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.
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
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.