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Are You Trying To Expand Your Home Care Partnerships? If You Are The Batman Of The Partnership, Then You Won’t End Up Looking Like The Joker!

PartnershipsWhether a fan of Batman or not, the superhero always wins! If you want to be a superhero then you have to be the home care partner that everyone wants.  Let’s look at how to be that partner and make sure everyone knows it.

4 Ways To Be Great In Home Care Partnerships:

What do great home care partnerships all have in common? Here are 4 things to consider when looking to expand:

1. Do What You Say, Always:

The healthcare world is becoming more and more of a pressure cooker.  Every provider is trying to improve outcomes, patient satisfaction, and efficiency all at the same time.  What you can do to make life easier for all providers involved in patient care is pivotal! If you tell a physician’s office what you can do but don’t deliver, then you will not be the source of ongoing referrals.  The same rings true for all providers. Hospitals and SNF’s will not want to refer if you promise one thing and give out another.

2. Focus On What Makes Your Agency Special:

Sometimes, if you want to do everything in home care, then you have to market what makes you special.  Some areas have lots of agencies, so ask yourself if others know what makes you different.  Ask people what the impression is of what your agency does.  You may be surprised at the response.  Once referral sources know what you do best and have seen it succeed, it becomes easy to refer for other services.

3. Make Your Quality Improvement Important:

Quality Improvement isn’t something you do because the COP’s say you have to do it.  It should really be a tool to create the outcomes you are looking for in your agency.  If it isn’t, then work to change how you view Quality Improvement and what things are most important to make you a home care superhero.

4. Make Staff A Part Of The Game Plan:

The more you make staff a part of moving your agency forward, the easier it is to do it.  As administrators, you need to understand that partnerships don’t exist just on the outside.  The most important partnerships you have begin with the people on staff.  It may seem so obvious, but you are so busy all the time it becomes easy to overlook the relationships within staff and departments.  Don’t lose sight of of the things right outside the office door.

Let Us Help Improve Your Strategic Home Care Partnerships:

At Kenyon Homecare Consulting, we have staff who have decades of home health and hospice experience.  If your agency needs some help cultivating your agency, call us at 206-721-5091 or contact us online for your free consultation.

Home Care Partnerships Are Needed If You Want To Succeed Today. Become More Relevant, Successful, And Valuable With Chemo-Certified Nurses Who Can Serve A Pediatric Population.

Home Care PartnershipsForming and improving home care partnerships becomes even more challenging when cancer treatments are involved. In an ACO, you want to be a partner that stands out above the rest. Chemo-certified nurses can boost your pediatric census and create a genuine market differentiation.

About Home Care Chemotherapy:

How cancers are effectively treated varies greatly with the type of cancer. Some chemo requires inpatient care. Others are done at home and don’t require any special chemo certification. Nurses must be chemo-certified in order to administer treatment to pediatric patients. This service is in greater demand and supply is not always present, especially in rural areas. What often happens is pediatric hospitals or oncologists can’t find home health partners with chemo-certified nursing.  This means the patient must complete the service in the hospital. When pediatric cancer patients make trips to the hospital it increases risk for nosocomial infections and other complications.  This is why home care for this patient demographic is better.

Three More Reasons To Add Chemo-Certified Nurses:

Besides the need and safety issues involved, here are three more reasons add chemo-certified nurses to your staff:

  1. In many rural areas, there are few home care agencies. There are even fewer with pediatric or other home care chemo services.
  2. Many organizations help fund home pediatric cancer care. Since home care is the cost-effective alternative to inpatient care, you also help financially.
  3. You can’t expect patients, families, or other providers to trust you with cancer patients unless you have the training. Then, nurses provide the highest quality to your patients.

Cancer is way too prevalent and there are far too many children suffering from it. Those agencies that prepare for the task by hiring chemo-certified nurses and developing a program will be attractive to healthcare partners.

Let Us Help You Expand Your Partnerships:

To learn more about how to create and maintain home care partnerships that will help your home health agency grow, contact Kenyon HomeCare Consulting today by calling 206-721-5091 or by filling out our online contact form.

Working With New Partners? Let’s Look At Your Home Care Partnerships And How To Be The Sonny And Cher Of The Home Care World!

Home Care PartnershipsWorking with a partner always presents a challenge.  Whether you are in a band, marriage, or a home care business, the partnership is about relationships and meeting mutual needs.  With ACOs and other home care partnerships, you must constantly work on the relationship to make it work. Let’s look at your partnerships and the importance of being a part of the healthcare team.

4 Things To Remember In Being A Strong Home Care Partner:

Sometimes, you can get so focused on your own operations that you forget the comprehensive partnership goals.  Here are 4 things to always consider when working in home care partnerships:

1. Make Partnership Goals Together:

Whether it is a physician office or an ACO, your goals must align.  Of course, all providers want to work to provide high quality care and improve patient outcomes.  However, if you don’t discuss how to best achieve those goals between partners, you may be working very hard and not accomplishing what you both want.

2. Include Staff On Joint Goals:

Again, you are busy and so is staff, but communicating how you will work with partners is crucial.  All clinical and administrative staff need to understand the game plan too.  Don’t decide operational changes without working with those it will directly affect.

3. Measure Progression On A Routine Basis:

Always measure metrics and intangibles that are important to all members of home care partnerships.  Meet up with other partners at set times to discuss the metrics and be willing andopen to address any issues others may have with your agency.

4. EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE:

Chronic disease management is a key in all realms of healthcare today.  In order to thrive in home care partnerships, you have to educate your staff on chronic disease.  This means all members of the team.  This includes therapy, nursing, and aide staff.  All members of the clinical team need to know the best practices to manage chronic disease.  Often times, aide staff is overlooked in the skilled clinical picture.  In home care of today and the future, the home care aide is crucial in keeping patients at home and safely managing chronic disease.

Let Us Work With You On Your Home Care Partnerships:

Kenyon Homecare Consulting works with agencies on chronic disease management programs to advance you and your partnership goals.  Call us today at 206-721-5091 or contact us online for your free 30 minute consultation today.

Take A Hard Look At Your Chronic Disease Education And Programs. Are You Part Of The Gold Standard? Do You Want To Be?

paradigm shiftAnyone in home care today knows that chronic disease management is a must, but doing it well is easier said than done.  It begins with solid chronic disease education.  Then, you need a strong internal program for clinical staff to succeed with patient care.

Start With What You Do Now:

So, let’s say the nurse admits the patient who has CHF.  Home care puts in nursing, a home health aide, and physical therapy.   The therapy helps with endurance and aide helps to complete the ADL’s.  Nursing has a packet of CHF education and visit by visit gives it out to the patient after teaching what is on it.  Nursing continues assessment and teaching until the patient is stabilized.  Then, discharge is completed with goals met.  What has been done to manage that disease on an ongoing basis? How will the patient handle it once you walk out the door?

Nurses Cannot Be The Answer To All Things All The Time:

Nurses often feel the need to be all things to all people in home care.  This is not realistic.  The skilled disciplines all have a part in a chronic disease management program.  The important thing to remember is as talk of a patient, you need to communicate there is one care plan for that patient.  Agencies speak of aide, nursing and therapy care plans as though each is a different language.  The tasks related to those care plans may be different, but goals should align. Overlap should be apparent on the task level as well.

One Patient Has One Care Plan:

If physical therapy wants range of motion completed on a patient, there is no reason why the other disciplines shouldn’t be doing the same while in the home.  But, we seem to compartmentalize tasks to just one discipline.  Wound care can be completed by a physical therapist as can med reconciliation.  Home health aides can do ROM and ambulate with the patient.  Just think through traditional roles and decide what can crossover between disciplines.  By changing the paradigm of how you see roles in the home, you can change the outcomes.  It makes sense.  It makes all disciplines more comprehensive and more laser focused on the patient status as opposed to the task itself.  Once each discipline starts “seeing” the patient in the same light, the goals and outcomes align.  This also allows agencies to align goals and outcomes with other providers in ACOs or specialty partnerships.

How To Shift A Paradigm:

This is the toughest part of the entire thing, but it can be done and it has been done.  The first part starts with the education piece.  The present and future of home care means more and more completed within the home than ever.  We are looking at medical homes now in certain areas and shifting everything back out of institutional facilities.  So, the industry has to make all patient care time count.  It is a transition and will not be perfect as you begin it.

Chronic Disease Education Programs:

Chronic disease education for aides is often very basic and does not lead to the aide being a key player in the home health plan of care.  This is the first and biggest misstep.  Teaching the aide about disease specific care and looking past the “bath” is key in chronic disease management.  For example, the aide needs to understand what a change in skin color can mean to someone with heart issues. The aides need to be programmed to be cognizant for subtle changes that come with specific chronic disease. Having a better understanding of the disease will improve the quality of care.

Start with your aide staff.  Educate on a systematic approach to recognizing patient changes and looking past the bath and into the bigger picture.  Work with nursing staff to coordinate directly with aide staff more often.  Look at care plans to make sure chronic disease is addressed.  Make looking at a care plan and really understanding it more of a priority for aide staff.

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting Can Help Make It Happen!:

Whether you have started the process or starting from scratch, Kenyon Homecare Consulting can help with your chronic disease education.   Call 206-721-5091 or contact us online for your free 30 minute consultation today.

They Say Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But Sometimes Working Together Can Feel Harder! Here Are Ways To Use Your Strengths To End Up On Top Of Home Care Partnerships!

teamSometimes, on paper, collaboration looks like it should be easy.  Right?  However, we don’t live in a perfect world with perfect human beings.  So, it is important when you work in an ACO or other home care partnerships to know how to make life easier.

How Do You Operate And The Partners Operate?:

Internal operations are so important in working in an ACO.  If you don’t collaborate well between your own disciplines, you won’t work well with other healthcare providers.  On the same hand, you may be working with partners who are not as efficient as you are and this can be frustrating for your agency.  Both are equally important to make things work correctly and efficiently to improve patient care. Think about ways you can help staff with the frustrations on both sides of that coin.  Work with the other administrators on improvement of communications and processes.  It will make both providers better if you work through the bumps collaboratively.

How Do You Analyze Your Quality Data?:

There are some truly fantastic quality programs out there.  But, a QI program is only as good as what the agency does with the data.  The process is a continuous loop.  Look at what you track and what the data really does for you.  Are you tracking things you don’t really need to because the data has been consistently high ?  Or, do you have items you track, but are really doing nothing to actively improve numbers?  If so, your quality program is costly with no real return on your investment.

Chronic Disease Programs/ Education:

In order to function well in an ACO, you must have a chronic disease management program that is on top of changes in patient status.  You have to have proactive care plans and not those that react to issues after exacerbation of illness.  This may seem like a common sense statement, but take a look at your care plans for a patient 5 years ago that has CHF.  Does it look just like a patient admitted yesterday?  If so, then evaluate your program and what education staff is doing in the home.  How often is the patient being monitored? And, ALL disciplines need to be involved in the education and the proactive care plan approach.

We Can Help You Get There!:

At Kenyon Homecare Consulting, our senior consultants can help with program development and education to staff.  Kenyon has great online education for the management of chronic disease.  Call us today at 206-721-5091 or contact us online to schedule your free 30 minute consultation on home care partnerships.

You Have Heard Of Integrated Networks, But Can It Really Exist Or Is It Just A Myth? Finding The Perfect Combination of Patient Care When Participation In An ACO is Done Right!

ChangeAs a home care administrator, you may not be part of an ACO yet. Your local hospitals may be putting together networks and beginning to analyze data.  But, it may not be something that has seriously affected you yet.

How Can A Silo Really Go Away?:

This is the million dollar question, right? You know that home care is a cost savings modality to the Medicare system, but can’t understand why there are still so many things being done on an inpatient level that can be done at home. Well, this is where the paradigm shift is heading now.  When we look back historically, care was always provided in homes.  The house call was routine.  Then, the shift became longer inpatient stays and no one made house calls at home anymore.

Reality is, the change to so much care out of the home and by so many providers was the beginning of silo creation.  As an industry, healthcare has come so far and is capable of doing more than ever before, but it isn’t done efficiently. The break down if the silo is the paradigm shift back to the home.  ACOs and medical models at home are working to get there. The future is home care as the prime mover for the day-to-day care of a patient.

What Can You Do To Prepare?:

Whether you are part of an ACO, looking to join one, or in the data collection phase of something integrated on your local level, start with your agency first.  How integrated are you as an agency?  Communication is so huge in a successful network.  Look very seriously at how well your staff communicates between departments.  How well do care plans get updated as the patient condition changes.  How often do you see changes to aide services based upon what is truly happening with patients?  Take a small sample of patients who have multiple disciplines in the home.  Check the charts and trend some information.  Sit in on the nurses meetings.  Is the primary aide included in the report? Is the therapist there? Are disciplines working towards common goals or working only on discipline specific tasks.  There is a big difference between the two.

Manage Chronic Diseases Better Than Your Competitors:

After analyzing your sample data, you may need to change some processes and disease management programs.  Remember to always think goal driven as opposed to task driven.  You may be able to say the aide completed personal care, the nurse taught meds and disease process, and the therapist did the exercises.  But, if you can’t communicate exactly how home care improved the patient, then the agency is still task driven.  Looking at education for chronic diseases from a team approach is the ticket.  Look at making your aides an integral part of the management of the patient.

Communication from all disciplines should be free-flowing and routine.  The physical therapist can check for orthostatic issues for a patient just started on new blood pressure medication.  It does not require an additional nursing visit.  The aide is also able to take a blood pressure and report the readings back to the nurse.  Utilization of all disciplines to meet goals is just better care.

Call Us For Help!:

If you want to look at process changes or need help with meeting the expectations of an integrated network of providers, Kenyon Homecare Consulting can help.  Call us at 206-721-5091 or contact us online today for your free 30 minute consultation.

I Know I Need To Educate My Staff For Care In An ACO, But How And Which Employees? I Feel Like I Am Beating My Head Against The Wall Sometimes.

educationWhether you come from a small or large home care agency, preparation for an ACO isn’t easy.   It takes time, resources, and patience.  Let’s take a look at how the proper type of chronic disease education is key for all disciplines involved.

Shift The Paradigm Of Care:

In traditional Medicare models of the past, you see the nurse case manage the patients and other disciplines play a role.  The roles in home health have traditionally been independent of one another.  This was never the intention.  There was always to be a TRUE coordination of care.  All disciplines were to work together to achieve outcomes for the patient.  By ongoing changes to the care plan for all disciplines as coordination took place, the goals should be met and done more efficiently.  Many will read this and think that this can only exist in a perfect world.  Not true.  By shifting the paradigm of care and making it more effective, you can be successful and thrive as an agency independently and part of an ACO.  This begins with education and it is an ongoing process.

Who Should Have Chronic Disease Education?:

The answer is simple; all clinical staff who will touch a patient.  In order to thrive in an ACO environment, you must focus on management of chronic disease.  In order for the team to win the game, you must make sure everyone is on the right play.  Let’s look specifically at some different roles and how they change with a paradigm shift:

1. Nursing:

Nurses are not trained to be task oriented.  Nursing is about critical thinking skills and putting together a whole picture to make the best nursing judgment.  In many cases, the nurse is not able to focus on this because there are so many “tasks” involved in home care.  Chronic disease education doesn’t just consist of pathophysiology of a disease.  That isn’t what chronic disease management is. If the nurse gets to function in true case management, all disciplines take a role in chronic disease management. Chronic disease education is about comprehensive disease management.

2: Physical/ Occupational Therapy:

As healthcare in general has been evolving to a more coordinated approach, therapists have more responsibilities in home care.  Agencies have therapist complete what is within the scope of practice for the discipline.  Physical therapists are looking closer at medication and completing wound care more than ever.  It only makes sense.  You don’t send two nurses to a home to complete what can be done by one.  So, why would the therapist visit be looked at the exact same way.  The point is that many agencies still have nurses complete tasks that can be completed by another discipline.  The skilled physical and occupational therapists are skilled and licensed.  Chronic disease education as part of a paradigm shift for your agency is a must for the rehab staff.

3. Home Health/ Home Care Aides:

Last and certainly not least are the home care aides.  Since aides spend the most time with the patient, then chronic disease education and inclusion is the paradigm shift is most critical .  Because the home health aides can do so much more than give a bath, agencies need to focus on chronic disease education so they can! It was also not the intention for a home health aide visit to mean the employee is a “bath aide” and that is it.  Personal care is so much more than a bath.  However, without chronic disease education and a program that makes the aide a part of the chronic disease management team, an agency can inadvertently silo the role of the aide.

What Is Your Next Step:

Let’s say you have some work to do on your outcomes and re-hospitalization.  Chronic disease education and management programs are your fist step.  You need to look at the size of your agency.  Maybe you want someone to help structure a disease management program for you.  Or, if you have an educational department within your agency, you want that employee to do it.  The first thing is to determine how you want to be educated and what that needs to look like for your agency.  Working with someone who has developed and implemented a successful program makes the process a whole lot easier than re-inventing the wheel yourself.  Development internally often means a lot of trial and error to improve the program and this can be very costly for the agency and frustrating for employees as things continue to change.

You may have a program of education that includes other disciplines, but the home care aides have never been part of the mix.  Chronic disease education for aides is often more difficult to develop because it is new for the agency.  The other disciplines have been educated in the past.  So, this becomes not only teaching about the disease, but also about a shift in the role of the aide.  Conceptually, it requires the aide to see themselves with a different role in care of the patient.  This presents challenges, you know, but it is worth the outcome whether you are part of an ACO or not.

We Can Help!: 

Kenyon Homecare Consulting has extensive chronic disease education.  We can help with the paradigm shift to true disease management.  Call us today at 2o6-721-5091 or contact us online for your free 30 minute consultation and let us show you how to move your agency forward!

 

So, You Want In An ACO, But You Don’t Know How To Prep For The Staffing? Here’s How You Need To Assess It Ahead Of Time To Avoid Headaches Later.

teamworkBefore you can benefit from an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), it requires excellent care and quality outcomes. To do this, re-evaluate your staffing.

Staffing An Accountable Care Organization

Home health staffing in an ACO is different. Here are five things to consider before you join.

1. Lack Of Flexibility Leads To Increased Re-Hospitalizations .

One requirement for an ACO is quality outcomes, which means decreased re-hospitalizations. Staffing is crucial. If it is too tight, no one is available for patients in trouble. This leads to emergency situations and potential hospital admissions.  Make sure your agency is staffed with back- up to make strategic patient visits as needed.

2. Proper Care Planning Is Necessary To Help Prevent Emergencies.

Look at how often you see the patient. If you do not have enough contact, early symptom intervention/ management is affected. Because the goal is prevention and chronic disease management, providers need to manage the patient at home.  Provide comprehensive patient visits in order to make  the most of your care. You need increased contact to the patient from all members of the care team. This means the home health aide when needed.  This is critical to manage chronic disease.  The aide provides more direct hands on care than other clinicians.  The home health aide need to be a part of the plan.

3. Inadequate Management Prevents Agencies From Meeting ACO Requirements.

Many times, client care quality boils down to management. What is your current scheduling model for visits? Without organized schedules, clinicians may not use time efficiently. Sometimes, a management consultant provides oversight of clinician time. Because clinician time is better managed, there is more time spent on the patient in and outside of visits.

4. Poor Client Care Causes Issues With Providers.

If care suffers due to staffing, agencies are eliminated from the ACO. This affects your bottom line as well as future referrals. It is an ongoing process.  This means you may be in the ACO and one point and not in the next.  Quality outcomes are measured quarterly.

5. Being Part Of An ACO Means Making An Investment.

Improving quality requires time and money from agencies. Being in an ACO is no exception.  You must reach benchmarks in quality outcomes determined by Medicare. Make sure existing and new staff receive the best possible training in order to improve care.

Reaching Accountable Care Organization Goals With Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we have tools to help agencies with an ACO. From employee training to management consulting, we help your agency succeed. Call us at 206-721-5091 or contact us online to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.

Why You Want To Blueprint Your ACO Path

PartnershipAccountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are networks of doctors, hospitals, home health and providers serving Medicare Fee-For-Service patients. You must meet the requirements defined by the ACO and Medicare to join. There are benefits for providers and patients, but it is a challenge. In this article, we discuss why you should blueprint your path first.

Benefits Of ACO Participation

Improvement in care with decreased costs is the ultimate outcome.  Working together, patients experience better outcomes without unnecessary emergent care and hospitalizations. Participation benefits your agency from an organizational and financial standpoint. Medicare gives ACO members with positive outcomes additional dollars.

Preparing For Participation

ACO membership isn’t simple and agencies must evaluate process measures. There are quality measures and outcomes required for participation. Once you’ve joined, the ACO must maintain and improve benchmark data to receive financial perks. Here are criteria. The process is ongoing.

Eligibility Requirements

To participate, agencies should know the requirements from Medicare. Here are a few stipulations:

  • See at least 5,000 Medicare Fee-For-Service patients;
  • Three year participation minimum;
  • Be in good standing with Medicare;
  • No other participation in shared reimbursement plans with Medicare.

Medicare also requires a governing body promote use of evidence-based medicine, patient engagement, quality and cost reporting.

Benchmarks

Once your agency meets outcome measures, the ACO as a whole must exceed Medicare benchmarks to maintain additional financial reward. Benchmarks developed by CMS measure outcomes and cost savings . When savings are discovered, Medicare shares a portion with participating providers. This means you must ensure staff is well-trained and communicates with the other providers. Successful collaboration decreases duplication of care and testing, emergent care visits, hospitalizations, and ultimately cost.

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

It’s clear joining an ACO benefits your agency, but getting there is a challenge. At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we know the steps you’ll take to succeed. Schedule a consultation to get started.

5 Tips to Evaluating a Successful ACO

By now, the whole healthcare world has heard of Accountable Care Organizations. Incentives for providers and benefits for patients make joining an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) a smart decision.Healthcare reform

ACO’s Evaluated

Before your home health jumps on the ACO train, carefully consider your options. While all ACO’s have requirements, some may not align with your agency. Here are five steps to evaluate before you join.

1. Consider its Leadership

ACO’s should have adequate leadership and physician partners. Look at these professionals to make sure all goals match. Look at how the organization currently runs. Failures, both minor and major, can reflect leadership breakdown.

2. Evaluate Relationships between Partnering Providers

Do the partners communicate well with each other? Do partners work for outcomes and patient satisfaction? If not, the organization will struggle meeting goals. The perks you’ve worked for won’t be rewarded.

Look at the relationships between providers. Do they support one another or offer the bare minimum to get by? A strong support system is crucial for ACO success.

3. Review Provider-Payer Communication

ACOs should work with payers for true coordinated care. Open communication is important in relationships with payers.

4. Look for Tech Advances

Technology makes care possible and easier. Do the providers have an electronic medical record that can be shared? How can you access information to care?

5. Understand the Benefits

Take the time to find about these groups in general. Know the benefits and requirements before making any final decision. Doing research prevents you from entering into a partnership blindly. The process will take staff time.  It will also require process changes, so getting staff on board is important.

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting and Accountable Care Organizations

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we know what you should know before partnering with an ACO. Schedule your free consultation today to learn more.