The bulge in the population of boomers and the aging of America is no surprise. Demographers have predicted it for decades. The imbalance in the ratio of young to old has also been predicted. So, when 4 experts get together to predict the future of aging in America*, what is new to report? What is new, is that technology combined with creativity and a global perspective is looking to solve the problems with the assets we have that are growing as we age as a society. And, what are those assets, you might ask? Those assets are us. So, are you ready to age with a purpose to give back to your community? Are you ready to age and think about your health now, so you will not be a statistic in the future? Are you ready to embrace technology so that your ability to age in place will be increased?
Joe Coughlin, Director of MIT’s AgeLab says that yesterday’s problems were solved with yesterday’s solutions. We have just begun to realize the possibilities for solutions to tomorrow’s problems. Ken Dychtwald is clear about what he thinks is going to happen in the future, and feels that we are building a purpose for maturity; that we are creating a vision of an America that is aging. And, he says steering the ship towards that vision? Most of the steering is really course correction, and that is what we are doing now, and will continue to do.
“How do we match healthspan with lifespan?” he asks. Afterall, when you are old, does age really matter if you are healthy, enjoying life, have a purpose, and are loved?
The inventions that are currently being realized allow cars that drive themselves, robots that not only can do simple tasks, but that can offer peace and calm to an Alzheimer’s patient, monitoring that connects the patient in the home to a doctor or a support team in a hospital, and online communities for all kinds of extended relations, regardless of geography. This entire session on the future of Aging in America will be available soon, and, when it is, everyone needs to take the time to watch it. For now, I will link you to last year’s retirement talk at ASA, in case you want an appetizer.
What an honor for me to present at this conference with the likes of my esteemed colleagues. If you are not aware of the programs that these institutions and businesses serve up for the future, take the time to find out more.
The American Society on Aging turns 60 this year. Celebrating that milestone, and continuing the education and policy making that has been so important for those 6 decades, the American Society on Aging is having its annual conference in San Diego this week. There is no other organization or conference that takes the long range, high level view that ASA does. Here, one can find research, advocates, policy makers, philanthropists, educators, students, and those of age who want to be a viable part of how society solves its problems.
Much more than just home care, the ASA conference spans all kinds of possibilities for aging: in place, in any place, with anyone, in any way. The issues, you see, of a society, remain as that society ages, but we assume that there will need to be different and better solutions as things change.
So what is going to change? A reverence and respect for elders, is a main theme here. Our society needs to find a way to make the older population a viable part of the fabric of society, and not just a retired, and wasted group. The needs of communities, non-profits, programs….all need assistance implementing and sustaining programs. What better source for talent, wisdom, and energy than the recently retired workforce, with lots to offer and no place to go.
Another theme here is that the boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are not accepting retirement and rules that others have not questioned. This cohort of folks were brought up in a time where authority was questioned, where the norm changed, where nothing traditional was respected for its tradition. That force, en mass, is one with which the nation has to deal, and the ASA is looking for ways to take the number and make them relevant.
How exciting to be among a mixed group of interested, educated, driven professionals who are looking for a better way to engage our citizens as we move into this Age Wave.
Keep posted for ways that I see we can translate what I am learning into a communicated and orchestrated path that I will suggest for my clients. This is the perfect way to mix marketing and trend setting. Fasten your seat belts!
A ”Tedism” is widely known to those who know Ted Abernathy. I am fortunate to sit on the South Arts Board with a number of very interesting and accomplished folks, and Ted has been working with us on strategic planning, and occasionally does and says brilliant things. ”Strategy means making choices,” he said at our last board meeting. “If you are not making choices, then you are not implementing strategy.”
Many talk of strategy, but few understand it, or understand how to implement it. Let’s talk home care strategy. The agency has choices about what service to provide. The agency has choices about what clients to serve. The agency has choices about how to best communicate with its targets. The agency has choices about how to allocate revenue dollars into operations, marketing, and stakeholder distribution.
When marketing home care, there should be a distinct strategy based on desired outcomes. Does the agency want to create longer service hours (thus more profit)? Does the agency want to extend service provision boundaries (thus more potential customers)? Does the agency want to find, hire and retain better caregivers (thus have a better ‘product’ to sell on the market)? Does the agency want to specialize and service a particular segment (perhaps diabetes, dementia, or depression)?
Simply wanting to grow the business is not enough. Strategic choices need to be made in order to grow wisely.
Answer these questions:
Is the agency software working?
Are there issues with paychecks and client invoices?
Are there missed opportunities when scheduling?
Is the communication to and from the caregivers streamlined and efficient?
Are inquiries turning into sales?
Do you track who is doing the best in client acquisition?
Do you faithfully record the inquiry details into a system, and then follow up?
Are the follow-up communication pieces personalized and professional?
Are your special and differentiating qualities and services communicated appropriately?
Are you clear about your agency’s differentiation in the marketplace?
How are you communicating?
Are you measuring for results?
Setting strategy, creating strategy in the first place, is based on data collection, analysis, and personal strengths and weaknesses of the office and the agency itself. Implementing that strategy is best reserved for a marketing partner who specializes. Then, the agency can focus on growing the business, and the marketing partner can specialize on communicating for more growth, and more profitability.
And, perhaps, with success you too can post a new Facebook photo of a vacation on the water, like our brilliant Ted Abernathy has recently done. Kudos to Ted! And, thanks for not getting mad at our taking the liberty of posting your relaxing photo.
A client this week asked me how his agency can achieve becoming “Top of Mind”. Don’t you love these simple sounding questions that have complex answers? Complicated by the fact that “Top of Mind’ is so much harder to achieve in today’s marketing environment than previously. However, it is possible. It is doable. It is achievable.
Keeping in touch with potential clients and those who can refer prospects is the very essence of networking, whether in person and face-to-face or online and person-to-person. And, we all know that networking is the number one way agencies build brand and good will. However, it is not just random networking that will achieve Top of Mind. After you meet or connect with the people who are likely to use your services, or make referrals, it is up to you to do the kinds of things necessary so they will remember you. And, there is an entire other component to Top of Mind that involves branding and differentiation, so the information you are sharing, leaving behind, sending via email, or just passing along extends the agency brand, and increases the potential for achieving Top of Mind.
Three common elements that can help you achieve Top of Mind:
- Focus on the right target(s) – identify who is most likely to us or refer your services and communicate with them, whether you know them or not;
- Provide value – keep all possible potential clients and referral sources informed about things that matter to them, like new developments in technology that make staying at home easier, or ways to provide in-home care that are aimed directly at better communication or services to a targeted segment, like the Alzheimer’s patient
- Make it personal – with today’s technology, you can target an individual, even with a mass email. You can answer an inquiry specifically aimed at the inquirer’s needs. You can “remember” family or business events and milestones, and recognize those.
Showing up is half the battle. And showing up, means getting there, responding, being active and present. The idea of achieving Top of Mind means the agency has to keep in touch and build relationships. Those relationships are built one person at a time.
Communicating regularly is really the key. When that communication is targeted, branded and relevant, then you are on the road to achieving Top of Mind.
corecubed can help. We are experts at home care marketing, and communicating. We know branding, and strategy. Call us. You will be glad you did.
A crucial decision that affects home care agencies was made yesterday as the Obama Administration postponed some crucial parts of the Affordable Care Act relating to the Employer Mandate .
The IRS issued a Final Rule February 10, 2014, changing the implementation of the employer mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act to ensure a gradual phase-in of the employer mandate. For 2015, the rule states that the employer responsibility provision will generally apply to larger firms with 100 or more full-time employees. In 2016 the mandate will apply to employers with 50 or more full-time employees.
A Fact Sheet issued by the US Treasury Department gives details on implementing the employer shared responsibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for 2015.
Another bright spot for home care agencies was introduced to the House of Representatives on February 4th defining a full-time employee as working 40 hours instead of the 30 hours that was originally proposed as a component of the ACA.
According to a release by the Home Care Association of America, “The bill would repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with 40-hours. The bill has the support of 201 members of Congress and was passed out of Committee on a vote of 23-14.”
Check the Federal Register for updates.
Both of these actions are very good news for home care and home health agencies.