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Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

Health Care Spending and the Opportunity for Home Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jan 5, 2015 7:39:00 PM

It is said that "a picture paints a thousand words" and the picture below is a great one.  The story it tells for home care is profound (but I'll keep this to a couple hundred words).



 Let's start with the story that this tells in general:

  • 5% of the population accounts for half of health care spending
  • If you add the next 5% you're at 75% 
  • When you add the next 40% (those with chronic illnesses who are not it the top 10%, you're up to 97%
  • The health half of the population (the healthy people) spend very little

What Does This Mean for Home Care?

 Let's face it, home care is not the first thing that people think of when they think about the health care system, but I think that's good news because there's lots of potential for home care to go beyond ongoing personal care and 60-day episodes of home health.  Home care can play a bigger role in two key ways, as follows:

  1. Chronic Care Management Services: Here's the deal...  Physicians are starting to be incentivized (and penalized) for their performance with respect to their chronic patients, but there's a reimbursement associated with it.  The reimbursement is for patients with two or more chronic conditions in a practice with a certified EMR (Electronic Medical Record) system.  The reimbursement has two levels.  The first level, reimbursed at $42/month, requires a 20 minute check-in (e.g., on the phone) with the patient.  The second, reimbursed at almost $100, requires telehealth. Home care agencies can put a program in place where your best aides are paid $10 for a 20 minute check-in call.  If you charge $32 for this service (leaving a $10 margin for the referring practice) and allocate some of the revenue to your staff nurses and for software, you can provide a great service  and make a reasonable margin.
  2. Care Transitions Services: You can provide services to help transition patients from hospital to home.  Most hospitals are now being penalized for excessive readmissions (see our recent article Kaiser Shares That 2,610 Hospitals will be FIned $428MM for Readmissions).  These hospitals can use your help and there are many benefits to your agency.  We have a new white paper (click below) to teach you about the numerous benefits that your home care agency can achieve.

At Ankota, we love providing home care software, telephony, care plans, scheduling, billing, payroll and all the other basics, but we really love that we can enable your agency to play a broader role in the future oh health care.  We can make a difference together.  Please download our newest free white paper "Why Care Transitions is the Next Big Thing for the Home Care Industry."



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 Ankota.


Topics: Home Care Blog, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, Aging in Place Technology, Care Transitions

Care Transitions Program Delivers $3.30 for every $1 spent

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 11, 2014 11:40:00 AM

Geisinger Health System, located smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania, has been a leader in the new paradigm of "managed care."  In this model, the health plan is both the care provider and the payer, and rather than getting paid per service, they manage to a fixed budget.  This encourages them to find ways to provide better care at lower cost.  This is the intention of healthcare reform, and institutions like Geisinger, Kaiser and Mayo have been ahead of the curve in this regard. Geisinger_Health_System-1

I came across an interesting article in Mobile Health News that talks about the results of a care transitions program that Geisinger instituted.  Over a 4 year period and a population of 541 patients, their Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) program reduced readmissions by 44% and saved $3.30 for every dollar spent.

Why Does a Hospital Cost Reduction Program Matter to a Home Care Agency?


As the health system transitions to the managed care model, there will be more and more motivation to provide better care at lower cost, and the most expensive cost in the health care system is hospitalization.  So hospitals will want to spend money to avoid hospitalizations, and in order to do so, they'll need to target their most expensive patients and take efforts to keep them at home.  Who's the best at delivering low-cost-care to keep people at home?  Of course, it's home care.


A Recipe for Adding a Hospitalization Avoidance Component to you Home Care Agency

Here are some recommended steps:

  1. Learn about the readmission penalties imposed on hospitals and the OIG ruling that empowers home care agencies to help by watching this video
  2. Learn more about providing a compliant care transitions program by downloading the free white paper at this link.
  3. Take action...  You'll need some planning, some training, some marketing and some software.  When it comes to the software, be sure to Contact Ankota

For another story about Geisinger (and to learn whey I like them so much even though they're in central Pennsylvania and I'm in Boston) read this previous blog article


Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care.

To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.  


Topics: Health Care Reform, Home Care, Care Transitions, Avoidable Readmissions, hospital cost reduction

Care Transitions Must-Read: Raising the Bar for Elderly Care At Home

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 13, 2014 5:27:00 PM

I generally read fifteen to twenty articles about advancements in elderly care each week, then I choose the two that I believe will be most interesting to the Ankota blog audience (mostly home health and home care professionals interested in care transitions).  Knowing that not all readers will have time to read the full articles, I summarize certain articles while trying to answer three questions: WHAT?  SO WHAT?  And, NOW WHAT? 

Every now and again though, I come across an article that I feel is a "must read" in its entirety...and that’s the case with today.  The article, featured in the OP-ED section of US NEWS and WORLD REPORT and written by IBM’s Director of Product Strategy, Social Program Management, Ronan Rooney paints a clear picture of home based care as the optimal choice for the elderly.  Please read and enjoy!

US News and World Report

Raising the Bar For Elderly Care at Home

As the country's elderly population increases, health care providers face new challenges.

Thanks to decades of advancements in medicine, humans have a longer life expectancy than ever before. Consider that the oldest living person today – Misawo Okawa at 116 years old – was not expected to see her 45th birthday whenElderly Care Raise the Bar US News she was born in 1898. While super-centenarians like Okawa are rare, people in the United States can expect to live an average of 78.7 years, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – good news to be sure, but it also presents new challenges in how we provide care to the elderly.

Nursing homes and assisted living centers still serve an important role; however, they meet the needs of just a small subset of the world’s aging population. Increasingly, the elderly are opting to be cared for at home, preferring their own surroundings instead of outside environments. This is sparking a renewed debate on the merits and challenges of home care versus third-party care. Many believe home care is the optimal choice, as it can be tailored to individual circumstances such as family support, social connections, physical space and access to programs and services.

Each aspect of an individual’s living situation and care requirements should determine the delivery model based on a strong understanding of the strengths, barriers and needs of the unique individual. A more holistic approach to elderly care facilitates coordinated, proactive and preventive measures in which those being cared for are regularly monitored for adherence to prescribed medications, physical therapy or dietary restrictions. With the right home care protocols, people are more likely to take an active role managing their own treatment plans for better health, rather than just react to situations that may arise. This can help keep them healthy at home while reducing costly hospital trips.

With home care, multiple agencies must collaborate to ensure that they have a complete profile of each individual. For the first time, technology is enabling team-based care coordination for aging populations in their homes. As organizations look for better ways to meet public needs, big data and advanced analytics have emerged as a way for care providers to drive better outcomes for their elderly patients. In tandem with improved information sharing among care providers and hospital-quality in-home monitoring systems, the elderly and their families can feel more secure in their home care decisions.

For example, the Region of Southern Denmark recently shifted to a standardized platform for monitoring patients so that physicians, pharmacists and specialists can provide holistic care based on unique individual needs. This connected platform enables more effective data analysis across the care continuum and betterIBM Healthcare Strategy patient status tracking as the individual transitions from the hospital to the home. Aided by a more thorough understanding of the care the patient has received, providers can better ensure that individuals are receiving the most effective treatment and taking appropriate measures to ensure wellness at home.

When opting for home care, one common concern is that in the event of an emergency, a loved one will be unable to call for help. Part of developing a home care plan is to mitigate these concerns without hindering the sense of independence. This delicate balance is achievable through the use of non-invasive sensors to collect data and identify abnormalities in patient behavior. If an anomaly is detected – for example, no movement in the resident’s house or deviations from the resident’s usual schedule – the system can alert social services, nurses or other emergency contacts. The sensors serve a preventive function as they can detect abnormalities early on, and are also a means of providing the comfort and independence many elderly people desire without sacrificing safety.

These technologies are also in use in other segments of our society, including pediatric care. Boston Children’s Hospital, for example, just launched a new cloud-based solution called Open Pediatrics, which allows thousands of physicians across 80 countries and six continents to connect, collaborate and share knowledge about treatment options for critically ill children the world over. Similar social learning platforms can be employed for elderly populations, including those geared toward home environments.

With the world’s demographics continuing to change, how we provide care for aging populations has become an important issue. As elderly patients increasingly opt for home care, something that was viewed as a dangerous option only a few years ago, technological advances will continue to play a key role driving better treatment options and care coordination across providers. As population demographics continue to shift, so too should the methods of elderly care, helping people live with dignity in their own homes.


white paper describing care transition readmission avoidance opportunity     home care best practices

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Elderly Care, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, thought leadership, transitional care, home monitoring

NPR is Singing from the Care Transitions Hymnal: Beth-Israel Boston

Posted by Ken Accardi on Apr 8, 2014 2:49:00 PM

When I'm in the car, I generally flip the radio between WEEI (Boston sports talk and "The Red Sox Radio Network") and WBUR (Boston's NPR station).  I love listeningBIDMC to a lot of the stories on NPR though I generally find their stories to be pretty far removed from my life and my work.  Some of their stories seem pretty obscure and I wonder how they come up with them, but I'm sure that each story is relevant and special to someone, just like this one is to me.

In a nutshell, the Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), a top-notch teaching hospital, was one of the over 2,000 hospitals fined for having high rates of readmissions (total fines topped $200 Million).  BIDMC put an initiative in place called the Post Acute Care Transitions (PACT) program.  You can listen to the story by clicking the player below, or read the full article here.

So far, the PACT program has reduced readmissions by 25%.  Beyond the data the story presents, NPR did a nice job showing the perspective of family members and how they felt about their mom's care.

Another angle that the story focuses on is how readmissions are not a reflection on the quality of care inside the hospital (which at BIDMC is excellent) but is instead related to managing the care transition after discharge.  This is something that home health agencies are ideally suited to address.  Ankota has created a 2-minute video the presents the opportunity for managing care transitions.  We also offer a free white paper on the business opportunity offered by starting a care transitions program.  I hope that these will be valuable to your home care agency and to the hospitals in your area.

Care Transitions Video      Care Transitions 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 Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.


Topics: Readmissions, Health Care Reform, Care Transitions

Inappropriate Home Health Referrals and Billing Lead to Convictions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 27, 2014 11:53:00 AM

At Ankota, we believe that home care should play a vital and increasing role in health care reform.  Keeping elderly and fragile patients out of the hospital andHome Health Software in their homes can greatly reduce health care costs and improve outcomes.  But home health is under constant pressure because of decreasing reimbursement and somewhat of a negative perception by lawmakers.  The below article from attorney Elizabeth Hogue explains why.  Hopefully the few bad apples will continue to be proscecuted to clear the good name of the industry.

Inappropriate Actions by Medical Director Result in Convictions for Fraud

by Elizabeth Hogue

A Medicare-certified home health agency had a Medical Director.  Among other activities, the Medical Director signed certifications and recertifications for hundreds of patients of the Agency.  Many of these patients did not qualify for services under the Medicare home health benefit because they:

  • Were not confined to their homes.
  • Did not need skilled nursing services, physical therapyHome Care Fraud Jail or speech therapy on an intermittent basis, or occupational therapy on a continuing basis; and
  • Were not under the care of physicians who established plans of care for home health services.

Prior to initial certification of eligibility, the Medical Director documented that he or other qualified health care providers had face-to-face encounters with patients that showed that the patients were homebound and in need of home health services. 

Despite these requirements, the Medical Director certified hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries for home health services provided by the Agency without conducting face-to-face encounters with these patients.  Most of the patients were not referred to the Agency by their primary care physicians or other physicians who examined them.  Instead, the Medical Director often signed certifications after spending minimal amounts of time reviewing patient assessment forms that were 

Elizabeth Hogue home health attorney

prepared by Agency nurses, and/or participating in brief discussions about patients with Agency nurses or the Agency's Clinical Director. 

If the Medical Director had reviewed the patients' records more closely, he would have discovered information that showed that many of the patients were not homebound because, for example, they worked, took vacations, and spent substantial amounts of time outside of their homes.  Patients' records also showed that many patients did not request home health services and/or were not provided with skilled nursing services.

In addition, the Medical Director billed Medicare Part B for both the certifications and subsequent recertifications that he provided.

The Medicare Program paid the Agency over $1,000,000 for the services certified by the Medical Director, even though patients did not have face-to-face encounters that met applicable requirements.  In addition, the Medical Director received approximately $30,000 for certifications and recertifications. 

Based upon the above, the Medical Director, the owner of the Agency and the Clinical Director of the Agency were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 11 counts of health care fraud, among other charges. According to th

Health Care Reform

e indictment, the owner and the Clinical Director of the Agency conspired to fraudulently induce the Medicare Program to pay for home health services that most Medicare patients did not need or want. They trained field nurses to recruit Medicare beneficiaries who lived in residential facilities by asking if they were insured by Medicare and, if so, if they would like a nurse to visit them in their homes. 

The indictment also alleges that the owner and Clinical Director trained nurses to manipulate patients' initial OASIS assessments to make it appear that patients qualified for home health services even though this was usually not the case.  The Medical Director then signed certifications and plans of care that certified that patients were homebound and in need of skilled services when they were often neither homebound, nor in need of such services. 

There are many lessons for agencies in this case, including that Medical Directors cannot sign certifications and plans of care unless they are the patients' primary physician and responsible for the continuing care of patients.  In addition, this case illustrates that members of the management teams of agencies, including Clinical Directors and others, will be held responsible for fraudulent conduct that occurs on  their "watch."

©2014 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq.  All rights reserved.

It's a shame that the few abusers out there are hurting the industry.  Our response has been to create products to help home health agencies expand their business.  We provide software for managing care transitions and for adding an ongoing home care (non-medical / private duty) to a home health practice.   Two free white papers are offerered below:


white paper describing care transition readmission avoidance opportunity     home care best practices

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, Health Care Reform, Home Healthcare Delivery Management

US Health Care not measuring up on Life Expectancy and Cost

Posted by Ken Accardi on Mar 5, 2014 4:12:00 PM

Below is a very interesting, yet quite sad, infographic about US Life Expectancy verusHealthcare Information Network health care costs.  The infographic comes from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (tm) (www.hin.com), which is a site that regularly produces outstanding and intesting content.  The original article, entitled InfoGraphic: The Failure of US Healthcare Spending, was written by Jackie Lyons and posted on March 5th, 2013.

THe bottom line is that despite spending more than any other country on health care, that US life expectancy doesn't even rank in the top 50.  A portion of the Infographic is shown below.  Please click on it to see the full graphic.

US Health Care failure in Life Expectancy versus Cost

Here at Ankota, we're trying to do our part to increase life expectancy and reduce health care costs by helping care providers who focus on avoiding hospitalizations.  Our software helps companies manage transitions of care to avoid readmissions after a hospitalization, and also helps manage home care (to enable elderly people to remain living in the comfort of their own homes.  The benefits are profound because avoided hospitalizations reduce cost and improve outcomes and quality of life. 

Click on the images below for informative free white papers on readmission avoidance and highly effective home care.

Care Transitions Free White Paper      Highly Effective Home 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 Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Health Care Reform, thought leadership, Home Care Blogs

A Silver Lining for HME Providers per Dave Cormack, Brightree Chief

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 5, 2013 10:00:00 AM

Brightree is a leading provider of software for DME (Durable Medical Equipment) Providers.  Their software manages orders, billing, inventory management, and fulfillment for retail and home delivery DME companies and they have been a market share leader for the past several years.

Just like the home health industry, the DME industry has become subject to reduced reimbursement and related pressures under a measure called competitive bidding.  While this would generally be construed as bad news, Dave Cormack, the president of Brightree, has published an article discribing the "silver lining" for DME providers.

Brightree CEO Ankota Blog

I strongly encourage you to read the full article on the Brightree site by clicking here, but the key points are as follows:

  • Dave explained that the number of successful DME providers is declining
  • But at the same time, the demand is growing
  • As a result of decreasing competition and increasing demand, the opportunity for the surviving companies is bright
  • This is the "Silver Lining"
  • The key to survival is efficiency
The following diagram is the proverbial "picture that paints 1,000 words."
HME Delivery Silver Lining
Why is this on the Ankota Blog?

First of all, the consolidation and demographic growth factors being seen in the DME space is analogous to the Home Health market and it creates some food for thought in home care.

But secondly, in addition to the software Ankota provides for care transitions, home care, and home health therapy, we have a product for optimizing the delivery of home medical equipment.  The software is complementary to the Brightree software and other players in that market including Mediware, TIMS (from Computers Unlimited) and CPR+.  Ankota's software optimizes the assignment and routing of of delivery tickets that come out of these systems and tracks the actual deliveries with GPS or other means.

Ankota agrees with Dave Cormack's main message that the survivors will be those who are most cost efficient, and Ankota can help.  To learn more about Ankota's DME Delievery Software, please contact Ankota.

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

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Today Ankota services home health therapy, private duty care, DME Delivery, and care coordination in accountable care organizations, behavioral health, dental care in nursing homes, and more. Ankota is always interested to learn about care coordination challenges where we can help. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.


Topics: HME Delivery Operations, HME Delivery Software, Elderly Care, Health Care Reform, HME, DME

Are Avoidable Readmissions Improving Already?

Posted by Will Hicklen on May 13, 2013 9:57:00 AM

NY Times Sunday Review logo

An interesting opinion piece titled "Report Card on Healthcare Reform" appeared in the Sunday Review of the NY Times in March, written by the Editorial Board. The answer to the title of this post, "Are Avoidable Readmission Improving Already?" may, in fact, be "Yes." There is early evidence of success that is discussed in the NYT article and that I'll share below.

I'll skip the opening political commentary in the piece because, frankly, it's old news. That ship has sailed, both sides of the aisle in Washington agree that it has sailed, and health care providers of all types are already moving on to reform their businesses for this new era of healthcare. The new era is one that is focused on the triple aim, which seeks to 

Triple Aim of Health Care

  • Improve the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction);
  • Improve the health of populations; and
  • Reduce the per capita cost of health care.

The IHI Triple Aim is a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement that describes an approach to optimizing health system performance. IHI’s imperitive directs that new models be developed to simultaneously pursue the three primary elements listed above, which are commonly referred to as the “Triple Aim.” Read more about the Tiple Aim by visiting the IHI web page or clicking on the IHI image above.

It should be noted that Accountable Care models, Population Health and Care Transition intiatives, Avoidable Readmissions programs, along with many other approaches, all seek to incorporate "best practices" approaches to healthcare with this Triple Aim in mind. 

With that in mind, and with the first stage of Readmission penalities enacted in 2012 --already a whopping 1% of TOTAL Medicare reimbursements if a hospital fails to meet new readmissions standards on certain patients--hospitals have are already focusing intensely on mitigating these costly readmissions. 

So has there already been improvement? Early data suggests that, yes, just the very existence of the first round of penalties is already improving focus and quality. 

"One of the most promising aspects of the health reform act is its focus on improving quality," says the NYT. "The percentage of Medicare patients requiring readmission to the hospital within 30 days of discharge dropped from an average of 19 percent over the past five years to 17.8 percent in the last half of 2012, an improvement due in large part to penalties imposed by Medicare for poor performance and financial incentives paid by Medicare to providers to encourage better coordination of care after a patient leaves the hospital."

Continuing, "A number of pilot programs in Medicare and Medicaid have been started to reward quality, to encourage doctors and hospitals to coordinate care, and to lower costs. If enough of these experiments pan out, they could transform not only Medicare but the entire health care system."

Even as we speak, Congress appears to be planning to both increase and accelerate the penalties, a "doubling down" on reducing costs and improving outcomes. With early programs demonstrating success and ever increasing penalties for poor quality and readmission rates, providers are under severe mandate to take care of patients better after they are discharged, and provide care in the community that assures fewer need to be hospitalizeed in the first place. 

Ankota's technology is used by providers of all sorts to Plan, Coordinate, and Deliver that care.


Ankota Care Coordination Technology Improves Care -- Click Here!


Topics: Community Based Care, Readmissions, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, transitional care, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions, ACO

Philips Healthcare Address to the HME Industry

Posted by Will Hicklen on Mar 5, 2013 12:44:00 PM

"We will need to find ways to do more with less."

Phillips Health Care Letter to the HME Industry

Philips Respironics

Philips Healthcare: "Along with you, we are disappointed by the recent CMS Competitive Bidding Round 2 Reimbursement Cuts announcement."

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

March 5, 2013

Dear Homecare Provider:

Along with you, we are disappointed by the recent CMS Competitive Bidding Round 2 Reimbursement Cuts announcement. Knowing the provision of many life-saving homecare products and services is so critical to the success and even to the survival of providers like you, we are also disappointed by the extent of those cuts and the lack of transparency demonstrated throughout Round 2 of the Competitive Bidding process. At this crucial time, we remain committed to working as your ally to find viable solutions for these changing times. We will continue our efforts to drive innovative solutions and to provide added value opportunities for you and your business, while also continuing our efforts in Washington to influence policy in a way that will benefit all in the long term.

Faced with this unfortunate development, the number one priority for all of us must be to preserve the integrity of patient care. We will need to find ways to do more with less. Fortunately, ongoing collaboration with you has enabled us to introduce meaningful technologies and programs that may help reduce some of the sting. Tools like EncoreAnywhere were developed with input from providers like you and quickly became an invaluable resource to care teams who need efficient, remote access to vital patient information.

Today, patients are now able to manage more of their own care through feedback, troubleshooting and motivation with the use of SleepMapper, a new-to-the-industry innovation that was, again, inspired by our customers. Ideas such as the innovative Fit for Life program which offers resupply services with the purchase of a mask were developed for the changing industry model and are there to encourage long-term patient compliance, and to help you deliver practical ongoing care with less strain on your resources. REMstar Pro with Auto-Trial/CPAP-Check can provide efficient patient management as it helps to optimize pressure settings for home sleep testing patients, while providing them the long-term benefits of fixed pressure. Homecare provider focused retail programs and merchandising tools help to expand your offerings into new solutions beyond managed care. And our robust education and Partner Programs will be further bolstered to help you stay informed and stay a step ahead. 

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

We approach our pledge to homecare providers like you with more resolve than ever. We will continue to lead the drive toward healthier patients, healthier practices and healthier businesses. And you can be sure we will be working even more closely with you to improve the likelihood of ongoing success. In the coming weeks and months, our team will be reaching out to you regularly to discuss your needs and present specific, real-world solutions that can help you immediately and set the stage for your future success.

The Competitive Bidding Round 2 Reimbursement Cuts is just the latest evidence that our industry is changing. Undoubtedly, we will face countless new challenges on our journey ahead. But through a concerted and collaborative effort, we will find optimal solutions and emerge stronger. Those who are open minded, willing to adapt and able to make the transition will be the ones who will ultimately realize success. As your allies, all of us at Philips Respironics are committed to help you make that transition.

We look forward to working with you through this latest challenge. In the interim, we want to hear from you. Share your thoughts and ideas by contacting us at sleep.respiratory@philips.com.



Brent Shafer
Philips Home Healthcare Solutions
John Frank
Sr. VP/GM, Sleep and Respiratory Care
Philips Home Healthcare Solutions
Tel: 724-387-5200
Fax: 724-387-5010


Topics: HME Delivery Operations, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, HME, DME, Will Hicklen, Accountable Care Organizations, telehealth

Pharmacists and Hospitals Partner to Reduce Readmissions

Posted by Will Hicklen on Feb 20, 2013 9:18:00 AM

describe the image

The following NPR story hits right at the heart of the avoidable readmissions problem our country faces, which is widely accepted as a cost and quality problem. As this broadcast discusses, hospitals are partnering with Pharmacists to suppport patients and reduce readmissions after discharge, a problem that amounts to a $17 BILLION cost for CMS, the largest payor of health care services in the country. Ankota's technology is used to connect providers and allow them to coordinate care to reduce readmissions and lower overall health care costs. Readmissions has emerged as a central issue in the era of healthcare reform and accountable care, and Ankota is leading the way with technology to enable care delivery models to solve these problems. 

The complete broadcast is available for download or to listen to by clicking below

NPR listenAbout 1 in 5 Medicare patients who leave the hospital come back within 30 days. Those return trips cost U.S. taxpayers a lot of money — more than $17 billion a year.

In October, the federal government started cracking down on hospitals, penalizing them if too many of their patients bounce back.

Learn How Ankota Technology Reduces Readmissions

That has some hospitals going to the corner drugstore for help managing the care of patients like Dorothy Irene Tucker. She is a cheerful 73-year-old who's about to be discharged fromWashington Adventist Hospital just outside of Washington, D.C.

She says they don't let you sleep much in the hospital. "To draw the blood, they would come in, like, twice before morning," Tucker says.

It's pretty common for patients to leave the hospital sleep-deprived. Many haven't been eating regularly, and lots of them are still coming to terms with whatever event landed them in the hospital in the first place.

It's also common for people in this bewildered state to be handed a bunch of prescriptions upon discharge. Tucker takes pride in being able to manage all the different drugs she takes. But it's a long list, and even she isn't sure exactly what she's supposed to be taking once she gets home.

"I was on a lot of medications — it was, I think, all together 23 bottles. Twenty-three bottles! So they might cut me back when I go home," she says.

Patients like Tucker could use some help keeping all those drugs coordinated, and so could the hospital. So Washington Adventist is matching her up with a local pharmacist from Walgreens, the drugstore chain.

That's a new service run by Walgreens to connect patients with pharmacists who act as coaches.

Dr. Jeffrey Kang, a vice president at Walgreens, describes the new role as "our grandfather's Walgreens on steroids." Walgreens is now contracting with hospitals to eliminate conflicting prescriptions on discharge, and then the pharmacy will check back with patients to make sure they understand all their medications and take them properly when they get home.

It's a new expense for hospitals, but it can make sense. If too many patients return to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged, Medicare cuts their payments. Health care researcher Dr. Jane Brock, of the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care in Englewood, says medication errors can be a big factor in whether a patient lands back in the hospital.

Learn How Ankota Technology Reduces Readmissions

"We know that people who have medication discrepancies, or are not adhering to what the health care team thought they were adhering to, have at least double the risk of becoming a readmission," she says.

Washington Adventist Hospital's Dr. Randall Wagner says his hospital was one of the first to contract with Walgreens this way.

Wagner says he's happy with the results so far. It's harder for hospitals to monitor discharged patient medications on their own than it might sound, and a lot easier to just plug in to an experienced pharmacy.

"The infrastructure of doing these callback programs is not merely that there's a telephone and someone who can dial it," Wagner explains. "It involves creating a database, creating a group of people who can call, and if the patient doesn't answer the phone, there's someone else who can call back. There's a handoff of information between the inpatient side and the outpatient side."

Research shows that having a pharmacist follow up with recently discharged patients reduces the likelihood that they'll get worse at home and have to come back.

Dorothy Tucker returned home with three fewer medications to keep track of than when she was admitted. She says she looks forward to working with the pharmacy so she can learn her new regimen.

This story is part of a partnership between NPR, Colorado Public Radio and Kaiser Health News.


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Topics: Readmissions, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, transitional care, Avoidable Readmissions

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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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