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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

5 Steps to Recruiting Quality Home Health Aides from Ginny Kenyon

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 25, 2014 9:25:00 AM

Ginny Kenyon of Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, wrote an insightful article called, How to Recruit Home Health Aides for Your Home Care Agency in her "Kenyon Connects" blog that you should give a read.

She offers 5 steps for home care agencies to take toward hiring quality home health aides, which we've listed here.  Ginny's full article goes into detail about how to implement these steps, so be sure to click on the link above.

Have a Clear Profile for Potential Hires

Attract as Many Applicants For More Hiring Options

Designate One Person

Test Your Applicants

Management Must Be Involved

On a related note, our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies offers folks a look at some Best Practices of what we've found successful private duty home care agencies possess. 

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Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Home Care Blog, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Ginny Kenyon, Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

6 Tips for Success in Home Care From Stephen Tweed

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 20, 2014 4:12:00 PM

Stephen Tweed, of Leading Home Care, wrote a post entitled, Lessons from the Private Duty Field Trip, that outlines 6 key takeaways gleaned from extensive conversations with over 100 successful private duty agencies across the nation.  

I highly suggest that you read the full article and watch the video there, but as a start, here are 6 elements that Stephen's research determined are some key ways to grow a private duty home care agency:

Have a Huge Vision

Be a Systems Thinker

Try Lots of New Things

There is a Season for Everything

Hire a COO

Measure Everything

Take a look at the full article and let us know if you would add a 7th point to that list.

On a related note, our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies offers folks a look at some Best Practices of what we've found successful private duty home care agencies possess. 

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Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Home Care Blog, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Leading Home Care, Stephen Tweed

7 Home Care Entrepreneur Beliefs That Can Make You Unhappy

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 17, 2014 1:59:32 PM

I generally try to post in this blog about things that will make folks happy.  Whether it be how to make your home care agency more successful or how a home care entrepreneur can pursue opportunites, I tend to take the "glass half full" perspective on life.  That said, it can be important to take a look at some of the challenges and stumbling blocks that we may encounter, in order to better reach our goals.  

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Topics: Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Care Transitions, home care marketing, Jeff Haden

Home Care Software Geek Explains Agile Software Development

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 12, 2014 1:05:00 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 and Apple. 

This is a pretty geeky post, even for our home care software geek column.  It talks about how software is built and how that has changed over time.  During my career, there's been a fairly radical change in the way that software is developed.  This affects the way that the software is structured into small reusable pieces, and also the way that projects are structured. 

The relevance of this to the home care and care transitions business is that it can help to explain why some software companies do major releases, such as once a year, and take you through a big and painful upgrade process.  While other software companies, like Ankota, are able to make changes quickly and deploy them pretty quickly (most enhancements requested by our customers are released in our next two week cycle).

We'll do another post to talk about the way software needs to be designed, but for now, we'll talk about how projects can be structured for efficient deployment...The new way is called "Agile Development," but first we'll explain the old way, which is generally called the "waterfall" method. 

The Old Way: Waterfall Software Development

We used to structure development like a waterfall, as depicted below.  A project would be defined with a big list of requirements, then there would be a project phase to design the changes, and this would often involve restructuring the underlying data structures for the system. 

Then there would be a development phase where all of the changes would be developed, generally in parallel.  After that, there would be a testing phase where each piece would be tested individually, and then combined to see if they work together.  Continuing on, there would be regression testing to make sure that the old functionality wasn't broken.  The next step would be to set up a test environment and the users would be told about the changes and would retrain and test them.  Finally, there would be a "Go Live" event, usually planned overnight or on a weekend. 

The success with this methodology is dependent on having strong planning and strong project management.  There is a training and certification program called "Project Management Professional" (PMP) that teaches from a very large book called the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) and includes many levels of planning, risk mitigation, and other techniques.  Planning like this has historically enabled very large projects to succeed (like sending people to the moon, for example).

The New Way: Agile Development

Most software development follows a new methodology called Agile Development.  This methodology is based on some very practical thinking, such as the following:

  • We might not really know today what we want the software to look like a year from now.  We might change our mind along the way.
  • Even if I think I know what I want, my best attempts to describe it might fall short and I'll know better if I got what I wanted when I see it.
  • If I make small changes and demonstrate them or even deploy them when they're done, if I screw up, I'll only have a small effort to adjust the change or take it out and rework it.
  • Related to the previous point, I'm best off if I always have working software, so every time I make a change I expect all of the software to still work.
  • If I can define a series of bite sized changes added to the software in a logical sequence, I'll be able to validate with customers that I'm moving in the right direction along the way.

Based on these highly practical thoughts, the agile methodology works as follows: 

The requests are broken into small pieces defined from the vantage point of the user.  These are put into a backlog (a list) and prioritized.  The team takes the highest priority things on the list that they think they can deliver (developed and tested) in a short period of time, perhaps two weeks.  The team makes a plan for those two weeks and may add or subtract from the list if needed to get the work done. 

Everyday when changes are made, the changes have to be well-contained and put into the software and tested to make sure that they worked and didn't break anything else.  If it's a new feature, it should be made "configurable" so that customers who don't want it, don't see it.  After the two weeks, everything is retested and some "smoke testing" is done to make sure that nothing was broken.  Then the software is deployed.

In our experience, agile works really well and our customers love getting changes quickly and never need to do any extensive testing or upgrades.

If you're tired of the old way, maybe it's time for some new software.  We'd love to show you our home care software, care transitions software, or other solutions.  If you love most of what we offer but would like some changes, give us 2-4 weeks, and perhaps we can meet your needs.

You can also download our free informational content, including our white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies

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Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, home care software geek, Home Care, agile development

3 Statistics Showing Growth in the Home Care Industry

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 6, 2014 6:43:00 PM

A recent article from Home Health Care News, entitled, Aging In Place Services More Important Now Than Ever, (drawing data from a larger detailed report,) offered three statistics that should be of note to folks seeking to start or to grow a home care agency:

By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be age 65 and older. 

Nearly 90% of adults in this age group want to age in place. 

Over 70% of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) provide what’s known as “diversion programs” to keep people living in their homes longer. 

For some of you these stats may already be well known, while for others, they may be new to you.  In either case, a question probably occured to you, along the lines of: "Great info, what are some next steps?"  

Here are three steps folks can take to learn more about the home care industry and to stay current with trends and Best Practices.

1.) Read our previous article: Entrepreneurs: Starting a Non Medical Home Care Business to learn more about resources and industry associations in the space.

2.)  Subscribe via email to recieve regular blog posts from Ankota.  Simply enter your email address into the form to the top right of this page.

3.)  Download our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies

If you do find that you are in need of software to help manage your home care business, we hope that you explore what Ankota has to offer!

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Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care, home care marketing

4 Home Care Marketing Myths

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 1, 2014 11:39:00 AM

By Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN

We are excited and honored to have Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN as a guest blogger.  Valerie and her company, LTC Expert Publications, are a fantastic resource for Home Care marketing, social media marketing, and lead generation programs.  We highly recommend following Valerie on social media.  The following blog post, in particular, resonated with us.  

4 Home Care Marketing Myths

You've started a new home care business. Or maybe you've owned one for many years. Either way, it's time to move past the myths about marketing and get real about being successful.

Myth #1: "If you build it they will come." I'm not sure who said this first, but the closest quote is from the movie "Field of Dreams" - Ray hears a voice that tells him "If you build it he will come". Anyway, this does not apply in 2014 to business, especially not the home care market.

Reality: Here's a better quote, that you can attribute to me.

"If you build it, you better have a budget, you better market your butt off, and then they might come."

Myth #2: If my website is #1 on the first page of Google for the search term "home care city, state" , I will get tons of home care leads for my business, and I'll be all set.

Reality: Nope. A great business plan never puts all of the marketing eggs in one basket. Relying solely on internet marketing is a disaster in the making. Get up. Get out there. Get moving. Set goals. Internet leads are icing on the cake.

Myth #3: Any website will do. I need a cheap calling card on the internet. Nothing fancy. I can even do it myself using Wix or some other cheap solution.

Reaity: Again no way. Your first impression will likely be your website. If it looks like your Cousin Larry built it in 1999, it will fail you. I wouldn't recommend spending 10K on a website. That's ridiculous. I would recommend hiring a company who understands the home care market and specializes in the home care market. That local SEO guy you met at the Chamber meeting is probably not a good choice for a home care agency. And those guys in India who build websites for $199? No.

Myth #4: I have a budget and I'm sticking to it.


Reality: Everything costs 3 times more than you originally thought. Know that in advance, and you will have less heart burn later.

Stay tuned for more marketing myths and tips. Be sure to watch our latest free educational video on home care marketing here:http://www.ltcsocialmark.com/video-business-marketing-successfollow-yellow-brick-road/

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Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care, home care marketing

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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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