This article is sponsored by PlayMaker Health. In this interview, Home Health Care News sits down with PlayMaker Chief Executive Officer Gregg Boyle to learn about his career journey through health care technology, the most critical data points home health agencies need today, and how the specific challenges of the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) and COVID-19 play off of each other.
HHCN: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to lead PlayMaker Health.
Boyle: I’ve been involved in health care technology for about 20 years, with a number of companies, with my work heavily focused on helping health care agencies improve data-driven decision making. Just over two-and-a-half years ago, I joined PlayMaker Health because I saw post-acute care as a vertical that could benefit if given the ability to harness the power of data to accelerate decision making. Over the last two years, I’ve helped lead an acquisition that further strengthened the breadth of our data and launched two new products. At the beginning of this year, I stepped in as the CEO.
What are you seeing right now in terms of the biggest challenges in this industry?
The pandemic is top of mind for everyone. It’s all we read about every day. I believe the largest challenge isn’t the pandemic itself, it’s our industry’s ability to be prepared for what happens post-pandemic. This was the PDGM year for home health. We came into Jan. 1 with everyone focused on the implications of payment reform. Some organizations were well prepared. Others were still preparing. Then 60 days in, we encountered an entirely new set of challenges related to COVID-19.
The challenge that most organizations have right now is figuring out how they are going to sustain through this gap in services. There are new constraints and restrictions preventing agencies from allowing their nurses and their staff to see patients. Agencies are focused on balancing the need to get through what’s happening in the short-term while being prepared for when service demand gets reintroduced. How do they balance that mix of continuing to keep staff utilized, finding creative ways to use them to solve the right problems, keeping relationships with patients but then also being prepared as demand increases here in the short term?
As we come out at the other end of this situation, they will be asking themselves, “Did I take the right steps during this time to improve inefficiency I had in the business? Did I take the right steps to reinforce relationships I had with my referral networks and keep in touch with patients, families and facilities during this time?” That way, as demand for services rebounds, they are prepared.
How can home health providers set themselves up for success? You mentioned working on efficiencies or different processes. Are there any specifics that you could mention on that?
Home health, like other industries impacted by this global pandemic, can use this as an opportunity to pause, reflect and figure out where we need to make improvements. It’s interesting to see how quickly some agencies have evolved past the “How long is this going to last, and how do we get through it?” mindset and have embraced the mindset of, “How do we take advantage and better ourselves during this time so that when things come back, we’re in a better place and a stronger place to do that?”
These agencies see that this is really about data — about having the right visibility into their referral networks, into how business dynamics are changing and where the referrals are coming from. Between PDGM and COVID-19, do they really have their fingers on the pulse of changes, do they understand what’s happening and can they react as quickly as they need to?
Without the right systems and the right data to understand in real time what’s happening in the business, they’re going to be challenged. It’s not that they won’t be successful, because there will be a large amount of demand that is introduced into home health as these restrictions come back. The question becomes: Are you as prepared to be successful as you could have been?
What are you seeing in regard to how agencies are adapting and positioning themselves for when this demand surges?
It’s interesting: Limitation really does breed innovation. When you’ve got constraints, it makes you creative, and what I’ve seen in all of these organizations is that they’re finding innovative ways to use their staff to provide value to these families and these patients in ways they didn’t before.
They’re doing meals-on-wheels, they’re delivering medication, they’re just finding new ways to provide value to patients. And then they are communicating that, through the right tools, back to their referral partners to make sure those partners understand that they really are focused on the outcome of the patient.
I think they’re building a better brand right now, those who are using this time to be creative for their agencies and with their partners, than maybe they would have before.
How is PlayMaker supporting providers to maintain existing referral relationships right now?
We are a post-acute workflow and business intelligence company that focuses on helping agencies understand and improve those valuable relationships. Our solutions expose hidden insights into new opportunities, evolving risks, inefficiencies within the marketing process and changes to the quality of their networks. The goal of this is to give providers the information they need to forge and maintain strong relationships with their partners.
Using our platform, agencies get up-to-date information on what referrals are flowing into their business. They can see how referral patterns are changing, and quickly take action. With a few taps on their smartphone, they can quickly connect with the discharge planner from the facility where a referral originated and be able to talk in detail about the patient that was referred based on data right there on their phone that was seamlessly synced directly from their electronic medical record.
Once the call is done, if there is a follow-up, our application transcribes their comments into notes that can be referenced by intake back at the agency.
Then, within our platform, we aggregate the data from all of these interactions into trends and patterns that give the sales managers and executives visibility into performance indicators, showing both the health and new opportunities within the referral process.
What do you see as the most critical data that home health agencies need right now, and how has that changed over the last year?
Let’s start by saying that data itself is one of the most critical things a home health agency needs. If we keep on the topic of referral management, the way that agencies can capture the data they need is by asking, “Where is the opportunity?” and, “How effective are we at converting that opportunity into admissions?”
To gain these insights, they need complete visibility into how patients are flowing from facilities and the community into home health, and who is potentially influencing those decisions. Once they have those market insights, they then need the operational ones that provide visibility into how their agency is interacting with those opportunities and where they rank compared to their competition.
Understanding the benchmarking that comes with this competitive aspect is more critical now than ever. It’s no longer good enough to just survive. You need to thrive in this environment in order to maneuver through the future of value-based care and payment reform.
What’s on the horizon for PlayMaker? You mentioned some of the exciting things that have happened so far under your leadership. Is there anything that you’re excited about what’s coming down the pike?
There are a few interesting things on the horizon. We are uniquely positioned to provide market intelligence mixed with behavioral sales analytics, giving agencies near real-time views into how effectively they are growing their referral networks. We are focused on ensuring agencies not only understand where opportunities exist, but how to manage and mitigate where they are sub-optimized from a sales process perspective.
What is the greatest opportunity that you see for home health this year?
I just echo what I think a lot of people are now quickly realizing, which is that serving patients in their homes is absolutely the most cost-effective and safest place for patients. What we’re going through right now has only confirmed it. I think home health will be one of the shining stars that comes out after the COVID challenges. The entire world is quickly learning that many of the things we thought had to be completed in an office can be done very effectively from the home. Home health will be a big beneficiary of this shift.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
PlayMaker Health is a post-acute growth platform serving hundreds of home-based care organizations. To learn how we can help your business, visit us at playmakerhealth.com.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics, and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].