The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

10 Age-Related Technology Advances via the Huffington Post

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

 

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

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

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

1. Talking street signs.

2. Cars that drive themselves.

3. The Doctor Will See You Now — on Skype

4. Remote Patient Monitoring

5. Online Medical Records

6. Robots as Caregivers

7. Lights, Lights and More Lights

8. Safety Monitors That Go Way Beyond Nanny-Cams

9. Homes Will Age Along With Us

10. More Apps — For Everything

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

On a somewhat related note, one of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

4 Ways Your Home Care Agency Can Safeguard Against Cyber Attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education. Education. Education.

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

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

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

Use Proper Software

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

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

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

Back Up Everything Regularly

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

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

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

Can you really afford this?

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

Ensure Physical Safety

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

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

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

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

Closing Word

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

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

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

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

Click Here for a Free Demo

 

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

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices

What Home Care Executives can Learn from Television Producers

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 30, 2016 10:40:00 AM

 One of the industry experts I learn from every time we speak is Ginny Kenyon, principal at Kenyon Home Care Consulting.  Ginny helps open home care agencies and has given Ankota great inputs on our software.  We at Ankota strongly believe that keeping elderly people healthy and comfortable in their homes (and out of the hospital) is an important step in the evolution of healthcare.  Ginny is one of the pioneers driving moves in home health delivery.  Enjoy her post (below).

When we think of the world of television producers, we think glitz, glamour, Hollywood parties, and movie stars. These people are really living the life! We often admire them, and we may even occasionally envy them. But, just like with any career, TV producers don’t experience success without a lot of hard work, plenty of perseverance, and the right skill set.

In a similar vein, folks might assume working for a startup or "high growth" company has an aire of excitment, importance, and "glitz and glamour."  While I think it's safe to say that many folks would not assume that working in private duty home care or home healthcare is particularly glitzy or glamourous.

That said, working in TV production, at a tech startup, and in home care startup or fundamentally similar in a number of ways.

Comparing Television Producers to Startup Experts

Many of the talents and qualities successful television producers possess can be easily transferred to other industries, especially healthcare. Often, what it takes to make it in the prized world of TV production is similar to what it takes to achieve your goals as a homecare professional. And with years of successful homecare leadership experience, startup experts know the ends and outs of opening an agency or expanding your current operation!startup experts

The Skills of a Successful Television Producer

In television creation as with startup experts, only those who have these skills and the right approach—either naturally or through trial and error—will experience success.

1. Leadership

It takes a lot of people to produce a TV show. As part of this huge team, producers are charged with leading staff and employees in the process and encouraging them to work together toward common goals. If leadership fails during production, the entire project falls apart.

As with most small businesses, your employees, co-workers, clients, and vendors are all looking to you (or to someone on your team) to guide and direct them in order for them to do their jobs effectively.  A TV production and a home care startup won't function very well or very long without a leader setting the tone and direction of the process, not to mention having a clear chain of leadership command.

2. Communication

Producers do a lot of communicating, especially writing. They’re able to write quickly and concisely. These are people who can easily command language and relay information to a variety of audiences.

In home care, you deal with a number of stakeholders with a number of different communication styles, agendas, and goals.  Communicating clearly and effectively with each of them is paramount to a home care agency's success.

3. Multitasking

When you produce major shows, you’re in charge of a wide variety of tasks. These can vary from small, repetitive assignments to important obligations. Being able to juggle all the undertakings required in a single day makes TV producers experts at multitasking.

Home care veterans likely know how true this paradigm is in home care.  Time management, logistical planning, and multitasking are all skills that you'll need daily in order to succeed in home care.

4. Big-Picture Planning

Each television episode has lots of moving parts that must work in perfect harmony for a show to come together. But above all these small moving parts, is the big picture. Successful television producers have the ability to see how each piece of the puzzle fits into the finished product.

Especially when building an early-stage home care startup, there are a number of moving parts to deal with and coordinate.  Setting up management software, doing payroll, hiring, getting business cards, networking, scheduling vosits, and so on.  Seeing the big picture is an important skill to keep all the moving parts, well, moving. 

5. Troubleshooting

TV producers cover all sorts of topics, ranging from wars and disasters to reality shows gone wrong. Successful producers know the importance of staying calm under pressure and how to identify the solution instead of adding to the problem. They’re always prepared with a plan and ready with a workable backup strategy if needed.

Staying flexible and agile both throughout your day and as you grow your business is essential.  Home care is about managing people, scheduling, admin, and a number of other elements that can take up your time.  Being able to "put out fires" throughout each day is something those new to home care need to be prepared for.

6. Marketing Networking

When producers aren’t producing, they’re selling ideas to their bosses. The pitches they make have to be short, sweet, and strong. They can persuasively describe a concept in 30 seconds or less, and because of all their connections, they know when and how to talk the right people.

It's all about who you know, how you know them, and what value you can bring to them.  The Ankota blog has gone into great detail on the importance of and Best Practices for networking to grow and maintain your business.  The need for networking never stops, so be ready to hustle!

The Skills of Startup Experts

Like television producers, startup experts are responsible for the success or failure of a group effort. Let’s take a look at how the skills of TV producers compare to a startup professional when helping to launch your new homecare agency or adding a new business line.

1. Leadership

A startup expert possesses leadership skills that allows him or her to guide clients in the right direction without overstepping any boundaries.

2. Communication

When launching a new organization or business line, communication is key. Communicating with agency leadership, your employees, and other community professionals is crucial. The right startup expert can help you learn to communicate effectively.

3. Multitasking

Starting a homecare agency involves juggling many balls at once. Since an industry expert has lots of experience and knowledge, they are very startup proficient.

4. Big-Picture Planning

All the little puzzle pieces of starting a home health care organization can become overwhelming. Startup experts know how to manage all pieces—federal and state regulations, gathering resources, strategy planning—all with your big picture in mind.

5. Troubleshooting

Unexpected issues and delays come up often when you’re in the middle of a home care startup. Startup experts not only prepare for these problems ahead of time, but manage plan B or C if necessary.

6. Marketing and Networking

No startup is complete without the right promotion. Startup experts have the experience and know how to design a marketing plan, create referral contacts and promote your new business.

Startup Experts: Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we turn your home care startup visions into reality. Our experienced experts and plethora of resources allows us to take your ideas from start to finish efficiently, so you’re left with a compliant, successful agency.

Reach out to us today and learn more about our startup experts!

 

This article, originally titled, 6 COMPARISONS: STARTUP EXPERTS AND SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION PRODUCERS first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, Ginny Kenyon

5 Sales Hacking Tips for Home Care via a Startup Leader

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 28, 2016 9:21:00 AM

Ankota's marketing director, Jed Hammel doesn't come from the home care world but instead is an expert is social media marketing, filmmaking, event planning and more.  Jed wrote today's article about how "Sales Hacking," a term coined by the startup world, can be incorporated into your home care agency's sales strategy.  

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A few weeks back, I wrote an article about "Growth Hacking," entitled, "Growth Hacking Tips for Home Care via Startup Marketing." The piece went over the basics and some different definitions of a new kind of marketing/sales approach used in many startups and a growing number of other industries.

I suggest you click the above link and read the full article, but as a way to sum up:

Uber growth hacker Andrew Chen offers this as a definition for growth hacking:

"Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product."

What is Sales Hacking?

Good Question, glad you asked!  In this article by Vinod Mehra, "What is Sales Hacking?" the author defines Sales Hacking as:

"Sales Hacking is shortening the sales cycle by authentic means.  For examples if sales process says you move from A to B followed by C to receive the Order D.  How can you short circuit step B & C to receive an order D is SALES HACKING.  In simple words what tactics can be used to short circuit B & C to reach D."

I suggest that you read the entire article here since it outlines 7 tips for hacking sales that I feel you will find useful.

 5 Sales Useful Sales Hacks 

One of the leading inbound marketing/sales companies, Hubspot, posted an article, "5 Small Sales Hacks That Will Increase Your Results in a Big Way" written by Brian Moseley that offers some easy ways for you to get started with sales hacking as well.  You should read the entire article here to get an in-depth perspective, but as a start, here's what the author suggests:

1) Shorten Your meetings

2) Split Up Your Inbox

3) Label Your Emails

4) Pin Tabs

5) Use the Right Tools

What are some of your sales hacking tips?  What tools do you use to prospect, nurture, and close sales?  Share your tips in the comments below!

Also, one of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

Home Care Software Geek Explains Cloud Computing

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 22, 2016 11:27:00 AM

 

The Home Care Software Geek posts in this blog don't talk about Home Care Nursing Software, Private Duty Telephony, DME Delivery Software, Care Transitions or the other topics we focus on regularly at Ankota. Instead, these posts are intended to keep our readers up to date with technology trends that might be useful to your agencies, such as social media technologies, mobile devices, and what's happening with bigger companies like MicrosoftGoogle and Apple.

home care software cloud.jpgWe always try to keep you ahead of the game in understanding what's going on the in the tech world, and to that end our first post about cloud computing was several years ago. Back then, many of you had your home care software installed on a computer somewhere in your office, or maybe on a server set up by an IT guy. The thinking 10 years ago was that you needed your own computers so that you could have high-uptime and security for your business applications. At that time you were likely correct for making that decision, but now things have totally changed due to "the cloud."

If a picture paints a thousand words, then a video perhaps paints a million. This video from SalesForce.com does a nice job explaining how cloud computing works and what its benefits are.

In summary, the benefits of cloud computing are as follows:

  • No computers to buy, install, and maintain
  • Accessible from everywhere
  • More horsepower can be added as you grow
  • You can get infrastructure as a service and also applications
  • Using cloud-hosted services frees up some of your organizations tech resources, and in the case of many home care agencies and small businesses it allows you to operate with good technology without having a tech person.
  • In most cases, this solution is less expensive

If you still have home care software running on servers at your facility, it's probably pretty outdated and you're ready to upgrade to something new. If we can help, please contact us.

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

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices

5 Ways for Your Home Care Agency to Shine at Your Next Networking Event

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

Networking is a critical skill for home care agencies to grow. In most cases, thriving agencies are winning because of their referral partners.  Specifically, folks in your community who regularly come in contact with potential clients for your home care business. Some of the successful referral partners agencies work with are as follows:

  • People who work at a council on aging

  • Senior independent living communitiesnetwork-cables-494650_640.jpg

  • Home health agencies

  • Hospital discharge personnel

  • Many others...

Above I was a little sloppy by saying, for example, that a home health agency can be a referral partner. In reality, it's not the agency who is referring to you, it is a person there or a number of specific people.  They are likely referring to you because they met you, they liked you, you followed up with them and promised that if they gave your agency a try that you'd make them happy...You did make them happy, you've kept in touch with them, and you've thanked them every time you've worked with them. 

This all starts with networking and it's likely you didn't get that first referral the first time you met that person, but likely had to meet them multiple times to show that you're serious about being part of the community where she participates.  I live in the greater Boston area where there's a strong sense of community around business networking and start-ups. They shared some tips about networking that I believe will be helpful to all home health leaders.

5 Ways for Your Home Care Agency to Shine at Your Next Networking Event

Here's the list:
  1. Set clear goals: Think of questions like what kind of people are you looking to meet, what’s your purpose for networking, how does it impact your professional life?

  2. Be Well-prepared: Ponder over how you can help others, and keep your 10-second introduction ready.

  3. Break the ice: Don’t wait for others to approach you. Instead, take the initiative and introduce yourself first. It’s advisable to arrive early since walking into a room full of strangers can seem intimidating.

  4. Build a Relationship: Reach out to your contacts within a week. Share information and ideas or follow up on something you discussed. Also, don't forget to send a 'Thank You' note.

  5. Listen to Others: Get others to talk about themselves. Ask questions and stay interested.

What other ways are you able to shine? Please let us know, and if you're interested perhaps we can feature you here in the Ankota blog.

On the topic of our blog, if you scroll up to the top right of this page, you can add your email to our blog subscription and we can deliver our posts to your inbox!

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

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

What Will Home Health Star Ratings Mean to Your Agency?

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 16, 2016 9:35:40 AM

 One of the industry experts I learn from every time we speak is Ginny Kenyon, principal at Kenyon Home Care Consulting.  Ginny helps open home care agencies and has given Ankota great inputs on our software.  We at Ankota strongly believe that keeping elderly people healthy and comfortable in their homes (and out of the hospital) is an important step in the evolution of healthcare.  Ginny is one of the pioneers driving moves in home health delivery.  Enjoy her post (below).

Five-star ratings are a familiar tool in general. Although they are not new to many providers receiving CMS funds, such as skilled nursing homes and hospitals, home health star ratings are relatively new. And, be aware, hospice star ratings are coming in 2017.

Below, we introduce the basics of what home health star ratings are, as well as some potential problems home health agencies may encounter.

What Are Home Health Star Ratings?

Currently, there are two types of home health star ratings or tools helping customers make the best decisions about their health care.home health star ratings

1. Quality of care ratings, first introduced in July of 2105 are based on OASIS and Medicare claims data. Quality score calculations use 9 quality-of-outcome metrics and, in general, reflect how much patient conditions improve and how often they make a hospital visit.

2. Patient perception ratings. First available on the CMS website for home health in January of 2016, this rating category bases outcomes on patient surveys. Survey questions examine areas such as:

  • Agency education with patients on how to care for themselves

  • Patient understanding of how to take their medications

  • Reasons why medications are necessary

  • How thoroughly clinicians probe for possible medication side effects

Both sets of home health star ratings are available on Home Health Compare, a subsidiary website of Medicare.gov. The quality stars are meant to summarize or rate care providers. On the website, consumers are able to compare up to three agencies at a time. Like the data they summarize, the website gets quarterly updates.

Agencies receive a preview report before the newest home health star ratings are seen by the public. Agencies have a 3 month window to check the “star” data to be sure it is complete and accurate. During this time-frame, agencies may also request a data revision from CMS.

October Surprise to Health Insurance Companies

On October 12, 2016, the formula CMS uses to rate health insurance providers was adjusted. And it is big change! Now, companies previously receiving 4 and 5 star ratings, are a rarity. For example, Humana with 3/4 of its plans receiving 4 or 5 stars last year, estimates that level at about 37% today. As a result, Humana stock prices took at immediate and spectacular hit. Although the prices are a bit more stable now, the “ride” was rather unpleasant for the stockholders and plan customers.

Many in the home health industry are now wondering if a similar fate awaits them. For health insurers, the CMS 3 star rating is now the equivalent of what 4 stars used to be. And striving for a 5-star rating now seems as futile as “reaching for the stars.”

Problems With Home Health Star Ratings

Similar to the recent health insurance plan fiasco, consumer confusion will occur if the value of the home health stars suddenly change. However, currently there is other confusion plaguing home heath star ratings.

First, there is a major difference in the number of stars received for quality of care vs. from patient surveys. Patients rate agencies at 4 or 5 stars about 75% of the time, but only about 25% of homecare organizations got as many stars on the quality of care score. Nor does this difference stem from patients being over-generous on the surveys, but from the fact that Medicare purposefully uses a different formula to make 3 stars the norm on quality scores. This results in the two scores differing by one or even two stars.

The second cause of potential confusion arises due to the lack of sufficient surveys. There “should be” 100 surveys to base patient perception star ratings on, but there are often fewer. And if less than 40 surveys to calculate, no rating will appear for that agency.

Finally, quality star ratings can give false impressions due to the patient population home health cares for. Many conditions, such as CHF or diabetes, are not likely to be reversed even with the best possible care. And, if patients happen to live in a region lacking certain services, hospital visits will increase and lower the star rating.

Conclusion

Only by understanding the home health star ratings calculations can you hope to improve both your quality and patient-survey scores. Be sure to review your agency’s preview data and contact CMS if adjustments are needed. Getting your OASIS and claims submissions right the first and every time is a big part of this equation. Remember, your quality score calculations use OASIS quality-of-outcome metrics reflecting how much patient conditions improve.

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting is here to help! To learn more, contact us today at 206-721-5091 or schedule an appointment online.

 

This article, originally titled, WILL HOME HEALTH RATINGS SUFFER SAME FATE AS INSURANCE first appeared in Kenyon HomeCare Consulting blog.

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For more Best Practices, you can download a free eBook Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.  Just click the link or the picture to download.

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

Click Here for a Free Demo

 

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

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions, Ginny Kenyon

5 Factors That Impact the Cost of Home Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 14, 2016 10:30:46 AM

Today's guest post is from Stephanie Lynch.  Stephanie is a freelance writer who works for the cost-helping database Howmuchisit.org.  She currently resides in Gilbert, Arizona, and in her free time, she enjoys hiking, the great outdoors and spending time with her family.

A common question you may see onlinhot-air-balloon-1245927_640.jpge when researching long-term care is:  Is home care cheaper than assisted living?  Since there are so many factors involved with the pricing, it’s hard to come up with a definite answer; however, in some studies, the costs can be similar to an assisted living facility, but almost half of a nursing home.

To give you a better idea what home care is going to cost, here are five factors to consider when looking at quotes.

The Type of Care Required

A home care agency can offer more than babysitting services.  They can also help with the following:

  • Give shots

  • Change clothing and/or diapers

  • Tube feedings

  • Bathing

  • Feeding and helping with special diets

  • Transferring and positioning

Generally, the more activities that need to be done, the more it’s going to cost.  The more complicated services, such as injecting an IV, may be left to a registered nurse who has to travel to the home.  Studies have shown that even a simple aid can start at $15 per hour.  Aids who have to stay overnight may charge 30% more.

Will Non-Medical Services Be Included?

Many at-home health care services will do more than help the patient with medical services.  This can include doing simple housekeeping chores such as doing the laundry and cooking meals.  They can also help with grocery shopping and transporting the patient to doctor visits.  If these housekeeping services are needed, this can increase the hourly/daily rate.

What Kind of Professionals?

Home care services are staffed by all sorts of people ranging from an aid with no medical knowledge to a registered nurse who can come in to administer medications.  Touching on tip one, the more knowledge this individual has and the more often they have to visit, the higher the costs can be per hour.  So again, an aid could demand $15 per hour, while a registered nurse may charge $50 for his or her one-hour visit.  Other simple factors can affect the price as well, such as:

The Time Needed

How long does this professional have to be here?  Since these services will more than likely charge by the hour, the longer they have the stay, the more you will pay.  Most nurses and doctors should be at the home for less than an hour.

Travel Required

If a doctor or nurse has to travel further than what they normally do, most will tack on either a mileage surcharge or will increase the rates.  This often applies to those who live in areas that are further from a town/city center.

The Geographical Location

With anything you purchase in life, your local cost of living will greatly affect the price you’re going to pay.  This is why a dozen eggs may cost $7 in Hawaii.   A home care service in New York City will cost much more than a service in the woods of Mississippi.

The Company and/or Individual

Whether you hire a private individual or use a third-party service, each company will have its own policies and pricing.  Similar to the geographical location, all companies won’t be created equal.  A reputable company in town may charge 35% more than a company that just started.  With anything, the more services you receive and the more reputable the company is, the more you will probably be paying.

Home care is a wonderful option since it won’t disrupt one’s life.  While the costs may seem high to some, it doesn’t mean you won’t get what you pay for.  You have to remember these individuals have to dedicate their attention to the patient for the time they are there, and if you have ever babysat an older person who needs help, you probably know how much work this could be.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

4 Ways Your In-Home Care Services Can Bring Fun and Joy into Client's Lives

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 8, 2016 10:07:00 AM

Today's guest post is by Kara Masterson.  Kara is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah and is currently working with Corner Home Medical, a provider of respiratory therapy services delivered in a home care setting. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.  Her article outlines the advantages of in-home care for folks in need of 24-hour care.  Enjoy Kara's article and feel free to comment below! 

Home Healthcare (1).pngMany seniors today are opting to stay home for their retirement years, because this is where comfort and stability lie. In order to have comfort and stability, a frail or elderly person often depends upon others to supply it, such as the home respiratory care provided by companies like Corner Home Medical as well as the efforts of professional caregivers or relatives. At times, caregivers for those at home may feel like they are not doing enough to keep the person they are caring for happy and content. Here are a few ways in which a caregiver can make a real difference in a home-bound person's life.

Get The Game On!

Older people are wonderful and have a lot to offer. Find out what is fun in someone's life, and add it to the roster for every day. Does the person play a musical instrument? What about a concert featuring favorite numbers while the caregiver does needed household tasks? Try these engaging activities:

  • Potting new plants

  • Sewing

  • Cooking

  • Woodworking or painting pictures

  • Cards

  • Landscape puzzles to glue into pictures when finished

  • Internet socializing or free internet classes

All of these activities and more can be indulged in by a stable at-home person with a bit of help from a caregiver.

Make It Exciting!

Creative caregivers include physical activity. Without proper exercise, a person simply vegetates. As we grow older, we tend not to be as physically active as we once were, and we lose strength and balance without realizing it. The areas to focus upon are strength and endurance, flexibility and balance. There are easy exercises to keep tone in these areas. For instance:

  • Arm raises with small weights while seated in a chair

  • Leg raises while sitting in a chair

  • Stretches leaning against a wall

  • Walking

Walking may need lots of supervision if balance is a problem. Walkers come in all types, and are very helpful. Walking should be done every day on a flat surface with caregiver as companion.

Provide Outings For Clients

Getting out of the house is a needed escape for everyone. Even if a person cannot walk, a wheelchair ride through the neighborhood provides new stimulus and fresh air. If a person can be driven for an outing, this can also provide new surroundings and the possibility of attending an event or visit.

Provide Friend Dates

"Having company" was at least a weekly event for everyone 50 years ago. Encourage your client or relative to call a friend or invite the person in for lunch. Getting the meal ready can be enjoyable, and the friend visit a refreshing diversion for an afternoon.

Don't forget to have fun! Caregiving is a stressful situation. As time passes, a caregiver will need to become more creative to keep a home-bound person engaged in activities of daily living. If this can be achieved, benefits to both caregiver and client can be realized.

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One of Ankota's recent whitepapers, entitled "Selling Care Transition Services to Hospitals" is available for download and we think you'll find it useful.  Please click the link or the picture below to download.  If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Click Here for a Free Demo

Selling_Care_Transition_Services_to_Hospitals_Cover.png

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

 

 

 

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Care Transitions

5 Qualities Every Home Care Worker Needs to be Successful

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 7, 2016 11:27:00 AM

Today's guest Blogger is Dixie Somers.  Dixie has written for the Ankota blog in the past, she is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

hospice-1750928_640.jpgThe home health care profession can be extremely rewarding in helping people in the most vulnerable points of their lives, but it can also be difficult and demanding. In order to become and remain successful, there are a few important qualities every home care worker should strive to develop and maintain.

Organization

Organization is key. As a home care worker, you will be juggling multiple duties. Developing good organizational skills can help you keep on top of everything. Get yourself in the habit of keeping an up-to-date personal planner or calendar so that you never have to worry about forgetting something important. When in doubt, write it down.

Staying Informed

It is also very important for members of this profession to keep themselves up-to-date with what is going on in the medical community at large. Modern medicine and medical technology are evolving faster and faster in the global community created by the internet, and it would be all too easy for you to fall behind, which could negatively affect your patient later on. Getting higher degrees can also give you the edge you need to stand out amongst competition. Consider an online BSN program for better career opportunities and knowledgeability with your home care patients.

Communication

Of course, a home care worker must also maintain excellent communication skills. Bedside manner, of course, is the primary concern for home care. Patients are often interacting with home care workers at difficult times in their lives, when they are ill or frustrated, which means that you must be patient, reassuring, and compassionate, while also projecting an air of calm assurance to help them feel confident that you know what you're doing. This is important even when you yourself may feel overwhelmed or tired.

Stamina

You will also need quite a bit of stamina to work in the health care industry. Some patients may be demanding, and you will often have to work long hours. Despite this, you will still be expected to treat your patient with the same respect and compassion.

Ability to Relax

Finally, remember that while you take your job seriously, you don't have to take yourself so seriously. If you are able to learn from your mistakes and laugh at yourself once in a while, you will be much more able to keep the positive energy that will help you get through those long days and help your patients relax themselves.

The home health care field is not an easy one to be in, but it is definitely worth pursuing. It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you don't let it beat you down, you and your patients will reap the rewards.

For more Best Practices, you can download a free eBook Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies.  Just click the link or the picture to download.

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

Click Here for a Free Demo

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

 

 

 
If you're interested in scheduling an online demo of our home care or care transitions software solutions, just click this button:

Topics: Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices

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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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