The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

Changing Private Duty Software Isn't As Hard as You Think!

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jun 11, 2013 11:32:00 AM

When we first started Ankota and launched our home care software for private duty home care agencies, we went to the trade show of the National Private Duty Agency (NPDA), which has since been renamed to the Home Care Association of America.  This organization caters to established agencies with employee caregivers and most had revenue over $2 million per year.

Home Care Association of America resized 600

People loved our software and it was a great reinforcement for what we were doing.  But when we asked if they'd be interested, we got the same answer a lot of times.  They said, "I like your software so much more than what we're using, but since it's up and running and we know how to use it, we just can't consider changing..."  

Changing Home Care Software is Not So Hard!

In the past three weeks, we helped two organizations go live with over 300 clients.  One was in Iowa and was acquiring an agency and started using Ankota for the first time.  The other is an Ankota customer in Canada that has been with us for a several years and is also acquiring a company that will result in them opening two new offices.  In both cases, the transition was quite easy.  

Here's the minimum you need to prepareso you'll be able to change to better software:

Information you Know, but should Compile:

  • Basic Agency Information: Like name, address, phone, fax
  • Billing/Payroll Approach and Rates: Do you price based on the services that you provide? With rates negotiated per client? With rates based on the referral source? etc.  Do you pay based on the type of service, based on rates set for each caregiver, based on negotiated rate with client, etc.?  Also, what are your bill and pay rates and special charging rules (holiday, overtime, times of day, etc.)
  • Service Types: What types of visits do you schedule (hourly, live-in, CNA vs. Companion, supervisory nursing visits, etc.)Home Care
  • Master Care Plan Checklist: What are all of the checklist items that you may put on checklists for your caregivers.  Note that it helps organize them if you categorize them.

Data to Prepare in Excel Spreadsheets:

  • Client information: such as Name, Address, Phones, Date of Birth Gender
  • Care Giver Information: Name, Address, Phones, Date of Birth, Gender
  • Payer Information: If most of your clients are billed directly this shouldn't be an issue, but if you have lots of family payers, programs that pay, long term care insurance, you should organize this information.
  • Scheduling Patterns: If you have 50 or less clients, it's probably easiest to enter the schedules in the application, but if you have many more, there might be a way for these to be uploaded.
  • Client Specific Care Plans: Which items are required for each client?
Advanced Data Conversion:
The information above represents the basics to convert and go live.  You can also convert client historical notes, caregiver historical notes, historical visits, and more.  
The most important question is WHY to switch...  This can (and will) be the topic of numerous other blog articles, but make sure that you have a good reason (like cutting down your admin time so you can spend more time on client service and sales, or upgrading so that you can connect electronically with family members and referral sources).
If you are interested in making a change, or understanding the effort in more detail, click on the button below and we'd be happy to help you.
Can we answer home care software questions?
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 or contact Ankota.

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, NPDA, Home Care Scheduling Software

Entrepreneurs Growing Private Duty Home Care

Posted by Will Hicklen on Mar 22, 2013 10:06:00 AM

Private Duty Homecare Need Will Rise



Home Care Well Positioned to support Accountable Care models and Reduce Avoidable Readmissions

Longtime readers of this blog may recognize the article below-- it remains today the single most popular post on this blog. The growth in new home care businesses continues while existing providers are experiencing tremendous growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that home care services will be one of the fastest growing jobs through 2020, and employment estimates from BLS and others range from 10% to as much as 20% annually. 

So is Private Duty Home Care a good business to be in? I'd say so. As compelling as the employment forecasts are, it does not begin to estimate the real size and scope of the problems that home care addresses. In this new era of Accountable Care, where major providers accept increasing risk and responsibility, the opportuity has never been greater for Home Care agencies to help better manage Care Transitions from hospital to home. This promises to be one of the greatest drivers of growth for home care over the next 10+ years. 

We're already in an unprecedented time of population aging, where soon 1 out of 6 people in the US will be over 65 years of age. It's also well known that the 65+ population will triple by 2030. Caring for seniors more proactively in their homes and in the community reduces hospital admissions, which is a key priority of Accountable Care models and reform. Readers are well aware of the readmissions penalties that hospitals already face and which are scheduled to increase significantly. Home Care is well positioned to be a key part of the solution.

Ankota's technology is used by home care agencies of all shapes and sizes to Plan, Coordinate, and Deliver Care. Contact Ankota for a free demonstration. 


Originally posted April 18, 2011

This post was provoked by a call from a family friend, Kelly, who is considering launching a business 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.

At Ankota, we have the good fortune to be able to meet and talk with many home care businesses. We definitely see trends in the market and have the opportunity to share some with you here on the Healthcare Delivery Management Blog. We're so confident about the growth in this market, we even offer FREE software to new startup agencies that qualify ( to learn more and see if your agency qualifies, or click here).

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.

Entrepreneur Magazine on Home Care Opportunities

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

The National Private Duty Home Care Association (NPDHCA) and the National Private Duty Association (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.

Private Duty Homecare Asoc NAHC



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 and we’ll be happy to repost it here on Ankota’s Healthcare Delivery Management Blog.

Additional Resources:

Accredidation & Certification

Care Plans, Assessments

Human Resources Supervision

Additional Links

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Starting a Home Care Business, Private Duty Homecare Association, Private Duty Agency Software, transitional care, Home Care Technology, Will Hicklen, Home Care, NPDA, Care Transitions, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions

Simple Steps to Getting Through Email

Posted by Will Hicklen on Nov 9, 2012 8:30:00 AM

Great news-- this is a simple one. One of the big complaints I hear from people is that they are overwhelmed by email. I know I am, and I hate that feeling when people ask, "Did you get my email?" When you have to say "no" and explain why you didn't, you risk marginalizing that person or their message that may actually be important to you. Health care, like most businesses, relies on relationships, so we only want to do things that support and improve relationships. 

email excuses

Whether you are among the post acute care providers that Ankota works with--private duty home care, physical therapy, infusion nursing, HME and DME--or the Hospitals and ACOs that we work with, this piece is quick and easy to use and may help you better manage your inbox. Please share it!

The author, Amy Levin-Epstein, has written for numerous publications including the New York Post, New York Times, AOL, and more. You can read more from Amy by clicking on her profile, below.

Amy Levin Epstein bio

(MoneyWatch) Although life is still not back to normal -- and many never be -- for many affected people by superstorm Sandy, many employees whose work was disrupted last week are getting back to business. Job one: Catching up on email. 

Whether or not you were "in the dark," like me, last week because of Sandy, you've probably experienced an email backlog at one time or another. Here's how to tackle an overloaded inbox, whatever the reason.

Skip around. Whatever system you use (for instance, targeting the most important or easiest to answer emails first), feel free to jump around. "The worst way to approach your email backlog is to go one by one in chronological order -- this approach is too fragmented, it often requires multiple scans through the emails, and you'll inevitably get nauseous, overwhelmed and miss critical emails. Plus it will take far too long," says Julie Morgenstern, author of "Time Management From the Inside Out." She suggests choosing meaningful, active categories, like "send product info" or "schedule meeting," or dividing emails based on who they're from or for ("clients" or "boss"). 

Create filters and flags. Depending on what email system you use, you can filter messages that are sent directly to you and only you (as opposed to your being copied) or highlight messages from certain people. "These filters help certain email stand out in your inbox," says time management consultant Peggy Duncan, author of "Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2007." "Separating these important messages will help you prioritize which messages to respond to." That way, you can set aside time to go through specific folders without switching gears. For example, for an entire hour you can focus exclusively on emails from your boss and for another hour, emails from clients.

Search for spam. These days, who isn't on at least a few (or a few dozen) mailing lists they don't need to be on? Whether it's newsletters, shopping ads or other types of junk mail, you can quickly consolidate these for increased efficiency. "Either delete them completely or set up a folder to place them into for a future time to wade through" after your inbox has been fully addressed, says efficiency expert Andrew Jensen. 

Keep your momentum going. Remember that your aim is to get your inbox under control, not resolve every single issue the messages present. Perfectionism can slow you down and even make you give up halfway through. "The goal here is not to finish all the tasks that have been assigned to you -- it's to process your inbox and eliminate the backlog so you can get back to work," says efficiency consultant Clay Hebert. 

Let people know the reason for a delay. This won't necessarily help you get through your tardy email responses faster, but it will ensure they are better received. "As you reply to emails that you have flagged from clients and fellow workers, apologize for the delay in getting back to them," Jensen says. For instance, "let them know that you were affected by the storm, but that you are striving to return to normalcy. This will help those with pushy and impatient tendencies to give you a little slack and be somewhat more understanding."

Topics: thought leadership, Home Care Technology, Will Hicklen, Home Care, NPDA, PDHCA, ACO, Managing Post Acute Care

Home Care Heroes of Hurricane Sandy

Posted by Will Hicklen on Nov 8, 2012 8:24:00 AM

Sandy damage

Previous Ankota articles such as Managing Home Care in a Storm and Post Acute Care Operations in a Storm focused on leveraging technology to better manage operations during emergencies like hurricanes and blizzards. All too often, storms like Sandy force home care operations "off the grid" and technology fails the business. The best stories and most inspiring stories, however, are about the human side of things and can only come out later. As with the following piece about the dedication of private duty home care aides working in the aftermath of Sandy in New York, they renew our spirit and remind us about what is special about those who work to take care of patients and clients in their homes.

If you have a story about an extraordinary home care worker, we'd love to hear about it. Contact us using one of the blue buttons below or contact to tell us about your Home Care Hero.

Please enjoy this story as I did, and if you think that your home care agency might benefit from new technology to better manage your home care operations, please contact Ankota by clicking on this button

  Contact Ankota

By Gail Sheehy, this piece ran in the Daily Beast. Gail Sheehy is the author of 15 bestselling books, including the revolutionaryPassages. Her most recent book is Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos Into Confidence 

Gail Sheehy profile

The real test of the army of caregivers for tens of thousands of seniors trapped at home when Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast began the day after the storm ended. Eloise Goldberg, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York supervisor for the Bronx and half of Long Island, stepped out of her home about 50 miles east of New York City on Tuesday morning, jumped into her car (her husband’s was crushed beneath an oak tree), and began to figure out how to get 11,000 home health aides and 3,500 clinicians to their patients. “We had been preparing our field staff for several days so they would have cellphone connections with their patients, but now we were up against massive flooding and blackouts and fires.”

On the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, where the Atlantic had cut through to join Jamaica Bay, nurses had begun to call Goldberg’s cell during the height of the storm on Monday. One nurse said she was wading in to reach trapped patients. She walked seven blocks through knee-high water to get to a group home and found medicines had been washed away. She would get prescriptions refilled and return, she promised. But by afternoon, downed wires sparked fires that eventually consumed 60 houses. By nightfall, more than 100 homes were destroyed. Many patients who had refused to evacuate were desperate to escape floodwaters that were climbing past the first floors. Each nurse on Goldberg’s Long Island team was reporting that they couldn’t find several patients. “The majority of our patients have been very calm through the hurricane,” Goldberg told me on Wednesday. “But if this continues—the blackouts, the lost power for communication, no water supply—I anticipate a very different reaction.”

Contact Ankota

“I’m providing essential emergency services,” she told police. She walked up 12 flights to administer the medicine and calm the patient, who, like tens of thousands of others, was sitting in the dark with no TV, no water or gas service, and (aside from a dying cellphone) completely cut off from the outside world.

With one half of the 1.1 million people on Long Island still without power as of Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the Long Island Power Authority, which at first vowed to restore service to 90 percent of its customers by Wednesday. Messina’s advice to distant families with loved ones in this situation is to call a home-care company to get a live-in aide for a week or two, until essential services are restored.

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Topics: Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Home Care Blog, Home Care Best Practices, Will Hicklen, Home Care, NPDA, PDHCA, Home Care Scheduling Software, Patient Centered Medical Home

Most Seniors' ER Visits Avoidable: Another Call for Home Care

Posted by Will Hicklen on Nov 1, 2012 2:19:00 PM

MEDPAC Reducing Readmissions

Further evidence of the opportunity for Home Care to reduce avoidable admissions:

60 percent of Medicare beneficiary visits to emergency rooms and

25 percent of their hospital admissions

...were avoidable had patients received better care at home or in outpatient settings

This is according to the newest MEDPAC report, downloadable using the link below. And, according to experienced Home Care executives..NOT AT ALL SURPRISING. 

Click me

MEDPAC Report on Reducing Admissions and ER Visits

KHN Avoidable Readmissions

Some interesting findings in the MEDPAC report, as reported by Kaiser Health News

1) The commission’s preliminary study found the most common diagnosis for preventable ER visits was upper respiratory infections. The most common diagnosis for preventable hospital admissions was congestive heart failure.

2) While not every ER admit can be avoided, the study showed wide variations across the country and among different cities. 

3) Hospitals that had lower occupancy rates had higher rates of admissions, and duel elegibles (with both Medicare and Medicaid coverage) had higher admission rates. 

4) Patients could avoid preventable ER visits and admissions to the hospital with better care at home and in outpatient settings.

Family doctors, home care, and family caregivers must work proactively to make sure that patients take their medications and receive the kind of care and support at home that keeps them out of hospital rooms and EDs. Many of the progams are taking on terms like Population Health or Geriatric Care Management. Regardless of the vernacular, the aim is consistent: to reduce the rate at which the elderly or chronically ill have to visit emergency roooms or be admitted to the hospital. Home Care is a central and vital part of the solution. 

This article ran in KHN on October 5th and sparked a healty discussion. Read the complete article here along with readers' comments.

If you are a home care agency that wants to improve operations with better automation and business processes, and become a leader in the mission to reduce hospital admissions among the elderly, contact Ankota for a free demonstration 

Click me

Topics: Geriatric Care Management, Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, Care Coordination, Aging in Place Technology, Home Care Technology, Will Hicklen, Home Care, NPDA, Avoidable Readmissions

4 Steps for Home Care to Reduce Readmissions

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 24, 2012 9:41:00 AM

Private Duty Home Care Industry, NPDA and PDHCA Must Measure Home Care's Impact in Reducing Avoidable Readmissions and Actively Promote Results NOW


Unless you just fell off the turnip truck, then you are keenly aware that reducing avoidable hospital readmissions is one of the primary concerns in healthcare today. Hospitals and ACOs face significant CMS penalties for higher rates of readmissions for certain diseases, which became effective last month and will quickly become more severe. Home Care is in a terrific position to be a low cost, highly efficient part of the solution -- but this opportunity will not remain open for long.

The statistics on avoidable readmissions warrant repeating: 

describe the image...All for reasons that CMS, private payors, and most providers acknowledge could have been avoided. Pilot after pilot shows that with planned, effective follow up, readmissions rates can be reduced by a third, a half or even more in some cases. Organizations that have made decisive efforts to provide patients with support and follow up after discharge are realizing these dramatic reductions in their rates of readmissions.

The common theme among them? They have a plan. And they follow it.  Call it the emergence of Accountable Care, call it Care Coordination or even a glorified version of "let's get this patient some help so they are not completely on their own."

Home Care is in a terrific position to fill a valuable role in reducing readmissions and has proven its worth repeatedly. Still, few outside of the home care industry seem to know it. Why is it that this is not being promoted more aggressively?

See related Ankota blog article here: Hospitals Looking to Home Care in Cutting Patient Readmssions

When Ankota is working with hospitals and ACOs we always ask them what types of organizations they envision coordinating within their ecosystem. They rarely mention non-medical home care on their own. Howewever, when we suggest they consider non-medical support services be coordinated in the home, the unanimously agree that home care is a great resource. Out of site out of mind. That's the issue.

Ecosystem: a collaboration of providers that cooperate to Plan, Coordinate and Deliver care. Care is increasingly being delivered outside of traditional hospital settings and requires that numerous providers coordinate in an integrated service model. 

A plan that coordinates both medical and non-medical services to support a patient after discharge has been proven to reduce readmissions, yet the Home Care industry does not do a good job of a) measuring its impact on readmissions and b) promoting itself as integral to the ecosystem that is responsible for successful results.

Even on the National Private Duty Association home page, there is no reference to the success that Home Care agencies are having in helping to reduce readmissions. Further, on the Private Duty Homecare Association web site there is no reference to the industry's role in this.  Neither organization appears to be a) engaging in pilots, b) measuring success, or c) actively promoting the industry to those who are in a position to make decisions that assures Home Care a strategic role. 

There is a limited window in which to act and Home Care is in danger of being left behind. As hospitals and ACOs drive forward, they are increasingly looking to post-acute services to help manage Care Transitions and proactively care for patients in the community. Primary Care Physicians and Home Health Care nursing are obvious partners, yet provide an incomplete picture. A complete ecosystem is required for comprehensive care. Those that provide specialty nursing such as infusion, or provide physical and occupational therapy, or deliver equipment (HME) and medications (pharmacy) are increasingly included. If Home Care waits for the leadership of others to drag them in, it will come too late and will be disintermediated. A progressive approach that initiates and sponsors pilot projects between Home Care and these other participants, guarantees to measure and publish results, and does so with complete professionalism and care will position Home Care as a vital participant in the ecosystem.

Steps that you and the industry must take now

Identify pilot Projects that require collaboration with other types of providers, have clear objectives

Coordinate care & share information with partners

Leverage technology for operational efficiency & care coordination

Measure performance & share results

Click me

Ankota's technology organizes providers into ecosystems to better Plan, Coordinate and Deliver care across the continuum. Ankota's technology coordinates hospitals and ACOs with post acute care, and optimizes post acute operations. Ankota's Private Duty Agency Software is the most comprehensive, easiest to learn and use system on the planet.

Topics: Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Coordination, transitional care, Will Hicklen, NPDA, PDHCA, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions, ACO, Managing Post Acute Care, Patient Centered Medical Home, ACO Technology

Oral Health Care a Huge Home Care Opportunity

Posted by Will Hicklen on Nov 16, 2011 12:13:00 PM

Daibetics and Oral Care resized 600

Elderly Oral care resized 600

You may have heard about the rapidly growing Home Care dentistry industry, with businesses such as our friends at PrevMed and The Homecare Dentist becoming vitally important to overall health and contributing to reductions in healthcare costs. There are reasons that businesses like these are growing and thriving, and emerging as a vital component of the healthcare continuum. If your Home Care agency is not coordinating with other services like this today, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve the lives of your clients. If you are part of a health system looking to improve the lives of patient populations and you are not considering oral health in your overall plan, you should consider integrating it into your plan now.

PrevMed Oral Care Assisted Living

First, consider the fact that oral health plays an indisputable role in overall systemic health. Regularly maintained oral health contributes to fewer ER visits and hospital admissions for the elderly, and  improves outcomes for those with the most prevalent chronic diseases:   

  • Five of the six most prevalent chronic diseases are linked to periodontal disease.
  • 89% of those 80 or older have advanced periodontal disease, according to the CDC.
  • Reduction in ER admissions: In the elderly, bacteria that originate in the mouth cause needless ER visits and hospital admissions, commonly costing tens of thousands of dollars per episode. Simple preventative care can eliminate many of these admissions.
  • Potential impact on chronic disease management: In diabetics of all ages, for example, a Cigna study showed that patients who received an initial treatment for gum disease with subsequent maintenance had lower overall healthcare costs than those who did not receive regular maintenance. Savings averaged 24% in the study, or $2483 per patient per year. Cigna is so convinced by the results that they now reimburse members with certain chronic conditions for out of pocket expenses incurred for their oral care.  Read more here PrevMed

What is the opportunity for Home Care? Simple: Medical and Non-Medical Home Care is increasingly becoming a Care Coordination business. Programs like Geriatric Care Management (GCM), Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and others require the services and coordination of multiple providers to deliver a comprehensive, well planned set of services that should result in improved outcomes and reduced overall costs. Clearly, oral care must be integrated into the overall care plan, particularly for the elderly and others who may have difficulty getting to the dentist on their own.

If you are not already, consider partnering with businesses in your area that provide oral care services like PrevMed (for clients living in facilities) and The Homecare Dentist (for home-based dental services). Particularly for Private Care agencies, there is a revenue opportunity for coordinating these services with your overall care. You'll be providing a more valuable service to your clients, who will be grateful for their improved health and dignity.

Ankota's Xchange Care Coordination Portal provides an excellent platform to coordinate Home Care and Dental services like those in this article. Ankota's Healthcare Delivery Management (HDM) technology also helps individual providers to reduce costs and grow their businesses more efficiently, including Home Health and Home Care, Physical Therapy, HME, Infusion, and more.

Topics: Marketing Home Care, Homecare Dentistry, Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Coordination, thought leadership, Checklists, Home Care, NPDA, PDHCA, Home Care Scheduling Software

Will Home Care Unionize?

Posted by Will Hicklen on Oct 27, 2011 1:50:00 PM

Seattle Times Home Care Unionization

I suppose that my education qualifies me as an economist, but a detailed analysis of the effects of unionization on home care, home health and related services such as HME, Infusion, and home Therapy will not be forthcoming here. What I would simply like to do is to make you aware of this if you are not already: There are very real efforts out there to unionize healthcare services of all kinds.  Home health care and home care is no exception.

Unionizing Home Care

The Seattle Times reported last week on Initiative 1163, which would increase training and continuing education requirements for targeted healthcare workers, and is being led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 775. Initiative 1163 is largely described as an initiative to improve the quality and welfare of long term care employees, but often overlooked is the fact that it includes those who work in private homes, boarding homes and assisted living facilities.

Regardless of whether you think unions are valuable, obsolete, or inherently good or evil is irrelevant. If you don’t think that unions are paying attention to healthcare, think again. Consider why unions are targeting healthcare and home care:

Bureau of Labor Health Care Employment

  • Union Membership Fell to a 70 Year Low last Year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just 11.9% of Americans are now in unions, and now for the first time in over a century, more than half of them work for the government.  More than 20% of the workforce was in unions just 30 years ago. See related article in The New York Times. Naturally, the decline in traditionally unionized sectors such as manufacturing and construction contribute significantly to these declines.
  • Healthcare remains the largest and fastest growing employment sector, with a majority of that growth happening in ambulatory health care services. Non-medical home care is not even imputed in this statistic, grossly understating the real employment number. Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics report Oct 7, 2011.
  • The one bright spot for unions seems to be healthcare, where membership is actually growing. Fewer Healthcare and home care workers in particular are unionized compared with non-healthcare industries. With many millions of workers in the fastest growing employment sector not unionized, the sector represents a huge growth opportunity for unions.  Fierce Healthcare
  • Segments targeted by Initiative 1163 are among the lowest skilled and lowest paid workers in the healthcare continuum, making them excellent candidates for union membership. As is the case in Washington, unions can point to areas where legislation and ensuing union membership has increased pay dramatically for these workers. In Washington State, after initiative 775, home care wages increased 18%+ and union membership soared from 1500 to more than 40,000 workers, according to the Seattle Times.

Still not convinced that unions are serious about home care? The local 775 of the SEIU spent $2.6 million on Initiative 1163 over the last four years, including more than $1 million on signature gathering alone. This was a business decision to invest in employment segment that will likely provide significant returns for them in growing membership.

Note that I am not taking sides—I’ve simply presented facts to prove that unions are likely to become a new and increasing factor in the areas of healthcare and home care that we serve. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will increasingly have to consider this in developing their Care Coordination models, as well.

The fact is that the business that Ankota’s customers are in is already under significant duress, with threats from payment reform, availability of labor, rising costs, and more.  Unions are entering the mix at an increasing rate and must be accounted for.  Like any disruption, this will present business risks and opportunities.

What do you think? Would unionization ultimately help or hurt your business? Would it help or hurt overall employement in our industry?

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Home Care Industry, Home Care Best Practices, Health Care Reform, Care Coordination, thought leadership, Home Care Technology, Home Care, NPDA, PDHCA, Leadership, NAHC

Home Care SEO: Making Home Care Web Sites Better

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 28, 2011 9:58:00 AM

There is much too much to cover in SEO concepts to do so effectively in a single post, so we’ll provide a series of articles to make it easy. Provide your email address in the form to the right to be notified when new articles are posted and you’ll be able to double or triple the traffic on your site in only a couple of months!

Home Care SEO

Perhaps you read Home Care Blogging, an earlier post on the Ankota blog that talked about why home care businesses should blog and how easy it is to get started. Today’s piece introduces readers to another key piece of your complete Home Care marketing strategy called “Search Engine Optimization,” or SEO.  SEO is important for one reason: make your web site more attractive to the search engines so they will drive more visitors to your site. More visitors = More customers. Simple, right?


SEO for Home Care


Keep in mind that, while we use the term search engine, SEO is about making your site more attractive to the people who count: your customers. Search engines simply help your customers find content on the internet that most closely matches the things your customers indicate to the search engines that they want.

There are some simple guidelines you can follow and techniques you can use on your site that will make a dramatic difference right away. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! follow common practices for searching and evaluating web content and account for the vast majority of searches. If you make it easy for them to find and evaluate you consistently in terms that they understand and that your customers use, you’ll do great. It is not uncommon to double and triple the traffic on your web site in just a few months, and double it again within a few months after that.

Relating Search Results & the Customer’s Search Experience

Paid Search vs Organic Search results: Paid search is what pops up in the shaded area at the top when you Google something. I searched “Home Care Maryland” and you can see the results below. Distinctive Home Care  is the lone result in the Paid Search responses at the top, which means that they pay Google each time someone clicks on their ad.  If you have money to spend on this, you can appear in the paid search results.


Home Care SEO Maryland


Organic Search: If you apply some common practices yourself, you can appear at or near the top of the organic search results and it won’t cost you a dime.  It so happens that there is a company called “Home Care Maryland” – I had no idea when I used that term, but that is a brilliant name. Gone are the days of “AAAAAAAAAAAA Home Care,” because people do not search the phone book alphabetically any more. The next result presents our friends at Maxim, followed by Family & Nursing Care.

It is not surprising that Maxim appeared near the top: Maxim has locations all over the place, including Towson, Maryland, where Ankota is headquartered. They are a nationwide company with plenty of resources and should have an effective web site that ranks highly. Family & Nursing Care is located in Silver Spring, which is not at all close to me, so I would dismiss that right away. Home Care Maryland, however, appeared first in the list and made certain things clear to me immediately when I landed on their page.  When I go to both pages I see the following:

Home Care Maryland logoA simple page that tells me what they do (home care) and where they do it (near me) and immediately presents me with an easy way to contact them (simple form on the landing page).

In a matter of seconds, they appeared first in my search and I decided that they can probably help me with what I need. In a situation where I might feel some anxiety about hiring home care for an aging parent, Home Care Maryland made it very simple. They already have an advantage.

Maxim logoMaxim ranked #2 in the results, but landed me on a “corporate page.” I’m not wild about the fact that the first thing I see talks about medical staffing, but there is an obvious graphic on the right that reads HOME CARE, and if I click on that I am directed to a clean, well designed page entitled “Maxim Home Care Services.” I can see on that page that Maxim provides the types of services that I need.

If I’m a prospective customer of yours and I'm looking for care for my elderly mother, I’m now calling Home Care Maryland and Maxim. Not you. And not the dozens of others that appeared in the Google map above but not in the search results.

You can change that through SEO. We'll teach you how through the Ankota Blog.

This was intended to be a simple albeit partial introduction to SEO, starting with your customer's search experience. Remember to provide your email address in the right column of this page and you will be notified as we continue to develop an SEO strategy for your home care business.  

Topics: Recommended Reading, Starting a Home Care Business, Marketing Home Care, Blogging, Elderly Care, Private Duty Agency Software, Will Hicklen, Home Care, NPDA, PDHCA, Home Care Blogs

Home Care Blogging

Posted by Will Hicklen on Sep 26, 2011 8:27:00 AM

Home Care Blogs

Blogging might be the easiest, fastest and most powerful marketing tool that Private Duty Home Care Agencies have at their disposal…and which most Home Care agencies do not leverage. Today’s post to Ankota’s Healthcare Delivery Management blog will show you why blogging is a critical element to a complete Home Care Marketing strategy.

Blogging provides rapid, measurable returns, and costs you almost nothing. It provides a voice and personality to your brand and an opportunity to establish credibility with every post. It is actually quite easy, and here is why you should do it now…

Consider this, companies that blog experience:

55% more visitors to their web sites

97% more inbound links

434% more indexed pages


…And More Leads!


click below to read "6 Reasons Every Business Should be Blogging..."  from our friends at Hubspot

Hubspot Inbound Internet Marketing Blog resized 600


More visitors is good, right? That’s pretty simple.

Inbound links are where other companies provide links to your site from theirs. They essentially say, “Here is something of interest from a credible source that we have checked out and think you might want to see.” They do this not to promote your business, but to share some content on your site they think will be valuable to their readers. It’s like a referral.

Search engines actually evaluate your web pages and grade them using a process called “Indexing.” The higher they grade your site, the more likely it is to show up near the top in search results when your customers look for a company like yours. Hint: each blog post = an indexed page. The indexing results help engines like Google make decisions where you appear in their search results. As the number of indexed pages grows, your number of visitors and converted leads grows… exponentially. The more you blog, the more valuable it becomes.

Essentially, blogging makes your web site more attractive to search engines and in turn drives more people—more potential customers—to your site. When they read your blog they learn something about you: your opinions, your insight into their problems or opportunities, and your level of credibility. No other part of your web site can do this with the objectivity and ability to generate “trust” that your blog can.

Topics: Starting a Home Care Business, Marketing Home Care, Blogging, Home Care Industry, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, NPDA, PDHCA, Leadership, Home Care Blogs

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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 or contact Ankota.

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