The Ankota Healthcare Delivery Management Blog

5 Steps to Recruiting Quality Home Health Aides from Ginny Kenyon

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 25, 2014 9:25:00 AM

Ginny KenyonGinny Kenyon of Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, wrote an insightful article called, How to Recruit Home Health Aides for Your Home Care Agency in her "Kenyon Connects" blog that you should give a read.

She offers 5 steps for home care agencies to take toward hiring quality home health aides, which we've listed here.  Ginny's full article goes into detail about how to implement these steps, so be sure to click on the link above.

Have a Clear Profile for Potential Hires

Attract as Many Applicants For More Hiring Options

Designate One Person

twitter-recruitment-tool

Test Your Applicants

Management Must Be Involved

On a related note, our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies offers folks a look at some Best Practices of what we've found successful private duty home care agencies possess. 

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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 Ankota.  

 

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Home Care Blog, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Ginny Kenyon, Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

6 Tips for Success in Home Care From Stephen Tweed

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 20, 2014 4:12:00 PM

Stephen_Tweed-2015Stephen Tweed, of Leading Home Care, wrote a post entitled, Lessons from the Private Duty Field Trip, that outlines 6 key takeaways gleaned from extensive conversations with over 100 successful private duty agencies across the nation.  

I highly suggest that you read the full article and watch the video there, but as a start, here are 6 elements that Stephen's research determined are some key ways to grow a private duty home care agency:

Have a Huge Vision

Be a Systems Thinker

Try Lots of New Things

There is a Season for Everything

Field_Trip

Hire a COO

Measure Everything

Take a look at the full article and let us know if you would add a 7th point to that list.

On a related note, our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies offers folks a look at some Best Practices of what we've found successful private duty home care agencies possess. 

7_habits_effective_home_care-4

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

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

 

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Home Care Blog, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Leading Home Care, Stephen Tweed

7 Home Care Entrepreneur Beliefs That Can Make You Unhappy

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 17, 2014 1:59:32 PM

Pharrell_Williams_-_Happy

I generally try to post in this blog about things that will make folks happy.  Whether it be how to make your home care agency more successful or how a home care entrepreneur can pursue opportunites, I tend to take the "glass half full" perspective on life.  That said, it can be important to take a look at some of the challenges and stumbling blocks that we may encounter, in order to better reach our goals.  

Jeff_Haden

I read an interesting post by Jeff Haden, who writes and speaks about business matters for Inc. Magazine, LinkedIn, and other publications.  His article, 7 Poisonous Beliefs That Make You Desperately Unhappy, caught my attention.  I highly recommend that you read his full article, especially if you identify with any of these beliefs, but for now, please allow me to share the list:

  • You believe professional success will bring lasting fulfillment
  • You believe that simply joining will create a sense of belonging
  • You believe you can do everything
  • You're afraid of who you really are
  • You have no one to call at 3 AM
  • You believe structure is the same as control
  • You believe you no longer need to fail

I hope that none of the above resonate with you, but if they do, please read Jeff's article.  He ends by putting things in perspective by sharing "If you realize you aren't so different or 'special' afterall, it's a lot easier to be happy with the people around you -- and happy with yourself."

Another list of 7 things that we'd like to share is Ankota's 7 Habits of Highly Successful Private Duty Home Care Agencies.

7_habits_effective_home_care-4

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

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

Topics: Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Care Transitions, home care marketing, Jeff Haden

Home Care Software Geek Explains Agile Software Development

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 12, 2014 1:05:00 PM

Posts by Home Care Software Geek 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. 

This is a pretty geeky post, even for our home care software geek column.  It talks about how software is built and how that has changed over time.  During my career, there's been a fairly radical change in the way that software is developed.  This affects the way that the software is structured into small reusable pieces, and also the way that projects are structured. 

agile

The relevance of this to the home care and care transitions business is that it can help to explain why some software companies do major releases, such as once a year, and take you through a big and painful upgrade process.  While other software companies, like Ankota, are able to make changes quickly and deploy them pretty quickly (most enhancements requested by our customers are released in our next two week cycle).

We'll do another post to talk about the way software needs to be designed, but for now, we'll talk about how projects can be structured for efficient deployment...The new way is called "Agile Development," but first we'll explain the old way, which is generally called the "waterfall" method. 

The Old Way: Waterfall Software Development

We used to structure development like a waterfall, as depicted below.  A project would be defined with a big list of requirements, then there would be a project phase to design the changes, and this would often involve restructuring the underlying data structures for the system. 

waterfall

Then there would be a development phase where all of the changes would be developed, generally in parallel.  After that, there would be a testing phase where each piece would be tested individually, and then combined to see if they work together.  Continuing on, there would be regression testing to make sure that the old functionality wasn't broken.  The next step would be to set up a test environment and the users would be told about the changes and would retrain and test them.  Finally, there would be a "Go Live" event, usually planned overnight or on a weekend. 

The success with this methodology is dependent on having strong planning and strong project management.  There is a training and certification program called "Project Management Professional" (PMP) that teaches from a very large book called the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) and includes many levels of planning, risk mitigation, and other techniques.  Planning like this has historically enabled very large projects to succeed (like sending people to the moon, for example).

The New Way: Agile Development

Most software development follows a new methodology called Agile Development.  This methodology is based on some very practical thinking, such as the following:

  • We might not really know today what we want the software to look like a year from now.  We might change our mind along the way.
  • Even if I think I know what I want, my best attempts to describe it might fall short and I'll know better if I got what I wanted when I see it.
  • If I make small changes and demonstrate them or even deploy them when they're done, if I screw up, I'll only have a small effort to adjust the change or take it out and rework it.
  • Related to the previous point, I'm best off if I always have working software, so every time I make a change I expect all of the software to still work.
  • If I can define a series of bite sized changes added to the software in a logical sequence, I'll be able to validate with customers that I'm moving in the right direction along the way.

Based on these highly practical thoughts, the agile methodology works as follows: 

The requests are broken into small pieces defined from the vantage point of the user.  These are put into a backlog (a list) and prioritized.  The team takes the highest priority things on the list that they think they can deliver (developed and tested) in a short period of time, perhaps two weeks.  The team makes a plan for those two weeks and may add or subtract from the list if needed to get the work done. 

Agile

Everyday when changes are made, the changes have to be well-contained and put into the software and tested to make sure that they worked and didn't break anything else.  If it's a new feature, it should be made "configurable" so that customers who don't want it, don't see it.  After the two weeks, everything is retested and some "smoke testing" is done to make sure that nothing was broken.  Then the software is deployed.

In our experience, agile works really well and our customers love getting changes quickly and never need to do any extensive testing or upgrades.

If you're tired of the old way, maybe it's time for some new software.  We'd love to show you our home care software, care transitions software, or other solutions.  If you love most of what we offer but would like some changes, give us 2-4 weeks, and perhaps we can meet your needs.

You can also download our free informational content, including our white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies

7_habits_effective_home_care-4

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, home care software geek, Home Care, agile development

3 Statistics Showing Growth in the Home Care Industry

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 6, 2014 6:43:00 PM

A recent article from Home Health Care News, entitled, Aging In Place Services More Important Now Than Ever, (drawing data from a larger detailed report,) offered three statistics that should be of note to folks seeking to start or to grow a home care agency:

By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be age 65 and older. 

Nearly 90% of adults in this age group want to age in place. 

Over 70% of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) provide what’s known as “diversion programs” to keep people living in their homes longer. Home-Health-Care-News-JPG-Filesmallnew

For some of you these stats may already be well known, while for others, they may be new to you.  In either case, a question probably occured to you, along the lines of: "Great info, what are some next steps?"  

Here are three steps folks can take to learn more about the home care industry and to stay current with trends and Best Practices.

1.) Read our previous article: Entrepreneurs: Starting a Non Medical Home Care Business to learn more about resources and industry associations in the space.

2.)  Subscribe via email to recieve regular blog posts from Ankota.  Simply enter your email address into the form to the top right of this page.

3.)  Download our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies

Next_Step

If you do find that you are in need of software to help manage your home care business, we hope that you explore what Ankota has to offer!

7_habits_effective_home_care-4

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, Home Care, home care marketing

4 Home Care Marketing Myths

Posted by Ken Accardi on Nov 1, 2014 11:39:00 AM

By Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN

We are excited and honored to have Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN as a guest blogger.  Valerie and her company, LTC Expert Publications, are a fantastic resource for Home Care marketing, social media marketing, and lead generation programs.  We highly recommend following Valerie on social media.  The following blog post, in particular, resonated with us.  

4 Home Care Marketing Myths

Valerie_VanBooven

You've started a new home care business. Or maybe you've owned one for many years. Either way, it's time to move past the myths about marketing and get real about being successful.

Myth #1: "If you build it they will come." I'm not sure who said this first, but the closest quote is from the movie "Field of Dreams" - Ray hears a voice that tells him "If you build it he will come". Anyway, this does not apply in 2014 to business, especially not the home care market.

Reality: Here's a better quote, that you can attribute to me.

"If you build it, you better have a budget, you better market your butt off, and then they might come."

Myth #2: If my website is #1 on the first page of Google for the search term "home care city, state" , I will get tons of home care leads for my business, and I'll be all set.

Reality: Nope. A great business plan never puts all of the marketing eggs in one basket. Relying solely on internet marketing is a disaster in the making. Get up. Get out there. Get moving. Set goals. Internet leads are icing on the cake.

Myth #3: Any website will do. I need a cheap calling card on the internet. Nothing fancy. I can even do it myself using Wix or some other cheap solution.

Space_1999

Reaity: Again no way. Your first impression will likely be your website. If it looks like your Cousin Larry built it in 1999, it will fail you. I wouldn't recommend spending 10K on a website. That's ridiculous. I would recommend hiring a company who understands the home care market and specializes in the home care market. That local SEO guy you met at the Chamber meeting is probably not a good choice for a home care agency. And those guys in India who build websites for $199? No.

Myth #4: I have a budget and I'm sticking to it.

 

Reality: Everything costs 3 times more than you originally thought. Know that in advance, and you will have less heart burn later.

Stay tuned for more marketing myths and tips. Be sure to watch our latest free educational video on home care marketing here:http://www.ltcsocialmark.com/video-business-marketing-successfollow-yellow-brick-road/

From Ankota:  To stay current with regular informational posts like this one, please subscribe to the Ankota blog.  You can also download our free white paper, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Private-Duty Home Care Agencies

7_habits_effective_home_care-4

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, Home Care, home care marketing

Home Care Software Geek Uncovers Facebook's Plans in Health Care

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 28, 2014 4:00:00 PM

Posts by Home Care Software Geek 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.

We've recently blogged about Google's offerings and intentions in health care and we've shared health care innovations from Apple such as the iWatch.  So it was just a matter of time before Facebook jumped into the picture, and this article from Reuters hints that it might be time for Facebook to jump in.Facebook_logo

According to the article, Facebook is exploring the possibility of creating "support communities" that would connect patients suffering from certain ailments, and they are also considering "preventive care" Facebook apps.  The article cites unnamed sources, but Reuters is a reputable news outfit and the applications proposed sound like a good fit with Facebook's core competencies.  If I were Facebook, I'd build an app to help seniors assist other seniors in adhering to their care plans.  

Here's what I'd shoot for:

  • I would try to partner with at least one large and highly reputable Accountable Care Organization (ACO) like Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, or Geisinger.
  • The partner ACO would identify care plans for managing certain health conditions, starting with the chronic conditions affecting many seniors such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), or Diabetes.
  • The care plans would include interventions with the health system, like doctors appointments, or calls with nurses, therapists, and other health aides.  It would also include self management items like taking meds, exercising, and monitoring their condition.  For example, CHF patients checking their weight each day.
  • The app would find seniors who would volunteer to help keep patients on track with their care.
  • One issue that they would have to contend with is getting permission from the patients to share their personal information with the helpers.  This would have to be clearly documented.

App_storeIn my opinion, the above app could be a big winner because it could reduce hospitalizations and thus reduce the cost of care.  It would also help the other seniors to stay vibrant and engaged and could help their health and quality of life as well.

To stay current with regular informational posts like this one, please subscribe to the Ankota blog.  You can also download our free white paper, Increasing Profitability via Care Transitions

 

Increasing_Profitability_via_Care_Transitions

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, home care software geek, Home Care, Home Care Scheduling Software, health care app, facebook

Home Care Software Geek Probes Google’s Healthcare Intentions

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 23, 2014 9:33:00 PM

Posts by Home Care Software Geek 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.

Google_Glass-1

In 2008, Google launched “Google Health” around the same time that Microsoft launched Microsoft Health Vault.  The idea on the part of both companies was that they would provide a place in the cloud for people to store their personal health record.  Both companies shut down their initiatives and learned that there wasn’t widespread adoption of people storing their information.  Most of us just don’t store our health information in an electronic way or otherwise.  People keep trying (as evidenced by the Fitbits under Christmas trees last year), but for the broad population, this idea is still ahead of its time.

After the Google Health failure, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page commented that healthcare is a “painful business to be in.”  But that doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped trying.  Here's a recap:

  • Google Fit is a mobile phone application for Android.  On my new Samsung Galaxy phone, there’s a sensor for me to take my pulse and I’m pretty sure that the app trGoogle-Fit-logo3acks my activity passively.  As you can tell, I don’t use the app yet, but it’s coming, and if it’s compelling then maybe I will.
  • The Baseline Study is a Google initiative to study the molecular and genetic information of 175 people in order to construct a model of healthiness.  If nothing else, Google is a big data company, and can potentially play a future role in searching the “genetic internet” to diagnose and/or prevent disease.
  • Google Glass is a futuristic yet real product that turns your glasses into a useful computer.  It can help you find things, give you walking directions, and much more.  There are studies at Beth Israel Deaconess hospital in Boston considering Google Glass for healthcare.
  • The Calico Project was announced by Larry Page last year with a goal of accelerating learning about aging.

I have to admit that I’m a big Google fan.  I use Gmail, Google Maps, an android phone, their Chrome browser, and of course, the search engine...and I really appreciate having them.   I’m sure that someday they’ll have a great impact in healthcare.

To stay current with regular informational posts like this one, please subscribe to the Ankota blo.   Or you can download our free white paper, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies

Increasing_Profitability_via_Care_Transitions

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, home care software geek, Home Care, Home Health Therapy Software, Home Care Scheduling Software, google

9 Ways to Make Your Telephony Roll-Out a Success

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 21, 2014 2:26:00 PM

 

Telephony

If you’re like many of your peers, your home care agency started out with just a client and a dream, and today you sometimes can't believe how much your business has grown.  You’ve realized that in order to scale further, you need software to manage your scheduling, care plans, billing, payroll, and time tracking.  Hopefully, your software came from Ankota, but whether it did or not, we’d like to help you make your roll-out a success.  

 

With that in mind, here are some Best Practices we'd like to share for your telephony roll-out.

red-carpet9 Ways to Make Your Telephony Roll-Out a Success 
  1. Choose telephony that knows your care giver schedules and client care plans.  This way, your caregivers simply need to answer yes or no questions rather than memorizing complex codes.
  2. Have your office staff show enthusiasm:  If your back-office team is excited about the telephony and understand how much simpler it will be for the caregivers and office staff alike, their positive energy will rub off.
  3. Provide training – Bring caregivers in to get a quick introduction to the telephony and try it out.  This shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes or so.
  4. Set up test clients and test IDs, then have each caregiver do a practice "clock in and clock" out before they're out in the field.
  5. Consider starting with just time-keeping, and then add care plans later.  If your organization is embracing technology for the first time, it might be best to focus first on timekeeping, billing, and payroll and then add care plans a bit later (even just a couple of weeks).
  6. Print business cards with the telephony instructions:  With Ankota’s system all they need to remember is a phone number, a user ID (usually 3 digits), and a PIN number (also usually 3 digits).  Note that I highly recommend EliteFlyers.com for business cards.  You get 1,000 high quality cards for $35.
  7. Identify early adopters:  Roll out to a small number of enthusiastic caregivers first.  As explained above, a positive attitude within the company is important in all technology roll-outs.
  8. Train your back office staff so they can be coaches for the Aides.
  9. Think beyond telephony: Even if you’re just rolling out telephony for the first time, some vendors, like Ankota, offer a “smart phone version” of telephony and a fixed visit verification solution for clients who don’t have home phones.

For other home care best practices, please subscribe to the Ankota blog or download the free white paper, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies

Increasing_Profitability_via_Care_Transitions

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 Best Practices, Home Care, Home Care Scheduling Software, home care pulse

4 Ways to Differentiate Your Home Care Business

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 16, 2014 3:12:00 PM

A recent article by Home Care Pulse, entitled, "What Top Home Care Providers Do Differently to Grow Their Business, outlines 3 Best Practices that they found top Home Care agencies implement.Home_Care_Pulse

Their annual home care survey, or Private Duty Benchmarking Study, offers a number of useful insights that folks in the Home Care industry are sure to be interested in.  

The article itself highlights three key points drawn from the broader survey.  But wait, this blog post mentions four ways, right?  Well, we'd like to add one more to their list...

Consumer Marketing

Referral Marketing

Recruiting Caregivers

Providing a Differentiated Service

When a stressed out and time-crunched loved one is trying to find a care provider for her mom who fell and broke her hip last week, your home care business needs to figure out how to stand out from the pack.  If you're a compassionate owner or marketer with a caring touch and a beautiful tri-fold brochure about your agency...and a rate that falls in the high enough to pay the care giver and low enough to compete category, then you're not special! 

differentiate

Can you be the agency that brings fresh baked goods once a week?  Or that provides a safe transition home from the hospital by making sure that there's fresh food in the fridge for your clients?  Or maybe it's that you have a handyman on-the-ready to install grab bars.

Whatever your differentiation is make sure you have one or you're going to struggle to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about Best Practices in home care, you can download our 7 Habits of Highly Effective Home Care Agencies

Increasing_Profitability_via_Care_Transitions

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

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

 

Topics: Home Care Industry, Home Care Best Practices, Home Care, Home Care Scheduling Software, home care marketing, home care pulse

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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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