The need for home healthcare services can arise within every family. Sometimes, the need for care is anticipated and can be planned for in advance. At other times this need presents itself at once both immediate and pressing. In either situation, the decision of whom to choose and why they are good fit can have major implications for everyone involved. In this series of posts, we hope to go beyond the television ads, magazine photos and websites to offer a clear and concise overview of how this dedicated and compassionate industry works. Our hope is that with more information and some normalizing of the angst you and your family may be feeling, the decision-making process will become a little bit easier for you.
Choosing a Home Healthcare Provider. A Franchise or an Independent Agency?
Services that specialize in providing home healthcare professionals have the same set of missions; to provide kind and competent care to individuals who need assistance on the road to recovery from an injury or illness, or to provide access to skilled nursing care for those who wish to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long a time as possible. Either way, being a part of this community is a noble and honorable profession, but a profession it is. Let us examine the differences between these two business approaches.
There are exceptions of course, but the great majority of franchised agencies only provide non-medical personnel to assist with an individual’s “Activities of Daily Living.” If skilled nursing services are required, most franchised agencies will refer their clients to a company who can supply Registered Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses to meet those needs. Additionally, most franchises accept only private payment for services, as opposed to accepting payment from government funding sources such as Medicaid.
Franchises are purchased from a larger corporation, the franchisor. The franchisor provides a standard business model to achieve parity between all of its franchise locations. They provide each location with guidance and administrative support to maintain all necessary insurances, licensing and regulatory permits. The franchisor will also assist each franchise with the recruiting and hiring of qualified home healthcare personnel.
Home Healthcare franchises, like any other business, must build and maintain brand recognition. The franchisor makes available the resources necessary to achieve this by providing such services as media advertising and website content assistance. Although franchises are limited by geographic service areas, the franchisor’s outreach to the public can be national in scope. In return for all of these services, the franchise must allocate a percentage of revenue back to the franchisor. Consequently, a franchise’s marketing personnel have required placement goals that are financially incentivized and motivated.
Independent agencies are just that; independent. They may be a part of a larger corporation or may be a small business whose service area is regional. They are completely responsible for their own business models, regulatory compliance, human resources and marketing strategies. Most independent agencies are owned by individuals who have a long history within the medical field; nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists as examples, whose purposes are to provide care at all levels to a vulnerable population.
A successful independent agency is one that not only excels in maintaining top quality home health professionals, but is not limited to a specific geographic service area. Most provide a complete continuum of care; from non-medical through skilled nursing and accept most forms of payment, including Medicare, Medicaid, Worker’s Compensation and some disability insurances as well as private payment. As opposed to franchise agencies who, for the most part, have different owners and staff at each location, an independent agency maintains the same staff; from ownership through care givers at all levels.
Ultimately, the quality of service from any home healthcare agency, whether independent or franchise, is only as good as its principals…..and it’s principles.
By Meg Madison, Home Care Marketing Relational Liaison