After a year of high growth and opportunity, Jeff Bevis, CEO of FirstLight Home Care, is looking at 2018 with even more ambitious plans to add locations to the company’s footprint.
FirstLight, which is based in Cincinnati, has been in operation since 2010, and has grown to more than 240 locations in 33 states. In 2017 alone, which saw a 29% increase in revenue and 24% increase in location growth for FirstLight, the company added 51 new markets and 20 new locations, according to Bevis. In 2018, the non-medical home care franchisor is looking to add 60 more locations.
In this period of growth, FirstLight is also experiencing more interest in developing relationships with hospitals and health systems, Bevis told Home Health Care News. As the general health care system continues to shift toward value-based care, private duty home care providers are finding a spot in the continuum of care.
“Everybody in the care food chain—from hospitals to physicians, all the way through home care, hospice, skilled nursing facilities, rehab, assisted living—everybody, or more and more [providers] are cognizant of the need to be working together,” Bevis said.
Along with welcoming new relationships and greater assimilation in the care continuum, FirstLight is working on adding new technology across its franchise system, including a new GPS function within its proprietary software to better enable caregivers to check in and out of visits on the go.
In addition, FirstLight is gearing up to launch a pilot utilizing voice-activated technology in February, with the aim of reaching between 200 and 250 clients within the year.
As the business continues to grow, FirstLight is also looking to dominate in its markets, by focusing on continued recruitment for caregivers. In 2017, FirstLight had a retention rate of 89.1% across the company, Bevis told HHCN.
As more home care companies continue to be takeover targets in an era of major consolidation for the space, Bevis sees more opportunities for independent home care owners to move under the FirstLight umbrella in 2018.
“The biggest opportunity is creating a haven, or a new stage, for independence,” he said. “We have a program called Independent Conversion that enables an independent [operator] to become part of FirstLight with financial incentives. That same conversion structure enables existing franchisees to merge with existing operators in their markets.”
Navigating through the uncertainties of 2018 will be another likely challenge, Bevis stated, noting that as the federal government went through a 69-hour shutdown within the first few weeks of the new year, he was fielding calls from franchisees asking about the turmoil. As FirstLight continues to take on more clients and work with providers like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), political turmoil factors into the uncertainty.
“I’ve have a couple franchisees over the weekend say, ‘What do I do?’” Bevis said of the government shutdown following a budget stalemate. “What happens to my VA clients?”
Fortunately, compared to home health care, home care is relatively shielded from significant regulations as of late.
Written by Amy Baxter