Future Leader: Linda Chow, Senior Consultant for Outsourced Agency Management, Kaiser Permanente

The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health and hospice care. To see this year’s future leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.

Linda Chow, senior consultant of outsourced agency management at Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente, has been named a 2021 Future Leader by Home Health Care News.

To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.

Chow sat down with HHCN to talk about why home care is getting more attention than ever and what that means for the future of the industry going forward.

HHCN: What drew you to this industry?

Chow: Truthfully, if you had asked me five or 10 years ago, I honestly would have never thought I’d end up in home care.

I currently am a senior consultant for Kaiser Permanente’s care at home service line, which is essentially our home care service line here in Southern California. I came to Kaiser after my graduate program, as an administrative fellow. At its most basic level, the fellowships are programs that allow recent graduates of master’s programs to explore and work at different health systems, hospitals or other organizations. You work on different projects and on different teams. Oftentimes, there are rotations involved.

My fellowship allowed me to do three rotations through Kaiser’s system, across multiple locations. I actually got to explore and try a lot of different things. In my second rotation, I was the administrative fellow for our quality, regulatory and clinical operations support at our regional offices. This included home care, and so I learned a lot about this. I got to meet several leaders as part of the team, and I really started thinking about what the future of health care looks like.

I certainly have opinions about whether or not patients prefer to receive care in regular brick-and-mortar offices or if they prefer care at home. Truthfully, from a patient-satisfaction perspective, I think home is where it’s at. My experience really made me think and challenge my perception of what the future of health care looks like.

What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?

My “North Star” always comes down to the patient. At Kaiser, we call patients members.

In my work, I always consider, “How will this impact members, their families and their loved ones?” Our philosophy is really providing member-centric care. At the end of the day, this is impacting lives, especially when it comes to providing home care services during some of the most vulnerable times of a member’s life.

If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of home-based care, what would it be?

I think our biggest goal within this industry should really be amping up our virtual services or virtual services capabilities.

Generally in health care, there’s a big movement toward more access, easier technology and things that are really effective and can enhance a patient’s care experience. But I think within the home care industry, and certainly even within Kaiser, there’s a big opportunity to enhance that offering and truly define what virtual care means in the home. There’s a lot of technology out there. There’s a lot of work being done around this today, and I’m excited to see what the future holds in this particular space.

What do you foresee as being different about the home-based care industry looking ahead to 2022?

Coming out of the pandemic, I think there is going to be a push for more options when it comes to receiving care in the home. Traditionally with home health, hospice and home-based palliative care, there are different requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for these services. I think that there’s just this general interest, maybe even push, for additional care options that can be provided either virtually or in the home.

While I don’t know if that will necessarily change within a year, I think it’s something that has been an ongoing discussion for many years. Coupled with the pandemic over the last almost two years, I certainly think that many organizations are exploring what that might look like.

In a word, how would you describe the future of home-based care?

The first word that came to mind was “hopeful.” I think there’s a lot of attention on the home care industry. There’s a lot of interest. I don’t think a lot of people working in health care truly know what home care is. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen this shift, and I think that’s an ongoing trend. That attention will only continue to increase as a whole. It makes me hopeful and curious to see what the future holds for the industry.

If you could give advice to yourself looking back to your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?

If I could give myself advice, I would say that there is a lot to learn. I think for someone like me who previously didn’t have a ton of experience in the home care industry, my advice is be totally engaged, be totally curious, and be really open to learning the ins-and-outs of the industry. That’s something that I am continuing to work on.

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