For home-based care providers, investing in technology is complicated, cumbersome and necessary.
One of the most difficult issues for leaders is sifting through all of the solutions out there and choosing the ones that fit their businesses. That’s why, before considering what technology to invest in, providers should map out their overarching strategies.
“First, let’s reevaluate what our strategic plan is,” Aveanna Healthcare Holdings CEO Jeff Shaner said during a panel discussion at Home Care 100 this week. “Let’s make sure that everything we’re doing is aligned with a strategic plan, including technology, and make sure everything is relevant for where we want to go. You’ve got to know where you want to go.”
The Atlanta-based Aveanna (Nasdaq: AVAH) delivers home care, home health care and pediatric care services to patients across 33 states.
Once that strategy is set in stone, and there’s a recognition of technology that helps move that strategy forward, things become more clear, Shaner said.
He also mentioned an investment in Workday (Nasdaq: WDAY) technology, which he said he “hated” for the first five years. In its sixth year, however, once integration was completed and the original vision for the technology was coming into focus, he changed his opinion.
“It’s a long-term commitment to implement technology, and then to eventually use it to actually innovate,” Shaner said.
David Baiada – the CEO of a similarly large company, Bayada Home Health Care – struck a the same tone when it came to technology.
“It’s about making the right choices, and organizing all of the ideas so that we can prioritize – and then properly allocating capital to the right things, in the right order,” Baiada said on the panel.
Based in Philadelphia, Bayada provides home-based care services via its more than 26,000 care professionals. The company has locations in 23 states, as well as in Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea and the U.K.
Baiada said that his company has been intentional and forward-thinking in its tech investments for a while. But not to the point where it was being truly disruptive.
That may change in the near term, he said.
“We’ve started to think about how we’re entering an era where there might be opportunity to skip a step or two and be a little more disruptive,” Baiada said. “But the problem with that is it requires bigger bets, bigger amounts of change.”
When it comes to tech investment and disruption, there’s different benefits that come with being a smaller or larger organization.
For Aveanna and Bayada, there’s more capital to push forward into those areas. At the same time, a technology investment or change can spell trouble in an organization with locations across the country – and world – and multiple service lines.
On that issue, the Cincinnati-based FirstLight Home Care sits in a unique position. It is a very large company – with about 200 locations across the country – but it also is a franchisor.
That means one change could affect hundreds of different owners at the local level, within their smaller businesses.
In order to keep everyone on the same page, “a lot of phone calls” are required, according to FirstLight CEO Glee McAnanly.
“I look at technology as foundational to everything we do,” McAnanly said on the panel. “I wish we could come up with a new word other than technology, though, because I think people kind of roll their eyes and think, ‘Oh, good, a new technology. That’s great. What’s that mean?’”
FirstLight is mainly focused on driving the capture of better data and analytics.
To combat those eye rolls, the company routinely rolls out pilot programs to prove to franchisees that better technology, here or there, will improve their businesses.
All three companies recognize that investment in tech will never be for the faint of heart.
“It’s a multi-year journey,” Shaner said. “Nothing is done in a month, nothing is done in a week. These are the commitments to a strategic plan that take us months, quarters, and ultimately years to be successful.”