The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

Increasing the Odds of Care Transition Success

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 26, 2014 12:55:00 PM

For the most part, care transition success is a combination of caregiver skill and a strong process.  But there are other factors that can change the odds. We recently shared information about a University of Utah project that is gathering patient inputs to increase the odds of care transitions success.

Today's story comes from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where researchers have identified correlations between readmissions failures and end-of-life care issues.  The story wasJournal of Hospital Medicine shared by Becker's Infection Control and Clinical Quality website and is based on the Brigham and Women's study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Key conclusions were that end-of-life issues account for 15% of avoidable readmissions and that four key risk factors at least doubled the chance of readmission, as follows:

  • Neoplasm (which is analogous to cancerous growth) leads to a 560% higher chance of readmission
  • Opiate Medication Prescribed at Discharge increases the chance of readmission by 229%
  • Elixhauser Comorbidity increases readmission probability by 116%, and
  • A Previous Readmission increases the likelihood of an readmission by 110%

What should a care transitions program do about this?

If I were a hospice agency, this might inspire me to start a care transitions program focused on referrals related to end-of-life care because my expertise in providing palliative care services could give me the wherewithall to avoid these readmissions.  It might also lead to more hospice referrals for my organization.  If I were a home health agency, I may recommend providing palliative care services as part of my offering when these conditions are present.

We hope that your agency will be highly successful with your care transitions program!

Avoidable Readmissions White Paper

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.

Topics: Readmissions, Care Coordination, transitional care, Care Transitions

The Secret to Making Your Home Care Web Site a Great Marketing Tool

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 24, 2014 2:48:00 PM

Pretty much every home care agency has a web site these days, but not all web sites are created equal.  One of the key tips in our paper "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Home Care Agencies" is to use your web site as a two way communication portal.  Doing this successfully requires that prospects find your web site and that the site helps them solve their problem and then reach out to you.  This post talks about maximizing your chances for your web site to get found.

The Secret to Success

Before I tell you the secret, let me share a fear and make a request.  My fear is that when I tell you this secret, that your first reaction is going to be a combination of "I've heard of that before" and "I don't get it" and you'll stop reading the post.  The reason that I share this fear is that I do it to with other things.  For example, I drink Diet Coke and I love it.  I average two cans a day.  People and articles tell me not to drink it, but nobody can tell me definitively why I shouldn't drink it.   So I keep drinking it...  True confession is that I really love Diet Coke and might keep drinking it anyway, but that's beside the point.  My request is that you read this whole post and I'll tell you what the secret is at the end.

Having the right Key Words on your Web Site is key to being found

Let's face it, most people nowadays start "shopping" by Googling. They'll put in the words that they think will best match what they need.  If my mom needed care in Tavares Florida, I'd type "Home Care Tavares FL" into google.  Go into another browser tab and search for "Home Care <A town that you serve>"  Does your agency come up?  Perhaps you don't have those words on your website?  By the way, here are my search results for Tavares:

home care tavares FL google

The place you want to be is under the paid ads and/or on the map

When I see these results, I know that the shaded area is paid ads, and I'm turned off by these ads.  None of those three ads mentions Tavares.  Two have phone numbers where one is toll free and the second is in Boston.  I'm not looking for a middle man to refer me.

The ads in the right column are clearly marked as being advertisements.  This again is somewhat of a turn-off for me (but part of my bias is that I don't want to pay for ads and want to earn my way to the top of the Google search results).

Based on this, my conclusion is that I want to be either right below the paid ads or on the map.  With these results, I'd still be kind of turned off, because the sites coming up are not home care agencies in Tavares, but instead are referral sites.  I'd likely scroll down lower.  But as a home care agency, I'd think about investigating the sites like "A Place for Mom."

In conclusion, I'd want to be high on the list below the ads or on the map.  The letter A on the map is probably where I'd go first because I can see that they're in Tavares.

To compete with other sites that have the same words, your site needs to be more popular

Popularity comes with visits.  The more visitors who come to your web site, the higher you'll be in the search results.  So you need useful content on your site and a way toHome Care Blogging helps google search bring people back more than once.  This entails that you should have valuable content on your site and also new content that brings people back.  Do you have something that your caregivers go to the web for?  Put that on your site to drive traffic.  Also, use the secret...

Popularity also comes with "links" so if for example, I see a great article on your site and link to it, Google will give your web site more emphasis.  For example, I think that the Philladelphia office of Home Helpers provides useful information and I'll likely write some articles about them and link to them here.  This link (clicking on the word here to the left) will help them get better placement on Google searches.

If Your content never changes, Google thinks less of you

If you created a website in 2009 and haven't changed it since then, Google recognizes that and discredits your site.  So you need to refresh the content regularly.  We recommend once to twice per week.

Realize that Different People Search In Different Ways

Not everyone will google "Home Care Tavares FL."  They might come up with different words like visiting nurses (even if they don't want/need a nurse) or at home nursing, or caregiver or home health aide or some other words (they're unlikely to search for "private duty" unless they're familiar with the industry).  So you need your site to have a variety of these words combined on pages with the towns that you serve.

More people are searching with long phrases or questions instead of key words 

Many searches are happening on cell phones and with longer lines in google on the web.  This is great for you, because you can think about searches like "My mom broke her hip and I need care for her after she leaves the hospital in Tavares Florida" and have your web site ready to jump to the top of the results.  Note that Google made a huge change to their search algorithm to better accomodate these long searches, and this helps the people who know the secret.  Here's an article about the new google "Hummingbird" search algorithm.

And finally...  The Secret

The secret is to blog on your site.  Blogging does the following for you:

  • Gives you a way to continuously incorporate key words onto your site - Google will be matching to these words
  • Refreshes your site - Google scans sites looking for changes and this will help your search ranking
  • Brings reasons for people to come back.  Google likes more visitors
  • Enables you to write stories about relevant things like fall prevention and Alzheimers care and include words like home care and the towns you serve into your articles.  The new Google Hummingbird search algorithm favors this
We'll talk more about blogging in future posts.
Highly Effective Private Duty Care - 7 Habits
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.

Topics: Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Home Care Blog, Home Care Blogs

Demonstration Blog Post

Posted by Ana Frincu on Feb 22, 2014 9:15:17 AM

This is a quick little blog post to get you started. You can easily edit or delete it from the blog dashboard, accessed from the sprocket menu in the upper right corner of your screen. The power is totally in your hands. 

Feeling drunk with power yet?

Don't worry. You will soon.

Enjoy your HubSpot blog!

Patient Inputs used to Improve Care Transitions Success

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 19, 2014 11:18:00 AM

The University of Utah is embarking on an interesting new study designed to improve care transitions and to reduce avoidable readmissions.  Their methodology is to ask the patients what can be improved...
University of Utah
Though it may sound pretty basic, it is potentially a great way to find solutions to reducing avoidable readmissions.  They plan to speak to approximately 250 patients who are motivated to improve the quality of care coordination and communications.  The study will take around 9 months to complete.
One of my favorite recent books, written by Dr. Atul Gawande (a Boston-based physician, book author and columnist for the New Yorker) is The Checklist Manifesto.  The concept is simple and self-explanatory - making and following checklists is a great way to improve success,The Checklist Manifesto whether you're an intensive care physician, an airplane pilot, or in any other field.  At Ankota, we've embraced the concept of utilizing caregiver checklists from Day 1 and we have also made our care transitions software (for 30-day readmission avoidance) checklist centric.
You can learn more about the University of Utah Study in this article from Deseret News.  We'll keep our eyes out for the results of the University of Utah Study (although publications for studies like this often take a great deal of time).  What are your thoughts on this particular study?  To what extent do you use checklists in your work?
Care Transition Readmission Avoidance White Paper
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.

Topics: Readmissions, Care Coordination, Care Transitions, Avoidable Readmissions

Top 10 Health Care Issues and Opportunities for 2014

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 13, 2014 3:46:00 PM

The health care field is a pretty big landscape and there is a lot going on throughout it.  With such a wide array of industries involved, and so many differing points-of-view on new changes in policy, it can be difficult to navigate it all.  Watching the news, one would think that Obamacare and the issues associated with signing up for health care are the nexus for opportunities and issues moving forward.  

From Ankota's vantage point though, the changes happening in our industry present a number of opportunities and issues not generally presented by the media.  Ken Accardi Ankota FounderPlease let us know what you think of our list or what would be in your Top 10:

  1. Healthcare Delivery at Home is Catching On: The childhood images I saw of doctors on TV were of them making house calls, but since then, common practice has been for people to go to the doctor's office or hospital for care.  The tides are starting to turn again.  Folks are begining to realize that hospitalizations are the most expensive form of care, and that care at home can result in better overall care at a lower cost.  I personally believe that home health is the key to truly reforming the US health system (but I'll blog about that another day).
  2. Corporations are Promoting Workforce Health: Most big corporations hire an insurance company to transact their health insurance, but they pay the bills themselves.  They're realizing that the healhier their work force is, the higher company productivity will be and the lower their costs.  So corporate wellness programs are on the rise.
  3. Health Information is Getting Ready to Share: The initial wave of health care reform has been to move health documentation off of paper and into a computerized Electronic Medical Record (EMR).  In and of itself, putting the information in a computer doesn't help much.  The value only comes to bear when the information is shared among a person's care team.  This can lead to the elimination of redundant tests and to improved diagnoses.
  4. People are Starting to Comparison Shop: With healthcare costs on the rise, individuals and families have to pay more of those costs, and this is resulting in improved price transparency and choice.  For example, our family gets our prescriptions in 90-day quantities from Express Scripts (and usually with no co-pay) and more choices are becoming available to consumers.
  5. Mobile Health Apps are Taking Off: Health careHealth Care Reform hope and change generally lags other other industries when it comes to technology, but it's starting to catch up.  One of the hot devices and apps this Christmas was the FitBit, which is a little bracelet that tracks your daily activity and connects to an app where you can also track diet, water, sleep and more.
  6. Chronic Care is Becoming More Proactive: The health care math is that 5% of the population accounts for almost half of the health care cost.  The 5% are generally made up of people with multiple chronic diseases. Now that care is shifting (slowly but surely) to the "Accountable Care Organization (ACO)" model where an organization gets a fixed amounf per person to manage the care for a population of individuals.  As a result, these organizations are getting more proactive about managing their chronically ill members.
  7. Roles are Changing in the Health Care Ecosystem: As new models emerge, health organizations are changing their roles.  The biggest change is that Insurers and Providers are joining forces and following the best practices or Kaiser, Geissinger, the Mayo Clinic and other managed care organizations.  Ankota focuses on care delivery at home and we expect that home health organizations will increasingly add services like "Care Transision Services" and "Non-Medical Home Care for the Elderly."  It's not a coincidence that Ankota's focus is to provide software for these two models of care delivery.
  8. Exchanges are for Companies Too: More companies are looking towards private exchanges to be able to offer their employees more choice.  Since insurance is costing more and the companies are paying a smaller share of the total cost, there is value to giving choices to employees and the exchanges are making this easier and somewhat more affordable for companies.
  9. Technology is Driving Productivity: In pretty much every industry but healthcare, automation has led to efficiency and the ability to do more with less.  It's health care's turn.  The need to provide care for more patients at lower cost is resulting in more rapid adoption of technology for communicating with patients, and for simplifying tasks performed by health care personnel.
  10. Opportunities are Emerging for Smaller Healthcare Technology Providers: In the short term, the push to implement electronic medical records actually slowed down the adoption of new technology in health care, because hospitals and practices needed to focus all of their energy on the EMR project.  In the mean time, entrepreneurs innovating in health care technologies weren't getting much attention.  In 2014, their time has finally come.
Care Transitions Reduce Readmissions       Highly Effective Home Care
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.

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Readmissions, Aging, Elderly Care, Care Coordination, thought leadership, Care Transitions, Home Care Scheduling Software, Accountable Care Organizations, ACO, Population Health

What Makes Your Private Duty Agency Special

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 10, 2014 6:36:00 PM

We recently released a paper called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Private Duty Home Care Agencies, and one of those 7 habits is to "Differentiate."  In other words, to know what makes your agency special.  Coincidentally, I just read a great follow up article on this topic from Stephen Tweed.  In Stephen's blog article entitled, "What Makes Your Agency Different: 2014 Competitive Advantage Survey," Stephen explains the seven areas in which agencies can differentiate themselves.  He then invites folks to participate in a survey on the topic.

Seven Categories of Differentiation:

Stephen lists and describes the following differentiation categoriesStephen tweed 2014 (go to his article to get the descriptions):

  • Specialized Programs
  • Exceptional Customer Experiences
  • Caregiver Quality
  • Personal Relationships
  • Organizational Relationships
  • Brand Awareness, and
  • Relationship Selling
How does your agency differentiate?  Perhaps you should take Stephen's survey so you can share in the results.
If you'd like your free copy of  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Private Duty Home Care Agencies click the image below.
Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies
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.

Topics: Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Home Care Blogs

Home Health Playing Larger Role in Post Acute Care Transitions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 7, 2014 7:38:00 PM

I read a great article on the Healthcare Intelligence Network website www.hin.com that shares a look at the realities of Post-Acute Partnerships that are reducing readmissions. The data comes from the Healthcare Intelligence Network's fourth comprehensive Reducing Hospital Readmissions Benchmark Survey:

Healthcare Intelligence Network resized 600

Here are a few highlights:

  • More than half of respondents claimed that developing post-acute partnerships with home health organizations is one of the three top ways healthcare professionals are seeking to reduce readmissions
  • Two-thirds (67%) of respondents cited Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) as their preferred post acute partner
  • Half (50%) said they were partnering with hospice organizations
  • Forty-two percent (42%) of those partnering with home health agencies are referring high-risk individuals most likely to be readmitted
There are other interesting nuggets in the article, entitled "3 Key Post-Acute Partnerships that Reduce Readmissions." 
In subsequent blog articles, we'll look for more data from the reducing hospital readmissions benchmark survey.
Free Care Transitions Best Practices Webinar Series
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.

 

Topics: Readmissions, Care Coordination, transitional care, Care Transitions

Health Care Professionals Getting Serious about Avoiding Readmissions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Feb 5, 2014 5:16:00 PM

I've heard a lot of doctors speak in the past couple years and they're often asked what they're doing to embrace Obamacare.  Doctors are smart people and they're good on their toes...  They typically answer that they're either finished implementingMedicare Readmission Penalties Kaiser Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems in their hospital or practice and try to move on.  Then somebody asks where they stand regarding moving from pay-per-service to pay-per-outcome...  Here they pause and either go with the honest answer of "I'm trying to avoid it" or a political answer like "Our hospital now has XX% of our patients on managed care and we're embracing the change."

Hospital administrators have been more ahead of the curve, they see the train coming and know that they need to get on it.  In my local hospital where my wife is on the board, they spoke two years ago at bringing on a team of nurses to focus on high risk (expensive) patients, and that project has been quite successful.  But candidly in my suburban hospital where most people have always had private insurance, it hasn't been as "real" as in the urban hospitals where the majority of patients are on capitated plans.  Bottom line is that the change is coming, but most players I've come in contact with are dealing with this in more of a reactive way...

In October, however, around 2,000 hospitals got a a wake up call indicating that this is serious.  Starting in October of 2012, Obamacare initiated a program under which hospitals with high rates of readmissions (compared to a benchmark) would be penalized.  According to the article "Armed with Bigger Fines, Medicare to Punish 2,225 Hospitals for Excess Readmissions" fines were levied in the amount of $227 Million.

There are plenty of details in the Kaiser Article about how the penalties break down, but the key is that these penalties are real, and the time to manage care transitions is now.

Managing Care Transitions to Increase Profitability

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.

Topics: Readmissions, Care Coordination, Care Transitions

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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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