The home health care industry is white-hot these days, and smart agency owners are looking for creative ways to capitalize on this growth market. With annual growth rates expected to hit 7.5 percent this year, the industry is anticipated to be worth a cumulative – and astonishing – $130 billion by the end of 2017.
So how can agencies save a piece of this pie for themselves?
The key to growth for most home care agencies is to establish a referral stream. Rather than endlessly chasing after individual clients, a home care referral stream ensures a steady flow of new business coming into the agency in the most efficient way possible.
Referrals can come from many places, including private payers and government funders. For agencies who look primarily to private payers, growth depends on the agency’s ability to network and build relationships with more payer organizations. Alternatively, for agencies that rely on government funders, a growth strategy will revolve around bidding on and winning more requests for proposals (RFPs).
In both situations, the most successful agencies focus on building credibility. But to build credibility, agencies must be able to prove their results.
Doing so requires ready access to accurate, comprehensive data.
Here are four categories of data agencies can focus on to build a body of remarkable proof of performance.
1. Quality of Care Delivered
It’s not enough for agencies to simply say, “Our caregivers deliver outstanding service.” Funders want to see evidence that this is so. Agencies should focus on establishing unequivocally that the care they deliver aligns with the care each client requires.
- Key data point: Percentage of services delivered as ordered. To increase this number, agencies must ensure client care plans are always up to date and that all members of the client’s care team always have access to these accurate plans.
Also critical here is the accuracy of agency visit documentation. Too often, visits are so tightly scheduled that caregivers don’t have sufficient time during the visit to complete their notes. The right digital point-of-care documentation solution can help by putting automated surveys and standardized assessment forms at the caregiver’s fingertips.
2. Client Satisfaction
Home care is a high-touch, highly personal endeavor. This also means client expectations are high, and disappointed clients can be highly vocal with their insurers. From the payer point of view, client satisfaction is therefore a critical concern.
- Key data point: Percentage of on-time and missed visits. Lack of caregiver punctuality is consistently one of the top complaints by home care clients. Improving this metric requires caregivers to have reliable access to up-to-date schedules and agencies to have clear visibility into caregiver activity.
Finish-screen surveys are another easy way to gather immediate feedback on client satisfaction, giving agencies one more tool to evaluate caregiver performance and course-correct if the desired results aren’t achieved.
3. Caregiver Retention
Staffing is often one of the biggest challenges agencies face. Personnel issues – whether it’s a lack of qualified caregivers or a workforce that’s overscheduled and missing visits – directly impact care quality.
- Key data point: Percentage of continuity of caregivers. Caregiver consistency is critical to demonstrating an agency’s ability to deliver high-quality, personal care by developing trusting relationships with clients.
Additionally, the ability of agencies to more efficiently manage schedules can also impact retention as well as service delivery.
With the right visibility into schedules and client locations, care coordinators and schedulers can quickly visualize client locations versus caregiver availability. For example, when a client cancels a visit, agency staff can quickly identify that the caregiver now has an opening – which means the caregiver can be rescheduled in a way that maximizes their time. This reduces frustration levels for all staff members, and helps ensure caregivers feel that their time is valued and they are respected.
4. Continuous Improvement
Home care can be unpredictable, and visits and services don’t always go as planned. Thankfully, payers are realistic and don’t expect agencies to demonstrate perfection. What agencies must do, however, is demonstrate that they are committed to continuously improving their operations.
Doing this, though, requires agencies to monitor the way care is delivered.
- Key data point: Average length of visit. Are caregivers staying long enough to perform their assigned duties? Are they staying too long — or not long enough? Validating visits against care plans requires more accurate Electronic Visit Verification tools.
Automation of workflows and eliminating paper-based processes can also play a key role. By increasing caregiver efficiency, productivity can increase by 25% or more — even freeing caregivers to see additional clients.
It’s these kinds of data-driven process improvements that instill confidence in payers and set agencies up for success.
Ultimately, though, growth depends on an agency’s ability to staff the right caregivers, deliver the right services, and impact the right outcomes. By taking an empirical approach to demonstrating end-to-end performance, agencies will have access to the data they need to win more RFPs and gain important new home care referral sources.
For more insight into improving agency operations and setting the stage for growth, download our newest white paper: 5 Ways Home Care Agencies Can Increase Productivity and Improve Financial Outcomes