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Home Health Care is an agency which offers home health care services in Bengaluru.

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Voices: David Berman, Managing Principal, Mergers & Acquisitions and Data Analytics, SimiTree

May 16, 2022

Voices: David Berman, Managing Principal, Mergers & Acquisitions and Data Analytics, SimiTree This article is sponsored by SimiTree. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down with SimiTree managing principal David Berman to learn the trends taking hold in the post-acute care space over the next few years. Berman also shares the most interesting ways that post-acute care organizations are using data analytics, and explains SimiTree’s MAP: Market Analysis Platform. Home Health Care News: David, what career experiences do you most draw from in your role today? David Berman: While I’ve been in the post-acute space for over 24 years in various roles, the two main positions I’ve held are leading the merger and acquisition team at SimiTree and interim CFO work. Today I’m the executive vice president over all professional services, which includes M&A, data analytics and other consulting areas. As I think about where I draw my experience from, I think about my time acting as CFO of various post-acute providers, which is real-world, day-to-day management of providers. I also have strong experience in the M&A world, along with the knowledge of what acquirers, both strategic and financial, want in a provider today, and what that will look like in the future. Marrying all of that together means we can help post-acute providers from a full, well-rounded perspective. How do you describe the current state of the marketplace for post-acute care? Berman: There’s a lot of consolidation happening in the industry. For example, we see strategic buyers trying to acquire providers. Or, we see small mom-and-pops — one- or two-provider locations — looking to merge with their former competitors, now their peers, to try to gain economies of scale. With increased wage pressure plus marketplace complexities and compliance requirements, many smaller providers find it hard to address every issue and look to gain strength as part of a larger organization. We’ve seen it over the last few years and I think we’ll continue to see this roll-up trend, both on a large scale but also from the local markets of providers coming together and joining forces to offset some of the pressures that they’re facing. What trends do you see taking hold in the post-acute care space over the next few years? Berman: If we think about where we are and where we’re going, providers need to become more sophisticated to provide better care in a more efficient manner. You can’t do that without technology and data analytics. We need to make informed decisions using data. In the past, even just going back 10 or 15 years, there was a lot of, “I think we should grow here,” or “I think we should change there,” based on gut feel or trendy ideas. There wasn’t a lot of analysis backed by data behind it. With what’s available in the marketplace today, particularly what we have with the Market Analysis Platform, we have access to real data to help make informed decisions. Because of that, we’re going to see an evolution of the business model, including an expansion of types of services provided, and, where services are offered, more strategic relationships with payers in the post-acute space, and more targeted care delivery practices. The overreaching trend is determining how to do more with less. Explain to us the concept of the Market Analysis Platform. What is it, and how are operators using it in their growth strategy? Berman: The Market Analysis Platform, or MAP, is an online application that helps providers make informed business decisions based on market research. It helps them quantify their current market, including competitors, specific market share and referral patterns, and also explore where they should look to grow or perhaps concentrate their position, for whatever reason. There are many analytics tools out in the market, but a lot of them essentially provide you tables of metrics and then wish you luck. MAP was designed to be more supportive, providing clear reports that highlight important observations along with SimiTree’s guidance. It’s not just, “Here’s the data.” It’s, “Here’s the data. Let me work with you and explain to you why this data’s useful and, more importantly, how to interpret it.” That could be for your sales team to understand where to go to market and sell. It could be with your finance team to say, “Here’s profitability by individual markets. Does it make sense to be here or not?” For a board of directors and/or management teams, MAP can help them visualize and plan their overall strategy. For instance, I’ll pull from my M&A experience: valuations are forward-looking. The value of a provider, a business, a company, whatever it is, is what the future cash flows bring. The past is only important so much so that it dictates what the future will bring. In that scenario, MAP helps a provider grow value. “Value” doesn’t just mean revenue dollars — it means better quality care, stronger referral relationships, greater predictability and more efficient care. If an agency needs or wants to grow to outpace wage pressures, competition, compliance demands and things of the like, MAP says, “Let us help you figure out the best way to do that.” MAP is an analytics platform built for all levels of management to have easy access to market insights, designed by people who have actually worked in the provider space and know what is meaningful and what are just numbers on a piece of paper. What are the most interesting ways that data analytics are impacting post-acute care organizations? Berman: The pandemic accelerated two trends: first, an increased interest in caring for patients at home, when possible. Second, shifts in staffing. Most of us already knew that people want their care in the home as much as they can. Over the last two years, hospitals increased the volume of Medicare patients discharged to home health and decreased the rate of sending patients to skilled nursing facilities. Meanwhile, the Great Resignation and wage pressure forced providers to think more analytically about how to leverage their limited staff to provide the best care possible to an increasing patient population. The only way to do that is to use sound data, to critically evaluate our own business practices, identify new opportunities and look at what others are doing. Sometimes as providers, company leaders, owners, whoever you might be, you get lost in your day to day. You hear a lot of people — and this is pulling from my experience as CFO at agencies — who say, “Have we thought about doing this?” The immediate response is, “We can’t do that because…” Decisions were rarely backed up with data. Now, analytics have given providers the data, the objective knowledge, the insight to make an informed decision around their new plans. You can model the potential impact on your patient census and margin based on a growth plan for a specific area or service line. You can assess the likelihood of success working with a new referral source based on their current referral relationship and how you compare to the competition. Data analytics is also being used to learn from one another and improve collaboration across health care. That’s the beauty of benchmarking, and part of what MAP does. MAP lets us learn from our peers and our competitors as well as better understand the needs of partners and potentially identify ways to better care for patients. For example, presenting data to a hospital with a high readmission rate that discharges a high volume of patients with no post-acute care might lead to a discussion about changing practice patterns to better utilize home health services. That could lead to improved patient outcomes, a lower readmission penalty risk for the hospital, and an increased census for your agency. At the end of the day, care is going to continue to get pushed to the home. Data helps us deliver that care in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. What technologies should the post-acute care industry be concerned with going forward in, call it, the next 18 months? Berman: When we say “technology” I think many minds go to EMRs and telehealth and fancy gadgets. Those are all great. But for me, I think about technology’s function or purpose, and right now, how it can be used to address challenges in three top priority areas. The first is growth. Technology that facilitates easy access to market intelligence to inform faster, smarter and more strategic growth will help us save time and be more successful. Technology that allows our teams to stay connected, organized and focused on care amid growth will ensure long-term success. Two is compliance. While we had a little lull back in the pandemic, and some audits were put on hold, they are back now in full force. We need a way to make sure that the agency is providing compliant care. The more automated, the better. As we grow and start having more branches and locations, compliance gets a little bit harder. Using technology to reinforce and audit our own internal compliance program is certainly important. The third thing is employee retention and engagement. It’s the number one thing we get asked at SimiTree. Basically, “Can you help us find staff?” We need great staff to provide care, to continue to grow and achieve our organizational goals. Technology that facilitates communication can help with engagement, and technology that streamlines their days and eliminates busywork can help with retention. Ultimately, technology that allows staff to be good at their job helps with engagement, retention, quality of care and our agency’s overall objectives. More than bells and whistles, those are the three functional areas that I think we need to focus our technology on over the next 18 months. Finish this sentence: “The home-based care industry in 2022 will be the year of…”? Berman: Continued growth. ​​Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. SimiTree is a revenue cycle, coding, professional services and talent management resource for post-acute and behavioral health organizations. To learn more about how to achieve stronger financial performance, call 800.949.0388 or visit . The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected] Share

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