We see it all the time, and perhaps you even catch yourself doing it in your practice. As the president of one of our new physical therapy customers said to me,
"Sometimes we get so focused on the clinical side
of providing care that we forget we're
running a business, too."
"I think I know why," I replied, "that's easier to do and it's more interesting." His smile said it all, and he agreed, "It's what we already know and what our people are trained to do."
Indeed, providers tend to focus on what they know: providing care. Therapists focus on therapies and rehabilitating patients, infusion nurses focus on administering antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, and HME businesses focus on the delivery and set up of home medical equipment (while losing sleep over how to navigate the competitive bidding nightmare!).
The business stuff should take care of itself, or "we're not a business," says conventional health care wisdom. Not so. That's just an excuse to justify focusing on the most comfortable and certainly more interesting things like taking care of patients. People get into the "business" of healthcare because they care about taking care of patients. They're forced into marketing the business and developing referral sources to stay alive, yet the business operations are often assumed or even neglected. It's the way they've always done things, but the inefficiency becomes especially obvious when compared to other industries. This neglect is fundamentally an issue of attitude. If you choose to focus on what you know best, you won't improve on the things where you are weakest. It's a mindset. Choose to focus where your business needs it and where you can improve, where you are least comfortable, in addition to the areas where you are more comfortable.
Am I saying that business owners have a bad atttude? Not at all! I'm saying that it's easy to focus and what you already know, where you're already good. Likewise, it's easy NOT to focus where you're uncomfortable.
Agencies of all types simply must decide to tackle the issues they may not know much about. Set aside discomfort, and simply decide to act. Focus. Redirect. Change your attitude. And enlist the help of others. Leverage technology as much as possible to improve both and challenge technology providers to show you how you can run your business more productively. We see literally hundreds of operations every year, and have tremendous expertise in business performance management and optimization of people and resources. The vendors you talk to can be a tremendous asset if you take advantage of them.
Even if it means you may not be good at what you're now focusing on, just change your attitude. Study after study shows that attitude triumphs and is a larger contributor to success than anything else. Take a look at this piece by Dan Waldschmidt in the Business Insider, which discusses attitude as the primary factor of success. "Your Attitude Determines Whether Or Not You'll Succeed"
Think this is a problem only for smaller home health and therapy agencies? think you're too big to suffer some of the operational problems that many providers experience? Think you're too small for change to matter or for technology to help?
Think again. Many of the very largest, publicly traded home health agencies still run on paper at the point of care. Existing scheduling tools are basic and don't optimize for concerns such as time, travel, skills, or availability. That's ridiculous and providers know it. Reporting takes forever. Billing takes days or even weeks in some instances. They waste millions of dollars each year processing time sheets when technology at the point of care would automate such things and render time & attendance reporting obsolete. One large home care agency we studied spends more than $3 million annually processing time sheets alone. Technology from Ankota can eliminate this expense entirely.
Why do they do it this way? Because that's how they've always done it. That's the attitude that costs them $3M each and every year. It seems to be changing, but it first requires a change in attitude to acknowledge that there may be better ways and seek them out.
Think your agency is too small for automation to make a biug difference? Consider this: A typical home health agency may support roughly 20-25 care givers with a single scheduler using existing technology. Using more powerful (and often less expensive) technology from Ankota, the same scheduler may support 2-3 times as many caregivers. When you're a smaller agency, the cost of hiring new bodies to scale operations is tremendously expensive. Rather than assuming that the only option is to hire more, turn to your software vendors and demand that they show you how to accomplish more with the resources you already have. Expect your partners to act as your advocates to help make you better at what you do, no matter how small your business is.
We're seeing numerous programs emerging among hospitals and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that are intended to improve the cost and quality of care for populations, but are repeating old mistakes. They're taking a "safe" route and building new programs on old technologies and sometimes even using paper documentation. The attitude shift that is needed here is to assume that existing ways are not safe, not productive, and not in compliance. Assume that there are better ways to design and manage community based and population health programs and find tecchnologies to make them better. Change your attitude.
That's why Ankota built software solutions that scale for organizations of all sizes, small to very large. To solve some of these problems of managing care delivery, to make it easy to Plan, Coordinate and Deliver care and to do it efficiently across virtually any healthcare setting.
You've probably heard a thousand "-isms" about attitude driving success, about perspiration, inspiration, and more. All you need to do is make a choice to change your attitude, change your focus, and make it so.
"If you don't run the business like a business,
you'll be out of business."
"If you continue to do what you've always done, you always get what you've always gotten."
Change your organization's attitude by leading with your own. And ask Ankota to help!