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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

17 Qualities for Success in Home Healthcare Jobs

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 28, 2016 9:28:00 AM

 Today's guest post is by Kara Masterson.  Kara is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.  Enjoy Kara's article and feel free to comment below!

Healthcare Jobs.pngThe healthcare industry is a promising career possibility because of its positive job outlook and the variety of the types of jobs in that industry. In a list of the top 50 fastest growing occupations during 2014-2024 put out by the U.S. Department of Labor, 25 were from the healthcare industry. Specialty hospitals; physical therapy, nursing and physician assistant jobs; community care facilities for the elderly; ambulance services; and substance abuse facilities fell within the top ten on this list. However, another great job in the medical field is home healthcare.

How can you know whether working in home healthcare is what’s right for your career? The answer to this question depends on your knowledge of what it is that best suits you, in terms of your education, abilities, interests and personality traits. To assist you in answering your question, the following information highlights some of the important qualifications needed for being able to get involved with the in home healthcare industry. By following these guidelines you can figure out if there is a match between what you know about yourself and this great occupation.

Direct Care Of Patients

As a worker in any aspect of the medical field you have to directly care for and work with patient’s every day. That is especially true if you are going into home healthcare. In this field you have to be able to have and develop a great and trusting relationship with all of your patients. By doing that you can make sure that they feel comfortable asking you questions and seeking your help. Here is a list of just a few qualities needed in a home healthcare worker to help ensure that they have the best possible relationship with their patients.

  • Communication skills – communicating clearly with patients and other health professionals; includes listening, speaking, writing, explaining and understanding

  • Caring and Empathy – understanding and accepting what the other is thinking and feeling; compassion for patients

  • Openmindedness – readiness to absorb new information. This includes tolerance for differences among people

  • Thoroughness, accuracy and attention to detail – In medical care to patients, minute details are sometimes essential for recovery and errors can be costly

  • Problem solving abilities – quick thinking and problem solving are needed in critical situations

  • Emotional stability – In working with patients, the healthcare worker will encounter different emotions and must be able to retain calmness and composure

  • Physical endurance – In some jobs, strength is required in working with patients; long hours on foot require physical stamina

Administrative And Leadership Positions

The healthcare system requires extensive management and leadership at all levels. Besides those designated as administrators and managers, different functions within the system need leadership and coordination. If you would like to be higher up in home healthcare one day and manage more workers you also will have to develop quite a few skills. The following are some qualities of effective administrators and leaders.

  • Belief in service – good administrators want foremost to provide an excellent service to healthcare customers

  • Communication skills – an ability to listen and to clearly communicate

  • Organized; multitask – an orderly mind that can prioritize and is efficient

  • Analytical, problem solving - adept at seeing problems clearly and arriving at solutions

  • Technology knowledge/skills – understands how technology can help healthcare

Technology And Data Management Positions

If technology and the medical field are both things that interest you, you may want to look into data management positions for home healthcare. In this field there are tons of records and technologies that need to be used and tracked. It can definitely be hard to get professional care without professional technology, equipment and records. That is why it is so important for people in this field to have some of the following qualities.

  • Accuracy with details – handles details easily; quick to identify errors

  • Critical thinking and analytical skills – a mind that looks at trends and problems and understands what went wrong

  • Innovation and creativity – finds new solutions to snags in the system

  • Systems and technical skills - thorough knowledge of computers and IT resources; applies systems thinking

  • Communications and presentation skills – In training healthcare workers on the use of the IT system or in understanding problems encountered in its use, the IT worker needs to communicate simply and clearly.

If your desire is to make some contribution that makes the world a better place, the healthcare industry is unparalleled in the depth and variety of opportunities provided. Whether entering the work force just after graduating from high school, or after higher education, there are career paths available to you. One possibility is to complete either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Health Science. This is a general program that will give you a basic foundation in health science and allows you to explore different health specializations. There will surely be a special niche for you!

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Increasing Profitability via Care Transitions"   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

Increasing_Profitability_via_Care_Transitions.jpg

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

5 Ways Homecare May Be Affected by Proposed Chronic Care Legislation

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 26, 2016 1:10:00 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).

On October 31, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s chronic care working group released a discussion draft for the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2016, which is being introduced this month. The draft includes stakeholders’ comments and feedback released in December 2015.

We’ve got the run-down on everything addressed in the chronic illness management draft and how it relates to home healthcare.

Proposed Legislation and Chronic Care

While the proposed legislation—which does NOT require Medicare Advantage Plans to provide hospice benefits—is complex and includes various providers of Medicare coverage, there are a few specific areas that may affect homecare organizations specifically. Here’s what you need to know!chronic care

1. Extending and expanding the Independence at Home (IAH) Demonstration Project.

This demonstration was created to test payment incentives and service delivery models to improve health outcomes for Medicare recipients suffering from multiple chronic diseases. Under the IAH, qualifying providers are eligible for incentives when meeting performance standards.

Originally, the demonstration was scheduled to end on September 30, 2017. The CHRONIC Care Act proposes an extension of two years and an increase in the number of participating beneficiaries. It also gives providers three years to meet standard requirements rather than termination from the program after two years.

2. Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans will offer chronically ill members an increased amount of supplemental benefits.

Meaning, MA chronically ill recipients may be able to receive additional services improving their overall health outcomes. And resulting in little to no out-of-pocket cost to beneficiaries.

In addition, MA plan enrollees will have greater flexibility and more benefits for telehealth services. The draft expands home telehealth payments for MA accountable care organizations and for stroke consults.

3. Government Accountability Department will perform a study leading to development of a Medicare payment code for a one-time doctor visit to create a long-term chronic care plan.

This study is crucial for determining and eliminating barriers to skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and hospice programs for chronically ill patients. Having the ability to better facilitate longitudinal chronic care will promote health care organizations to work together for the good of chronically ill Medicare beneficiary. And in addition, meet the goal of decreasing healthcare costs.

4. Improvement for payment accuracy for those providing chronic care services.

A new payment model will take into account various factors affecting beneficiary’s health, such as:

  • Total number of chronic diseases;

  • Impact of additional diagnosis codes reflecting mental health and substance abuse;

  • Diagnosis of chronic kidney disease;

  • And requires a minimum of two years of chronic diagnosis data.

5. Eliminate Barriers to Care Coordination under Accountable Care Organizations

Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) are collaborations that integrate varying groups of health care providers. ACOs were created with the goal of ensuring patients receive the right care, specifically chronic care, in the right settings to optimize their treatment outcomes.

This proposed new program will make access to ACOs more flexible for beneficiaries and health care agencies. Thus leading to better chronic care across the continuum, and better communication between providers.

Preparing Your Agency to Provide Chronic Care

Chronic diseases are at an all-time high. The creation and proposal of new legislation is occurring regularly to keep up with this health crisis. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to equip your homecare staff to ensure they can properly handle these changes.

In order to take advantage of these proposed programs, such as the IAH demonstration and increased MA benefits, your team needs adequate chronic disease education and training. This allows you to provide top-notch care to clients suffering from one or more chronic illnesses. And also qualifies your agency to better participate in various government incentives.

Work with Kenyon HomeCare Consulting to Improve Chronic Care

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we offer numerous methods for streamlining your organization and getting the most out of your processes. One effective way to prepare for chronic care legislative changes is to participate in Aide University.

With Aide University, caregivers learn the skills needed to provide clients with the best chronic care available. This knowledge creates an elite staff and ensures employee as well as client satisfaction.

We are here to help! So, reach out to us to start providing chronic care staff education today.

This article, originally titled, CHRONIC CARE DRAFT LEGISLATION AND NEED FOR ADVANCED EDUCATIONC first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private Duty Home Care Agencies" 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

7_habits_effective_home_care.jpg

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

8 Opportunities in Senior Care via a VC Investor

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 21, 2016 10:17:00 AM

Ankota's marketing director, Jed Hammel doesn't come from the home care world but instead is an expert is social media marketing, filmmaking, event planning and more.  We hope you enjoy this article recapping how a venture capital investor sees opportunity in the senior care market.

an Investor at Redpoint Ventures, published a lengthy article on LinkedIn, entitled, "The $740 Billion Senior Care Market is Ripe for Disruption, but Full of Challenges," that I suggest those in home care read.

 Whether your role is that of an investor, caregiver, home care startup founder, agency manager, or beyond, the article gives a lot of useful data and a birds eye view of the opportunities and challenges in the senior care space.

As I noted above, I suggest that you read the full article here, but as a start, here's some of what Medha offers:

Birdseye View of Senior Care

  • Not only is the senior healthcare market huge, but it’s also growing quickly.

  • It is a market fraught with outdated and inefficient processes and little or fragmented competition in most segments.

  • Seniors want to leverage technology to manage their health.

  • Seniors are a diverse group, with varying needs and preferences.

The author goes on to outline opportunities and challenges in the space and offers these just some of the areas that mentions in the article that she projects as interesting growth areas.  To see all of what she suggests, check out the full article.  But as a start:

  • Post-acute Transition 

  • Remote Medical Communication

  • Mental Acuity Apps 

  • Day Programs 

  • Hospice Transition & Care  

Home Care and Healthcare is expanding and evolving at an increased pace, which can mean more opportunity to help folks, more advances in care offerings, and more competition for your business.  What are your thoughts on the home care space?  Where do you see the industry headed?  

One of Ankota's recent 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

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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, January 2017 Newsletter

10 Essential Tips for Home Care Startup Success

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 19, 2016 8:48:00 AM

 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).

Whether you’re launching a new business line within your existing home care agency or initiating a startup home care, from scratch, it’s crucial to get all your ducks in a row beforehand. With that in mind, we’ve crafted a list of the ten most fundamentally important factors in pursuing your new endeavor.

Startup Home Care Fundamentals for Success

Startup home care fundamentals go beyond turning on your open sign. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your startup success.bigstock-151264370-300x200-1.jpg

1. Research

Before you can begin planning other aspects of the startup home care process, adequate research must be conducted.

This includes evaluating the competition in various locations, learning the needs of each community you consider, and settling on a final location(s). Doing this before moving forward ensures your organization is in a position to succeed.

2. Business Plan

This strategy maps out the path your agency will take in order to grow. It generally projects where you want to be in three to five years, as well as the steps and funds needed to get there.

Remember, it can take up to a year to secure your license, certification, and or accreditation. So, ensure your finances allow for this low-revenue period. The U.S. Small Business Association is a great resource for learning more about business plans.

3. Legal Requirements

Complying with regulations are a major part of any startup home care process. Obtaining licensure or certification is overwhelming and time consuming. Therefore, it’s always best to be familiar with and understand all federal and state requirements and if applicable, accreditation standards for your specific business type.

4. Resources

You may be surprised to discover how many resources are needed to adequately launch a new home care organization or service line. In addition to the obvious office space, you must also acquire the following:

5. Staff

A home care organization is only as successful as its staff. Consequently, that’s why it’s important to build an elite caregiver team from the beginning.

Before posting job openings, define the different positions you will needed, write a job description for each, and outline their responsibilities. Upon startup, it may be helpful to find employees who can take on multiple roles until you become more established.

6. Processes and Strategies

Don’t wait until you’re up and running before creating uniform processes for the many tasks happening on a regular basis. Part of startup home care fundamentals is establishing these strategies. Among others, you’ll need to plan for:

  • Staff orientation

  • Client admission and services

  • Billing

  • Personnel records

  • Client records

7. Employee Education

Educating team members is more than simply throwing a training manual at them and sending them into client homes. To really soar, your organization needs comprehensive ongoing training.

Determine what your staff needs to know for certifications and professional licenses, what competencies you’ll test for, and who will be charged with managing the education process.

8. Referral Sources

Referral sources are the lifeline of any successful home care organization. So, your startup process should include learning about all potential sources and determining how you can best meet their needs. Consider the following steps:

  • Understand who they are

  • Learn their service needs

  • Brainstorm how the referral source and your agency can partner

  • Set up recurrent meetings

  • Develop services around their needs

9. Marketing

Marketing is a vital part of any startup regardless of industry, including home care. Develop goals and a plan to meet those goals. Implement all avenues – radio, TV, social media and written materials.

When marketing, consider your services, what sets you apart, and what your referral sources need. It’s often best to bring in a marketing expert to get you started.

10. Professional Consulting

A professional home care consultant is helpful in many areas, from guiding the startup process to helping you maneuver through legalities. Look for a consultant who has abundant experience in all aspects of home care, can provide necessary resources, and is conscientious of your goals.

Startup Home Care Fundamentals and Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting is your one-stop shop for all your startup home care needs. Our services include everything from interim management to marketing to policy manuals. Give us a call to learn more.

This article, originally titled, 10 STARTUP HOME CARE FUNDAMENTALS I WISH I'D KNOWN  first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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One of Ankota's recent 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

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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, January 2017 Newsletter

3 Ways Home Care Agencies Can Help Clients Avoid Financial Scams

Posted by Jed Hammel on Dec 14, 2016 10:15:00 AM

 Constance Brinkley-Badgett is an editor and writer at Credit.com. Prior to joining us, she worked as an editor for MSN.com, senior digital producer for CNBC, and digital producer for NBC Nightly News. She also is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York, has worked for chefs such as April Bloomfield and Jean Georges Vongerichten, and is the founder of Crave Personal Chef Services in Austin, Texas.

road-sign-464653_640.jpgAs the American population grows older and more of its wealth becomes controlled by senior citizens, home care agencies must be able to help their clients both recognize and avoid instances of financial fraud.

Unfortunately, financial scams targeting older adults remain one of the most common forms of fraudulent criminal activity. Elderly individuals are frequent targets, due to the effects of age on memory, cognition and social participation. And while that situation can be exacerbated by a revolving door of strangers entering an elderly person’s home, it’s also an opportunity for care agencies to provide safety measures to ensure clients aren’t taken advantage of.

“As it is with any employed position, caregivers will come and go,” said Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner and the upcoming Who Will Take Care Of Me When I'm Old? “Caregiver burnout is a significant industry problem with high rates of annual staff turnover — between 40 and 60% in home care agencies, according to research conducted by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.”

The only steady relationship most clients have with the home care agency is with the owner of the agency and the designated care manager assigned to the case.

That’s why an extra layer of “scam security” is needed to ensure both your staff and clients are safeguarded.

Loverde suggested the following best practices for home care agencies to help their clients avoid financial scams against the elderly like those noted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Safeguard Finances, Correspondence & Valuables

key-hole-1262417__340.jpgDuring the initial home visit, ask clients specific questions about their financial-management and mail-management systems.

“Ask clients: Who manages your finances and your incoming mail? Who is directly responsible for paying your bills? Importantly, the goal is to find out if clients have an existing system in place for averting financial abuse,” Loverde said.

Ascertaining such details as who is responsible for paying credit cards and other bills or who balances the checkbook can help determine not only if the client has already been a victim of fraud (like debt collection scams) and if they are still at risk.

“Experts say most people don't realize they’ve been scammed right away. It’s only later they feel something ‘wasn't right.’ Intelligent, well-read and accomplished people have succumbed to slick sales pitches, fearing exposure of the incident might bring their competence into question,” Loverde said. “Some victims choose to forget about the loss and keep it a secret.” 

Also during the initial home visit, “put the topic of valuables on the table,” Loverde said. “It is not uncommon for home care workers to be unjustly accused of stealing. Discuss with clients and family members the importance of putting away private papers, cash, and valuables in a safe place.”

Provide Documentation of Caregiver Vetting Process

“Among other questions, clients deserve to know: Why are you recommending this particular person for this job?” Loverde said. “What kind of background check did you conduct on this person?”

You can obtain forms online that will help you identify and organize the documents providing proof of a potential caregiver’s skill set. A personal care agreement, or contract between the individual who agrees to provide caregiver services and the person receiving care, can serve to protect your loved one should they need a legal advocate.

Provide Training for Designated Managers and Caregivers

Loverde suggests providing certain staff members with sensitivity training around financial scams and providing clients with written documentation of this training.

“Care managers and caregivers should be aware of how the client manages their incoming mail, unexpected visitors who pose as healthcare or home repair representatives, use of internet, and incoming telemarketing phone calls, among other scam tactics,” she said.

Determining if elder clients have already been victimized can be difficult, but Loverde recommends observing their behavior when the subject is brought up. Do they clam up? Become standoffish?  She suggests watching for other clues such as:

  • Overdue bill notices and bounced checks

  • Unusual activity in bank accounts and cash withdrawal machines

  • Withdrawals of large amounts of cash

  • Unrecognizable signatures on financial documents

  • Conflicting accounts of incidents

  • Forgetfulness regarding the whereabouts of checkbooks, bank and credit card statements

  • Frequent trips to gambling casinos

  • Recent changes in wills or the creation of a new will

  • Increased frequency of incoming telephone calls

  • Large volume of mail that promotes prizes or free trips

  • Valuables such as artwork, silverware, and jewelry going missing

By putting these measures in place, you can help ensure that clients, family members, staff and your agency are all scam-aware and, hopefully, scam-free.

If you're looking for additional ways to expand your knowledge-base or business, consider downloading our free white paper, Why Care Transitions Is The Next Big Thing for the Home Care Industry.  Just click the link to download.

If you're interested in learning more about our home care management software solutions, or about our Care Transitions component as a way to increase revenue, just click the button below: 

Click Here for a Free Demo

Ankota_Why Care Transitions is the Next Big Thing in Home Care_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 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, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, January 2017 Newsletter

4 Ways To Build Trust with Your Home Care Clients

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 12, 2016 11:39:00 AM

 Today's guest post is by Kara Masterson.  Kara is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.  Enjoy Kara's article and feel free to comment below!

 

icon-1691321_640.pngOne of the most common challenges for home care professionals is maintaining good relationships with their clients. Due to time limitations and a busy schedule, it can be challenging to make your clients feel comfortable and valued when you interact. To help your clients trust you and allow them to open up, there are a few important steps to take.

Make Eye Contact

Although it can be easy for your eyes to wander as you talk to your client, attempt to make eye contact to ensure that they know that you're listening to what they're saying. Jot down notes but don't be afraid to ask them more questions and show that you care during the visit, which will allow them to feel as if their needs are important and they're in good hands. You also want to take your time meeting with them and avoid making them feel rushed, which will allow them to open up more about their health issues or concerns.

Follow Up 

It's important to follow up with home care clients after surgeries or other big life events.  This can build your credibility and will send the message that you truly care for their well-being. 

Avoid Judgment

One of the first ways to gain your clients' trust is to avoid judging them with their opinions or what treatments they feel comfortable with. It's important to remember that you work for them and are there to meet their needs. Avoid making condescending statements or trying to change their opinion when you make conversation. Working collaboratively with them will prove to be successful in the long run and will ensure that they continue scheduling appointments and remain in your care.

Protect Their Privacy

According to dignityhealth.org, many clients may feel uneasy about their current life situation, family interactions, or medical procedures they may have to go through.  This can be true for visits that may seem benign, such as dental exams or routine doctor visits.  Finding the best match for a caregiver, doctor, Periodontal specialist, and so on, often comes down to how much the client or patient trusts you.

Although it can take time to establish trust with your clients, you'll have long-term success with assisting them with their health to ensure that they can thrive. By creating a safe and comfortable environment for them to visit, you'll help them to know that they're in safe hands over time.

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One of Ankota's recent 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

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

10 Age-Related Technology Advances via the Huffington Post

Posted by Jed Hammel on Dec 7, 2016 9:21:00 AM

 

gears-1236578_640.jpgThe times, as the song goes, are a-changing.  While this axiom has been true for generations, as technology continues to develop, the times are a-changing much more rapidly than they did even just a decade ago.  One only has to look at the advances in health and age-related technology to see this increased growth in how technology affects our lives.  An article from the Huffington Post, entitled, "The 10 Ways Tech is Changing How We Age." tackles this exact topic.  Technology is evolving so rapidly that HuffPo felt the need to update the article originally posted in 2015, a mere 1 year ago.

If you are a part of the private duty home care home health, or in-home care agency industry, I strongly suggest you take a look at the full article.  It's an easy way to keep "up with the times", tech advances, and ways to differentiate your agency from your competition.  

As a start, here's their list of 10 tech changes to be aware of:

1. Talking street signs.

2. Cars that drive themselves.

3. The Doctor Will See You Now — on Skype

4. Remote Patient Monitoring

5. Online Medical Records

6. Robots as Caregivers

7. Lights, Lights and More Lights

8. Safety Monitors That Go Way Beyond Nanny-Cams

9. Homes Will Age Along With Us

10. More Apps — For Everything

What are the tech advances that currently make your work or life easier?  What other advances would be on your list?  As regular readers of this blog know, Ankota advocates for utilizing technology to help improve care, the lives of clients and patients, and to lower costs.  We provide agencies with software solutions to help manage and deliver care, but we're always interested in keeping up on the latest home care and healthcare tech available.

On a somewhat related note, one of Ankota's recent 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

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

4 Ways Your Home Care Agency Can Safeguard Against Cyber Attacks

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 5, 2016 11:45:00 AM

Issues of security breeches, resulting in the theft of credit card information or loss of access to systems are frequently in the headlines. The healthcare industry and home care are not immune, and we are all responsible for the protection of our patients' and clients' personal health information. These protections are mandated for home care organizations by HIPAA, HITECH and other regulations. Today's guest post is by Marcus Jensen who is a writer from Australia and the Editor-in- Chief of Technivorz blog. Besides working on Technivorz, his work has been featured on several prominent tech and business editorials. Although the examples cited by Marcus are not specific to home care, his recommendations are applicable to all of us.

cybersecurity homecare.jpgThe last couple of years have not been great cybersecurity-wise for anyone, healthcare organizations included. For instance, in 2015 alone, the Office of Civil Rights reported 253 healthcare data breaches which resulted in a combined loss of 112 million records. The vast majority of the biggest cybersecurity issues involved outside hacking in 2015.

In 2016, the situation is somewhat different, at least in the healthcare industry. Namely, a relatively large number of cybersecurity incidents included old-fashioned theft of devices such as laptops and simple human errors. In March, for example, Premier Healthcare had a laptop stolen from their billing department and since it was not sufficiently encrypted, data pertaining to more than 200,000 patients was stolen.

Moving away from healthcare for a while, 2016 has seen its share of hacking and other cybersecurity attacks from outside. Wendy's, Oracle, Weebly and Snapchat are just some of the major players whose cybersecurity was compromised in one way or another in 2016.

According to security experts such as Securelink, 2016 has also seen an explosion in ransomware attacks, many of which aimed at healthcare, educational and even law-enforcement organizations. 

If such big players are struggling to keep their data secure, what hope do small home care agencies stand?

Quite a bit of hope, actually. Namely, with a few smart practices and a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, home care agencies can do a lot to keep their data and their patients safe.

Education. Education. Education.

computer-lab-locks (1).jpgIt may seem like somewhat of a cliché, but when cybersecurity in any kind of an organization is in question, education truly is the cornerstone on which you build everything.

First of all, you as the home care agency owner need to learn as much as you can about cybersecurity, the different kinds of threats and the most common current trends. There are quite a few websites and blogs out there on this subject and it might be a good idea to acquaint yourself with them. This is a great list of cybersecurity blogs you might want to check out if you have the time.

The next step is ensuring that everyone who works for your agency has had at least the basic cybersecurity training. This will include talks on the importance of strong passwords, not sharing one's credentials with anyone, not misplacing company devices and more. This training should also include something on social engineering, a practice where an attacker tricks an employee into thinking they are communicating with an official of some kind from some outside agency.

Use Proper Software

software-762486_960_720 (1)-1.jpgThere are plenty of cybersecurity software solutions out there, from firewalls to antimalware software and more. Your agency is probably already using some sort of protection, but it never hurts to remind that using such software is a must.

It also has to be pointed out that cybersecurity software has to be allowed to update on a daily basis, sometimes even a few times every day. This provides the antimalware software installed on your system with the ability to recognize the latest versions of malware.

In case you are employing third-party solutions such as any cloud-based software for other aspects of running your company, make sure that you are using the latest versions of the software and that it is secure. Every point of access to your system needs to be secured and monitored.

Back Up Everything Regularly

business-17686_960_720.jpgWe should avoid junk food. We should try and keep our stress levels low. We should exercise every day. We should backup our systems. Most of the time, we follow such instructions. Every now and then, however, we forget about them or choose to ignore them.

When it comes to backing up your home care agency computer system, forgetting it may result in devastating complications.

For example, let's say that you become a victim of a ransomware attack where someone encrypts your data and asks for money in return. Until you pay up (hoping they will actually let you decrypt your data) and decrypt everything, you have no access to your system, your data, anything really. By the time you are certain your system is once again "clean", you will not have been 100% operational for days, perhaps weeks or even months.

Can you really afford this?

When you back up regularly (meaning every day or every second day at the least), such a situation is effectively prevented. You simply revert back to the most recent backup and the attacker cannot do a thing about it. Of course, this is not the only reason why you should back up your data regularly.

Ensure Physical Safety

killer USB.pngIn December last year, the Radiology Regional Center in Florida notified patients that some of their data was compromised due to their paper records literally getting lost in the street. Around that same time, a laptop belonging to Valley Hope Association was stolen from an employee's car. We already mentioned a laptop being stolen from Premier Health's billing department.

As you can see, patient and agency data can be easily compromised through basic physical access to the devices that store such data or that have access to such data.

Because of this, it is absolutely essential that you have strict policies in place, prescribing the physical safety and security of devices. All of the devices that can provide access to any sensitive patient information need to be accounted for at all times. Secure areas need to be limited to authorized individuals while equipment in less secure and high-traffic areas need to be additionally protected and monitored.

In short, know where your devices are and who has access to them.

Closing Word

In the end, it all comes down to a bit of education and using common sense. Keeping things simple and staying informed and vigilant will do the job in the majority of cases. If you are not 100% certain about what to do and how to behave, talk to professionals and heed their recommendations.

There is only one thing you must never do and that is to underestimate the importance of cybersecurity in the modern world.

For more food for thought, Ankota has a new e-book available for download called, Winning with the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Program, that offers further insight on the discussion.  Just click the link or the picture beow to download.

Winning-with-HHVBP-ebook-cover-2.png

If you're interested in scheduling a live demo of our software solutions, just click the button below:

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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, January 2017 Newsletter

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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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