Amy Nelson was just 18 years old when she founded Accurate Home Care. Even at that young age, she had already seen the promise and the perils of providing care for vulnerable people in their homes.
Nelson worked for one agency run by a woman with a disabled son who taught her the importance of putting clients first and establishing trust. And she worked for another agency that allegedly was defrauding government payers. Nelson served as a whistleblower and moved on.
Twelve years after its founding, Accurate Home Care provides more than two million client hours annually to the upper Midwest, specializing in 24-hour, 7-day-a-week complex care for patients throughout life stages from newborns to the elderly. In-home services include nursing care, therapy, respite care, homemaking and mental health assistance. Nelson also serves on the home care provider advisory council for the state of Minnesota, and she has an MBA from Minnesota School of Business.
“It’s important to put aside differences and competitive tendencies to do what’s best for our communities.”
The Otsego, Minn.-based company is the future of healthcare, Nelson says. She has a job to do with the move away from in-patient episodic care visits and toward care teams working across the continuum.
“Allowing people to be in the comfort of their own homes where they can heal and making that cost-effective is what drives me,” Nelson says.
Accurate Home Care strives to provide high-level, high-tech care in the home, where necessary. For instance, a patient released from the hospital who still requires a ventilator or I.V. can receive care at home from Accurate Home Care providers. Patients and families also gain emotional support from trained clinicians.
“Clients can pick up the phone 24 hours a day and call, and we’re there for them, even as a resource, a sounding board and an extension of their care team,” Nelson says.
Working with government payers, private insurers and employers to give people optimal care in their homes can reduce overall healthcare costs while improving quality of life and putting people on the road to recovery, she adds.
“Leaders need to say, ‘How can we collaborate?’” Nelson says. “Whether it’s working together for provider training or improving outcomes or lowering readmission rates, it’s important to put aside differences and competitive tendencies to do what’s best for our communities.”
With new incentives, penalties and reimbursement models ushered in by health reform, more inpatient and ambulatory providers are interested in close collaborations with in-home health agencies. Closer coordination can reduce avoidable readmissions and improve the overall health of the populations.
A primary challenge these days for Accurate Home Care is hiring qualified healthcare workers. With a nationwide provider shortage, finding nurses, certified nursing assistants, licensed vocational nurses and other healthcare professionals can be difficult, Nelson says.
Finding answers to staffing and other challenges requires innovation.
“True innovation comes from not allowing yourself to become complacent and stop learning,” Nelson says. “Celebrate your success, yes. But then immediately ask yourself, ‘What’s next?’ You’ll move forward as a leader and your organization will move forward with you.”
Innovator Insight: When innovating, don’t throw out the fundamental things that are working. Don’t change things for the sake of changing things.