The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

Non-Medical Home Care Plays Key Role in Recovery After Hospitalization

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 30, 2016 12:11:40 AM

Today’s guest post is from Henry Kingston.  Henry is a passionate blogger, and loves writing as it's his obsession. He has written on various topics like healthcare, home care for the elderly and about different other aspects of life. Follow @Henrykingston30 for more updates.

What I find especially compelling about Henry’s post is that it focuses on the very important role non-medical home care played in post-acute recovery for his aunt.  I also recently heard a presentation by Bob Roth from Cypress Home Care in Phoenix.  Bob was speaking on the role of non-medical home care in the accountable care organization model.  While we generally think of post-acute recovery as being the role of Medicare-certified home health care, Bob reminded his audience that home health only stops by once or twice a week for around 45 minutes.  Looking at clients in his agency he observed that his average client receives 28 hours of care per week whereas clients who have just been discharged from the hospital average over 40 hours a week of care.  I had knee surgery myself this past summer and while I’m a younger person who didn’t require home care, I found that the surgery took a toll on my energy level and that it was harder to complete activities of daily living.  We’ll write more about this as we explore the role that non-medical home care agencies can play in bundled payments.

How Home Care Helped My Aunt 

My aunt, Sara, aged 75, had become physically very weak and her movement was restricted as she had undergone a hip replacement surgery, and was also a diabetes and hypertension patient. Since it was not possible for me to tend to all her needs, it became necessary to look out for a homecare assistant who could help her out with her day to day activities.

We contacted several home care agencies and finally found a young woman named Alice fit for the job. Alice was a petite woman, strong and physically fit with a pleasant disposition, with the added advantage that she was a retired nurse. The home health care agency had specifically instructed Alice about caring for my aunt, her medications and other requirements.BcaKn7R7i.gif

Initially, my aunt was a little skeptical, keeping in mind her age and condition, but Alice was really compassionate and tolerant and soon she became comfortable with her. In the initial days just after surgery, she was in a lot of discomfort and pain, and it was Alice who took care of all the daily chores, general housekeeping to maintain sanitary conditions in the home environment and personal grooming and also aided Sara with her recovery, both physically and psychologically. After all the senior home care agency’s service seemed promising.

Alice was a natural where caring was concerned and often lifted and turned my aunt to prevent bed sores as she was bed-ridden and also a diabetic. She would often lift her very cautiously to make her bed and change the linens regularly. She took extra care when transporting and taking her for the doctor’s appointment. She also prepared the meals and would often feed her too, gave her medications timely, did her laundry, and was always available to run any little errands for my aunt. She would check on the wound to see if it was infected, kept a watch on the vital signs, monitored her fasting and post-meal sugar levels.

My aunt had to be sponged regularly, and as she wore adult diapers, they, too had to be changed. Alice did these with discretion and never did my aunt feel her dignity at stake. As my aunt got better and could sit and move around in a wheelchair, Alice would keep aunt busy with reading aloud to her favorite segments from magazines, newspapers and also play card or board games with her to keep her mentally active and alert.images-4.jpg

With time, Alice and my aunt developed a bonding with each other and would often spend time solving crossword puzzles, word searches and art and craft activity that my aunt particularly enjoyed as she had been an art instructor in her younger days. Aunt Sara made decorative frames and vases from discarded material and Alice enjoyed giving her ideas and helping her out. Sometimes they would spent time on the front porch or in the backyard to just enjoy the weather or over a cup of tea or coffee to bask in the sunlight.

Soon my aunt, was taking baby steps with the help of Alice and the walker. Alice had been with my aunt for almost a year, and now although fully recovered, Sara enjoys her companionship and Alice is glad to be there for her whenever required.  

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 One of Ankota's free white papers, "Why Care Transitions is the Next Big Thing for Home Care", is available to download by clicking the link or the picture below.

If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Ankota_Why_Care_Transitions_is_the_Next_Big_Thing_In_Homecare

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: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, April 2016 Monthly Newsletter

2016 Aging in Place Technology Market Overview Available

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 25, 2016 11:46:02 AM

I'm a big fan of Laurie Orlov who writes the Aging In Place Technology Watch.  Laurie is a tremendous authority on technology for the elderly.  She's a frequent conference keynote speaker and has even been called upon to speak to the US Congress on aging in place matters.

 

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Market Overview for Aging in Place 2016 is Now Available

 Laurie has released a market overview report that is available here In addition to the report itself, she just published an article of five key takeaways from the report.  Below we list her five key points, but this is clearly a case where you should read the full article, and perhaps even the full report.

5 Takeaways from Aging in Place Tech Market Report 

Laurie's 5 key takeaways are as follows:

  • Aging in place is becoming a necessity rather than a goal

  • The demand for caregivers creates problems and opportunities

  • Wearables will matter

  • The 75+ population is getting to be "good at the Internet"

  • Simplified and senior specific devices lack a long term market

Again, consider reading the full article.

The Demand for Caregivers

The statistics on the aging population and the reduction of potential caregivers is somewhat staggering.  You can view them visually here:

Declining_Population_of_Caregivers_in_the_US-1.png

 

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For this reason, Ankota focuses on ways that you can provide care to a large population with fewer care givers.  This includes our newest product Foresight Care, a senior-friendly and affordable way to check in with your client base and be alerted if they are exhibiting symptoms that can cause a hospitalization. You can learn more by clicking here:

How Can I Reduce Hospitalizations  and Increase Referrals?

 

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: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, Care Transitions, laurie orlov, April 2016 Monthly Newsletter

Home Health vs. Home Care vs Healthcare at Home

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 22, 2016 9:06:36 AM

home-health-clipart-1.jpgThe terminology of our industry, even without acronyms is tough for people to understand.  Here's how we define home health, home care, and healthcare at home:

Home Health

When we hear the term home health or home healthcare, we generally  think of a 60 day service provided by nurses to help a person recover after a hospitalization. Home health services will often also include physical, occupational, or speech therapy.  Industry insiders will call this Medicare Certified Home Health Nursing who use an OASIS form to document the need for care.  The Visiting Nurses organizations are home health providers (although there are many home health providers who are not affiliated with the visiting nurses organization).

Home Care

Homecare_Ankota_Homecare_blog.pngHome care is the most commonly used generic term for our entire industry.  So it's typical for people to say "home care" they might mean nursing, or caregiving or even DME.  We generally associate the term home care with non-medical in-home care services.  Synonyms include Companion Care, Home Maker Care, Home Health Aides, and Private Duty Care.

Healthcare at Home

Healthcare at home is in some senses a movement.  Although the phrase has been used before, there was a landmark speech at a recent conference of the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) but home care veteran Bob Fazzi where he introduced the concept that we should all start thinking of health care as having three key providers: 1) hospitals, 2) physicians practices, and 3) healthcare at home.  In his speech Bob pointed out that we have the most expensive patients with the least expensive care providers providing outstanding care, and that we should leverage that to transform healthcare.  Since then, noteworthy publication such as Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report have been promoting the healthcare at home terminology branding.

How Does All of This Impact the Future of Healthcare?

At Ankota, our prediction is that the lines between home health and home care are blurring and will continue to do so.  The best organizations I've seen are looking for the best care provider, practicing at the top of their license, to delivery the needed care, and they are also using call centers to drive adherence and behavior change, and using technology (likeForesight Care), to get early warning signs and prevent hospitalizations.

 

How Can I Reduce Hospitalizations  and Increase Referrals?

 

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: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care Technology, Care Transitions, April 2016 Monthly Newsletter

Future for Home Health via Hopkins, VNA and HuffPo

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 18, 2016 8:54:26 AM

Dr_Steve_Landers.pngIn a short but poignant article, Dr Stephen Landers, CEO of VNA Health Group, and Dr. Bruce Leff, Director of Geriatric Research at Johns Hopkins spell out a recipe for the future of care.

The article, published in the Huffington Post, starts by reminding us of the forthcoming realities that 1) the US population is aging and living a long time, 2) in order to provide the best patient satisfaction at the lowest cost, we need to keep people healthy at home.

Future of Home Health Project

The above concerns has led to the Future of Home Health Project, developed by the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation (AHHQI).  The driving principles for this initiative (described in greater detail in the article) are as follows:

  1. There's No Place like Home

  2. Better Care at Lower Cost

  3. Payment Policy and Regulations Need Improvement

  4. Don't Forget about the Work Force

  5. Technology, Technology, Technology

  6. Accurate Report Cards

We are hopeful that this initiative can bear fruit.

How We Want to Help

Ankota has partnered with the new company Triple Aim Technologies to help our elderly care recipients avoid preventable hospitalizations.  The automated solution contacts high risk patients by phone and checks in with them to detect early warning signs that can lead to hospitalizations.  It's a senior-friendly technology that can be deployed at low cost to improve outcomes at lower cost. You can learn more here.

  Free Foresight Care Demo

 

  Free Demo of Ankota Home Care (including Foresight 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 Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care Technology, Care Transitions

10 Success Factors for Managing Chronic Conditions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 15, 2016 12:57:39 PM

 One of the industry experts I learn from every time we speak is Ginny Kenyon, principal at Kenyon Home Care Consulting.  Ginny helps open home care agencies and has given Ankota great inputs on our software.  We at Ankota strongly believe that keeping elderly people healthy and comfortable in their homes (and out of the hospital) is an important step in the evolution of healthcare.  Ginny is one of the pioneers driving moves in home health delivery.  Enjoy her post (below).

bigstock-Keyboard-with-Time-For-Action-50063453-300x200.jpgWhen it comes to creating an elite staff through chronic disease education, there are a few things you probably assume. For example, you realize that the more educated your caregivers, the better care they’re able to provide. But the benefits of advanced disease education goes much deeper than that.

The Shock Factor

Whether you’re a long-time expert in the homecare industry or are just starting out, some of these chronic disease education facts will shock you! By then end of this list, you’ll wonder why you haven’t yet committed so your staff has access to the best advanced education possible.

1. Chronic disease kills.

According to the CDC, chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart disease) are the cause of seven out of 10 deaths each year. Additionally, treating and managing these diseases accounts for over 80 percent of the nation’s healthcare costs.

2. Homecare aides lack adequate training.

Did you know that official certification is not required for all caregivers? Medicare-certified agencies must employee certified nursing assistants (CNA) or home health CNAs. Training is provided through the state and when completed, CNAs are listed on their states’s nursing assistant registry. CNA training is limited and does not include chronic disease care. Most homecare aides providing homemaker or companion services, only have limited education provided by past employers or completed independently.

3. Personal success drives employee engagement.

We’ve all heard the buzz around employee engagement in this modern economy. Companies with engaged employees achieve greater success as a result of improved retention. According to talent expert Mike Rickheim, providing your team with the tools they need to succeed is the road toward engagement. The tool for you? Advanced chronic disease education.

4. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing method.

This article in Forbes states that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any kind of advertising or marketing. Chronic disease education improves client care, which results in more word of mouth referrals.

5. Expanding services allows you to help more people.

Most likely, your primary homecare goal is to help people. It’s your passion. By ensuring your aides are qualified to care for clients with chronic disease, you can offer specialty services reaching more clients.

6. Education increases productivity.

This one may not be shocking, but it’s important. When your aides are educated on chronic diseases, they’re able to provide enhanced client care and complete every task with efficiency and effectiveness.

7. Rehospitalizations hurt your organization.

Clients being admitted or readmitted to the hospital while under your care affects your bottom line. With the proper chronic disease education, your aides can better recognize and report worsening client symptoms and ultimately prevent hospitalization.

8. The Companion Care Exemption Rule complicates employment.

Some homecare employees are exempt from overtime and minimum wage laws, according to the Companion Care Exemption Rule. But determining which employees, relates to how much of their work time is spent on non-medical care. Being sure your aides can perform care other than assisting with basic living necessities helps clear up this issue.

9. Lack of compliance costs your organization.

It’s difficult to make sense of the myriad rules and regulations that come with managing a homecare agency. Chronic disease education allows you to rest easy, knowing that your aides are well-versed in compliance requirements.

10. Chronic disease education increases revenues.

The best way to increase profits is to offer additional services for which you can justly charge. Advanced education provides knowledge allowing you to deliver (and charge for) specialized services required by those suffering from chronic disease.

To learn more about how chronic disease education helps your homecare organization thrive, contact Kenyon HomeCare Consulting today.

This articlr was originally entitled, 10 SHOCKING FACTS ABOUT ADVANCED CHRONIC DISEASE EDUCATION and first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

Ginny Kenyon is the founder and CEO of Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, a home health consulting firm that gives agencies a market advantage, promotes creative product development, and offers viable ways to achieve and sustain organizational and fiscal success.

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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 click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

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

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, Ginny Kenyon, April 2016 Monthly Newsletter

Was the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Successful? NEJM says Yes

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 9, 2016 8:06:13 AM

nejm_logo-resized-600.jpgAs you likely know, one of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.  This program applied financial penalties to hospitals whose readmission rates exceeded national average for benchmark hospitals.  The result is that from 2007 to 2015, readmission rates for the condition rates targeted by the program declined from 21.5% to 17.8%. Skeptics argued that the reduction came from a policy change in hospitals whereby instead of readmitting patients with targeted conditions, they would keep them in an observation center instead.  The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) studied this and concluded otherwise.

The New England Journal of Medicine Validates Readmission Reductions

After studying data from 3,387 hospitals, NEJM validated that the results are valid and that readmission rates did in fact drop.  They observed that the decline was faster just after the passage of the act, but that the rate has continued to decline. Below is a graph, courtesy of NEJM, showing the results for both targeted and non-targeted conditions.

NEJM_Readmission_Rate_Reduction_2007_to_2015_1.png

 

Was Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Successful?

If I was asked whether the readmissions reduction program was successful, I'd answer "not yet."  As you know, we're pretty optimistic here at the Ankota blog and we see home care playing a huge and critical role in health care reform.  So a "not yet" rating from us is pretty harsh.  Here's why we give that rating:

  1. Most importantly, the readmission reduction programs that we've observed and reported on have generally seen a 50% or better improvement. Thus the 12% drop so far is not all that impressive

  2. The big scary penalty that rose year over year between 2013 and 2015 didn't amount to much.  In the end, the penalty turned out to average $250, whereas the reimbursement for the readmission average north of $6,000

  3. Many hospitals have not taken it seriously (70% have accepted penalties rather than solving the problem), nor has home health care who have seen the rates they can charge for readmission avoidance as not attractive compared to their standard OASIS rates.

Ultimately, Readmission Reductions are Still Critical, Here's Why

The Committee for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is changing their tactics and making it so that readmissions need to be reduced more significantly. One of the primary ways is via bundled payments.  We've reported on bundled payments here and here, but in a nutshell they give the hospital a fixed fee for the procedure and recovery, so if a readmission occurs the hospital has to pay for it.

The Most Affordable Readmission Avoidance Solution

Ankota offers a technology solution called Foresight Care that enables significant reductions in readmission rates and costs 50 cents per day.  In a nutshell, Foresight Care is an automated service that calls patients, asks them questions based on their case mix that would indicate if they're trending towards a readmission and alerts you.  You can sell this service to hospitals with a nice margin and still make it very attractive to them.  To learn more, press the button below:

Learn More About Reducing Readmissions  with Foresight 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 Readmission avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact us.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care Technology, Care Transitions

5 Reasons it’s Great to be a Home Care Nurse

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 7, 2016 7:52:05 AM

Today's guest post is from Linus Minick who is a marketing strategist for various medical institutions. He is also a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on healthcare.

There are many different specializations and career paths a nurse can choose to take. From ER nurses to OR nurses, nursing allows people to gear their career towards their specific interests. Some people work well with little supervision, some people love providing emotional support for their patients, while others are driven by saving lives. A career in home care nursing combines all of these aspects of nursing, without a nurse having to step foot in a hospital.

Check out some great reasons to become a home care nurse:

High Demand Job Sector

Deciding to become a nurse is a great career choice in 2016. In fact, nursing is one of the fastest growing careers in the US, including home care nurses. This means that having a nursing degree makes you extremely employable. With the current nursing shortage, a trend that is predicted to continue in 2016, many different sectors in health care are in high demand for nursing staff. This is only exacerbated by the fact that an aging population is more prone to chronic diseases. Chronic diseases tend to lead to more doctor visits, inpatient treatments, and longer times spend in hospital care. With financial pressure being put on hospitals to discharge patients as quickly as possible, patients being treated in their own home are becoming more and more of the norm.

Develop Meaningful Relationships

elder-care-1738-crop-600x338.jpgHome care nurses do their work in their patient’s home. They see where their patients live, where they sleep and what they own. As a home care nurse you are more than likely going to be involved with an entire family rather than a single patient. In this way you are able to develop a deep relationship with your patient, along with developing a great bedside manner. Home care nursing is perfect for any nurse who loves to get to know their patient, their history, and their lives. With the chaos that is usually a hospital, and having a single nurse looking after numerous patients, it can be very difficult to develop these relationships.

Work in the Comfort of a Patient’s Home

This is as much for nurses as it is for patients. Nursing studies show that patients who have chronic heart issues or chronic diabetes and are treated within their own home result in more than 20-thousand fewer hospital re-admissions. By becoming a home care nurse you are joining a more efficient health care system and keeping your patients out of the hospital. For home care nurses who are treating terminally ill patients, you are part of the gift that allows them to pass on in the comfort of their home, the comfort of their bed, and the comfort of being surrounded by familiar sights. For many patients that are facing death, this is one of the greatest gifts they can receive.   

A Fulfilling Career

Relationship-marketing-250x227.jpgNo matter what type of nurse you are, you are already helping people and saving lives. This is no different for home care nurses. The difference with home care nurses is that they are by their patient’s side for the entire length of the patient’s recovery. They are there to share all the victories, whether big or small, as well as being there for any setbacks in a patient’s recovery. Sharing these moments with your patient can lead to an extremely fulfilling experience. This is the same with the patient as it is easier to share hard news with someone you’re comfortable with, just as you take more joy in sharing positive news with some you are close to. Becoming a home care nurse is a great way to feel fulfilled and useful every day.

Freedom and Autonomy

If you value independence and autonomy home care nursing would be perfect for you. For the most part you are able to create your own schedule. You do have to keep in mind what time is best for your patients, the time it takes to reach a patients home, along with any paperwork that may have to be completed. Unless you are working with a patient that needs continuous care, say goodbye to 12 hour shifts, and perhaps even the usual 9 to 5.

Home care nurses are part of an industry that is in a middle of worldwide shortage, and trends are only expected to continue in this direction. While this puts a greater demand on current healthcare staff, this also means there is no better time to become a nurse. Choosing a career in home care nursing allows you to create fulfilling relationships with patients within the comfort of their patient’s home. If you love developing relationships with your patients, enjoy freedom and autonomy, and want to join one of the fastest growing occupations, a home care nursing career would fit perfectly.

On Another Note

We invite you to download our free whitepaper that expresses habits of successful home care agenciesSeven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.   If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

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

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care Technology, triple aim technologies, April 2016 Monthly Newsletter

8 Steps to Better Health for Seniors via SeniorGrowth

Posted by Jed Hammel on Mar 2, 2016 7:35:55 AM

healthy_living_Ankota_home_care_best_practices_blog.gifLiving a healthy lifestyle is important an any and every age.  That said, it is particularly important for seniors and elder folks to adopt healthy habits in order to help stave of chronic diseases, minimize everyday aches and pains, and to live the fullest and richest life possible.  

SeniorGrowth's, recent article, "8 Healthy Habits Your Senior Should Adopt Today" gives 8 fantastic and relatively easy steps for caregivers or elder folks to implement.  I recommend that you give the original article a look, but here's a start:

8 Healthy Habits Your Senior Should Adopt Today

1. Improve Diet

2. Exercise Regularly

3. Socialize

4. Focus on Dental Health

5. Get Enough Sleep

6. Take Time to Relax

7. Quit Smoking

8. Follow the Doctor’s Orders

 

I'd like to addSeniors_meditating.jpg that these habits are good ones for people of any age, so perhaps an idea might be for caregivers and their clients trying to adopt the habits together.

For more best practices, take a look at our white paper, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.   If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

 

Click Here for a Free Demo

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

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, 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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