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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

Will Hicklen

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Resources for Entrepreneurs Launching a Non Medical Home Care Startup

Posted by Will Hicklen on Dec 6, 2015 12:23:00 PM

Private Duty Homecare - Non-Medical Home Care Startup for Entrepreneurs

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

This post was provoked by a call from a family friend, Kelly, who is considering launching a startup to provide non-medical, companion services in the home. Kelly knows that Ankota also provides software tools for Private Duty Home Care agencies, so she wanted to pick my brain about our experiences with companies like the one she is considering.

Entrepreneurs and Startups in Home Care Continues to Grow

At Ankota, we have the good fortune to be able to meet and talk with many home care startups. We definitely see trends in the market and have the opportunity to share some with you here on the Healthcare Delivery Management Blog. 

If you are reading this, odds are that you are already in the business of providing or coordinating home care services of some kind. Perhaps you are a home care provider, or are considering expanding your existing home health care business to include non-medical services. We're seeing rapid growth in non-medical home care, and the opportunities it presents for both new entrants and existing providers is compelling. Kelly’s call provoked me to think about the prospects of starting and developing a home care business such as this and prompted me to share parts of the discussion with our readers.

Business Reasons to Launch a Home Care Startup

Entrepreneur Magazine on Home Care Opportunities - Home Care Startup

Thinking of starting your own agency? Why not? It’s an attractive business model to which the entrepreneurial minded are drawn. Entrepreneur Magazine wrote an interesting article five years ago anticipating the opportunity. The piece provided some good “getting started” advice that still resonates today. You can read the entire article here.

Home Care Business Opportunity at a Glance - Home Care Startup

Resources for Home Care Startups

The National Private Duty Home Care Association (NPDHCA) and the Home Care Associateion of America (formerly NPDA) both provide a wealth of information on their web sites (click logos below to go to their sites). Both provide resources to help you with training and certifications and provide excellent research on the state of the industry and prospects for growth. It is worth spending some time on their sites to read about hiring practices, research existing agencies in your geography, and keep an eye on industry events. You should consider attending the associations’ annual meetings, too.

Home Care Association of America - Ankota Home Care Startup blog

 Should You Franchise Your Home Care Agency?

To Franchise or Not to Franchise… I won’t analyze here the merits of going it alone versus franchising, but would welcome comments on this post discussing the pros or cons of either. Franchising is definitely a consideration that anyone entering private duty home care should evaluate. If you know of a good article or other materials on this subject, please email the link to ken.accardi@ankota.com and we’ll be happy to repost it here on Ankota’s Healthcare Delivery Management Blog.

For a free White Paper full of home care best practices, click here to download our Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.  

We also suggest that you take a look at this blog article, How to Survive Year One When Starting a Homecare Agency from Ginny Kenyon. 

Differentiating Your Home Care Agency Startup

Differentiating your business is also a Best Practive that we suggest.  And in that vein, Ankota has partnered with a new company called Triple Aim Technologies, that helps home care and home health agencies achieve the Triple Aim.  Click here to learn more about the Triple Aim and download a free whitepaper by clicking here:  "How Homecare Can Win Under the New Care Model".  

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 Home Care Triple Aim 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: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Starting a Home Care Business, Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, NPDA, PDHCA

NTOCC Care Transitions Webinar Recording Now Available

Posted by Will Hicklen on Nov 19, 2013 1:21:00 PM

NTOCC Webinar: Optimizing Patient Care Transitions - Technology Trends & Innovation Now Available for Viewing

Presentation Available for download by clicking here 

Originally Held: Wednesday, November 13, Noon - 12:45pm EST

NTOCC's Health IT Innovations Task Force complimentary webinar examining trends in technology and innovations is now available for viewing online. The webinar may be viewed by clicking on any image below. And, if you would like to receive a copy of the presentation, all you have to do is ask! Click here for a copy of the presentation

NTOCC Care Transitions Webinar

Featured speakers include Cheri Lattimer, Executive Director of the National Transitions of Care Coalition (NTOCC), Matt Tanzer - CCO of RightCare Solutions, and Will Hicklen - CEO of Ankota, Inc. 

The webinar introduced concepts that will be explored in greater detail at the upcoming NTOCC National Summit in Washington, DC on December 2, 2013. Please join us there!

Featured Speakers NTOCC Care Transitions

Topics: Community Based Care, Care Coordination, transitional care, Will Hicklen, Care Transitions, NTOCC

How Hospitals Can Do Better at Preventing Readmissions

Posted by Will Hicklen on Nov 11, 2013 12:53:00 PM

US News Health  Logo

From a recent article by Angela Haupt on the US News Health web site: Hospitals are focusing attention on reducing redmissions and are finding early success. What's driving these programs and what is needed to implement them on a large scale basis?

Stemming from a US News & World Report forum on healthcare titled "New Strategies for Preventing Readmissions," part of the U.S. News Hospital of Tomorrow Forum, moderator Steven Sternberg warned the audience that it would be a "complicated, solutions-based" session. And, if audience members needed to stand up during the forum, added Sternerg, "There will be no penalties for readmissions today." Sternberg is also U.S. News's Deputy Health Rankings Editor.

Why all the focus on reducing readmissions? 

That's easy, and unless you haven't been paying attention, you already know that hospitals face significant penalties for higher than acceptable readmission rates for certain diseases. US News & World Report reports that 2225 hospitals will pay such fines this year alone. 

Says Joel T. Allison, president and CEO of Baylor Scott and White Health, "We don't get any bonus for high-quality care, we only get a penalty -- all you can do is lose." 

The penalties increase each year and the number and types of diseases that are targeted are scheduled to grow as well. The message is clear: some diseases are just better taken care of outside of the hospital (and in the home in particular), so CMS, the country's largest payer, is done paying for hospital treatments when other approaches are proven to be both more effective and less costly.  All CMS has really done is to provide the financial incentives to assure that these diseases are treated proactively and result in better outcomes, fewer hospital admissions, and lower overall costs.

Providers already know how to care for these conditions, they just lack the "distribution" of services outside of their own hospitals. "That can be remedied quickly usinig Care Coordination technology like ours," says Ankota CTO Ken Acccardi.

See related Ankota blog Hospital to Home Focus Reduces Readmissions

Many hospitals are employing new models to address their readmissions problems, but many aren't. According to the Commonwealth Fund, more than half of all hospitals have no program whatsoever, a disturbing fact given that these penalties--and their very clear message--have been expected for some time. Of those hospitals that have implemented programs, several participated in the Forum and shared their early successes. 

Allen S. Weiss, president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System, is one of those who shared their success and advice on how to make avoidable readmissions programs work. His hospital is working to reduce acute care overall readmissions by 10 percent by the end of fiscal year 2013. "I think the secret sauce, if you will, is a very hearty IT system." Weiss went on to describe how they use technologies to anticipate risk and direct care to patients while still in the hospital, which ultimately reduces the risk of complications at home. Many other programs combine such an approach with effective follow up care by home health services such as follow up phone calls and nursing visits from home health organizations. 

While nearly half of hospitals have started some sort of program to reduce readmissions, they typically lack technology and staff to allow them to scale. That's where Ankota comes in, providing Care Coordination technology that assures productive transitions from hospital to home, and coordination of services among multiple providers. While the hospital, in many cases, will be the one to drive these programs (since they stand to suffer the penalties), they have to rely on "Ecosystems" of providers to coordinate care and carry out healthcare services according to plans that are known to improve patient outcomes.

To learn more about how Ankota helps providers better manage Care Transitions and coordinate care among providers, contact us using the button below

Learn More About How Ankota Technology Is Used to Manage Care Transitions

Topics: Readmissions, PCMH, Care Coordination, transitional care, Care Transitions, Avoidable Readmissions, Population Health

Hospital to Home Focus Reduces Readmissions

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 15, 2013 2:56:00 PM

NBC News Health Readmissions

Ankota develops technology that is used to coordinate care that is delivered outside of hospital settings, often in follow up to a hospitalization. The hospitals, ACOs, and home health agencies we talk to ask us to point them to evidence that these Care Transitions efforts really work. They don't doubt that it works - they simply need as much evidence as possible to help garner support in their own organizations. "Fuel to the fire," if you will

Manage Population Health Models with software from Ankota

In fact, the people we engage with are usually the champions for such causes in their organizations. They simply have to find as many examples as possible that illustrate that care following discharge lowers readmissions and improves patients' lives...measurably. Examples abound as these models are gaining more traction for a number of reasons. So, it is in this spirit of sharing, that I re-run this post from NBC News Health that discusses a model in North Carolina that reduced avoidable readmissions by 20%.

Managing Care Transitions from Hospital to home reduces readmissions, study finds

In the study, researchers found that implementing a statewide transitional care program for Medicaid patients in North Carolina netted a 20 percent reduction in rehospitalization during the following year.

"That finding is fairly consistent with what had been shown in other studies… We were hoping to achieve that big of a difference. The novelty was being able to achieve it on this scale," Dr. Annette DuBard, the study's lead author from Community Care of North Carolina in Raleigh, told Reuters Health. 

Care Transitions Technology from Ankota

Professoinals have long known intuitively that the most critical time for a patient is the first hours or days immediately following discharge. Their ability--or inability--to get prescriptions filled or access transportation to and from follow up visits makes them especially vulnerable. Sometimes the state of the home or lack of support from immediate family members also plays a role. More studies are addressing these issues to make sure that patients receive adequate and timely follow up care, and measuring results. Some use home care providers to assist with adapting to life back in the home. It's even been found that a home inspection can mitigate potentially dangerous situations such an area rug that might increase the patient's risk of falling.

Programs such as this one in North Carolina and many others are demonstrating that with focus on some of these issues, the rate at which patients are readmitted to the hospital can be measurably reduced. This study in North Carolina is especially interesting because it reflects a larger scale. Many have wondered whether some care transitions programs can scale across larger populations while maintaining the impressive reductions in readmissions that we've seen. Admittedly, most programs have been administered manually and have only begun to examine what is actually possible. Through better use of technologies like Ankota's, providers can manage much larger populations more cost effectively and measure success along the way.  

Contact us to learn more about how Ankota technology is used to organize and manage population health projects like this, and how post acute partners are being leveraged to deliver better care, more efficiently.


Manage Population Health Models with software from Ankota

Topics: Readmissions, Care Coordination, transitional care, Care Transitions, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions

CMS Moves to Protect Oxygen Delivery When Businesses Fail

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 2, 2013 8:30:00 AM

CMS Moves to Protect Oxygen Patients When Their Oxygen Provider Goes Out of Business.

CMS announced on August 22nd that a new provider can replace oxygen equipment and restart a 36-month rental period when another provider exits the business. When this happens, the agency will consider the original equipment lost. The rule went into effect immediately on August 22, 2013 and provides new opportunities for successful providers that remain in business, while simultaneously protecting patients.

HMEs Find Ways to Do More with Less - Click Here!

What should providers do when a local provider goes out of business? Understandably, CMS distinguishes this from those situations when a provider is sold or merged with another provider. HME News reports that CMS has not yet released information on how to prove abandonment but oxygen providers should expect that will follow soon. Providers exiting the business are obligated to facilitate the transfer of their patients or they are in violation of statutory and regulatory requirements. In short, the ideal way to handle it is to work with the provider that is exiting the business to facilitate a smooth transition for your business and for the patients. There are no instructions on what to do if patients have simply been abandoned, but one would expect that to be the exception and not the rule. 

HME Newswire logo

According to Wintergreen Research, the market for portable oxygen concentrators alone will reach $1.9 billion by 2019, even though reimbursements are down 30% because of competitive bidding. That is an incredible growth rate for an industry that generated just $249 million in revenue in 2012 and just experienced 30% cuts in reimbursement rates.

“CMS is hearing that oxygen patients are being abandoned,” said Kim Brummett in HME News, senior director of regulatory affairs for AAHomecare. “You’ve just got people closing their doors.”

HMEs Find Ways to Do More with Less - Click Here!

Oxygen therapy is an integral component of the healthcare industry. The rapid adoption of oxygen therapy devices is attributed to the rise in incidences of respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and increased awareness and diagnoses of respiratory ailments. The number of people suffering from respiratory diseases is on the rise all over the world, primarily because of the increasing health hazards of chemical pesticides and cigarette smoking. As oxygen equipement continues to get cheaper because of innovation and lower prices, demand for oxygen therapy equipment and Resipratory Therapy services will only grow.

Dr. Hunter Young, a physician at Johns Hopkins focused on population health and Chief Medical Officer of Ankota, explains, "There is an increased awareness in the medical community and respiratory diseases are getting much more attention, and are being diagnosed at much higher rates. The demand for oxygen and respiratory care services will certainly grow for the forseeable future."

"We're seeing a real disruption in the business of respiratory care,' says Ankota CEO Will Hicklen. Competitive bidding is bludgeoning prices and only the most efficient providers will survive. "The economics of respiratory therapy has changed dramatically," adds Hicklen. Respiratory care companies make up one of Ankota's fastest growing segments simply because competitive bidding is forcing them to reduce operating expenses immediately in order to remain profitable. Fortunately, there is a lot of room for improvement. 

The best way to do this is through automation that eliminates paper, eliminates redundant data entry by integrating with existing order entry and inventory systems, supports mobile delivery confirmation and point of care documentation, plans routes efficiently, and synchronizes data seamlessly with billing systems.  Most providers stand to cut operating expenses dramatically by following this proven path. 

HMEs Find Ways to Do More with Less - Click Here!

Topics: Oxygen, Respiratory Therapy, RT, Care Coordination, Will Hicklen, Dr. J. Hunter Young

Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 1, 2013 8:30:00 AM

describe the image

Ankota would like to invite all of our readers and customers to join us in wishing therapists everywhere a very Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

Take a look at this short video on the APTA web site, which explains National Physical Therapy Month and provides links and suggestions of things you can do to show your support. Not just for therapists, National Physical Therapy Month recognizes the contribution that therapists play for patients in traditional and newer models of care. Therapy is playing an ever increasing role in Avoidable Readmissions programs, Community Based Care, Accountable Care models, Care Transitions initiatives, and more.

Congratulations and thank you to all therapists! 


Learn How Ankota Helps Therapy Agencies

Topics: APTA, Physical Therapy, Care Coordination, Accountable Care Organizations, ACO

SNL Obamacare Skit Featuring Breaking Bad's "Jessie Pinkman"

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 30, 2013 11:56:00 AM

Well, if it's good enough for MedCity News to run, it's good enough for Ankota! With apologies for a couple of awkward moments, it's all in good fun...Hope you enjoyed the series finale last night as much as I did.

Respect the chemistry.


Topics: transitional care

Physical Therapy Virtual Conferences Provide CEUs

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 26, 2013 10:03:00 AM

Physical Therapy is important not only for Ankota, but for the future of healthcare overall. It is widely documented that physical, ocupational and speech therapies help patients recover from injuries and surgeries better, helps them maintain bettter fitness with fewer injuries as they age, and so on. The value is undispusted and the trend among payers is to utilize therapies earlier and more often. This is particularly true in programs that are intended to reduce avoidable readmissions, which often fall under models such as Care Transitions initiatives and Accountable Care models. 

Learn How Ankota Helps Therapy Agencies

The 44th McMillan Lecturer Roger M. Nelson Discusses value, entrepreneurship and more at the APTA annual conference.

Also, many readers of this blog and many of our customers are agencies that provide physical and occupational therap in homes and other residences such as assisted living facilities and SNFs. Each year, many therapists converge on the annual APTA conference, but each year many more are unable to attend. Fortunately for all, the APTA now archives many of the presentations and provides them on demand through a "virtual conference" on their web site. You can even earn CEUs through the virtual conference.

Why does Ankota focus so much on the physical therapy businesses? There are two simple reasons:

1) Most therapy agencies are very inefficient and can substantially improve profitability by using Ankota's technology. By documenting notes at the point of care using tablets, and automating tasks like scheduling, payroll, and billing, agencies can serve more  customers save several hundred dollars per therapist per month. This cost savings improves the bottom line immediately.

2) The second reason Ankota loves therapy is that it is in the heart of emerging care coordinationn models. Therapy agencies almost always get their business through professional referrals, from home health agencies, primary care physicians, and discharge planners. Increasingly, therapy agencies play important roles in Care Coordination programs and Care Transitions Initiatives. Because Care Coordination is at the heart of what we do, post acute poviders such as therapists that are in these models are especially attractive to Ankota.

Makes sense, right? Of course it does!

Learn How Ankota Helps Therapy Agencies


The 18th Maley Lecturer Kornelia Kulig, PT discusses the training & educating of future physical therapists and more

Learn more and enjoy the APTA virtual conferences by clicking here 

APTA logo

Topics: APTA, Physical Therapy, Care Coordination, Care Transitions, Physical Therapy software, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions, ACO

New Report Shows Population Health Management Reduces Risk and Costs

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 23, 2013 12:16:00 PM

HIN Network

Population Health Management Reduces Risk and Spend Across Care Continuum

You'll see below the very useful infographic from Healthcare Intelligence Network, which is exerpted from the 2012 Healthcare Benchmarks study on Population Health Management. You can download a free summary of the report below. You can also download or embed the infographic on your own web site using the same link.

The Healthcare Intelligence Network is a great source of healthcare business information online. Healthcare's rapid shift to more value-based models is increasingly driving more population-centric approaches to health care, and HIN does a good job reporting on it.

To control costs and improve results, healthcare organizations and employers are turning to population health management, defined in the report as "the management of integration and outcome measurements of any program affecting the health and productivity of a specific population or group." The population health management infographic is excerpted from this report titled 2012 Healthcare Benchmarks: Population Health Management.

Ankota provides technology solutions to help providers across the entire continuum -- Hospitals, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Primary Care Physicians and Post Acute Care Providers -- to better manage the health of populations who are at risk. Click on the blue button to see how we can help you better manage and scale care delivery.

Manage Population Health Models with software from Ankota

PHM Infographic




Manage Population Health Models with software from Ankota


Topics: Community Based Care, Care Coordination, Population Health

The Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, Even at Home

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 5, 2013 8:22:00 AM

Dr. Nancy Snyderman's interview with with Dr. Eric Topol, shown below, aired recently on NBC's 30 Rock. While focused around technology both remote monitoring and at the point of care, this interview illustrates a number of points about how changes in health care delivery models are accelerating. 

Dr. Topol is a renowned cardiologist and proponant of technology, and asserts that technologies such as those featured in this piece are already revolutionizing health care. Dr. Topol discusses real examples of remote technologies to dramatically improve care and reduce costs simultaneously. As more and more care moves from hospital settings to patients' homes, post acute providers of all types will be faced with the challenges -- and opportunities -- of integrating new technologies into the services they provde to improve both care and operating efficiency. 

"Medicine today is set up to be maximally imprecise."

"Medicine is about as wasteful as one can imagine."

Rest assured, providers, especially as they assume risk for outcomes and costs, are looking at technologies like these to help both patients and providers immediately. Providers like hospitals, Accountable Care Organizations, Care Transitions Initiatives, and the like are embracing these models rapidly. 

Manage Population Health Models with software from Ankota

Whether to avoid readmission penalties or to improve their own financial models, providers are keenly interested in new payment models that force both accountability for results and for care planning & delivery. Reform, essentially, has aligned financial incentives around patient outcomes and costs while making responsible those who are in a position to do something about it: the health care providers. It is under these reformed payment models that providers are able to make decisions to leverage technologies such as those in the interview with Dr. Topol or design new delivery models that make better use of staff and resources -- all while improving outcomes.

So what's changing? Providers are stepping up to assume accountability for care, for starters. They can design and coordinate delivery models now that make "best use" of resources for optimial results and optimal costs, all in the interests of patients. Under these new care delivery models, they use hospital resources only when absolutely necessary, leverage mobile and home based care models to follow up with patients after discharge, infuse antibiotics, provide physical therapy, and so on. Perhaps most important of all, they assign care coordinators that can cross all settings to better manage the patient's experience. The economics of assigning carae managers are compelling and will be the subject of future articles on the Ankota blog. 

Whether it's the technology that Dr. Topol discusses, or human resources like a case coordinator to manage care across all settings, we're seeing fundamental change. Under the guise of "health care reform," we're actually using payment reform to put more decision making authority in the hands of key providers. This allows providers to design new care delivery models that improve patients lives and are delivered more efficiently. They use best resources at the best time that create new efficiencies never before possible. The early data from these models is incredibly compelling -- patients are going to the hospital less frequently and are costing the system less. Even after accounting for the additional cost of new care coordination functions.

Coordinating care and leveraging technology. Hmm... Seems we're on to something here. 

Ankota's technology is used by health care providers of all types to organize into health care "Ecosystems" to better Plan, Coordinate and Deliver care (tm). To learn more about how Ankota's technology can help your organization operate more efficiently and create your own health care Ecosystem, click the button below. 

Ankota Care Coordination Technology Improves Care -- Click Here!

Topics: Care Coordination, transitional care, Care Transitions, Accountable Care Organizations, ACO

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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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