Home Care Heroes Blog

Q & A With Ankota CEO Will Hicklen

The following is an excerpt from a recent Q&A session at the Healthcare Connectivity Summit:

Q: (interviewer) Sandy was sick for three years before cancer finally claimed her life. What did you see that gave you the idea for Ankota?

A: (Will) I saw two things. First, I saw skilled, professional health care workers who were committed to doing their jobs well. Second, I saw a terribly inefficient system that forced these people to spend significant time doing things other than caring for patients. This wasted time and resources cost the healthcare system--and the companies in it--billions of dollars each year.


Q: (interviewer) Give me an example of one of the problems you saw.

 A: (Will) Just one? (laugh) Okay-an appointment scheduled in the morning for a nurse to visit Sandy at home. She was given a window and the nurse missed that window, showing up later in the afternoon. This is not uncommon because home care companies often schedule appointments in a very manual fashion, there is frequent change, and schedules are very difficult to manage.  Mistakes like this are common. Sandy could have spent that day at the kids' school or out enjoying the day with friends--living her life. Instead, millions of home care patients just like her are forced to wait around for the system to catch up with them.

I'll give you another example: A nurse arrived one day to find that the equipment and the feeding supplies she needed for the visit were not delivered. That was a wasted visit for that nurse, it cost everyone money and delayed the care that was needed. There are consequences to this besides just a wasted appointment. At this time, Sandy could only be fed intravenously. The company delivering the supplies now had a delivery crisis that upset other deliveries and added mileage expense, and the nurse then had to work overtime that day. This was entirely because the planning and scheduling of the people, equipment, and supplies was not well coordinated. That one example cost the system thousands of dollars and wasted tremendous time for everyone.


Q: (interviewer) Clearly, this frustrated you. How does Ankota approach this?

A: (Will) It was incredibly frustrating--the lack of coordination, the lack of communication between the providers, the manual planning--these are problems that are common to many industries that are equally complex and they have been solved. We can solve this in healthcare.  

The problem is that many of these efforts have been treated as separate tasks and managed in "silos," so they have remained highly fragmented. The result is an uncoordinated, inefficient system as we just discussed.

Healthcare needs to be managed as a "delivery model." There is a tremendous opportunity to improve operational efficiencies and to improve the efficacy of care.  Ankota is doing this by providing technology that enables "Healthcare Delivery Management," or "HDM."


Q: (interviewer) Can you give me an example of the types of efficiencies you are talking about?

A: (Will) Sure. For example, we find that a company that schedules home care workers or delivers equipment or supplies can reduce the number of miles driven by 25-35% simply by using Ankota's route planning and scheduling. Companies should look at their fuel costs and ask, "Would I like to cut that cost by one third?" They can also increase their capacity by about 10-20% simply by recovering time that was previously unproductive. That increases their revenues and reduces their operating costs.


Q: (interviewer) I get how that improves the business, but how does your example improve the quality of care for patients?

A: (Will) First of all, anything that improves the profitability of the provider's business and helps them compete is ultimately good for patients and improves the healthcare system in general. Secondly, Ankota's HDM solution is more than just a tool for scheduling and optimizing certain resources.  HDM is a platform that coordinates the many people and resources into an efficient operational model and enables a "best practices" approach to delivering care. This is what enables real care management with protocol-based approaches to managing care. It provides a model that measures efficacy and enables continual improvement. It is a paradigm that has been very successful in other industries like aerospace, automotive, defense, and so on. These industries also have very complex supply chain networks that have to be coordinated and run efficiently. Health care can definitely learn from them.

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