The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

3 Ways Working in Home Care has Affected My Life

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 29, 2014 4:06:16 PM

I read an article recently in the New York Times entitled "Fighting to Honor a Father's Last Wish: To Die at Home."  It made me realize that I knew nothing about Home Care prior to Ankota.  At age 51, I'm not clear on all of the choices that are going to be best for my wife and I later in life, but I've learned a few things.

"I knew nothing about Home Care prior to Ankota"

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Now that I have been part of the home care industry, it has impacted my own life in the following ways:

  1. I bought long term care insurance for myself and my wife:  I'm now aware what home care or long term care can cost and I don't want my children to ever worry about making sure we can have good care.
  2. I'd like to live at home with my wife as long as possible, but I'm not sure where:
    • We now live in a house in a nice suburb of Boston with great schools
    • In a couple of years my youngest will go to college, and my wife and I want to move into Boston, where we can walk to concerts at the Hatch Shell, baseball games at Fenway Park and coffee shops and restaurants.
    • We think we want to stay in Boston, as opposed to moving to a "retirement place" but now we're 50 and not sure how we'll feel about this when we're 80.  
    • Numerous people from our church live in independent apartments in a community called North Hill where they eat in a dining room and have assisted living and skilled nursing on campus.
    • Similarly, a lot of my mom's relatives live in a community in Florida called "The Villages" that sounds like it has a lot of the same ammenities as North Hill but in a warm climate with golf and swimming
    • My Aunt has had some health challenges and has chosen to stay in her own home with the assistance of home health aides.  She lives in the neighborhood and surroundings that she enjoyed for the majority of her adult life.  She's also younger than the average assisted living resident and I think that motivates her to want to stay in her home.
    • Bottom line is that I don't know yet what will be right for me and my wife, but at least I'm aware of some good possibilities
  3. I'm committed to discussing these topics openly with my wife and kids.  And I'm hopeful that if I get to the point where my mental facilities are fading, that I'll have come to agreements with them on my wishes and that I'll empower them to carry them out.

I'm thankful for the home care and long term care industries. Thanks for all your hard work!  I'm glad to be a part of the home care and long term care industries and I'm happy that we're able to help some of you!

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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. 

 

Home Care Software Geek Explains Software Releases

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 25, 2014 12:37:22 PM

Posts by Home Care Software Geek in this blog don't talk about Home Care Nursing Software, Private Duty Telephony, DME Delivery Software, Care Transitions 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 with bigger companies like MicrosoftGoogle andApple.

I love watching movies and TV shows that take me inside someone else's job.  Of course, this only works when the industry being profiled is exciting to begin with.  We're all intrigued by Emergency Rooms, Police Work and even restaurant kitchens.  As for software, perhaps not so much.  Other than the movie "The Social Network" and the recent film "The Internship," there aren't a lot of insider views into the software industry, and definitely not about how the software gets released. social_network-650x337

At Ankota, we're often asked why we're able to make improvements to our home care software so quickly and some software companies are so slow (like once a year).  Candidly, the speed with which software companies are able to evolve has a lot to do with how recently they started.  Here's the inside scoop:

Software in the Cloud is easier to Evolve: Ankota's software is in a "Private Cloud," which means that we have dedicated hardware in a secure data center that is connected to the Internet.  The advantage with respect to deployments is that we can update the software for all of our customers in one place.  The upgrade process takes us less than an hour.  Another related advantage is that we can upgrade the underlying technologies like the latest operating system. database, and security.

Agile Development puts changes in Bite-Sized Pieces: The "old way" of software development was called the waterfall, in which a bunch of changes would be designed (for months) then coded (for months), then tested (for months), then integrated (for months), then released.  In the new way, agile, we release every two weeks.  Within a two week "sprint" we decide on a number of changes, write the "story" of what it needs to do, then the test case, then the code (and we test as we go).  Since the software changes every two weeks, customers hardly notice (unless one or more of the new features is something they asked for).

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Configurability: No two of our customers are alike, so we've made our software highly configurable.  Almost everything we develop can be "turned on or turned off" on a customer-by-customer basis.  This is important because it allow us to deploy the software once for all customers and let the configurations deal with the uniquness.  

The "slow" software companies often have to deploy a separate copy of the software for each customer.  This makes upgrades slow and infrequent, and the customers are concerned about dealing with so many changes at once so they defer and make it worse.

Learn More!

To learn how things work inside of a modern software company, you might enjoy this video from the online music service Spotify: Spotify Engineering Culture - part 1 from Spotify Training & Development on Vimeo.

 If you are interested in learning about Best Practices in home care, you can download our 7 Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.

You can also check out an informative video and download our free white paper, Increasing Profitability via Care Transitions by clicking the link or the picture below.

Increasing_Profitability_via_Care_Transitions

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.  

 

An Accessible Home Doesn’t Have to be a Boring Home

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 22, 2014 1:57:00 PM

Article contributed by Luke Simone

It can sometimes be hard to come to terms with a physical disability, or even the thought of having one if you've had a healthy life until a problem strikes. Yet it can happen to anyone at any time and one of the most important things to do is work towards making an attractive home that will suit your particular needs. 

Most of us are used to homes with stairs and, depending on how the stairs have been installed, it can be perfectly possible to install a stairlift to take you up to a bedroom and bathroom.  However, it's also well worth considering remodeling your home so that your essential rooms are on the ground floor and thus easily accessible.

Remodeling your home gives you an opportunity to bring your accommodation right up to date, not only by providing accessible spaces but also by allowing your choice of equipment and decoration to give a real boost to your living spaces.

Remove the barriers

If you have limited mobility many barriers prevent you from accessing not just your home but also many other places where you might want to go. To start with, how can you make getting into your home easier?barrier2 If you have a step or steps up to the front door you can get a simple ramp installed or, if there is limited space, a small lift.

Your front door and other doors may need to be widened, especially if you are a wheelchair user, because you want to be able to travel between hall and rooms without constant turning and squeezing. Architects are good at assessing what is feasible in a home and can make good suggestions.

Kitchen considerations

If you have a kitchen you cannot use properly because most surfaces are too high, why not renovate it? There is not much point in having a kitchen at all if you are going to live on takeaways (probably a bad idea), so lower those surfaces to the appropriate level, make sure that appliance sockets are easily accessible and the money you spend on renovations will be recouped when you start to cook for yourself again.

Bedroom and bathroom

If getting upstairs is difficult, organizing your downstairs space for your bedroom and bathroom is essential. You want to be comfortable and safe, but you also want to the rooms to look good. Decorate your new bedroom with bright colors and attractive wallpaper, and think about your comfort: an adjustable bed can be ideal to help you achieve the best position for a good night's sleep.

Make your bathroom a welcoming space with bright, non-slip surfaces and wall tiles that have nautical, flower or other motifs to create a relaxing atmosphere for bathing. It is also worth installing grab bars on the bath so you will be completely confident getting in and out. Put a seat into your shower cubicle so you'll be able to shower with ease.Not_boring

Accessible isn't boring

A home is what you make it, so be as adventurous as you can when restyling it to fit your lifestyle and then enjoy what you have created.

Editor’s Note: How Can You Apply this Information to your Home Care Business?

The article above is directed to the home owner who might be facing issues due to changes in their mobility.  Home care agencies are often empowered to advise and even execute on matters of accessibility.  Often we look into the minimal required changes to a home, such as a handicap ramp and grab bars, but as this article suggests, we can look deeper and make broader recommendations that can improve the quality of life of the clients that we serve.  It can also be a great advantage if your home care agency can arrange for handyman or light construction services.

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If you are interested in learning about Best Practices in home care, click the picture to the right to download our 7 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.  

An In-Depth Look into Ankota's Non-Medical Home Care Software

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 15, 2014 12:37:59 PM

Many of our readers know Ankota through our blog and as a source of useful and informative content on the topics of non-medical home care and home health.  Lately though, we have received a few requests to go over what Ankota offers businesses in the health care space.  So with that in mind, here are some answers to the questions that some of our readers posed:

How long have you been in business?

Ankota has been in business since 2009 and released our first software in 2010.  Ken Accardi, who was an original co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) acquired the assets of the company in 2014.

Can you give us a summary of the functions of Ankota's Home Care Software?

Ankota is designed to meet all of the software needs of a home care business. Ankota handles referral management, clients, caregivers, care plans, scheduling, payroll, billing, reporting and telephony. The software is web-based and runs in a browser.  In addition to telephony, that verifies attendance using caller ID, there's also a smart phone app that verifies attendance via GPS, and a fixed visit verification system that works when the client has no home phone (or does not want it to be used).

What feature of Ankota differentiates you from other home health/private duty software?

There are several features that set Ankota apart, including the following:

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  • Collaboration with referral sources: your referral sources can log in to make referrals and track the clients they've referred.

  • Care Transiition Software: Ankota enables management of care transitions, such as helping to avoid hospital readmissions.

  • Interchangable Caregiver Access on Telephony or Smart Phone: most new mobile phones are smartphones.  Ankota's caregiver functions run  on iPhone and Android phones.

  • Flexibility: Ankota loves working with entrepreheurial home care agencies and developing functions to support new business models.

Can you tell us about the security of client and caregiver information that is entered into the software?

Ankota's software is HIPAA compliant.  All access is encrypted and data is secured in a highly secure data center with redundant sources of power and Internet.  All system components are redundant and backed up.

What determines the software price?

There is a monthly fee based on agency size, plus telephony fees that are essentially like a phone bill.  Ankota's pricing is very competitive and we have great deals for start-ups.

Is the software scalable to different company sizes and also for growth?

Yes. Ankota supports small and large agencies with one or multiple offices.  Our largest client has over 20,000 clients across 8 states.

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Is the software customizable to the features owners want to use?

Yes.  The software is configurable in terms of the modules that are used and settings defining how they behave (such as what criteria are used to determine which visits to review).  We are also happy to develop customized features or interfacs desired by our customers.

What other modules are available in Ankota beyond the basic home care functions?

Ankota strives for innovation beyond traditional home care functions and we are happy to make any of our functionality available to our home care clients.  Some additional functions include the following:

  • Colaboration with referral sources
  • Scheduling optimization (e.g., when aides make many visits in a day,we optimize the routes)
  • Forms for nurses, care transitions and therapists, that run on tablets like iPad and Android
  • Capabilities for scheduling intitutional care, such as services in nursing homes
  • A care transition module developed in accordance with OIG direction

Does the software integrate with softwares that handle other aspects of a private duty or home health company?

Yes, There are interfaces with Quickbooks and a variety of payroll modules. Plus, Ankota can be integrated with Home Health or HME software to bring our telephony, mobile and route-optimization capabilities.

How does the training process work?

Ankota provides training via web meetings. We start with workshops to learn how to set up things like billing, payroll, visit review criteria, and care plan items.  Then we train via web meetings.

How often is the software updated?

Ankota has a continuous deployment process whereby new functionality is incorporated incrementally and as available.  Generally we deploy every two weeks and customer requests can be incorporated in one cycle.

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How Can We learn More?

The best way to learn more is to request a meeting or demo.  You can also consult our website or blog, or download our content such as our 7 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.  

3 Reasons Why a Good Title is the Most Important Item in Your Home Care Blog Article

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 12, 2014 2:39:00 PM

Regular blog posts that offer useful and interesting information are an easy way for you to engage prospective clients, current clients, and other folks in the industry with your home health or private duty business.  And as with most marketing-driven writing, the old adage is true: Content is King.  

Search engines have become increasingly effective at categorizing, ranking, and presenting the constant stream of the information on the internet.  The new search engine algorithms are able to prioritize content that is valuable, pertinent, and otherwise high quality by considering what is being written rather than how well the writer has “gamed” the system technically.

That said, because how search engines, social media, and other external sites present each blog post in our searches or in sharable posts, a well thought out blog title can make the difference between your content being seen by your audience over a competitors with similar information to share. 

To illustrate my point and to suggest some Best Practices, here are three points to consider when crafting your next blog post for your home health or private duty business.  The list draws information from this excellent article on the subject from Moz.com.

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1.  SEO - The title is the single most important on-page factor that can help your content rank high in a search engine.  Search engines focus on key words in search results, so if a user has performed a query including those keywords, they will be highlighted. 

2.  Click-Thru Rate - When people do a search, they don’t see your content - they see the title.  “Title tags often show up in both the top of a browser's chrome and in tabs.  Creating a compelling title tag will pull in more visits from the search results. It's vital to think about the entire user experience when you're creating your title tags, in addition to optimization and keyword usage. The title tag is a new visitor's first interaction with your brand when they find it in a search result; it should convey the most positive message possible.”

3.  Social Sharing - when someone shares your article, they don’t share the content - they share the title!  Social media sites use the title of a blog post as its link text. Many external websites—especially social media sites—will use the title tag of a web page as its link anchor text.

So, in other words, without a great title, it doesn’t matter how extraordinary your content is… no one will likely see it.

If you're interested in learning more about ways to improve your home care business, you can click the picture below to download one of our free white papers, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies."

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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.  

Topics: Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Home Health Therapy Software, seo

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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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