A lot of personal home care providers have been conducting business the same way for decades.
For them to continue to flourish, however, they may have to bring new ideas into the fold.
“One of the biggest opportunities out there is collaboration with your competitors in your local market,” HomeWell Care Services CEO Crystal Franz said during Home Health Care News’ FUTURE event in Nashville. “Some of our franchise owners have territories right next door to each other, and what we find is that when they work together with a fellow competitor, all ships rise even higher.”
HomeWell is a Burkburnett, Texas-based home care franchise with over 80 locations across the U.S.
While home care providers are bound to compete with each other in every market, Franz sees natural ways for competitors to learn from each other – in ways that ultimately better the lives of patients.
“When you have a lack of caregivers, you’re able to share knowledge, share caregivers and share referral sources,” Franz said. “If you can’t service a client but your fellow neighbor can, then it’s an ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine,’ mentality. The demand is always going to be there.”
With staffing shortages, not every agency can take on every referral they receive. Clients who don’t receive care in a timely manner generally run the risk of experiencing worse health outcomes.
“I tell our employees all the time that we can’t do this alone,” Family Tree Private Care CEO Alex Bonetti said on the panel. “Family Tree is not going to be the only company to do this, hence why we collaborate with people all over the country to share best practices and ideas.”
Family Tree offers concierge-level caregiving, private nursing and care management services throughout Texas and Colorado.
Bonetti said he wishes he saw more collaboration across the space.
“At the end of the day, what I want to see from a lot of home care owners, is them taking a similar approach to the one we’re taking,” he said. “I want to see them get in the home more often and see them take on more service lines that allow a real continuum throughout the client’s journey.”
Opportunity for innovation
One of the main ways home care leaders are trying to advance their businesses is through data tracking.
“I think the opportunity for innovation is internal and external,” Executive Home Care Brand President Kevin Porter said on the panel. “I think there’s an opportunity in the health care space to be more diligent with gathering data. Taking the opportunity to truly understand where your business is coming from, and the impact that you have on the broader health care spectrum.”
That data collection doesn’t have to stay in house, either.
Sharing data with payers, health systems and other providers also helps the patient.
“In the past, when you’ve seen the collaboration between agency competitors, the satisfaction is higher,” Porter said. “We’re WellSky customers, but it would be really great to start seeing our SaaS platform partners pulling some collaborative data so that we can actually present that to the higher health care systems and to promote the continuum of care.”
The burden to collect and share reliable data doesn’t have to be on the shoulders of agencies and franchise owners, Porter said. It should be an industry-wide effort.
“It’s going to be extremely important that we let these other providers in the continuum of care know how we’re helping them with readmission rates, fall rates,” Franz added. “As home care agency owners, it’s been the wild west for a really long time. But I think there’s an opportunity to be more savvy in your own data, in your house, under your roof.”
Franz pointed to referral sources as being a key data point – that should be tracked meticulously – in order to make informed, cost-effective decisions.
“It’s so important to really track where those referrals are coming from so that you know what you want to double down on or what you’re wasting your money on,” she said. “For instance, finding out what chronic diseases have a longer length of stay so that you can not have so much turnover with your clients. Then talk to your referral sources and say, ‘I want those specific people.’”