Some Advice on How To Operate a Home Healthcare Business
Starting a home healthcare business does not necessarily require any medical training. So if you are interested in helping out the elderly in their homes, or providing medical services to patients in their homes but have no medical background, there is still a future for you in the home health care business. The home health care industry has grown massively in the past years with Forbes reporting its income to be around $2 million annually. The demand for home care is increasing as more and more senior citizens are choosing to stay at home and receive their treatment at home. The experts predict that this demand is only going to rise further and will continue as the baby boom generation are getting older and reaching the senior age. Currently in the USA, there are about 386,000 home health care businesses as this has low barriers to entry with a growing demand, making it appealing for most entrepreneurs. This means there is plenty of competition and whoever decides to take part in this industry should do their homework right, in order to survive.
Home health care can be divided into two broad categories. It can be non medical home health care or it can be skilled home health care.
- Non medical healthcare
This refers to senior care, which means providing assistance to senior citizens who would prefer to live in their homes. It refers to basic daily activities which they are unable to perform themselves, such as meal preparation, bathing, housekeeping, transportation and so on.
- Skilled home healthcare
This refers to providing therapeutic or nursing services at the patient’s own home which are generally being given at a medical clinic or at a hospital.
Starting up your own healthcare business
Once you have decided to start up a home health care business, whether it is a day care or an adult care or disabled care facility, whichever it is, you need to make sure you have all the information that is required and the planning is perfect. There are certain points which you must consider and plan before you make the final move.
- Outline clearly what services you are providing
Like mentioned above, home health care can mean different things to different people and this means that you should be clear on what services are there which you intend to provide. This applies whether you talk non-medical ones, like bathing and housekeeping or the skilled home care like nursing. There are some home health care facility providers which even offer neurological care or speech or occupational therapy at home for those who have disabilities.
- Hire qualified people
Once you have decided what type of services you intend to provide in your home health care business, then the next step would be hiring skilled care givers. So if you just want to provide non skilled services, then you can hire unskilled workers however, if you intend to provide skilled services then you would need to hire the people accordingly, shortlisting individuals with proper nursing training. This hiring can be done at nursing school or at local training centers. It is, however, a must to do a background check on all individuals who you decide to hire since they will be entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the elderly who might be completely dependent on them. It would be ideal to hire those people who are compassionate about helping others.
- Accept Medical Insurance
Once you start your senior care business you should be accepting private insurance as well since home medical care is often covered by private insurance. Depending on how many clients with insurance you are serving, it would be beneficial to hire someone who is an expert on working with insurance and with Medicaid or Medicare.
- Keep all your licenses and certifications
Since medical care is highly regulated being a sensitive industry, it is important that you maintain all your licenses. Every state may have different requirements and legislations and this means that you should find out before hand what the requirements are.
- Do your marketing
No business can ever flourish without proper marketing. As such, you should begin with word of mouth which is the best form of marketing in the health care industry. The best way to start is with your known contacts who can recommend you a company which can make the referrals. You would also need to maintain a good relationship and contacts with the local nurses, doctors, clinics and hospitals. You should also establish your status with private insurance companies and with Medicaid and Medicare. Having professional marketing tools like brochures, advertisements, business cards also helps as it would provide more information regarding your services including your contact number and details, etc. Lastly, providing the best services to the clients is the best form of marketing in order to get more clients and referrals.
- Treat every patient as an individual
Every patient is an individual and needs separate care and attention. Once you take a new client it is better to meet with their whole families and this way find out what they need exactly from the services and make sure their extent of services are mentioned in the contract so that everyone knows what services you are providing. Focus on building relationships with your clients and eventually gain their trust and comfort.
Have a business plan
Like with any other business, this venture would obviously also require a business plan. This means, you need to do proper planning and forecasting in order to make sure your business succeeds. You should have all details of your logistics and how to go past the first few years, which might be troublesome. It is important to have some medical knowledge, or read up on some if you do not have, but having a good business sense is just as important for a home health care business.
What to include in your business plan?
Providing home health care services means you would probably be required to invest in some kind of medical equipment which is usually quite expensive. Some of the starting expenses can be:
- Rental expense
- Office expense
- Office supplies
- Business development
- Nursing supplies
Business financing for home healthcare
Once you have the list of expenses ready, then you would be required to arrange of the capital for the business financing for home health care. You might also require office leasing and business financing for home healthcare. The most basic and the most popular ways of raising finance for a adult care business is through bank loans, small business loans or other angel investors. You should however, not be disappointed that the business might not do too well in the first six months while you are still building your client base. This means, you must manage your cash flows very carefully in order to get through the first few months of the business start up.
Other considerations as a business owner
As a business owner you must also be willing to take various risks that are involved in running a business. At the end of the day, it will be a business which requires investment in terms of your time, effort, energy and of course money.
- Travelling long distances
The purpose of home health care service is to provide convenience to the patient, rather than the caregiver. Most of the caregivers or providers attend to at least six to eight patients daily and if they are living in a place that is geographically large, this means a lot of travelling involved. This can lead to fatigue and stress and if you are the type of a person who find travelling exhausting, then you might want to re consider going for this business option.
- Technological advancements
One of the reasons why home health care business or adult care has become so popular is because of the advancements in technology which has allowed the caregivers to provide the needed medical assistance at home. This means, dealing with high tech equipment and if you are not sure of how the technology works, then it is better to get acquainted with it first.
- Office leasing
When you are starting your home health care business, you must also consider whether you would require a physical space or an office from where to operate in. Maybe starting off you might not require it but as your staff grows and you buy more medical equipment, you might be required to get a office space, through office leasing. Many institutions offer office leasing and business financing for home healthcare
- Work in isolation
One of the benefits a nurse or a caregiver has working in a clinic or a hospital is that they have other colleagues they can consult with, when faced with something they cannot solve. When working as a home health care provider, this flexibility is not there and as such you would be required to work exclusively on your own and as such you should know your skills right.
Some key facts about home healthcare services
These facts are based on averages and are based for those businesses which are in the US.
- Start up costs: around $50,000 to $500,000
- Home health care workers make on average: Around $18,480 to $42,690 in a year or $8.89 to $20.52 on an hourly basis. The agency revenues are usually in millions of dollars yearly and as such, a business can expect at least 6 figure income after the expenses has been deducted.
- Health care workers charge: Per hour it is $15 to $75 for each hour and those which are licensed professionals can ask for $200 to $400 per day or per visit or per shift.
How to find new customers
Whether you have been in the business for a long time or just starting off new, you would always need more customers in order to run a healthy business. The best ways of getting new customers is through traditional networking, holding open houses on site as well as off site, community outreach, leaving your business cards or brochures in target areas such as clinics, rehabilitation centers, waiting areas of hospitals as well as agencies. You can also use the very effective social media in order to create a web presence, but being careful not to make it sound like a marketing campaign.
Marketing strategies for home healthcare
- Have a website through which you can be contacted, there you can list all your contact details and what services you provide.
- Create a network in the industry. As already mentioned you do not necessarily have to be from the medical industry to be in this business and this means you should create contacts in the field. Reach out to doctors, nurses and hospitals and create a name for yourself.
- Specialize in something. You need to set yourself apart, you can find a niche in the market that no one is providing and focus on that. You can go for disable care facilities, which are always in demand for home care.
- Join business groups, organizations as well as attend trade shows and other related events to stay updated with what is happening in the medical care industry.
To conclude, setting up or operating a home health care business or adult care business should not be considered too easy as it can fail like any other business. It should be taken as a proper business venture if you want it to succeed. You should also be compassionate with the people you are dealing with and only then you business can flourish. Having some knowhow of the medical industry is always important and will go a long way. The above mentioned points are by no way exhaustive and you should always do your own research as well. Starting up a business is never an easy task and as such you should make sure you are always on top of your game. Moreover, if you keep the above mentioned advise handy, your home health care business will surely succeed!