The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

Home Care Leadership Styles: Simon Cowell or Chef Ramsay?

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 12, 2014 12:16:00 PM

 Do you lead your home care organization like Simon Cowell or Chef Ramsay?

True confession, I watch reality TV...  I'm really into music and cooking and I've watched my share of shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice" on the music side, and shows like "Hell's Kitchen" on the cooking side.  Both of these shows have (or in the case of "American Idol," had in the past) judges with similar characteristics.  Both  Simon Cowell (music mogul formerly with "American Idol") and Chef Gordon Ramsay (chef and host of "Hell's Kitchen") are good looking and articulate British men who are know for raising their voice and giving harsh negative feedback for poor performances.

But there's a big difference...  Simply stated, Chef Ramsay can cook, but Simon Cowell can't sing.

Simon_Cowell_and_Chef_Ramsay_Ankota_Blog

On Gordon Ramsay's shows, there are often challenges for the chefs to prepare a fantastic dish in a short amount of time, and perhaps working with something they haven't worked with before.  One recent example comes to mind in which the contestants were given a fresh salmon - the entire fish - and they had to filet it into perfect portions and then prepare their dish.  Gordon Ramsay accomplishes the task on television with ease and never breaks a sweat or lets a hair get out of place.  When he tastes a dish and it's not quite right, he can tell you precisely what ingredients were in it, where the ratios were wrong and what was wrong with the cooking technique, down to the point of identifying exactly how much more or less time the dish should have cooked.

By contrast, Simon just tells you what he didn't like.  Don't get me wrong, he's generally right in his assessment, and back in the early days of "American Idol" he was the only one of the three judges with useful criticism (the other judges were Paula Abdul, the attractive Laker-girl who had a short-lived career as a pop start in the '80s who would generally say something nice, and Randy Jackson, who played bass for the band Journey, who tended to give general feedback of only a few words).  To be fair, Simon is also a very successful man who was earning north of $50 Million a year in his prime, so there's no question that he's bright.  It's just a question for me about how he led.

How Does This Affect Your Home Care Leadership?

Simon_Cowell_and_Chef_Ramsay_Ankota_Blog

Not a lot of home care leaders come up through the caregiver ranks.  On the home health side, a good number of owners are nurses, but on the home care side not so much...  In any event, when you lead your organization, I'd highly recommend that you lead more like Chef Ramsay and less like Simon Cowell.  You should be willing to roll up your sleeves and lead by example.  I have a lot of respect for Chef Ramsay and if he were to criticize me, I'd know that it would be constructive and that I could learn from it.

I've found often that successful home care/ home health leaders and by extension successful agencies, exhibit this type of leadership style.  If you would like to learn more about ways to improve your Home Care business, you can download a free white paper from Ankota called:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Private Duty Home Care Agencies, you can download it for free by clicking the photo link below: 

7_habits_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: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care

5 Key Strategies for Winning in Home Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 8, 2014 11:23:52 AM

Hats off to Stephen Tweed, CSP and CEO of Leading Home Care, for an outstanding article he wrote recently called “The Art of Winning…in Home Care”.  The inspiration for this terrific article came from a discussion Stephen had with Dennis Connor, 3-time winner of the America's Cup and author of "The Art of Winning: America's Most Successful Competitor Shows How To Motivate-And Win-In Business And In Life!”

 Stephen and Dennis teamed up to present 5 key strategies for winning in home care. Here they are for you:

Ankota_winning_pic
  1. Attitude – It all starts when you commit yourself to winning.
  2. Performance – Associating with the best people, seeking incremental improvement, and tracking progress systematically are critical.
  3. Teamwork – Look for hunger and commitment in your teammates. Find people who can break the “good enough” barrier.
  4. Competition – Competition is one of the best sources of self-improvement.
  5. Goals – A strict deadline is almost as important as the goal itself.

If you're interested in learning more about Stephen and Dennis' list, you can read the full article here.

What about you?  What are you doing to apply “The Art of Winning” to your business?  Are there some key strategies that you'd add to the list?

If you would like to learn more about ways to improve your Home Care business, you can download a free white paper from Ankota called:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Private Duty Home Care Agencies by clicking the photo link below: 

7_habits_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: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Private Duty Home Care Blogs, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care

Home Care can Disrupt Healthcare with Care Transition Services

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 5, 2014 11:20:34 AM

Harvard professor Clayton Christensen literally wrote the book on disruptive technology.  In his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma; Christensen described disruptive innovation as innovation that unexpectedly creates a new market or value network and eventually disrupts an existingClayton_Christensen market and value network, displacing an earlier technology.

A classic example of disruptive innovation is in the computer industry.  In my lifetime, we moved from $2 million dollar mainframes (e.g., IBM), to $200,000 minicomputers (Sun Microsystems), to $2,000 personal computers (Dell) and then to $200 smartphones (Apple, Samsung).  You’ll notice that the dominant companies in the computer industry changed at each step along the way and part of the reason is that successful players in a market are generally not motivated to create a new technology that can replace their current success at a 10th of the cost.

Disrupting Healthcare

A similar phenomenon can occur in health care.  Today the predominant way that elderly individuals indicate their need for a hospitalization is by showing up in the emergency room.  Costs of emergency room visits vary widely but most studies show the average cost to be around $2,000.  Based on the computer industry example, perhaps there’s a way to make that determination for $200?  Also, hospitalizations in the case of the elderly are often more complicated and expensive and become the trigger event for an individual to become one of the 5% of the US population that accounts for 45% of all health care costs.  So if there was a way to predict and avoid the hospitalization, the value (as measured in patient quality of life, better health outcomes, and reduced costs) can be huge.  If for example the person moves from home and community based care to institutional long term care in a nursing home, their average cost of care in general will increase by $1,600 per month.  (Milligan C in Innovations in Integrated Care: New Opportunities to Better Serve Dual Eligibles.  February 23, 2011. Hilltop Institute)

Christensen has a lot to say about this.  He had enough, in fact, to write a sequelThe_innovators_prescription which was his 2009 Book The Innovator’s Prescription.   In this book he uses examples from other industries to forecast how health care can be reformed to provide better care at lower costs.  There are many concepts discussed in the book, but one in particular is the concept of decentralization.  At Better Health Boston, a one-day event for healthcare industry stakeholders hosted by McKesson Corporation, Christensen explained “In a typical hospital, overheads account for 85 to 90 percent of total costs because of the complexity of offering a ‘one size fits none’ offering.”  He went on to explain that diagnostic functions, surgery and acute care, and chronic disease management require three fundamentally different business models and ideally should be separated.    He also talks about how many of the services traditionally provided in hospitals today can be performed better and less expensively at the home.

Can Home Care Predict Hospitalizations?

Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky, president of the company Care at Hand is seeking to disrupt the process of detecting the need for a hospitalization.   Ostrovsky has developed an evidence based methodology for analyzing patterns in care plan results reported by home health aides in order to predict and avoid hospital admissions.  In private duty home care, most of us are already collecting care plan results each time we visit clients.  Within this data lies the information needed to significantly decrease hospital admissions.  In a study involving 561 discharged patients in the second half of 2013, readmissions were decreased by 39.6% resulting in $370,721 in savings and a 257% return on the technology investment.Care-at-Hand-logo-1  Details of this study are published by HIMSS in the article (Case Study: Decreasing Costs and Improving Outcomes Through Community-Based Care Transitions and Care Coordination Technology) (http://www.himss.org/ResourceLibrary/genResourceDetailPDF.aspx?ItemNumber=28301).   Ostrovsky is making arrangements to offer his technology through arrangements with home care software and telephony providers.

But My Private Duty Agency isn’t part of the Health Care Ecosystem?

When the minicomputer companies were trying to displace mainframes, and when the personal computer companies were trying to displace minicomputers, they were in a similar position to where private duty home care is today.  But, there were two differences:

  1. They knew that they wanted to become the next generation technology in their market, and
  2. They built their markets by providing their technology to companies who couldn’t afford the alternative.

Home care’s role in health care transformation is different and more challenging.  There is no “new market” because all of the patients (our clients) exist today.  Also, we’re not trying to put hospitals out of business.  Instead, we’re interested in working with them on tasks where we can save the health care system money and increase satisfaction for our clients. 

Becoming part of the health care ecosystem will be challenging, and there are some obstacles that you’ll need to overcome...but there are also rewards in the form of growth and an opportunity to develop aides to higher levels of practice.  The obstacles will be tough.  Just like the mainframe companies who ignored the minicomputer and PC manufacturers, the hospitals don’t view you as likely partners and it will be tough to break in…

Playbook for Becoming Part of the Disruptive Transformation:

The great news about private duty home care companies is that you know how to compete and sell.  Despite the obstacles, hospitals have needs that you can fill.  Here are some of the concepts to incorporate into your sales strategy:

  • Understand the readmission penalties that hospitals are facing and the opportunity for home care agencies to help.  There’s a two minute video at www.ankota.com/care-transitions tocare_transitions_video-1 get you started.
  • Realize that in some ways, private duty agencies may be a better fit than home health to partner with hospitals on avoiding readmissions.  Many hospitals now have teams of nurses who focus on readmissions and high-risk patients.  But they don’t have people who can easily visit their homes and provide transportation to primary care and follow-up appointments.  This is a need that you can fill.
  • Additionally, care transition services do require some nursing skills related to medications and management of red-flags, but a lot of the work is in educating and empowering patients to advocate for themselves.  High performing aides and social workers are well suited to be trained in these skills
  • Realize that there is a big upside.  First of all, care transition patients become great candidates for ongoing home care services.  Second, hospitals will potentially view the rates you charge for services as being highly affordable
  • Make sure that your technology is ready.  Look into incorporating the Care at Hand technology described above.  Also, make sure that your home care software can accept referrals electronically and share care results with other players in the health care ecosystem.  If your software only does scheduling, you can be left out
  • You’ll need to commit to this opportunity and be persistent.  Don’t give up too easily.  There will be a lot of resistance at first.

The agencies that embrace and lead in these new opportunities will grow and thrive!

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: Private Duty Agency Software, Care Transitions, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions

Identifying Risk Factors for Hospital Readmissions in Stroke Patients

Posted by Jed Hammel on Jul 29, 2014 8:54:29 PM

Recently, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center undertook a retrospective case-control study to identify at the time of discharge the factors that are associated with readmission in patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. A detailed review of their findings can be found here, but we’d like to share a few of the highlights…imgres

Investigators found that readmitted patients were significantly more likely to have a prior diagnosis of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, cancer or absence of hyperlipidemia, elevated lipid (fat) levels in the blood.  In addition, readmitted patients were more likely to have been hospitalized two or more times during the year prior to the initial stroke admission.

“These findings suggest that stroke severity and number of hospitalizations within the year prior to the stroke admission are important predictors of subsequent readmission within 30 days, independent of other clinical factors, “ said Cheryl Bushnell, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist and director of its Comprehensive Stroke Center.

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Why does this matter? Hospital readmission, an important measure of quality care, costs the United States an estimated $17 billion each year. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), about half of those readmissionscould be avoided. Even more importantly, avoiding hospital readmission is really what is best for our patients.

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.

 

 

Care Transition Program Differentiates Home Care Company

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 24, 2014 9:41:29 PM

One key to successful growth in a home care business is to differentiate.   We share other success factors in our free white paper, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Home Care Agencies.  In this blog, we often share success stories explaining how successful home care organizations differentiate their service.  Today we talk about how you can differentiate by offering a care transition service.

Care Transitions Program Differentiates Home Care Company

But rather than making a case for this on my own, allow me to share a success story from the Florida based home health care company,  Paradise Home Health Care with offices in Palm Beach and Broward County.  Paradise offers a program called Transitions to Home Care with the following services:

  • Licensed Nurse meets with discharge planner/social worker and receivesParidise_Home_Care orders on day of discharge
  • Licensed Nurse will transport client home and do a safety check
  • Orders for new RX's are dropped off and picked up by Licensed Nurse
  • Licensed Nurse disposes of old or discontinued medications eliminating confusion
  • Education of new and existing medication by the Licensed Nurse
  • Medication set up weekly pill box by Licensed Nurse to prevent miss doses or overdose
  • Refrigerator checked for expired food

Here's a case study from Paradise showing how their program benefited their client, family members, and their own company (who secured a home care engagement beyond the transition service):

Mrs. S is 92 years old living in Boynton Beach, Florida. She has some degree of memory impairment. She fell and fractured her hip. Prior to discharge from Rehab her son, a pilot and daughter in law, also a professional came in from Maryland to help Mrs. S. home. The discharge planner at Cornel Rehab Hospital knew about our “Transition to Home Program” and recommended Paradise Home Health Care to the family.
 
The son and his wife decided to use the program, so a licensed nurse met them at the Rehab and reviewed the medications and discharge plan with the Social Worker.
 
The son picked up the new medications while Mrs. S, her daughter in law and the nurse met back at the house. Our nurse proceeded to clear out expired medications from the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, again review the new medications, reconcile the new with the current prescriptions and once the son returned, did a medication  pour into the weekly pill container. She also made a follow up appointment with Mrs. S.’s primary care doctor.
 
The following day, the daughter in law phoned to say “she didn’t have the words to express how grateful she and her husband are that they went with the Transition Home Program because even though she and her husband are intelligent people, they found the information overwhelming”. Then when they got to the house, they were surprised at how disoriented Mrs. S was. She had been away from home for about two weeks. They became so concerned about that, whatever they were told at the hospital was just a blur, and they forgot all the discharge information.
 
The nurse handled all of the medical concerns and went over again the medications, what to expect from Medicare home health and answered their questions.
 
They then hired a live in caregiver to stay with Mrs. S for the short term because they realized she was unsafe on her own. She still has live in care.
 
There was no unnecessary re-hospitalization, the family had a level of comfort knowing the medications were properly handled and they turned their attention and time to reorienting Mrs. S. back into her home and routine.

Paridise_Home_Care_Mission

Paradise describes the benefits of their Transitions to Home program, as follows:

  • Reduces or eliminates readmissions to the hospital or emergency room
  • Medication compliance through education and management
  • Reinforces the recommended care plan through education of client and caregiver
  • Ensures a safe discharge home which is comforting for family members in or out of state
  • Ensures follow-up appointments are made with respective physicians
  • Helps alleviate the client's anxiety of returning home.

If I needed care for my mom, I would choose Paradise as a result of this differentiated service.

Ankota provides software for home care and care transitions, and they work together seamlessly.  We'd love to help you make your home care organization more efficient and help you to differentiate via care transitions.

Check out the following additional posts for home care entrepreneurs:

 

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 Entrepreneurship, Elderly Care, Care Transitions, Avoidable Readmissions

8 Apps That Can Reduce Readmissions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 22, 2014 11:18:15 AM

We came across an article entitled 6 Apps That Can Reduce Readmissions and decided to do you two better.  There's a great deal of interest and development in the "readmissions avoidance" space and many different approaches.  Ours is focused on care providers like home health agencies or departments on aging.  We'll tell you more about it below, but let's first look at other approaches to care transition apps.

8 Apps That Can Reduce Readmissions

Here are the 6 from the article at www.healthitoutcomes.com:

  • Propeller Health’tracks inhaler use for COPD andhealth_care_mobile_apps Athsma patients
  • SeamlessMD has a mobile app for tracking temperature and pain (two potiential signs of surgery complications)
  • GetWellNetwork brings disease specific information to many patient locations
  • CareAtHand is especially cool and we know the founder, Dr. Andre Ostrovsky.  His app tracks home health aide data to predict potential admissions.
  • Vocera Care Experience puts patient care plans into audio and video
  • HealthPatch MD tracks vital signs and detects falls

We'd encourage you to read the full article to learn more about these apps.

Two Bonus Apps That Can Reduce Readmissions

While we weren't chosen by the author of the original article, we've got two more readmission apps to recommend:

  • iGetBetter: offers a patient centric application for adhering to a care plan.  There are two key differentiators for iGetBetter: 1) They have a care plan configurator that makes them flexible enough to handle many disease states (so you can use iGetBetter to provide the functionality of the 1st, second and last apps listed above, and maybe even the third), and 2) They have a staff physician, Dr. David Lebudzinski, who can configure the care plans for you.
  • Ankota (that's us by the way) enables post acute providers to manage care transitions.  You can watch our video for a two minute overview. In a nutshell, the functionality is as follows:
    • Accepts electronic referrals including portable electronic health records (EHR)
    • Gives referral sources visibility into their referred patients in a HIPAA compliant way (e.g., the referring hospital can see their referred patients, but nobody elses).
    • Enables intake personnel to easily accept the referral, match a care provider, and schedule the care transition episode
    • Includes clinical notes based on evidence based best practice (you can use the out-of-the-box notes or customize them).
    • Clinical documentation can be filled in on a tablet (like iPad or Android) and does NOT require Internet access at the point of care
    • Tracks avoided readmissions (by patient, referral source and primary diagnosis)
    • Includes billing and payroll calculations

Sometimes in demos we get the feedback that "your app is great, but it's not what we're looking for," if Ankota is not what you need, perhaps one of the other 7 in this article can help you.

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, Home Care Mobile Solutions, Care Transitions, Avoidable Readmissions, mHealth, health care app

8 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Avoidable Readmissions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 17, 2014 10:59:28 AM

Hospital profit margins are increasingly at risk, and as the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program continues to expand under the Affordable Care Act, hospital administrators are really feeling the heat. In a terrific article in Becker’s Hospital Review, eight strategies to reduce readmissions are highlighted:

 1.) Manage care transitions effectively. Did you know that the number one cause of medical errors in the U.S. is the poor transition of clinical care? Not only do these errors harm patients, but they also account for $25-40 billion each year in excess care costs.

  • I_Heart_Accountability_T-ShirtAccountability.  When all care transitions include medical records that meet certain minimum standards, accountability is greatly enhanced.
  • Care Coordination and Family Involvement. Care coordination best occurs via a provider who serves as the “hub” of care.
  • Communication. Timely communication during changes in health status is one of the many keys to managing care transitions.
  • Adherence to National Standards. Care quality is markedly improved when standards of continuous quality measurement and improvement are put in place.
 2.) Employ IT effectively, including clinical decision support. During any hospital admission, use of clinical practice guidelines is known to improve clinical outcome.

 3.) Stratify readmission risk for each patient. How various patient factors like multiple chronic conditions, poor patient education prior to discharge or the presence of adverse drug effects related to certain high-risk medications must be considered in the readmission risk profile for each patient.

 4.) Employ a transition coach or discharge advocate. The importance of the role a transition care coach cannot be emphasized enough in contributing to the success of a readmission prevention program.

  1. 5.) Consider using telemedicine, especially for the sickest patients. Telemetric monitoring is an attractive strategy to alert physicians of changing health status.

 6.) Affiliate with a patient-centered medical home. Research suggests that patient-centered medical homes can decrease the cost of providing care to groups of patients by as much as five percent.

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 7.) Educate patients about readmission risk. Standardized discharge instructions for the highest risk categories are routinely available and effective.

8.) Devise a formal plan to communicate a final checklist before discharge.  A clear and comprehensive care transition plan can greatly reduce any confusion the patient may have about his or her continued treatment plan.

These eight guidelines for preventing avoidable hospital readmissions present great opportunities for hospitals, doctors and care transition agencies to alter existing care structures in ways that have minimum impacts to the system and at the same time provide maximum positive impact for the patients.

To learn more about running a care transitions program and about Ankota's care transition software, press the button below:

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 Entrepreneurship, Readmissions, Home Care, Avoidable Readmissions, ACO, ACO Technology, improving healthcare

A 4 Step Recipe for Home Care to Advance the Triple Aim

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 15, 2014 10:45:50 AM

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI - www.ihi.org) has developed a framework for improving healthcare called the Triple Aim.  The framework defines the need toTriple_Aim_-_IHI simultaneously focus on the following three measures when driving improvements:

  • Improving the Patient Experience of Care,
  • Improving the Health of Populations, and
  • Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare

Implementing the Triple Aim in Home Care

I believe that Home Care can play a central role in helping the health care system achieve the trple aim, by following this recipe:

  1. Measure your readmission rates by disease state and establish your agency as a leader in reducing readmissions
  2. Use your success in step 1 to partner with hospitals in providing a Readmission Reduction program.  This should target 30 day readmission rates for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Pneumonia, Heart Attack (Acute Myocardial Infarction), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) and Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA).  This will put you ahead of the curve in reducing readmissions.  Note that Ankota offers software for managing care transitions.
  3. Partner with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to provide ongoing care services to avoid admissions for their most expensive patients.  Do this in two stages, as follows: First focus on the most expensive patients, the 5% of the population that accounts for 50% of healthcare costs.  By having a nurse case manager check in regularly with the patient via telehealth and phone calls, admissions can be avoided.
  4. Next, encourage the ACO to continuously examine their patient population through data mining to identify patients likely to present in the expensive five percent.  For these patients, conduct a health screening visit to identify those patients who could benefit from your ongoing care program.

By following this recipe you will help achieve the triple aim as follows:

  • Hospital admissions (the most expensive form of care) will be reduced, thus lowering the cost of care
  • By keeping patients out of the hospital and communicating with them regularly, you'll increase their quality of care (and quality of life)
  • By focusing on the most medically vulnerable population and those most likely to present in that population, you'll be improving the health of populations

To Learn more about IHI including a video with examples of organiztion implementing the triple aim, click on the image below:

IHI_Triple_Aim

To learn more about running a care transitions program and about Ankota's care transition software, press the button below:

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 Entrepreneurship, Readmissions, Accountable Care Organizations, Avoidable Readmissions, ACO, ACO Technology, Triple Aim

4 Ways to Prevent Hospital Readmissions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 12, 2014 12:27:22 PM

Avoiding hospital readmissions is a good thing for a lot of reasons.  First, readmissions are costing Medicare $26 Billion per year.  Second, hospitals are being penalized for excessive readmissions (in 2013 $288 Million in fines were levied and in 2014, $227 Million in fines will be levied).  Third and most importantly, quality of life is much better outside of the hospital than within.

4 Ways to Prevent a Hospital Readmission

There are numerous ways to prevent a readmission.  Today, we'll look at 4:

  1. Subscribe the patient in a Readmission Avoidance Program: There are proven best-practices for avoiding readmissions, including evidence-based programs.  Theseankota_logo_no_tag[5] programs engage a care transitions coach (often a nurse or social worker) to follow a set of steps that can avoid a readmission.  The steps include monitoring medication adherence, ensuring a follow-up appointment with a primary care physician, educating the patients on the red flags that can cause a readmission and other similar practices.  Services are available from hospitals, home health agencies and area departments on aging.  Note that Ankota provides software to avoid readmissions and we'd encourage you to learn more at http://ankota.com/care-transitions
  2. Put the patient on a Congestive Heart Failure care plan.  Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) occurs when fluids pool in the body and put stress on the heart. iGetBetter_Logo CHF is the number 1 cause of readmissions.  A CHF care plan reminds a patient to take their meds, get some exercise and east health, but most importantly it gets a patient weight daily and informs a care team when there is sudden or excessive gain.  A program like this can replace a $3,000 hospitalization with a phone call to increase a diuretic prescription.  One company that has a great software program for this is iGetBetter (http://igetbetter.com).
  3. Focus on the main causes of readmissions: According to this article at www.mcknights.com, Sepsis (aka Septicimia) and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are leading causes of readmissions.  Sepsis results from bacterial infections and may be avoided by propoer wound care.  UTIs might be worth checking for and treating proactively as part of a care transitions program.
  4. Avoid admissions in the first place: Doctor Andrey OstrovskiCare-at-Hand-logo, founder of www.careathand.com has developed an evidence based technology for monitoring home care data (e.g., from home health aides) and using it to predict patients at risk of a hospitalization.

How are You Reducing Readmissions:

If you're not doing anything to avoid readmissions, you need to start...  Take a hard look at the ideas above.   If you are doing something great and would be willing to share, let us know!

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, Care Transitions, Avoidable Readmissions

5 Cutting-Edge Aging in Place Technologies for Seniors and Retirees

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 9, 2014 11:37:21 AM

Today we're taking a break from our typical topics of care transitions and home care to bring you a guest blog from Chicago-based freelance blogger and writer Beth Kelly.  Beth's bio is below.

5 Cutting-Edge Home Automation Options for Seniors and Retirees  

by Beth Kelly

The most rapidly growing demographic in the United States today is that of seniors and retirees. As the “baby boomers” age and begin to place their health in the hands of family members and caretakers, many companies are looking to improve the devices used in their care. Living out their golden years in their own home, without sacrificing health and safety, is at the forefront of many boomer’s concerns. The ability to "age in place," with dignity, and remain in the comfortable, familiar surroundings of their own home, is a luxury that should be afforded to all.

 

Rapid advances in technology have made aging in place a viable and affordable option for many families. Even professional home care service providers note that, if applicable, a system for monitoring and assisting an elderly patient is one of the best first-steps towards increasing a loved one’s level of care. Read on to learn more about latest innovations in home technology- you might find an option that fits your family’s needs.

 

  1. GPS Systems- Wearable GPS systems, which allow for real-time monitoring and tracking of the individual wearing the device, secure easily on the wrist and look similar to a watch. There are also stand alone handheld, waterproof GPS devices intended for use by seniors. These are ideal for those in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's.  GPS shoes have recently arrived on the market, and are capable of guiding their wearer to any destination on the globe. By employing a GPS system, caregivers can keep track of elderly patients without needing to monitor them 24 hours a day.
  2. Medication-Dispensing Devices - Medication-dispensing devicesMedication_Dispenser are convenient for elderly folks who have trouble remembering their proper dosages or when to take certain pills. A machine contains the medication, sorted into cups, that should be taken each day. An alarm sounds when the medicine should be administered by the patient or their caregiver.  If the button on the machine is not pushed after ninety minutes of reminder alarms, then a message text is sent to a designated recipient.
  3. Home Alert Systems - Home security and management companies like Vivint, ADT, Honeywell offer monitoring services that provide a wealth of valuable features enhancing the safety of a senior living at home. They’re available in a variety of wearable forms, such as pendants and bracelets that seniors can wear on their person to provide 24-hour instant access to emergency services. Not only will these devices contact medical services in the event of an emergency, but many can do double (or even triple!) duty by acting as security systems, smoke detectors and/or carbon monoxide detectors- one example is Google’s famous Nest. Some of these services are even available for those that don't have a phone line.
  4. Hands-Free Controls - If memory and mobility issues are a problem, voice controls and speech recognition modules can act as solutions. Thanks to the development of software able to intelligently differentiate and act upon spoken keywords and commands, hardware devices can beam an infrared signal to any device that's normally controlled by an ordinary remote control. The result is intimate control of televisions, consumer electronics, Blu-Ray players, and other frequently used electronics. The VoiceIR Environmental Voice Controller is an example of this technology, which provides users with hands-free dominion over dozens of household electronics, expandable to garage doors, lighting, and more.
  5. Future Tech - While still in the prototype phase, there has beenapple_iwatch much speculation about the creation of Apple’s new "iWatch.”  An iWatch, or similar technology, would be a tiny, yet powerful tool for aging seniors. This device could be worn like a watch, but would contain the powerful functions of a computer or smartphone. It’s still just a rumor, but reports say that the iWatch will be capable of monitoring everything from sleep patterns to glucose and calorie consumption.

 

From existing technologies, like the home security system or GPS monitor, to exciting tech tools still ahead on the horizon, these innovative technologies make it easier than ever before for seniors to stay connected to their caregivers. As top home care specialists note, technology has been a boon to all age groups – from the very young to the very old – and these devices imply a future in which our elderly loved ones will be able to remain safe and healthy for a long time to come.

 

Author Bio:

Beth Kelly is a freelance blogger and writer from Chicago, IL. She’s become passionate about healthcare and technology issues, and how the two can intersect to make life easier for senior citizens and others with limited mobility. In her free time she’s an avid gardener and lover of silent films. Find her on twitter @bkelly_88

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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.

 

Topics: Elderly Care, Aging in Place Technology, home monitoring

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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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