Based on the headlines about home health care today, many people who might otherwise have opted to start a business are looking to other options instead. While there are undoubtedly challenges associated with opening a home health care agency — much like opening any business — the fact is that the aging population and the trend toward adults remaining in their homes as long as possible means that home health care actually remains a very viable business option.
Still, even with all of the opportunities, opening a home health agency requires a great deal of thought and attention to detail. If you are considering launching a new agency, or you have already decided to move forward and are working out the details, here are some tips to help get your business off to the best possible start.
1. Invest in Technology
While home health care is a “high touch” industry, it’s also quickly becoming a high-tech industry as well. Investing in technology, such as advanced home health software, mobile devices, and secure servers, is no longer something that you can put off until later. What was once nice to have has become a must-have if you want to remain competitive. The right software, for example, will not only streamline scheduling and billing and ensure that your operation is managed as efficiently as possible, but can also help you stay on top of the paperwork and documentation required by insurers and CMS. Software can also help maintain the lines of communication between your providers and families, as well as with physicians and other providers, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and your clients are receiving the best care possible.
2. Take Time to Recruit Talent
Your staff is your greatest asset, so put in the time necessary to ensure you have the best, most qualified staff, possible. In addition to caregivers, you’ll also need to hire office staff to take care of the everyday management duties of your agency. Often, these individuals serve as the face of your agency, as they are the first people that clients and referrers encounter, so it’s just as important to put the right people into those positions as well as into the caregiver positions. Take time to establish your human resources policies from the beginning, refining job descriptions, position profiles, and required skills. Determine early on how you will evaluate candidates (testing, background checks, etc.) and take your time hiring your initial staff.
3. Consider Getting Help Finding Clients
One of the most difficult aspects of starting any business is attracting customers. Home health is no exception. While you can certain make inroads by building relationships with referral sources, advertising, etc., it is often worth your time to work with an experienced marketing agency to handle your initial marketing efforts. Not only will an agency experienced in home health be able to help you reach the right people, it will free up your time to work on other tasks important to starting your agency.
4. Be Willing to Stretch
Chances are you have ideas about which populations you want to serve and how you want to schedule your employees. However, being too rigid in your parameters and turning down potential clients because they don’t meet your “ideal” profile could be detrimental to your business. It’s better to look at all clients as potential referral sources, and do everything you can to meet client needs, even if it means being creative with scheduling or making other accommodations. As you become more established, you may have the luxury of being more selective with the cases you take on, but in the early days, be flexible and consider the bigger picture.
5. Establish Policies and Procedures From Day One
Finally, as you get ready to launch your business, have all of your policies and procedures in place from the start. Consider working with a home care association to confirm that your operational standards are in line with current best practices and regulations. Failing to follow state and federal regulations can have serious consequences, so establish your policies from day one to remain compliant and avoid setbacks. Written policies and procedures also eliminate ambiguity and the resulting risk; when your employees know exactly what to do in various situations, you maintain consistency and shield your agency from the consequences of something going wrong.
Opening any business can be challenging, but a home health care agency can be especially challenging due to regulations from Medicare and other entities. However, once you get past those hurdles, operating a home care business can be exceedingly satisfying. To learn more about software that can help both new and established businesses operate efficiently and provide the best possible service, check out some of Complia Health’s resources here.