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As a self-described data junkie, Stephen Tweed has lived by many mantras throughout his career in home care.
When talking with Home Health Care News this week about how home care agencies can use and leverage data in order to grow, one of those mantras came to mind.
“What gets measured, gets managed,” Tweed, the CEO of Leading Home Care, told HHCN. “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.”
The home care industry has consistently fallen short on collecting and utilizing data.
Whether it’s patient information, company habits or referral source data, providers should be taking advantage of every data point they can, Tweed said.
“As the industry grows and consolidates, there are more and more larger companies that are using more sophisticated methods to gather, track and analyze data and are using that to make strategic decisions,” Tweed said. “I’m very excited about what I see with the people in the top tier of our industry, but there are still thousands of companies out there that don’t have that level of data gathering capacity.”
What home care agencies should track
One of the main ways home care agencies can grow by using data is to identify the ideal client.
“What are the referral sources that give you the new clients with the highest hours per week in the longest length of stay?” Tweed said.
Leading Home Care is a network of home care companies – led by Tweed – that work together to share ideas and solve industry-related problems.
Tweed and his colleagues — most of which consist of the executives in the top 5% to 10% of the industry in terms of size and reach — have been digging into their own data over the last several years to get a better sense of what does and doesn’t work in home care.
The group learned that targeting a specific type of client is a good first step.
One home care agency that is already focusing on that exact idea is AccordCare.
The Marietta, Georgia-based home care company offers personal care, skilled nursing, clinically complex care and companion services in eight states. AccordCare is a non-clinical company for the most part, but it does have certified home health at some of its locations.
“As we start to engage with other post-acute groups, we want to be able to take care of that really sick person in their home and we have to be cost-effective,” Brandon Ballew, CEO of AccordCare, told HHCN. “Allowing us to develop protocols and get more specific around the types of patients that are causing the highest spend in the home care industry allows us to develop really specific protocols around that group so that we can target them.”
With that data, Ballew and his team can then go to a payer and show the value that AccordCare can bring by stopping incidents from occurring with home care interventions.
“That’s where we want to grow,” he said.
Members of Leading Home Care also landed on two other main focuses: how to attract the right caregivers and what messages need to be sent in order to retain those caregivers.
“We’re really asking three core, strategic questions and then looking at the data to answer those questions,” Tweed said.
Beyond those three core questions, home care agencies have started to track how often a referral is converted to a home assessment, what percentage of assessments turn into admissions and other concrete data points.
“Those metrics look at the result of your sales and marketing team,” Tweed said. “[Then there are the] caregiver core questions: How many applicants are we getting? How many do we convert? How many make it through the first pre-screening process? How many make it through the first interview? How many make it through orientation and training?”
These questions, and the layers underneath, should give home care agencies a better understanding of where their team is excelling and where work needs to be improved.
What is holding some home care agencies back
Not every home care agency has the bandwidth to track this kind of data. Tweed understands that, but if leaders of agencies know what to look for, they should have a better idea of how to responsibly grow when the time is right.
“So many of these home care companies either don’t have a system to help them track the data or they’re running three different pieces of software in order to effectively manage their business,” Tweed said. “Small companies are run by good people, but they sometimes aren’t necessarily experienced business owners, so they may lack the business acumen to be able to track the data and use it.”
AccordCare is in the early stages of data collection, Ballew said. The type of data that payers want to see is also a work in progress.
“It’s being defined now,” Ballew said. “Each firm’s a little different and I think we’re all finding our way through it as to what data points we’re all looking for.”
Ballew also believes that using data to improve outcomes will naturally lead to growth. That’s why AccordCare is focusing on not only identifying an ideal client, but also keeping a close eye on hospitalizations and ER visits.
If Tweed could give any one piece of advice to home care owners — both large and small — it would be to create a consistent and reliable system.
“What it really comes down to is systematizing the business,” he said. “A system has two elements: people and processes.”
There’s no easy answer, Tweed said, but if agencies are committed to taking advantage of the data that is available, that’s a good start.