies, you can see why discharge planners are overwhelmed.  Many hospitals have set new policies prohibiting home health sales reps from calling on their discharge planners because it's taking up too much of the Dx planners time.

  2. With the proliferation of hospital based home health agencies, and the rules about patient choice and freedom of choice, it is more difficult for discharge planners to make referrals to a specific non-hospital based agency. 

Why, then is it more effective to get referrals from Physicians?

Based on the facts and data above, it just makes sense that there is a much larger opportunity for most home health agencies to generate referrals that turn into admissions by calling on physicians and their office staffs.  However, the increase in the number of home health agencies means every physician practice is being bombarded by home health sales reps.  Just getting past the gatekeeper is much more difficult than ever before. The highly effective home health sales rep has a proven process for selling, and is focused on a clearly defined set of current referral sources and high probability prospects.  When a skilled sales rep applies this proven process, they are able to generate measurable increases in referrals. We see way too many sales reps who struggle with selling home health to physicians because they can no longer get in to have a meaningful dialog with the doctor by bringing donuts or buying lunch.  It will require a whole new skill set for successful sales to physicians.  There is no better way to develp that skill set that my role playing sales calls with a real doctor. 

How important is it for home health agencies to consider new offerings and sales approaches?

As the marketplace continues to become more and more competitive, it will be critical for growing companies to consider new approaches.  This means new approaches to clinical programs and services, and new approaches to sales and marketing. 

From a clinical perspective, the big opportunity will be to partner with hospitals and physicians to reduce re-hospitalizations for CHF, Heart Attack, and Pneumonia patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  From a sales and marketing perspective, it will be about creating new sources of competitive advantage, and the marketing and sales message to go with them. 


One of Ankota's recent care transitions whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please download click the link or the picture blow for tips on how to construct optimal care transitions offerings and sell them to hospital partners in your geographies.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click here:

Click Here for a Free Demo

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 Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Marketing Home Care, Home Care Industry, Home Care Best Practices, NAHC, Learning

The Superbowl of Home Care!

Posted by Will Hicklen on Feb 8, 2011 11:14:00 AM

Superbowl Ads and Home CareSuperbowl Ads chimpNFL logo

Please stick with me—I swear that Superbowl advertising is relevant to Home Health Care, HME, Infusion Therapy businesses, Private duty Home Care, and other Ankota customers. If you have read this blog before, you may know that I like analogies. They make terrific learning tools and can help reframe a problem with a fresh perspective, often triggering more innovative responses. So take a look at the ads and read on, it might make you think about how you make an impression on your customers and important influencers in your business.

How do you get your customers attention? What makes your prospective clients think of you?

Superbowl ads fascinate me, and it’s not because of the beer, the over the top special effects, or the humor (though I really enjoy the humor!). What fascinates me is the formula that advertisers use to build winning ads. I’ve always been surprised that more attention is not paid to this side of the business, as it provides an excellent opportunity to learn about branding and communication.

How do you formulate a business message and communicate it in such a way that your customers will care about, listen to…or remember?

The Superbowl is the world’s largest stage for advertising. Quite literally, it is the Superbowl of advertising! It attracts the biggest dollars, the most creative people, and potentially, the biggest payoff. A lot can be learned from the mechanics that advertisers and their top-notch agencies employ in creating winning Superbowl advertisements.

Advertising professionals know that creating innovative TV commercials is more effective when using patterns embedded in other innovative commercials. That’s a fancy way for saying “use what has been effective before.” Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures.  Their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them.

Here are the eight tools:
   1. Unification
   2. Activation
   3. Metaphor
   4. Subtraction
   5. Extreme Consequence
   6. Absurd Alternative
   7. Inversion
   8. Extreme Effort

Here are a few ads that I thought were particularly effective…for very different reasons, starting with the VW-Darth Vader ad, above. It was entertaining, cute, and easily related to by most people. Which ones did you like? Or dislike? post the links so we can all see them!


Chrysler: Imported from Detroit with Eminem. One of my favorites. I am not a fan of Eminem, but there is no arguing his mega star status with an important demographic that the autos need, and he is closely associated with Detroit. Incredibly effective and well done.


(Unification) I can easily recall the ad because of the extreme and amusing nature of the product placement.



Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Marketing Home Care, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, Will Hicklen, NPDA, PDHCA, Leadership, NAHC, Learning

Top 10 Best Practices in Home Care - shared by Merrily Orsini

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 4, 2011 10:27:00 AM

One of the things we do on our blog is to talk about social media because we believe that the home care industry can benefit from sharing and learning through social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogs.  Today's post came because I was looking at tweets (twitter messages) related to homecare and saw a tweet from @ageinplace (Amer. Companion Care) that referenced a blog article from Merrily Orsini (who is a guru in home care and how to market it, and also a friend who I haven't seen in a while but look forward to seeing at NPDA).  I was able to read it, follow @ageinplace and share this story with you in a matter of a couple of minutes.  Enjoy!


Published on www.merrilyorsini.com

Just found this, and am uncertain of the source, but it was from 2006 and still holds true today:

1. Only hire people you would trust in your own home, caring forMerrili Orsini Home Care Guru your own parents.

2. Only ask people to do things that you would do yourself

3. Use a good scheduling software system that generates billing and payroll from the confirmed schedule.

4. Offer continuous learning to all staff.

5. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

6. Do not use an answering service. Use a remotely staffed employee so the client/referral source always has someone who can make a decision and staff or fix a problem immediately.

7. Always tell the truth to everyone, even if it hurts.

8. Ask for feedback from all staff on how the business could do things better.

9. Make changes in systems or people based on findings from staff from #8,

10. Have some fun when at all possible.

Enjoy and take these to heart for success.

Merrili Orsini dot 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: Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, NPDA

Home Care Leadership: Lessons from Egypt

Posted by Will Hicklen on Feb 3, 2011 9:59:00 AM

Leadership for Home Health Care Washington Post

I love analogies and often look to draw lessons from other industries to apply to the post-acute care services world, which includes Ankota’s customers in Home Health Care, Private Duty or Private Pay Home Care, HME, Infusion, Respiratory Therapy, and so on. As the need to coordinate services among multiple providers intensifies, and new entrants like Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) assume more prominent positions, leadership models will be challenged and new leaders will emerge. Whether inside your organization or in our industry at large, never before has the issue of leadership been more critical. Never before has there been greater opportunity.

Current events in Egypt provide a few key, very compelling examples of failed leadership that apply directly to our world of healthcare.

HME Home Health Leadership Control

What Mubarak ignored at his peril

Originally published in the Washington Post Feb 2, 2011, by John R Ryan.

Question: Egypt's unfolding political crisis raises a broader question: Can an entrenched, powerful leader, one who has resisted change, successfully lead a country or an organization in a different direction if circumstances suddenly demand it? Or is it necessary to bring in new leadership?

John Ryan leadership home care


Watching events unfold in Egypt reminds me that the country's ruling class would have benefited greatly from reading American futurist Bob Johansen's groundbreaking book Leaders Make the Future when it published two years ago. In it, Johansen and his colleagues at the Institute for the Future pinpointed ten trends that leaders of any organization or nation ignore at their peril. The crisis in Egypt highlights two of them in particular.

First, Johansen foresaw the rising influence of "smart mob organizing," through which social networks are used creatively and purposely to fuel change. We've recently seen the value of Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and other social media vehicles in growing America's Tea Party and fomenting revolution in Tunisia. Now, the same tools are proving to be powerful change agents in Egypt. Efforts by the Egyptian government to crack down on them highlighted its hostility toward another emerging trend named by Johansen: quiet transparency.

To quote Johansen on leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world: "Quiet transparency in leadership begins with humility. ...leaders will definitely have to give up some control. They need to decide what they can and want to manage, since they cannot directly supervise everything. Leadership control is something of an illusion."

Home Health HME Infusion New Leaders emerge

The protesting Egyptian citizens want to be recognized, respected and valued by their leaders. Egypt's leaders, however, have fought tooth and nail to maintain total control, even up to this very moment--and that has indicated a lack of foresight and judgment, and a misplaced sense of urgency. The complexity in our world demands more capable leadership that creates direction, alignment and commitment, which means we need interdependent leaders at all levels of governments and organizations.

Increasingly, leaders today can accomplish little or nothing without trust from their followers. Being open and authentic, maintaining an attitude of servant leadership, builds that trust. Efforts to dissemble or manipulate tear it down. Our approach to leadership, like eating or exercise, is a habit developed over years. Turning around self-defeating practices can be done over time with a lot of effort. But the cumulative effect of those habits makes it extremely difficult for an entrenched leader to move a country or company in a different direction on a dime. Turning around GM required a fresh approach and new leaders. It's hard to see how the case of Egypt, where a giant, explosive divide exists between the wealthy elite and the newly energized masses, will be different.

Click here for the complete, original story on WashingtonPost.com


Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Recommended Reading, Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, transitional care, Aging in Place Technology, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, HME, Will Hicklen, 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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