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Differentiate Your Agency for Greater Success

Now that you have established the fundamentals of your business as we discussed in Home Health, Home Care, Hospice: Get Your Agency Off to a Successful Start, the next step in creating your new business is customizing your business growth plan in order to stand out among your competition. Customizing your business gives you the opportunity to differentiate your company by the lines of
business you offer and perfect.

Some agencies, because of licensure, will feel they have limited choices, e.g., Medicare home health and hospice does limit to some extent, but even some of those agencies specialize in rehab, others in palliative care, etc. So, even with the most restrictive of licenses there is still an opportunity to differentiate yourself.

Private pay agencies experience fewer restrictions; as a result of having so many options, sometimes agencies have a tendency to want to do everything. Consequently, they end up not doing anything very well. It is better for the success of your agency to select two or three areas that appeal to you and concentrate on developing those.

Every specialty requires significant planning and implementation to achieve success. For instance, if you elect to provide live-in services as your specialty, you must determine how you will hire, orient, train and incentivize your workers. What will you do for your customers that is currently not being done by your competition? What does oversight look like? Who will be responsible for the different lines of business? What are the proforma goals for each line? How about the benchmarks? These questions must be answered for every line of business you provide in your agency. Certainly, it’s not an easy task but it is one that is well worth the time to develop. In fact, whether your agency is licensed Medicare or non-Medicare, there is a wide range of options in services you can provide that others do not. Begin customizing your business by finding out what services others are offering.

The next step in customizing your business is to determine what customers want and are willing to pay for if not covered by their insurance. One innovative method to determine client needs and wants is to look at the complaint log for requested services. Another method is to conduct a phone survey asking if they would be willing to pay for a certain list of services, if offered. Even a Medicare home health agency can offer services that Medicare does not cover. In this case, the agency provides the services and charges those patients willing to pay privately. An example of a service offered thorough a either a Medicare or a private pay agency is massage therapy. Medicare does not pay for this service; therefore, the agency can charge the patient directly.

With every specialty service you offer, a comprehensive training program must accompany the service to ensure that the staff has the knowledge and expertise to provide excellent care. For instance, if your specialty is dementia care, you want to make sure that all of your staff, nurses, therapists and aides, are educated in the latest information available for care of the client/patient with dementia. Advances in the knowledge and care of many disease specialties are being made every year. You will want to provide ongoing education and training throughout the year to keep your staff informed of the latest developments. A calendar of required in-services and training that all affected employees must attend will be helpful.

Assigning the responsibility of overseeing the specialty programs will be critical. Since each service will be unique with special requirements, tracking of training, supervision of services and attention to the details will require someone who is focused on that particular program. That individual will need to be responsible for setting up the tracking systems and managing the program.

Finally you need to track the success of the program. There are several elements to add to your company dashboard, including sales, cost of sales, new referrals, conversion rate, number of new cases, cases closed, value of new cases, value of lost cases, number of new employees hired and trained for the program, number of resignations, percentage of employees in the program above and beyond demand (you want a 30% pool of available workers at all times to ensure that the all new cases can be staffed), and lastly, the total gross revenue for the month compared to the goal for the month.

Setting up specialty programs can be complicated but can also be very rewarding, especially as a contribution to the total value of your agency. If you are contemplating adding a specialty program to either your Medicare agency or your private duty agency and are not sure where to begin, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation.

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