What's new with Amedisys

What Amedisys Is Doing For Its Heart Failure Patients During American Heart Month

Posted 2/3/2017

By: Susan Sender, Chief Clinical Officer

With American Heart Month now here, Amedisys is pleased to report some big news that’s close to our hearts: we’re seeing successful preliminary results from a promising new pilot project that targets heart failure – so much so that we’ll be rolling out training for the program companywide this month.



The timing here is perfect. American Heart Month is dedicated to educating the public about cardiovascular disease, the nation’s top killer of both men and women. According to the CDC, some 85.6 million Americans live with cardiovascular diseases. An estimated 5.7 million suffer from heart failure in particular.

The Amedisys Heart Failure Program pilot, a multidisciplinary specialty initiative in home health, currently involves more than 300 heart failure patients at 14 Amedisys care centers throughout Alabama.

Under the program, our clinicians step in to educate – and ultimately empower – patients and their families to manage their condition at home, maintaining wellness and fostering independence. In the process, patients are coached and motivated to take on a wide range of responsibilities. They set personal goals, regularly weigh themselves, monitor their symptoms, stay alert for warning signs and document progress on a handy checklist that enables them to communicate more effectively with their physician. Most importantly, patients and family members learn what to do when they see symptoms.

Over the long-term, our new Heart Failure Program will result in lower hospital readmission rates, improved functional status and decreased shortness of breath. Success will drive higher quality of life, lower costs for all and longer lives.

Our overall “Heart Suite” program also encompasses new care protocols for two other diagnoses – Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) and Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG).

Recently, a heart failure patient in the pilot gained three pounds in a single day. Such weight gain in patients with heart failure is a symptom that suggests fluid retention, an indicator that their condition is worsening. This patient’s wife, who had gone through our pilot program and received our patient education booklet, knew to call the care center immediately.

In response, Amedisys clinicians quickly contacted the family’s primary care physician, who ordered medication for the patient and a skilled-nursing visit to his home. His nurse drew labs and helped the patient make an appointment with his physician. Within two days, the patient had lost eight pounds. Avoiding a visit to the emergency room and possible readmission to the hospital enabled him to stay at home. Crisis averted.

The key here was that the patient’s wife knew when to call, and she and her husband were able to manage through this episode. Better outcomes – that’s what our new Heart Failure Program is all about.
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Why We Do What We Do: Our Employees Make All The Difference

Posted 8/12/2016

By: Paul Kusserow, Amedisys President and Chief Executive Officer

You get in a car, pull your equipment out of the trunk and go door to door all day. You arrive at homes without knowing what you will find, or how your patients are going to be faring. So it goes, day in and day out, for 10,500 Amedisys clinicians deployed out into the field caring for 57,000 patients on census each day.

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Now let me confess something about myself here. I'm not a clinician or homecare veteran. I did not build my career in home health and hospice. If new CEOs in the first months at the helm are self-aware enough to know anything, it's that they need to immerse themselves in the business and culture and learn everything they can from the people on the front lines. Shut up and listen, look for common themes, then dig in and understand them. That's the only way you can get up to speed and be additive quickly.

That's why last year I went out into the field for an independent research and listening tour. I needed to witness how our clinical teams take care of our patients; how we support them and where we can improve; how our care centers work; how we deliver care - the whole package. So I started visiting care centers and met at length with our patients and more than 1,000 of our staff, nurses, therapists, social workers, aides and clergy alike.

Here are my three key thoughts about you:

So what do we choose to focus on? What's our strategy? Very simply - we choose our patients and we choose you. The feedback I got from all my visits fell into four areas of focus. For us to be the number one provider of care in the home, we must:

• You're good at your job. You give patients the deepest attention, intimate and one-on-one. You sometimes train patients how to maintain balance, gain strength, eat right, bathe right, and get back to tending the hydrangeas in the backyard garden. Your responsibilities span the physical, the psychological and the spiritual. Thanks to you, a woman once unable to walk can again climb to the top of the stairs and sleep in her bedroom, and a man who lost the power of speech can tell his wife he loves her. Clearly you're getting it right. You're why more than 2,200 hospitals and 61,900 physicians nationwide refer patients to us. You're good.

• You build history, one person at a time. You know your patients inside and out. You know the baseline vital signs, whether blood pressure or cholesterol count. You know the family - the ever-concerned husband, the anxious daughter from out of state, the cat. Why is there always a cat? You know whether your patients are eating properly, dressing and bathing themselves, moving often enough, taking the right medications at the right time. You know if they're happy, anxious, confused or frustrated. No surprise there. You make patient visits for weeks or months, you're bound to become the resident expert. You're quick studies, you can put together a patient's situation and story within two steps from the doorway.

• You care; in many cases deeply. You take your job personally. You bring to the table your clinical excellence, knowledge and also the most crucial of intangible elements, compassion. You also deliver smiles, lend a sympathetic ear, pat patients on the shoulder for encouragement. You do everything in your power to bring peace to the dying. And you do it - you care. Your care is the glue which holds it all together. We receive all those letters every year from patients and families expressing satisfaction and appreciation and gratitude - and so often calling you "angels." No wonder.

My top takeaway? "It's the people!" You're making a difference with the patients entrusted to your care every day. Everyday heroes, behind closed doors, one person at a time.

For Amedisys to be continuously successful we need to have two things: 1.) Great people; 2.) Great tools for those great people. If we have both of these, all good things follow. The equation is just that. The advantage good people give us is destined to come full circle. The better you perform for our patients, the better we perform as a company. And the better we operate as a company, the better we can all ultimately serve our patients. A virtuous circle.

Paul Kusserow
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Why We Do What We Do: Defining the Amedisys Strategy

Posted 8/1/2016

By: Paul Kusserow, Amedisys President and Chief Executive Officer

Over the past couple of months I've shared with you what I've been learning about our patients and people during visits to our care centers and our patient's homes. I'm very proud of the important work we do for our patients everyday - clinical and non-clinical, we focus on the whole patient. Everyone, one way or another, contributes to taking care of our patients.

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To find our strategy, I kept traveling care center to care center until I started to hear the same themes over and over. In different places, from Mississippi to Maine to California, some real truths about what we need to do to make us better than we are today started to emerge. Time after time, setting after different setting - in chats in cars going on patient visits, with patients around their beds and kitchen tables, around tables in care centers, in town hall meetings - a familiar chorus started emerge, with familiar themes - and that is when I stopped, came back to Baton Rouge with a full notebook and started to work with everyone to articulate, organize and structure what we heard from our people and our patients. This is the foundation of our company's strategy. It comes from us, how we know things should be. It the best part of ourselves that we want to see actualized.

Strategy in my mind is pretty simple. It's about choices and building a structure to make those choices happen. A strategy is the hard work of sitting down and thinking what you stand for and what you don't stand for. What Amedisys does and what it doesn't do. The key to many successful companies is that they focus on doing one or a few things really well. Good, focused companies say "no" a lot, "That's a great idea but that's not what we do." The world is very complex and complicated, especially in healthcare, so having the discipline of focus is extremely important. It also has to inspire you.

The great baseball player, Yogi Berra, once said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." If you have a good strategy, when you come to forks in the road, decisions are easier as your focus is cleaner, your vision clearer, your resolve stronger - you blow right through while others are standing at the crossroads with their maps out trying to figure out which way to go. This sort of indecisiveness will hobble a company. It hurt Amedisys in the past.

So what do we choose to focus on? What's our strategy? Very simply - we choose our patients and we choose you. The feedback I got from all my visits fell into four areas of focus. For us to be the number one provider of care in the home, we must:

1.) Be the best clinically
2.) Be the best employer
3.) Be extremely efficient at delivering our services
4.) Grow

That's our strategy. There's lots of charts, graphics, analysis, plans, and debates that are behind these four things. But basically, what's the point if we don't aim to be the best clinical organization in home health and hospice. We're one of the biggest, we have more 10,500 knowledgeable, compassionate clinicians. My guess is if we could find a way to take the best of what we all know and do, we would be amazing. We should try to make sure we take this collective knowledge and build the best tools, education and protocols so our people can do their job better than anyone. Amedisys should be synonymous with outstanding care so that we attract and retain the best clinicians and caregivers in the industry.

On being the best employer, we have to be. We can't deliver outstanding care without the most talented people who offer many varied skills - from direct clinical care delivery, to the business development folks who convince clients to refer to us, to our care center experts who run the complex processes of home health and hospice, to the corporate team who supports the business. We need great people with all these skills to come to us and stay and thrive - if this happens, then our patients and our outcomes thrive.

The healthcare business is also really complex. To do it right, we have think about the way care can be delivered, documented and paid for and build these processes into efficient workflows. We need the right people, processes, technologies to make it happen. Growth is simple. If we do all the above, we grow and flourish. If we don't, we malinger and our business won't survive.

Are we there yet? No. But I believe we will get there. I'm seeing positive results already. Our STARs ratings for quality are good and improving, our people are increasingly engaged and our turnover is down; we're implementing Homecare Homebase and getting rid of AMS2 and 3 which is improving our efficiency; and we grew very nicely last quarter.

So our strategy is based on your feedback and input, what we see that we know should be better, what we know in our guts how things should be - and I think it's spot on. In essence it comes from you, our patients and our markets. When we do little things around our strategy, we see good results. The key is to continue to focus and push these four strategies - until we achieve our goals.

So I hope you will be pleased to know that when I come to a fork in the road, I will choose our patients and I will choose YOU, our people. I hope you'll do the same. Good things will come from it.
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Why We're Doing the Safety Dance

Posted 6/29/2016

By David Johnson, VP Risk Management, Amedisys

Staying safe. Is any priority higher?

At Amedisys, safety for our employees, as for our patients, comes first.

And our numbers for the first four months of 2016 bear that out, we’re happy to report.

Consider our slips and falls. They are down 5% from the same period in 2015, and our strains are down 4%.

If you get injured on the job at Amedisys, it has a multiplier effect that’s strictly negative. The injury obviously affects you and your family members. But it also means your patients have to do without you until you recover. And that your colleagues have to step into the breach on your behalf to care for those patients.

June is National Safety Month, courtesy of the National Safety Council. And to mark the occasion, I shared some safety tips for employees and patients alike. We also invited our employees to send in photos demonstrating precautions routinely taken to lower the risks of injury – how, for example, you may handle, transfer and reposition a patient.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report, “Occupational Hazards In Home Healthcare.” It said, “Home healthcare workers, while contributing greatly to the well-being of others, face unique risks on the job to their own personal safety and health. Among the threats cited: long commutes from worksite to worksite.

Says the National Safety Council, “Every worker deserves to make it safely home from work – every day . . . No matter the company size or industry, from construction sites to office buildings, employers who show they care about the safety of their employees see improved morale, increased productivity, lower costs and, most importantly, fewer injuries.”

Amedisys cares about safety – because employee safety and patient safety go hand-in-hand.
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The New Rules of Engagement

Posted 6/22/2016

By Larry Pernosky, Amedisys Chief Human Resources Officer

Let’s get engaged, shall we? After all, Amedisys is out to get all 16,000+ of its employees engaged. Engaged with team members, engaged with patients, engaged with referral sources in the communities we serve.

Research shows that fully engaged employees enjoy better health and are more conscientious. They’re more than twice as likely to have thriving personal lives. They’re inclined to stay on the job longer, work harder and care more while doing it. Plus, organizations equipped with engagement strategies saw net income improve by 756%.

That’s why last year we started our People Engagement Survey. We have multiple goals. To promote a culture that prizes engagement. To retain our employees. To grow our business. And to be the best company we can be, widely recognized us as an employer of choice.

That can happen only if we give all of our employees a chance to be heard. So we asked you to react to the following comments.

“I would recommend Amedisys as a great place to work.”

“I rarely think about looking for a new job with another company.”

“I am proud to work for Amedisys.”

“Overall, I am extremely satisfied with Amedisys as a place to work.”

In other words, do you bring the best of yourself to the workplace every day? Are you motivated, even inspired?

Our overall engagement score, reflecting employee pride, advocacy, loyalty and satisfaction, was 72% – slightly higher than the worldwide average of 70%, with pride about working for Amedisys the factor that ranked the highest. Our score suggests that most of you feel empowered to deliver the best care for our patients, and demonstrate your commitment daily.

For proof, just ask Jackie Dugger, director of operations at our home health care center in Mountain City, Tennessee, where engagement has soared. Team members talk to each other, listen to each other, get to know each other, respect each other, help each other and have fun with each other. “In this office, we’re family,” Jackie explains. “We care about each other and we’d do anything to help each other. It takes all of us to accomplish what we need to accomplish each and every day.”

Our research also revealed that care centers with engaged employees observed superior results in metrics used to monitor and evaluate our clinical distinction. Care centers with higher performance on the People Engagement Survey demonstrated higher performance on their Quality of Patient Care Star Rating during the same time period; Additionally, care centers with higher engagement results also demonstrated lower rates of turnover.

But the survey was just the first step. Our initiative also asked our leaders at all levels to go over their survey results and work with their teams to tailor action plans for 2016. After all, we already have care plans for patients, so we should also have care plans for our employees. The process identifies two or three keys to what we’re doing right and also where and how to get better. Our objective was for 75% of employees to log engagement action plans, but a whopping 98% chose to do so.

A case in point about the care plans is our home health care center in Brent, Alabama, with some of the highest engagement scores at Amedisys. After its teams reviewed the engagement survey results, they developed a care plan that called for more direct feedback, as well as examples that illustrate issues, at care conferences for staff. “People feel comfortable speaking up in care conference, or coming to me,” says Lindsay Giddiens, director of operations. “It’s a great reflection of our level of trust. Now we deal with problems head on.”

Amedisys is currently tabulating feedback from a confidential, five-minute follow-up survey with 20% of our clinicians about how we can best improve in the second half of 2016. Stay tuned for more on our Pulse Survey.

So let’s maintain the momentum here. Let’s keep our companywide conversation going. Engagement is more than an initiative to benefit the people of Amedisys. It is also critical for making our Company an Employer of Choice.
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