VOICES: Michael Gelman, President and Chief Operating Officer, CareConnect

This article is sponsored by CareConnect. In this Voices
interview, Home Health Care News sits down with CareConnect President and COO
Michael Gelman to get his take on the top staffing challenges during the
pandemic, how the CareConnect platform is helping agencies resolve them, what
lies ahead for the human capital management (HCM) company and what excites him
about the year ahead for in-home care.

Home Health Care News: You are president of CareConnect.
What were the most instructive stops along your way that you really draw from
in this position?

Michael Gelman: I was a
post-acute CFO and operator in the long-term care space back in early 2000 and
I saw a real need for clinical software that was specific to that setting of
care, so I took a shot and joined a small startup called SigmaCare, which was a
post-acute EHR.

I sat in almost
every leadership team seat at that organization over the course of 11 to 12
years until we ultimately sold the business to MatrixCare about three years
ago. I learned how to be a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) leader during that
time. I was involved in every aspect of the company at some point, from sales
to business development, product management and customer success, which wasn’t
even called customer success back then — it was called “account management
implementation.” I used to think of my experience there as the “SigmaCare
internship.” It truly shaped how I think
about running a technology organization.

When we sold that
company, I decided to stay in post-acute and did some consulting for a while
until I figured out my next big project. I was very interested in finding a
disruptive technology play in the post-acute space because that was what I
knew. When I met CareConnect CEO Bert Brodsky and the board, I knew I had found
a home and I could take what I learned over the past 20 years and grow
CareConnect into something great. I couldn’t be happier that I took the plunge
with this group.

When did CareConnect come to be? What was the need the
company was trying to serve?

CareConnect was
formed in late 2017 with the idea that there were still areas in the post-acute
technology space that were underserved. As regulations increased, like the
overtime exemption and home care final rule, plus a growing caregiver shortage,
rising competition and consolidation, CareConnect rose to enable agencies to
increase their internal staff and caregiver productivity.

As we released our
first product, we were looking to build a world-class team, embrace a very
progressive cloud and mobile-first mindset and be emphatic about leveraging the
most advanced technologies to help us achieve our mission. That’s what
CareConnect is: It’s the best-of-breed home care focused human capital
management product.

We built
CareConnect methodically to deliver a very high impact to our customers. We
started with workforce optimization and digital communication. Unlike
traditional agency management systems that want to check the box around
matching capabilities, we put together an autonomous AI self-learning engine to
optimize caregiver supply with the agency’s demand.

Since launching our
workforce management solution as our entry into human capital management, we’ve
continued to build out our HCM platform. In 2020 we released COVID-19
solutions, compliance/HR tools, e-learning and applicant tracking, always with
the caregiver as the center focal point in our ecosystem. We have continuously
built in feedback loops to enable the system to further engage, build trust and
adapt.

As a company, we
also want to be corporately responsible. On that note, we’re releasing a tool
called Early Acce$$, which is free for caregivers. When a caregiver is using
our system, we know when they’re working, when they can get paid, and what
they’re going to get paid for.

We can provide
microloans ahead of payroll to those caregivers, for example if their car
breaks down or there’s a repair in the house they need to do before payday. In
our app, they can press a button and based on what they’ve earned they can get
that money transferred into their account within a day. There are no fees
associated.

It’s important to
note that we are different from agency management. When a lot of folks hear
about us, their initial reaction is often, “Oh, scheduling and compliance?
I don’t need that. My agency management system or my EHR does that
already.” Those tools are feature sets in those systems, mimicking manual
workflows. CareConnect innovates around these workflows to solve the problems
and inefficiencies that agencies experience..

When agencies start
to look at their metrics, like caseload ratios, overtime, staff turnover, and
realize their current tools don’t address these issues and have reached the cap
of effectiveness, that’s when we get the call and things go well from there.
We’re not an agency management system or an EMR and we will never be — that’s
not what we’re trying to do. We enable these systems to provide added value to
their customers in areas they just can’t get to because roadmaps are so bogged
down with regulations and payor requirements.

A lot has changed for home health over the course of the
pandemic. How did CareConnect change its offerings to support agencies and
their staff, and how will you continue to do that?

The need to connect
people remotely and feel safe when in public was a great opportunity for us, to
be honest. It really forced agencies to figure out how to embrace and use tech
to overcome their in-person limitations. Adoption has really soared by agencies
during this period of time in our core product offerings and we released some
pretty cool COVID tools this year as well.

I remember
listening to an interview with Mark Cuban at the beginning of the pandemic. He
talked about how some companies will be in a good position, some companies
won’t and the companies that are in a good position during the pandemic should
help the ones that aren’t and the people who aren’t. It was inspiring to me and
I thought we should be doing something to help.

I think it was
March 15th when that guidance was released encouraging every
caregiver to be screened before they can walk into anyone’s home. We created a
tool for them to get a daily text and use our app on their phone to respond to
the screening questions and allow their agencies to record the responses and
intervene if needed. It was free for any agency that wanted it, and we still
offer it for free today.

Now that the
vaccine is coming out, we’re actually releasing a proof-of-vaccination tool
where a caregiver can upload her or his vaccination certificate and an agency
can monitor it.

How does CareConnect work together with its sister
company, Mobile Health, to support mobile health care workers? How are you
doing that to support them in the months ahead? Do you think that testing and
screening will still be needed?

Our core mission is
enabling agencies to engage, build trust and efficiently and dynamically adapt
to their caregivers’ needs. Mobile Health has a large network of occupational
health clinics in New York and over 2,700 network locations beyond. They
provide services to over 150,000 caregivers every year and we have a unique
opportunity to educate and deliver value there.

Specific to COVID,
Mobile Health is one of the few places that’s delivered 100% of its
vaccinations. Because they’ve done such a good job and they’ve learned how to
do that effectively, they’re actually working with other occupational health
clinics and pharmacies and distribution places around the country to put their
best practices in place and help get as many vaccinations out as possible.

We’re in the final
stages of integrating the vaccination info that they collect through their
physician practice system into CareConnect along with other medical results
already coming over, so that Mobile Health-treated caregivers won’t have to
upload a proof of vaccination certificate for agencies to approve any
longer.

I also think there
is a tremendous opportunity to provide free vaccination safety awareness
through our e-learning tool to caregivers who are unsure whether they should
get vaccinated.

What do you see as the three greatest home health
staffing challenges right now and how does CareConnect help agencies address
them?

Agencies have been
caught in the seesaw of demand for in-home caregivers during the pandemic. We
can help those caregivers who do choose to get vaccinated provide proof to the
agencies so that they can ultimately send them to homes that are concerned
about having a caregiver who hasn’t been vaccinated.

I think the next
biggest thing right now is just communicating with caregivers in an
increasingly remote world. We provide tools that help caregivers engage with
their agencies through multithreaded chat features — but also we eliminate the
low-value tasks that the agency needs to do so there’s more time for those
agencies to have more important conversations.

The last thing is
staying compliant and optimized when volume is shrinking. For example, it’s
easy in an in-person environment to make sure no one’s taking a class during a
shift because they’re in the classroom together. We can make sure caregivers
are blocked from taking their in-service classes when they’re on a shift or
provide work equity to caregivers who are not getting enough hours by
prioritizing them over others who are already in overtime.

What’s on the horizon for CareConnect in terms of new
product development this year?

We’re constantly
providing more human capital management tools and modifying them for home care.
You’ll definitely see a lot more of those features. In Q1, we’re introducing
the early access funding microloan tool I mentioned that gives caregivers early
access to their paychecks. The next thing you’re going to see in Q1 is
vaccination validation, synchronous learning tools and appointment booking for
medical visits that don’t conflict with schedules. We now take scheduling
information and approve medical procedures from the agency and help caregivers
schedule pre-hire and annual medical appointments through the CareConnect app.
Today, it’s a very slow, unreliable, manual process and we’re going to make it
seamless.

We try not to plan
a static roadmap out too far ahead. We want to stay nimble and provide
solutions quickly for our partners and customers as the environment changes.

Caregiver support has been more important than ever
during the pandemic. How is CareConnect providing the support and what
resources is the platform making available to these caregivers?

Let’s start with
our support structure. We actually have two dedicated support organizations. We
have a B2B customer success structure that’s supporting the agencies and agency
managers in the normal process of customer support. We also have a dedicated support
organization specifically for caregivers. They can get to us through phone,
chat, in-app texting or emails. We have multi-language support as well.

We also created a
new department this year called Caregiver Engagement. It’s being led by a
seasoned leadership team member, Howard Nevins, who has been both on the agency
side and the technology side for a long time.

Their goal is to
find ways we can help coordinate and sponsor events to help the caregiver
community. It’s important to us to have the voices of the caregiver not only in
our research but influencing everything we’re doing. It is also very important
to our entire team that we continue to be great corporate citizens, and we see
Caregiver Engagement as the vehicle to listen, and then respond with helpful
programs to those caregivers who dedicate so much of their time helping others,
and need some help from us.

What is your outlook for the in-home care industry in
2021?

I think 2021 is
going to start with a 2020 hangover. We’ve seen that in every other area of the
world right now. We’re still seeing the seesaw in demand. I think the
underlying idea behind home care — that it’s better for the patient, better for
the family, a better way to manage health care costs — isn’t going to change.
As the middle-class economy bounces back and people feel safer interacting with
each other, the demand for home care and state and federal funding will come
back.

Editor’s
note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

CareConnect’s
suite of workforce management solutions makes it easy to acquire, onboard,
place, train and retain caregivers, all easily integrating with your existing
tools. Learn more at
www.careconnectmobile.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]

The post VOICES: Michael Gelman, President and Chief Operating Officer, CareConnect appeared first on Home Health Care News.

Brian Bruenderman, Partner and Executive Vice President, Stoneridge Partners

This article
is sponsored by health care mergers and acquisitions (M&A) advisory firm
Stoneridge Partners. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down
with Partner Brian Bruenderman to learn how the home health and home care
M&A landscape is changing in 2021 and why he enjoys working with sellers.

Home Health Care News: Tell us about your career path
prior to Stoneridge Partners.

Brian Bruenderman: I started in
M&A work with a general business brokerage, but it didn’t take long for me
to gravitate toward working primarily in health care. I spent the better part
of two decades in corporate development acquiring home health, home care,
hospice and behavioral health companies, starting out at ResCare, which is now
known as BrightSpring. I also worked for Signature Healthcare and Almost
Family, which later merged with LHC.

Being on the
buy-side of so many transactions was a great education. I had to really
understand at a very granular level each business I recommended for acquisition
so I could explain to corporate leadership and our board of directors how each
deal fit into the company’s overall plans. Having this perspective helped me
understand the day-to-day challenges those businesses faced and how strategic
acquisitions could be beneficial for parties on both sides of a transaction. That’s what led me to Stoneridge: I enjoy being able to help my clients find not just any
buyer, but the right buyer for their company.

Are there any other differences
working for sellers vs. buyers?

Bruenderman: Well, as a buyer, I
never got to give anybody good news. Sellers never said, “Wow, that’s way
more than I thought,” when I told them what I thought their business was
worth, right? But now, when I find a great buyer for someone, I get to deliver
a pleasant surprise.

You’ve been at Stoneridge for about a decade. What in
your mind sets it apart in terms of its expertise in home health, home care and
hospice M&A advisory services?

We really pride
ourselves on understanding the companies we represent. Most of us have worked
as operators or in corporate development, so we know the industry. We’ve spent
time on both sides of the table, as buyers and as sellers, so we understand
what makes a business attractive to a good buyer and we know how to find buyers
that are the right fit for our clients.

Over the years I’ve
had the chance to work with multiple firms and intermediaries, but I always
just liked Stoneridge’s approach to the business. I had a really good
relationship with our founder, Don Cummins, and he always believed in a
personal way of doing business. I think we’ve done a good job of maintaining
that personal approach with our clients even as we’ve grown.

What role do you see the full care continuum playing in
the M&A landscape going forward for businesses in home-based care?

Bruenderman: I think we’re going
to see an increased focus on parts of the care spectrum that aren’t always in
the spotlight, like home care. That’s not to say that home care hasn’t been a
valuable part of the discussion in our industry for a long time — it absolutely
has. But I think we’re starting to learn even more about how important it is to
the patient care continuum, and how much room there is for it to grow in the
near future.

For example, look
at some of the new technology coming online. Home care providers can now see
higher-acuity patients compared to years past. They’re in a great position to
actually give patients what they want – keeping them in the home longer and
moving them out of higher-acuity settings more quickly. Think about
medically-complex children in pediatrics, for instance. Home care providers
using state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies can get them out of the
hospital sooner and keep them out longer.

We’ve always known
home care providers are the canaries in the coal mine. Their patients know and
trust them. They’re in the home several hours a day, every day. They can see
something before the doctor sees it, probably before the family sees it, and certainly
before it becomes a more acute need and results in some higher-cost level of
care. Combine that level of access with emerging tech, and I think savvy buyers
will see lots of opportunity going forward.

Do you think the pandemic will change what buyers and
sellers are focused on in the M&A landscape in 2021?

Bruenderman: In my opinion, the
pandemic is one more reason why I think home care is due for some more
attention this year. Patients have been reluctant to go into healthcare
facilities, whether that’s for an outpatient procedure or for long-term care –
they’d just rather stay home. So home-based services are well-positioned to
succeed even as the pandemic subsides with the introduction of the vaccine.
Another side effect of the pandemic has been record unemployment, which could
actually help home care providers who traditionally struggle to stay fully
staffed.

Finally, I think
this health crisis has helped states better understand that home care is a
needed service — without it, the resources to care for these folks are not
there. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of activity and a significant amount of
volume notably in the Medicaid-funded personal care space, as we’ve seen buyers
recognizing that access to home care service lines is valuable. Everyone from
strategic buyers and payers to equity-backed platforms are buying those
companies.

I’ve also seen an
increased interest in consumer-directed services. Some people call it
bring-your-own-caregiver, but essentially, your caregiver is a relative, a friend
or a neighbor. Three years ago, when I had one of these companies for sale,
very few of my buyers even understood what it meant and how it worked. But I’m
getting requests regularly now for agencies that offer those types of services.

Last, I think we’re
going to see significant demand for pediatric services. Valuations for those
providers have gone up significantly, and I think they’ll remain at a level
that’s very attractive.

In that case, I don’t want to say “silver linings”
because of how troubling this all has been, but do you see any upside from this
unprecedented period and economic turmoil?

Bruenderman: If there is a
silver lining, then I think it’s that, as Don says, the rising tide will lift
all the boats.

There’s a lot of
pent-up demand right now after months of uncertainty, and there are a lot of
opportunities for anyone who’s been sitting on the sidelines and is interested
in exploring a sale. You don’t have to be a $200 million company to fetch a
premium valuation. Small-to-midsize companies represent a tremendous growth
opportunity for equity-backed platforms and regional providers that are
expanding through acquisition. There’s really room for everyone to have a
successful exit in this market.

How do you see the typical buyer changing in the
near-term versus recent months and years?

Bruenderman: I wish my crystal
ball were that clear, but I think the biggest change I’m seeing right now is in
the types of buyers entering the space. You still have plenty of your
traditional strategic buyers, but we’ve seen an
influx of aggregators willing to pay premium prices for platform companies.
Then they start buying up smaller agencies at lower valuations.

Over
time, they build a much larger combined entity that sells at a very attractive
blended multiple valuation. I think we’ll continue to see these buyers enter
the market, and as a result, valuations for sizable operations will stay high.

Lastly, what are you looking forward to in 2021 as a
partner with Stoneridge?

Bruenderman: First of all, I’m
looking forward to what I hope is a return to some sense of normalcy for the
companies we work with. After almost a year of being on the front lines, I hope
we’re close to the day when they can just refocus their attention on day-to-day
operations without the threat of the pandemic looming over them.

I’m also interested
to see how patients’ changing needs post-pandemic will alter the future of the
industry. We’ve all been talking for a long time about how to help patients
stay in their homes as long as possible, but COVID-19 has pushed the issue.
Patients have experienced the benefits and convenience of home care over the
past year. Now payers are getting on board, too. This industry is uniquely
positioned to efficiently and effectively provide the kind of care patients
want, and I think these providers will help the overall system evolve and grow
in the future.

And that’s where we
really excel at Stoneridge Partners: helping our clients prepare not only for
right now, but also for what’s next. Our team has so much experience as
operators and executives, and we spend a lot of time thinking about where the
industry is going. It’s our goal to stay ahead of the game so we can give our
clients every advantage.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length
and clarity.

Stoneridge Partners
is a national health care mergers and acquisitions advisory firm specializing
in the brokerage of home care, home health, hospice and behavioral health
companies. For more information about their services, contact their corporate
office at 800-218-3944 or via email at
[email protected].

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]

The post Brian Bruenderman, Partner and Executive Vice President, Stoneridge Partners appeared first on Home Health Care News.

Voices: Patti Baicy, Director of Clinical, McKesson Medical-Surgical

This article is sponsored by McKesson Medical-Surgical. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Patti Baicy, director of clinical at McKesson Medical-Surgical, to learn how home health agencies have grown more sophisticated around PPE, what to understand with a potential COVID-19 vaccine and how her 20 years as a registered nurse helped prepare her for this trying moment in time.

HHCN: You’ve been at McKesson since 2001, but have had several different roles there. What are the most instructive lessons that you draw from in your career, that is most relevant to what you do today?

Baicy: I’m a registered nurse, and most of my clinical experience is as a perioperative nurse. Basically, I lived for almost 20 years in a surgical mask. I think that truly helps me better understand what’s going on in today’s market with COVID and PPE.

In terms of my McKesson experience, I was director of product development for our McKesson brand private label program, which included PPE: gloves, masks, gowns and hand-hygiene products. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with our global sourcing team on those same types of products, which has built a foundation for leading the clinical team, merging my clinical background with my product expertise.

You mentioned the time that
you’ve spent wearing PPE, which is something that most of us were unaccustomed
to until this year. How has consumer sophistication around PPE changed since
the start of the pandemic?

Prior to the pandemic, health care workers were not as concerned with isolation gowns and the ratings of those gowns. If they had a gown available, they didn’t really look and ask, “Is it a non-rated gown? Is it fluid-resistant with AAMI (American Association of the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) Level 1 or 2?”

Now, they’re aware of the different types of isolation gowns. They at least want a fluid-resistant gown, but they prefer an AAMI Level 1 or an AAMI Level 2, just to make sure they have the protection needed.

I
would say they also are looking closer at masks. They want to make sure that
the procedure or surgical mask they’re using is a three-ply to give them
protection. Of course, they would prefer to have an N95 mask, but the demand
for those is still far outpacing supply.

What is the most important
PPE/infection control protocol that has always been in place but is really
being taken seriously now in light of COVID?

Like
you said, there have always been guidelines around PPE and how it should be used.
Now, agencies are focused and looking at the latest recommendations from the
CDC to make sure that their organization is following the protocols and
guidelines that the CDC has recommended for their agency.

And
there’s just a host of information. They’re not just thinking about handwashing
anymore, they’re thinking about overall hand hygiene, and that when they can’t
have soap and water, they must be prepared with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Is there another important
item of PPE that people may not think of, maybe something outside of those more
standard ones?

I
think, probably, the ones they’re not thinking of as often are the goggles and
face shields. There’s also a new product on the market (Theraworx Protect by
Avadim Health) for facial hygiene so that you can actually cleanse your face.
It is safe for all mucous membranes.

Do you have a sanitizer
preference that you recommend?

You
just need to make sure that it is a sanitizer and, per CDC recommendations and
FDA guidelines, that it has at least 60% of ethyl alcohol or 70% of isopropyl
alcohol. You really need to check the label on that to make sure. I would
definitely recommend a hand sanitizer from a familiar brand.

What are the supply chain
challenges that agencies should be aware of with regards to PPE, and how might
that lead them to make decisions about conserving it?

The
supply chain is strong for isolation gowns, face shields and for alcohol-based
hand sanitizer. Definitely, gloves are a challenge globally right now, so you
need to make sure that you’re using the right gloves for the right task and
that you’re using gloves when you need them without overusing them. I would
also say that the same is true with N95 masks. You need to prioritize when
you’re going to use those, or when you’re going to use just a three-ply
procedure or surgical mask.

Telehealth
changes some of this, because you would have a decreased need for PPE since you
wouldn’t be doing as many visits in a patient’s home. Having said that, there
are some things that patients need that you can’t do via telehealth. I think
you just need to prioritize the telehealth appointments, make sure that you’re
meeting the patient’s needs through those appointments, and then you are saving
your PPE for when you need to be physically with that patient. That means
masks, hand sanitizers and face shields for those visits, and for their
employees who are in an office.

What’s next for McKesson for
2021?

We
will still be focusing on PPE and infection prevention. COVID has changed the
way that we will look at infection prevention and control for the future. I
would encourage customers to review their policies, procedures, protocols, and
continue to follow the guidance that HHS and
CDC provide. We will continue our efforts to ensure that we have
inventory available for agencies, as well as looking at new products and new
innovations in the market that may help them.

I
think it’s just really staying abreast of what’s going on in this current
environment and in their community. We’re definitely living in a new time where
we’re committed to remain focused on infection prevention.

Editor’s note: This interview
has been edited for length and clarity.

McKesson Medical-Surgical
works with health systems, physician offices, extended care providers, in-home
patients, labs, payers and others across the spectrum of care to build
healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting.
For more information, visit
mms.mckesson.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]

The post Voices: Patti Baicy, Director of Clinical, McKesson Medical-Surgical appeared first on Home Health Care News.

Voices: Windy Adams, Vice President of Partner and Client Experience, Forcura

This article is sponsored by Forcura. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Forcura Vice President of Partner and Client Experience Windy Adams to learn how Forcura has balanced record growth in 2020 with its same standard of customer experience, how COVID-19 has changed the types of client calls they receive and their success story this year with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY).

HHCN: Windy, you drive client experience at Forcura. What are the most instructive lessons that you’ve learned in your career that guide you today?

Adams: My background is not traditional healthcare, I actually spent almost 20 years in finance. The most recent 10 years were in financial technology with another startup here in Jacksonville, Florida. When I started there, we were a very similar size as Forcura was when I started here about three years ago. I stayed there for 10 years and saw it through two acquisitions. During that time the company went from less than 100 clients to over 1200 at the time I left to pursue an opportunity with Forcura.

The bulk of my time
in my former position was in client experience. Obviously, the technology is
the bread and butter of what you’re selling, but I think it’s easy to overlook
how important that support and service really is. Most people only use about
20% of the available functionality in any software solution that they use.

That’s where your
support and client experience teams come into play. Their job is not only to help
solve problems but to help find solutions. At Forcura, we want to provide that
level of support, meaning this is not your traditional client support call
center. It’s a partnership, and we’re here to help our clients get what they
need.

I understand that Forcura’s client volume has grown at a
record pace for the company in the past year. You talked about your former
employer’s growth, and I know that the growth was so great and so rapid that
the client experience was challenged. How does Forcura retain high touch
service when it scales, to ensure that customers don’t get lost in translation?

We experienced
similar growth at my previous company. High growth companies can be in a high
growth mode for years, especially in the technology space. As the growth
accelerated, clients started to make comments like, “I can really tell you
guys are growing.” The goal is to ensure that your clients don’t feel the
growth.

After hearing that
comment a few times we started to realize that they were feeling the strain that
was occurring on the internal resources. I think the best approach a
high-growth organization can take is to be proactive. You have to constantly
assess your structure, your model and your resource allocation to make sure
that clients are being supported. It’s not always the focus on the brand new
clients. You have to maintain the clients that have been with you since day
one, too.

Forcura facilitates a career progression for its
employees. How does it do that and what is the impact of that proactive advancement
on the client experience and on client retention?

Your best resources
are often the ones that you have within your four walls. What we have done and
what we continue to do is communicate that messaging to the team and make sure
they understand that in a year from now there will be teams and roles that do
not exist today.

As Forcura grows and
continues to be successful, so do our employees. That dynamic environment gives
them the ability to see real opportunity as they’re gaining experience within
the organization. We welcome career growth and internal movement and try to
help the teams see opportunity in a bigger picture. Just because you’re in a
client-facing role now doesn’t mean you will always be in a client-facing
capacity.

If you’re interested
in being more product-facing and helping to design the product, there are
opportunities there as well because, quite honestly, their depth of knowledge
of our platform and our industry really makes them an asset to any internal
team.

When employees feel
valued and challenged each day, they will focus their efforts on providing high
quality service no matter what role they are in. It really is a win-win all the
way around.

With that in mind, tell us about the teams you manage.
How many are there and how do they interact?

We really own the
whole client experience once a contract is signed, and we do that through the
five teams I manage:

  • Implementation
  • Training
  • Support
  • Relationship Management
  • Partnership

Once the sales
process is complete and the contract is signed, we route that client through
our implementation team — the first experience that a client has with Forcura.
The implementation team onboards the client and their teams onto our solution,
while leveraging best practices and experiences from our other clients to make
sure that we’re setting new clients up for success.

Once they finish
their implementation process, which for a standard organization takes about
four to six weeks, they are assigned a relationship manager on our relationship
management team. They also will begin to use our client support team, which is
the day-to-day contact for any questions, training and troubleshooting needs.

Our training team
oversees the training of our onboarding clients, existing clients and also our
new employees.

The last team I
oversee is our partnership team, which is responsible for the relationship and
the day-to-day operations of the partners that our clients are currently
leveraging for their electronic medical record system. We are integrated with
six of the top post-acute EHRs currently and so this partnership team that I
manage is responsible for those relationships and making sure the integrations
are running smoothly each day.

What is your management style?

I like to be a player-coach
— to really understand our solution and our client base, and work with the
teams to help navigate challenging situations. There’s a lot of brainstorming
that goes on throughout the day whenever interesting scenarios come up and we
all work through those as a team. It is always great to hear their ideas and
get buy in before determining the final solution.

I try to communicate
regularly to make sure everyone understands why certain decisions are made and
why our company focus is moving in a certain direction. I definitely like to
have buy-in from the team and hear their ideas. Ideas are something we promote at
Forcura, not just on my team, but across the organization. Honestly, teams will
respond much better when they feel they’re a part of the solution and not that
the solution is being dictated to them.

Let’s shift into COVID. I understand that home health
agencies are using their platforms remotely now, so they’re calling into the
Forcura support team more often, which is shifting the types and volumes of
calls you receive. What is the overall impact COVID has had on your client’s
experience with you?

Because all of our
users are working from their homes as well, they can’t as easily turn around to
their neighbor in the office and ask a question. So we have a lot of outreach.
Some of it is simple questions about certain functionality and features, but some
of it’s more complex and really taking an interest in how they can improve
their internal processes.

Overall, I think
those calls have improved the usage of the platform just because we are able to
be more one-on-one with the user base. Before COVID, out of five calls, maybe
two of them we would not have normally gotten because they would have just
turned to their coworker and gotten that advice from someone internally. Now,
they’re coming to us, the experts. I think anytime we can have greater touch points
with our client base, that is a benefit for all involved.

What is your favorite client success story of 2020?

Visiting Nurse
Services of New York (VNSNY) is a great one. They’re a very large organization
and such a great partner. We visited them in their New York City headquarters
in January to kick off their implementation. Our plan was to go live in April,
and we would have several resources onsite to help them on the days of go-live
to make sure we were sitting there hand-in-hand working with their teams and
making sure they felt comfortable with our solution.

Then in March, of
course, COVID hit.

So we decided to
cancel our plan to travel as a company, due to our company policy from COVID —
which fell in line with their company policy too. Yet we did not slow down the
implementation. We pressed forward with their team and opened up phone lines,
manning those phones for three to four days straight, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every
day. Users had the opportunity to dial into these phone lines, bring questions,
bring up specific scenarios, and we were able to help them address those in
real-time just as if we were present in the office.

It worked very well.
Sometimes it takes agencies a couple of weeks to really get acclimated, but
VNSNY really adopted the application very quickly. They were open to
suggestions and recommendations those first few days. The users were very active and they were
asking their questions and bringing them up as soon as the scenarios would
arise. We were able to help on the spot which helped to minimize any confusion
very early on. They started off on the right foot and really ran it forward.

What’s next for Forcura in 2021?

I think from where we
sit today, we’re all aware that COVID is not going to be a thing of the past
anytime soon. We’re taking that into consideration as we plan for the growth
we’re expecting in 2021. There are several areas where Forcura will see
expansion in 2021. Not only are we looking to continue to bring on a large
volume of new customers but we are also looking at building new products and
solutions as well as expansion into new segments of post-acute.

We’re trying to sit
down and see what 2021 will look like from a scalability standpoint. We’re
really looking at our people, how we’re leveraging those resources, we’re
looking at our processes on every single team, and looking at the technology
that we’re using internally to manage all of that. From my perspective, we have
a lot of balls in the air for 2021 and our job is to make sure that we don’t
drop any of them, so that our clients never feel that growth.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Forcura is a
technology company 100% focused on health care, driven to innovate and
dedicated to powering your organization through better patient care, improved
cash flow and reduced administrative expenses. To find out how, visit us at
forcura.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]

The post Voices: Windy Adams, Vice President of Partner and Client Experience, Forcura appeared first on Home Health Care News.

Voices: Nick Knowlton, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, ResMed

This article is sponsored by MatrixCare. In this
interview, Home Health Care News sits down with ResMed Vice President of
Strategic Initiatives Nick Knowlton to learn why one of his driving mottos is
“Do right,” how interoperability is helping home health operators provide
better patient care during COVID-19 and how the pandemic has changed the
industry’s need for interoperability. [Disclosure: Knowlton is also the board
chairman of CommonWell Health Alliance.]

HHCN: You’ve had a deep and varied career. What are the most important lessons you’ve carried to MatrixCare, and what do you do here?

Knowlton: I’ve been with the Brightree and MatrixCare team for almost six years now, and I lead a lot of our strategic partnerships, and a great deal of our interoperability strategy as well. The most important lesson I’ve carried to this position is always do the right thing for your customers. We really believe that interoperability done right is a key to home health agencies and other post-acute providers being successful in a rapidly changing health care world.

A former CEO I worked for had a rule for working at the company: “Do right.” If you do the right thing for your customers and for their patients, you’ll be able to figure everything else out.

The
second lesson I carry is a little more technical: If you want to do
interoperability right, you do things that empower your clinicians and not
distract them. The idea of going the extra mile and building good interop
workflows into the product in a fashion that clinicians want to engage in and
use is absolutely critical. If you don’t do that, you lose them before you even
launch the product or service.

MatrixCare is heavily investing in
enabling clients to connect better with their referral sources. It’s not just
the initial care transition. How do you get actionable insight on your
patients?

As the interoperability world evolves, we are going to get a lot more granular about what a proper initial care transition into home health looks like. Today, you see everything from an e-fax that just has a patient’s name and what they are supposed to be treated for, to a full-blown electronic chart with loads of discrete data that can be digested to help empower clinicians to more easily take care of patients.

So
when you think about the power that you can unlock with these interoperability
modalities, the content is not just a PDF. The content and the standards that
we try to push for are based on the concept that a human should be able to read
it, but a machine should also be able to read it. We want to make sure that we
don’t degrade the content that we’re transporting. By doing this the right way
out of the gate, we can establish links with the patient identity in the
referral source system to enable better follow on interoperability.

Obviously
in the home health world, this is becoming increasingly important. I think
everybody’s aware of the reimbursement impacts of PDGM (Patient-Driven
Groupings Model). But I think that the two key things for why interop is more
important now would be the compression of the revenue cycle into a much shorter
timeframe than pre-PDGM, and also the direct tie between reimbursement and
having a full history of the patient including all of their disease states and
comorbidities.

Do those referral sources
typically know everything that a home health agency needs to know about a
patient?

Typically they don’t. There certainly are some
patients in the home health realm who have relatively simple care histories and
simple needs, but let’s be honest: Our industry also sees patients who have the
most complex disease states, the most number of diagnostic codes associated
with them, and also high levels of comorbidities for those disease states.

The practical implications are that a patient might
have been discharged from a hospital for a rehabilitation purpose but they are
increasingly being seen in other care settings. The referral source may not
know that the patient also has other chronic disease states associated with them,
and they may not know the full complexity of that patient’s care history.

Once you have the initial referral
and actionable insights on patients, how do you cast a wider net to learn more?

When we think about how to accomplish the ultimate
interoperability mission for our customers and for their patients, it’s more
than just that initial referral. Because these patients are often seen by
multiple specialists and have multiple comorbidities and disease states
associated with them, it’s important for us to reach out to others who have
seen that patient and try to find their complete care history. That way, our
providers can have a 360-degree view of the patient before they treat them.

We have been pioneering a lot of work through
CommonWell Health Alliance and also connecting with Carequality and connecting
with Surescripts medication history network to really flesh out what else might
be going on with a patient. Some of these things could be identifying recent
encounters with specialists and grabbing the patient’s chart from that
location, or reaching out to Surescripts to find out what other medications
have been filled on behalf of the patient. But the idea is to cast as wide of a
net as possible, so that during that initial encounter with the patient, the
clinicians run into as few surprises as possible.

A good example of this would be what we commonly
refer to as “The Shoebox Problem,” where a clinician shows up at the patient’s
house and there’s a shoebox full of medications waiting for them, and they
don’t know what is the current and best active med list for that patient. They
waste a lot of time and energy calling the provider who prescribed it or
working with their home office to find out what amongst that shoebox is still
supposed to be there and what might be missing from it.

We know that by enabling better interoperability
from the referral source and by casting a wider net for these providers, we’re
going to minimize the amount of work a clinician has to do chasing down the
patient care history, and they will arrive much more comfortable knowing that
they’re going to have a much more complete and accurate picture of what they
will encounter with the patient. It makes them a lot more efficient, and
enables them to spend more time on other tasks such as communicating with the
patient’s family members about what’s going on and what the next steps would
be.

How are referral sources thinking
about interoperability and reacting to these capabilities?

We started pondering this question a couple of years
ago. We felt that we had really good, anecdotal stories from customers and
other care providers, but we conducted a survey in concert with Porter Research
to find out exactly where referral source pain points were and how they felt
about interoperability and its impact with post-acute care providers.

The results, which we released last year, were
actually quite astounding.

Sixty percent of referral sources who refer patients
into home health and other post-acute care environments indicated that they
would be willing to switch their post-acute care partners if they were able to
interoperate with them effectively. Being able to automate a referral to the
post-acute care provider was listed as the number one thing they wanted to
accomplish.

The pain points they’d like to avoid are some of
those phone calls back and forth. Like when we discussed “the shoebox problem”
— just as much as the clinicians in home health don’t like having to make all
those phone calls, the referral sources don’t like answering them because they
know that those medication lists exist within their system and they know they
have the capability to transport to other care domains. Home health should not
be any different.

What else are referral sources
asking for?

Insight into the patient care journey. We knew this
anecdotally and it was brought out in our research study as well. Referral
sources have referred to this as the black hole phenomenon. They refer a
patient to home health and they have no idea how that patient’s care
progresses.

In a value-based reimbursement world where providers
are increasingly asked to take financial responsibility for the care
progression of their patients, not being able to have insight into how those
patients are progressing is unacceptable. We’ve seen numerous proof points that
the ability to provide on-demand insight into what’s happening with those
patients is of tremendous value to not just the referral source, but hence
their relationship with their post-acute care network.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic
changed the need for and value of interoperability?

COVID-19 has been amplifying the trends that have
been emerging for the past few years. As not just the staff of a home health
agency, but also the referring physicians and their staff have been driven to
remote workforce situations, interoperability has become increasingly
important, and in some cases almost impossible to do without. If you don’t know
how to get ahold of a referral source to track down additional information over
the phone, or if nobody’s monitoring a fax line, doing it from an EHR system to
another EHR system is a great way to circumvent that obstacle because these
system by and large are always on now.

What do you see growing out of
this increased interoperability?

Number one, there will be a much expanded use of
remote patient monitoring and telemedicine technologies. The genie is not going
to go back in the bottle. The other issue that might be a little less clear to
a lot of folks is as soon as providers start adopting interoperability
technologies, they really see the power of it and they really believe that it
is real and that it needs to be further unlocked.

What we see all the time now is providers who were
skeptical, and moved forward with some basic interoperability modalities, and
have now become champions for using the technology. Frankly, they have become
the biggest proponents of asking for more.

So there is a snowball effect for the adoption of
interoperability in the industry. And I think COVID-19 has led to the
recognition of the power and the value of multiple technologies from
interoperability to remote patient monitoring to telehealth.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length
and clarity.

MatrixCare, provides
innovative software-as-a-service solutions for home health, hospice, palliative
care and private duty providers. To learn more about how MatrixCare can help
your organization,
visit MatrixCare.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]

The post Voices: Nick Knowlton, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, ResMed appeared first on Home Health Care News.