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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

Moving Home Care to the Cloud

Posted by Marc Ottinger on May 31, 2011 7:20:00 AM

The cost of purchasing and operating “on-premises” applications continues to increase and shows no sign slowing down.home care cloud computing  Traditionally, servers were purchased and installed at a home care business.  Then software was selected, purchased (up-front licensing fee), installed (project fee), and deployed.  According to the leading global IT research company, the Gartner Group, some of the significant costs and risks of this model are as follows:

  • The annual cost of owning and managing software applications can be as much as 4X the cost of the initial purchase. 
  • Companies can spend up to 75% of their total IT budget just to maintain and run existing systems and infrastructure. 
  • The most significant ongoing cost of ownership is tied to the annual operating and maintenance of the software, along with the hardware and software infrastructure needed to support it. 
  • What if with all the time put into selection and the software does not fulfill the expectations?  Where does a business owner go?  They are stuck with the software, servers, etc. 


Today, home care organizations consider the increasingly popular concept called “cloud computing.”  This is a model for delivering applications as a service over the internet (also called Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS). This enables users to access business applications and “outsource” the operations and the associated maintenance and support, eliminating substantial upfront and ongoing costs.  Cloud architecture enables home healthcare agency owners to allocate their technology budget across a broader portfolio of services delivering greater productivity and profitability. 


As an example, Ankota can generally get an agency up and running in just a few weeks with very low up front costs.  Instead of paying for computers, databases, licenses, vendor travel and project fees, a customer pays small fees for setup and training.  Then they pay monthly usage fees that cover backups, upgrades, support, and all of the operating fees.  You can read more about this model 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  



References –

  • Grant Thornton
  • Intacct
  • Gartner      

Topics: Home Care Industry, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Home Care Technology, Home Care Scheduling Software, Leadership, Product Information

Selling Home Health to Hospitals, ACOs & Other Healthcare Facilities

Posted by Ken Accardi on May 19, 2011 8:22:00 AM

Hospitals and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are offering new opportunities for partnerships with home health care organizations, but in order to capitalize, your organization needs to learn how to sell to these new potential partners.  

Last week we highlighted 6 excellent home care newsletters inStephen Tweed our posting Six Home Care Social Media email newsletters to Learn From.  Today's post comes from one of those six, Stephen Tweed's Leading Home Care Newsletter, and is reprinted with permission from Home Health Care Today. Copyright 2011 Stephen C. Tweed. To receive a FREE subscription to this newsletter, log on to www.leadinghomecare.com."

Selling Home Health to Hospitals, ACOs & Other Healthcare Facilities

On Thursday, March 31, 2011, CMS released the long-awaited proposed rule for accountable care organizations (ACOs). VNAA will review the proposed rule, consult with its members and provide comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The comment period for this rule is 60 days, and ends on June 6, 2011.

Sec. 3022 of The Affordable Care Act created a Medicare Share Savings Program that provides incentives for physicians and hospitals to create ACOs. The CMS proposed rule is the first step towards full implementation of this program, which is slated to begin on January 1, 2012.

What does this mean for home health agencies?  You need to...

  1. re-evaluate your relationships with local hospitals and physician groups.
  2. have facts and data showing how you can help hospitals and physicians save money.
  3. have in place a system to sell your services and your cost-saving programs to these new organizations being formed by physicians and hospitals.

Under the proposed rule, the Medicare program would provide financial incentives in the form of shared savings to physicians and hospitals who create ACOs, and agree to take responsibility for improving quality and coordination of care for a group of at least 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries. The ACO is expected to lower the costs of care for these beneficiaries, and in return would share in any savings to the Medicare program. The following groups of providers are eligible to participate in an ACO:

  • ACO professionals (i.e., physicians and hospitals meeting the statutory definition) in group practice arrangements
  • Networks of individual practices of ACO professionals
  • Partnerships or joint ventures arrangements between hospitals and ACO professionals
  • Hospitals employing ACO professionals
  • Other Medicare providers and suppliers as determined by the Secretary (including home health agencies)

Follow the Money

One of the fundamental rules of business and politics is … “Follow the Money”. In this case, hospitals and physician groups will be looking for opportunities to share in the savings for the Medicare program. Home health agencies will be invited into ACOs when weLeading Home Care Newsletter Sign-up are able to persuade decision makers that we can contribute to measurable cost savings that will increase revenue for the ACO.

New Methods of Selling to Hospitals and ACOs

One of the outcomes of this new rule is how you sell your home health services to hospitals. In the past, your approach was to build relationships with discharge planners and hope they would be favorable to your agency in their conversations with patients. The better the personal relationship, the more likely you are to get referrals.

That changes when the decision making process moves up the executive chain, and you are dealing with hospital and physician leaders. While relationships continue to be important, the decision will be based more on facts, data, and results.  To be successful selling to ACOs, it will be important for your agency to develop an executive level sales process that can…

  1. gain access to the appropriate Executives in the ACO.
  2. clearly differentiate your agency from your competitors based on your ability to contribute to cost savings.
  3. provide a clear, concise, powerful presentation that will persuade the ACO Executives of your ability to deliver on your promises.
  4. close the sale and enter into a collaborative agreement with the ACO.
  5. deliver on your promises. Generate measurable cost savings while providing high quality patient outcomes.

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 Entrepreneurship, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, thought leadership

Three Home Care Technologies that Families are Ready to Embrace

Posted by Ken Accardi on May 17, 2011 8:24:00 AM

According to a recent study sponsored by United Healthcare and the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are three technologiesNational Alliance for Caregiving that familes are more readily embracing than others for assistance with providing care for their loved ones.  Although the focus is on family caregiving, home care can learn from the results.  The study is entitled e-Connected Family Caregiver: Bringing Caregiving into the 21st Century.  Press this link to get a copy of the Study Snapshot and Key Findings.

In a nutshell, the study was conducted last November and included 1,000 families who were asked to give their impressions regarding 12 technologies.  Of the 12 technologies, the 3 with the greatest potential were as follows:

  • Personal Health Record Tracking
  • A Caregiving Coordination System, and
  • A Medication Support System

So how can an entrepreneurial home care organization work to benefit from this information? 

Deciding to bring home care into a family is a tough decision that can have significant cost and also have impacts on quality of life not only for the clients needing care but also for their family members (who are often the de facto caregivers).  Most home care companies offer one product which is "caregiving" and the only options that you offer are "how many hours" are needed.  The differentiation comes down to "comfort" with the sales person and supervisory nurse, and cost.

What if instead you could offer a variety of solutions to help the family?  How about the following:

  • "Your mom would really benefit from a medication dispensing system, we can help acquire and set that up for you"
  • "Since your dad needs to see multiple specialists, it would be beneficial to organize a personal health record for him"
  • "The system we use for tracking care [Ankota] allows local and distant family members to connect into the system to see how mom is doing and to put items on mom's schedule.  We can set that up for you" Check out Ankota's FamilyConnect video

By offering options like these, your organization will stand out from the crowd and instead of being "this much per hour" or "that much per hour" you'll be perceived as a partner in their loved ones care.  And even if your initial engagement is for fewer hours, you're positioned to get more hours when needs change.

Try Ankota FamilyConnect

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, HME/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 Entrepreneurship, Marketing Home Care, Elderly Care, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care

Ankota Celebrates National Nurses Week!!

Posted by Will Hicklen on May 10, 2011 12:31:00 PM

National Nurses Week NNW 2011 logo 3 color

I'm pretty sure that the one guy's trying to show us how to Dougie...


NAHC Report Logo

National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and Ankota would like to join The American Nurses Association and  NAHC and the rest of the nation in thanking the country's nurses for all that they do. Not coincidentally, National Nurses Week coincides with Florence Nightingale's birthday. Nurses are the heartbeat of home healthcare and consistently assure that patients receive the best possible care. They are who patients trust. 

Constant reports, Healthcare reform, payment reform, the emergence of Accountable Care Organizations and business concerns for productivity are among the many distractions they face every day. Nurses manage to focus on their patients consistently through all the disruption and will always be the leaders in providing care. Through the dedication of nurses, home health care will continue to improve and take on even greater importance in providing care for patients.

Ankota is proud to share this first video tribute from Nurseworld.us, and the second from Johnson & Johnson. And, to show that we know how to have a little fun and don't take ourselves too seriously, we're amused to share the first one you saw at the top of this post, too!


Topics: Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, thought leadership, home care software geek, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, Announcements, Will Hicklen, Home Care, NAHC, Video

Six Home Care Social Media email newsletters to Learn From

Posted by Ken Accardi on May 8, 2011 9:13:00 AM

We’ve written a number of blog posts intended to educate the home care world on what social media is, how it works, and how to do it yourself.  For those of you who have gotten on board, great!  For the rest of you, I thought it would be useful to highlight some other people who are using social media effectively so that you can potentially enjoy their content and also evaluate whether a similar strategy for using social media would work well for your business.

Today we share 6 home care professionals who successfully use email newsletters to share their message.  Here goes:

  • Leading Home Care: Stephen Tweed and his team offer several compelling and engaging email newsletters thatLeading Home Care Newsletter Sign-up come to your inbox every few weeks.  The main titles are Home Health Today and Private Duty today (you can subscribe to either or both).  Stephen's organization uses these newsletters to make you aware of their services (such as training programs and consulting services), but does it in a way where they share a lot of best practices and not too much of their own advertising.  They also have a policy that allows you to share content from their newsletters as long as you give them credit.
  • Tim Rowan’s Home Care Technology Report(HCTR): The HCTR newsletter comes out generally once a week but sometimes more often if there's big news and sometimes he Tim Rowan home care tech reporttakes a week off (and usually it's during a slow time and he tells you ahead of time).  It is accompanied be a searchable website at www.homecaretechreport.com.   He talks about technology and the vendors who provide it and he works to be a catalyst to drive change that will improve homecare.  As an example, he very strongly supports the benefit of telehealth within home health and home care.  From his core in technology, he has expanded to other newsletters focusing on subjects like RAC audits and he has a video series called home health survivor for an affordable annual subscription fee.
    Home Care Tech Report Sign-up
  • Aging in Place Technology Watch: Laurie Orlov shares news and commentary on technologies for aging in place.  SheLaurie Orlov Aging in Place Technology looks at technology from many angles including family caregivers as well as home care, assisted living and more.  She has what I like to refer to as a "snarky" style where she likes to highlight situations where people are "missing the point" and she also likes to challenge the technology providers in her posts (pointing out, for example, that technology has to work together seemlessly in order for it to be adopted).  Laurie's also a great researcher and is generally quick to share information about studies related to aging in place.
    aging in place tech watch
  • HME News: For our readers on the home medical equipment side, you might want to check out the publications from HME News.  They send a variety of titles like HME News TV with videos that you can watch and HME News top 5 Stories (where they'll share 5 respiratory best practices or 5 rehab stories)·
    HME News
  • Boyd and Nicholas: These guys focus on helping agencies deliver their cost reports and they are active in the NAHC Financial Managers Community.  They're also kind of fun guys who walk around trade shows in shorts and Birkenstocks and raffle off some nice bottles of wine.  Their newsletter comes out every Wednesday and shares snipets from many other publications that they follow.  They cover a lot of regulatory and compliance issues.  They also send out a newsletter on "the odd Friday" which has more of a combination of "feel good stories" and humor.  Bottom line is that they want to be on your mind when you're deciding who to turn to for your cost report.  This might be a technique that you can use to be on people's mind when they look for your service.
    Boyd and Nicolas Banner
  • SmartBrief: Smart Brief publishes daily email newsletters on a large variety of business related topics.  Their emails combine news, best practices, perspectives and some interactive polls.  I personally get the one for Entrepreneurs and the Executive Technology brief, but there are many more to check out.
    SmartBrief Newsletters

For me, email newsletters have pros and cons.  The pro is that your reader doesn't need to go anywhere to look for it because it comes right to their inbox.  The downside, however, is that if the content isn't compelling readers will either ignore it (treat it like junk mail) or unsubscribe.  In the coming weeks, we'll talk about other ways to use social media and others who do it well.

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, thought leadership, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology

TeleCaregiving in Home Care Demystified by BeClose President

Posted by Ken Accardi on May 3, 2011 8:22:00 AM

Ankota recently posted an article about combining "TeleCaregiving" with home care as a way to provide a lower costLiddy Manson BeClose President alternative for aging in place.  We had a few comments and questions about the cost of a TeleCaregiving system so we caught up with Liddy Manson, the president of Ankota's partner BeClose.  Here's a transcript of our interview with Liddy.
Ankota: Can you describe for us a typical BeClose system installation and the associated costs?

Liddy: BeClose is typically installed in a home where an older adult is living alone and would like the safety net of knowing that if something goes wrong, a family member or caregiver will find out.  We have customers at a range of stages on the health spectrum from extremely active and independent (walks 4 miles per day) to very infirm (cognitively impaired and bed ridden 90% of the time).  The advantage of the BeClose system is that it is flexible enough to provide caregiving information that is actionable regardless of the health and mobility of the resident.  Our average system costs roughly $300 for the equipment, and as little as $49 per month for the monthly service fee.

Ankota: Another concern we hear is about the wiring and the need for a phoneline for a system.  How has BeClose responded to those concerns?

Liddy: Unlike all other Emergency Response and Home Monitoring systems, BeClose is an entirely wireless system.  This means that residents do not need an additional phone line or broadband internet access in the home, each of which adds between $20 and $40 per month in expense.  BeClose operates using wireless technology to communicate to caregivers, and the cost for that transmission is included in the monthly fee. 

Ankota: I know that there are easy instructional videos on the BeClose website, but can you give us a feel for whether special skills or training would be required for a home care agency to be able to plan and install a BeClose system?

Liddy: We designed BeClose to be as easy to set up as an electric clock and as easy to activate as a purchase on Amazon.com.  For those who want additional insight on where to place sensors and how to set up custom alerts, we offer a half hour free consultation session with a customer support specialist so that everyone can rest easy that the system has been installed correctly.

Ankota: Would BeClose enable the business model that we proposed, where a home care agency can provide a service to check-in on clients with a BeClose system (e.g., weekly or maybe daily or monthly depending on need)?

Liddy: BeClose has a number of tools that make it easy for homecare agencies to use in providing top level care to their clients.  We provide a daily summary email of each customer, so homecare workers can do a quick check-in each morning and get a sense of the state of the resident before they arrive for work.  In addition, we offer multi-view monitoring for homecare workers should they wish to log on to our system and see a snap shot of several customers at the same time.  Finally, we allow the families of the residents to send alerts to an unlimited number of care givers, giving homecare agencies the opportunity to provide families who are far from their loved ones backup support 24/7 -- a new model of homecare services.

BeClose TeleCaregiving

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 Entrepreneurship, Elderly Care, Aging in Place Technology, BeClose

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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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