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Episode 58

Successful software implementation for organizational transformation in home-based care

Jeff Howell: 0:43
Welcome to another episode of Home Health 360, where we chat with home-based care experts from around the globe. I’m Jeff Howell. You know we spend very little time talking about ourselves on this podcast and that is not the case today. I have someone who’s been at AlayaCare for eight years, which is an eternity in tech. I have Chase Potter. He’s the VP of professional services. He leads a team of over 50, and he implements the AlayaCare software. He oversees discovery, he does project management and he helps train and optimize folks that are coming onto AlayaCare. So today’s episode is really going to be about technology and transformational change to your business. So if you’re out there listening and you’re thinking about software, we will try to make it less about AlayaCare and more about change management and moving on to new technology. Chase, thanks for being here today.

Chase Potter: 1:36
Thanks for having me, Jeff. It’s really a pleasure to be on Long time listener. So excited to be here.

Jeff Howell: 1:42
That’s what happens when I descended through Slack to you every time it gets released. Yeah, maybe a bit. Let’s jump right in, give us some myths. So if I’m out there and I’m thinking, hey, is it really when you’re changing even from paper and going on to software for the first time, or when you’re changing MRs, there is definitely a perception that it’s going to be hard. No matter what, I’m curious about maybe some myths or misnomers that people actually have about the process.

Chase Potter: 2:09
Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ve got a couple to jump to mine. First one fast implementation means success. Don’t get me wrong. When we start a project, the time to value is incredibly important for our team. We want our customers to see value in a decision that they’ve made quickly. That said, and especially in cases of large scale implementations, we need to go slow in order to go fast. It’s taking time to do a discovery, Learn a bit more about your business and ensure that the project we embark on is aligned with your business objectives. Otherwise, you’re risking a lot more time being needed to spend much later on in the process.

Jeff Howell: 2:54
Measure twice cut once. Ok, Exactly.

Chase Potter: 2:58
Exactly. One other myth that pops the mind is that implementation is only an IT project. The software implementation is all that IT. That’s just not true. For any successful software implementation you need to have buy-in and engagement from your business leaders. You want your staff to adopt the product. They can’t just feel like this is an IT project that is happening to them. You need to feel a part of it.

Jeff Howell: 3:25
I love how you phrased that happen to them and, as you were saying, that we’re all guilty of not using all the tools, and regardless of what your role is or what company you’re working for, there’s always one or two tools that most people use that were strange creatures in the fact that we like some softwares and we don’t like others. That’s absolutely true. What would you define as an enterprise customer In terms of number of employees for home care? 2,000, 3,000 employees? Okay, so let’s go with that. What are the implementation steps that, like a home care agency of that size can expect to go through when they’re moving from one software to another?

Chase Potter: 4:03
I think the first stage you can expect to embark on and this might not be consistent with every software vendor, but it is with us it’s a pre-implementation discovery engagement. When we first started implementing Holiacare eight years ago, we used to jump just right into configuring the application. We would uncover requirements as we went, lead them to unpleasant surprises on both sides of the fence. But beyond surprises, it’s easy to lose track of why you’re making the effort to do the software implementation when you get into the weeds. So the discovery it forces you to really articulate the business objectives and ensure that you’re coming back to them as the project is progressing, so you don’t get stuck, and I’d like this button to be over on the left hand side of the screen You’re instead coming back to. I want to improve my scheduling efficiency by 30%. So that discovery engagement really important key phase In our world. We move next into that environment configuration where we take what we learn in discovery and start to put it into practice in the software. We know that while two businesses might be very similar, they are very rarely still not founded at all identical and there really is a need to collaborate on these configurations around the platform and ensure that, as we build off our best practices, they’re still meeting the needs for your business. Within the software. Going beyond the configuration of user acceptance testing is really important. You’ve built out your workflows, your configuration of the environment is set to go. You need to actually test it. Make sure that the software is going to work for you. Our team, we support our customers in preparing for user acceptance testing, helping to build out test cases and ensure that customer is comfortable at the end of that testing period, ready to go live and beyond testing and so feel good. Software was great. Move into training Training is obviously an essential component to adoption of any platform. On our side we generally lead with a train the trainer model. We find that by training up a number of users and super users and trainers within a customer, we’re more likely to get staff buy-in from the platform on a broader basis. The reality is that a nurse in the field is more likely to really hear what’s being said from someone at their company that they’re used to seeing on a regular basis than a software vendor who’s coming in.

Jeff Howell: 6:55
How long would each of these stages be for a project with a size?

Chase Potter: 7:00
It is highly dependent on the individual organization the number of service lines, complexity. Generally, when we’re working with a larger enterprise organization, we do consider a phased implementation. We start with either a region or a service line where we think we can deliver value more quickly based on what we know of your business. And time from that initial kickoff to the first phase go live is usually somewhere in the 4-8 month range.

Jeff Howell: 7:35
When you say kickoff, is that still just a portion, as in this user acceptance testing, or when would you expect the entire switchover is done?

Chase Potter: 7:47
Yeah, so the entire switchover again it’s going to be. I’m going to say it again, every agency is different, so I don’t want to put broad strokes out there. But for an agency of the size that we’re talking about let’s say it’s predominantly personal care we’re probably looking at somewhere between 8 to 12 months for the full project.

Jeff Howell: 8:09
Yeah, we live in a very simple, straightforward cookie cutter industry, right, so every project is absolutely must be so boring.

Chase Potter: 8:16
Oh yeah, no, everyone is exactly the same. It’s weird. I don’t know how I’m still like every day. I wake up and think, wow, you gotta do the same thing again. No, that’s I can say. I have not been bored one day.

Jeff Howell: 8:30
No doubt. What about change management strategies Like what’s your advice? I would imagine most people you deal with this is their first rodeo, right, and it’s because no one wants to go through this twice if they can avoid it.

Chase Potter: 8:43
Yeah that’s right. I’d say start with having a strategy. That’s not something that’s a given, and even in cases where we see an upfront focus on change management, it’s so often one of the first things that just disappear. You get stuck in the weeds of the project and you’re pushing through the implementation and you forget that you need to communicate with your staff. You need to make sure folks are understanding why this change is important. So actually having a strategy and continuing to come back to having a change, a leader in place, is really important, and part of that starts with, at the executive level and just below, championing that change, ensuring that, as you’re talking across the organization, that everyone’s bought in about why we’re doing this, why this is important. These are some key pieces that really do help push forward a successful change.

Jeff Howell: 9:37
I would imagine there’s a number of customers that lean on the vendor to say, hey, do you guys do this every single day? Can you help us out with this strategy? I would imagine it’s in the best cases it’s maybe a 50-50 partnership on what the strategy is.

Chase Potter: 9:53
Yeah, it’s very much a collaboration. I think we work pretty closely with our customers in supporting the change management initiatives. At the end of the day, just like with training, their internal stakeholders really do need to be the champions of that change. Your field staff want to hear from their schedulers, who want to hear from their managers about why this change is important to them. So we’ll be right there supporting from a strategy perspective, supporting the implementation of your change strategy as a customer. This is important, something you need to focus on. I’d be prepared to really be the change champions, no matter what you’re implementing.

Jeff Howell: 10:34
How do you deal with the folks that you can identify as ones of their most resistant? Whether it be you as the vendor or the C-suite, there’s always going to be the folks that want to do things the way that they’ve always been done. So I’m curious how do you deal with?

Chase Potter: 10:49
those people. Yeah, of course, you really need to lead into why this is going to be important for them, make them a part of this, whether this be at more the field staff level and gamifying, the training experience and offering incentives, highlighting top performers, really building some buzz around this and showing, hey, this is exciting, you’re going to get something for this. But also on the why this matters if you don’t stress the why, you just leave it open and we’re all human beings and we’re all at least a little bit resistant to change. So what’s in it? For me, that piece is really key. Okay, you’re going to get paid quicker. You need to now integrate it with some sort of daily pay organization as well. You could get paid daily. Maybe you’re a scheduler and right now you spend a lot of time on repetitive tasks. Okay, let’s kill back some of those repetitive tasks. You can spend more time with clients, talking to clients and caregivers what you really want to do in your role. So making that why at the forefront really does help move some of that hesitation, because at the day, you’re still going to have some hesitation, but as folks see the energy around them, the others adopting the platform to turn to hit on them as well.

Jeff Howell: 12:08
You mentioned repetitive tasks. I feel like that the rate of change in the industry has sped up in a very positive way, and I know we’re seeing some customers that are automating visit reminder calls. They are sending SMS messages for visit cancellation. I think it’s pretty exciting to see what’s happened in the no code world, and this is not even AI, stuff is just like. If, then rules, do you have any insights? I’m not that close to it, but I know of some case studies, but to me I think the more we can, the whole industry can shift to a world of automating the boring, mundane, migraine-inducing, repetitive tasks, the more everyone can focus on providing better care and recruiting more caregivers. Do you have any thoughts on what we might see over the next year in terms of how agencies are going to hit the next level?

Chase Potter: 13:03
I think that, to your point, we’re just at the beginning with this and we’re just saying, you know, like we’re just starting to scratch the surface of what these tools are capable of doing. Our particular workflow automation tool is called a Liacare connector and when we first started using it, oh, it’s going to be a good tool for building connections between partners and other integrated systems. And then we got into it. Actually, this is going to allow us to integrate with ourselves. I build these workflow automations off of anything that takes place in the system. They give you an example like in Liacare, you can send visit offers. You go into the system, you select the group of employees you want to send a visit offer to and you send it out. And we were visiting with a customer one day and they’re saying listen, this is what we do every day. Our scheduler logs on. They send visit offers for the 30 visits that are vacant for tomorrow. Each of those visit offers takes a minute to two minutes to send as they select all those employees. You know what? That doesn’t need a human. That’s a repetitive task. So we looked at Liacare connector again to our internal APIs and discovered that we can automate, that we can do exactly what the human being was doing today selecting employees based on the same criteria they were using and automate the sending of visit offers. And this led to reduction and this is just one office a reduction of about 500 hours per year in just sending visit offers. That seems also like a somewhat small office yeah. So this is one office of a customer. That has about 50 offices across the company and they’ve since spread out this solution across the rest of the network. They’re seeing similar results.

Jeff Howell: 14:56
Yeah, and even if it’s just the 500 hours times the 50 offices, this starts to become really meaningful. Not to mention it’s the kind of work that is not really gratifying. It’s just tasks that have to be done, and If we can help everyone move on to more meaningful work, like actually delivering on better care and building relationships and making meaningful decisions, then you’ll get more satisfaction out of the work that you do as well.

Chase Potter: 15:22
Now you’re hitting on that exactly. We don’t walk into any home care office and talk to a scheduler and here I’m so excited about all of the clicks, don’t my call-down list. No, they get that when they light up, when they talk about their engagement with clients and caregivers. That’s what we’re trying to do more of.

Jeff Howell: 15:39
Let’s migrate over to the topic of data migration. It’s one of the big things that people think like this is why it’s going to be. Painful is like moving all of my data from whatever system to whatever system. It’s never just easy and I’m curious what your thoughts are on how the industry has changed over time. Is this a lot easier now? Will it ever be Seamless? Bring me through what’s involved. I’m assuming on my end that once you get past data migration and that’s going to be a challenge the next biggest obstacle is just the change management, but the migration piece seems to me like it has a more solvable nature to it.

Chase Potter: 16:19
I think you’re heading on it right on deaf. When we start to talk to to customers about an implementation, when we show how, like the various phases of the implementation Go, we put a big line across the bottom for data migration. It’s stretching across the whole length of the implementation. It’s not easy. Migrating data is not an easy thing. It can be made a lot easier. I’ll talk about a couple of the tools that we’re using. When you’re dealing with with health data, that’s layers of complexity around how you’re able to move that data, whether it’s extracting it from your current system or importing it and into ally care and it can get a lot harder when you start by saying I want every piece of data in my current system for all time to go into my new system. That’s not a great starting point. We try to work with our customers to think about what data do you need to be successful on day one? What’s data Do you need to be successful on day 30? And I’m not swerving back from that what do we actually need to migrate over? If you’ve been in a system for 10 plus years, you’ve likely changed how you use that system a number of times, and Data in particular fields probably isn’t as clean as you’d like it to be and also probably doesn’t need to come into the new system. It allows us to start having that conversation about how we map the data from your current system into ally care. We have a technical service, esteem, that focuses entirely on data migration and they work with our customers on mapping and extracting the data how do their current systems and into a data import template for ally care. We now actually also have a self-serve data migration tool within the system allows you to test Migrating data and validate data mapping directly within the tool. This is a relatively new feature that allows for data migration to be easily iterative Checking throughout the course of the day and up. This is not been working. Is this not been working? And continuing through the process in a way that previously would have taken more time and more Full runs into an environment of ally care to have that same level of validation? Though we’re improving, I accept like something that is becoming more attainable for smaller customers to be able to migrate more data Customers that don’t have large IT teams in place but still need to be able to move data from one system to another. That’s getting easier when you think about a large enterprise home care company. The immigration is still going to be Complex. You have a lot of data that needs to move from one system to another. Now, maybe it’s more than one system to. Yeah, exactly, maybe it’s more than one system. I’m probably some paper added into there as well, but the tools that are coming along are making it easier this little, taking that process to be Smoother than it been in the past.

Jeff Howell: 19:12
That’s funny. We talked about multiple systems and beyond paper went on at any time. We put together like some ROI case studies. I remember a colleague saying we actually don’t know what the ROI is because they weren’t measuring anything before. Which brings me to my next question is that when you’re considering making a switch it can be daunting the whole number of ways that you try to add up where you’re actually getting value. It’s easy to see the cost of something campaign acts and I’m shopping around and all the other options. They look like there I’m gonna be able to run my business better on the softwares, but they’re all more expensive and I’m not sure. So my question is if you’re a first timer, then how do you really try to figure out like cost versus value?

Chase Potter: 19:58
Really evaluating your current state quarter. Our current process is identifying areas of pain and waste and using those to help define your objectives for the project. So if we’re going through a workload today, we say, alright, this point, we have to go outside of our current system and add something into a Google sheet that gets emailed over to Joe in accounting. Alright, this process is wasteful. It’s taking us an extra 10 minutes every time we add a client. Okay, we want to just cut that step out altogether. We know that takes Ten minutes every time. We do it a thousand times a week. This is the cost to us for doing this. We need to be able to cut this out. There’s our return on investment. You don’t need to go deeply into every single step you take everywhere to find these big opportunities For a high return on your investment. Going back to my earlier example with the visit offers, this is a small step. Right, a visit offer takes one minute to send. But this company is large and they’re sending tens of thousands of visit offers a week. So, very quickly, you turn that one small wasteful step into a huge return on investment.

Jeff Howell: 21:22
Every single day. Yeah, and it’s funny that when you said that story as well, we’re the vendor. We didn’t know we could do that. So it’s a funny business where it’s complex enough that on the provider side they actually don’t even know all of the little steps and processes of how all of their employees spend all of the time in the day. They don’t know if there’s a better way to do things, and then sometimes not even all the vendors are actually fully aware what they can provide, and then you just try to piece it all together and quantify it. So true.

Chase Potter: 21:54
Further focusing in on that, often we get into a discovery engagement. We’re talking to a customer in the sales cycle. We’re dealing with a group of folks that are mostly at the executive level and they do have a very good understanding of their business. But these small, wasteful steps they don’t often know about. They don’t know that Tom is taking an extra step every time he goes to schedule a visit because that doesn’t bubble up. So for us, like when we do a discovery engagement, we don’t just sit with the executive team. We like to actually shadow how folks are using their current system, the steps that they’re taking. The same approach we take when we come back around to do business optimization engagement on someone’s use of ally care. We need to see it, need to see what you’re really doing to be able to identify some of the biggest value points.

Jeff Howell: 22:48
It’s this two steps backwards, to start, and you’re slowing down to speed up and I love what you said about we sell the deal and then just show up and then start configuring the software. Then you’re just going to run into it. It changed a little bit in eight years. It’s restarted this. Well, we’re almost bumping up against our time here. Chase, I certainly could go on for hours talking shop with you. Why don’t we wrap up with you providing a few best practices for Someone out there is listening and they haven’t gone through a change management technology project before? Just curious what your top three pieces of advice might be.

Chase Potter: 23:22
Three pieces I’d say. Start with a strong and dedicated court team. This is a court team that is cross functional in nature and can well represent your business and can dedicate a good portion of their time towards this project. I will really help moving any project forward and ensuring that you have the right representation when decisions need to be made. Clear business objectives I said this one a few times now, but projects are so easily derailed when you don’t have these objectives to link back to. No implementation or product is going to be perfect, but is that small imperfection preventing you from reaching your goals? The answer is yes and OK, let’s put a pause on it. But if it’s not, let’s keep going. And then the third one that a post implementation review. Ok, so most bad habits post go live are formed within the first three months. The staff find a way to do something that gets the job done but as far from optimal. So before you consider actually saying case close on the project, take the time to look back at how folks are doing things and optimize the usage.

Jeff Howell: 24:38
I like that and I can relate, because I think I made a list one time and I’ve been the administrator for something like 33 different SAS products while being here, none of which that are like really systems of record per se. However, I would agree with you when I’ve been part of a selection committee. It’s pretty ad hoc and people have their biases and we certainly don’t necessarily outline any super crystal clear business objectives that we document, and then we certainly pretty much don’t do any post implementation review. If anything, we have confirmation bias, in that the people that have decided we’re doing this are champions for it, and then we will have varying degrees of adoption and success, and it’s doesn’t matter how big or small the tool is. It applies to all of them. That’s exactly right, chase. This has been amazing. I have taken down, as always, a lot of notes, but my favorite line was the IT project that happened to them, and this is the podcast that happened to you, so I hope you enjoy your time here. Thanks so much, jeff. It really was a pleasure. Thanks, we’ll have to do this again sometime. Thanks, Chase. Sounds good. Take care. Home Health 360 is presented by Alaya Care and hosted by Jeff Howell and Erin Valier. First, we want to thank our amazing guests and listeners. Second, our episodes air twice a month, so be sure to subscribe today so you don’t miss an episode.

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Home Health 360 - Episode 58

Episode Description

Embarking on a major software implementation for your home-based care organization can feel like a daunting, harrowing journey destined to be painful. In this episode, Chase Potter, VP of professional services at AlayaCare, debunks these myths and shares how integrating new technologies into your business can be done successfully with a high degree of precision and a focus on holistic transformation. Chase shares invaluable insights on the importance of a strategic approach, executive support, and recognizing that this isn’t just a tech initiative—it’s a pivotal shift for the entire organization. Listen as he guides us through the steps vital for a frictionless transition for large home care agencies and reveals the necessity of patience to meet business objectives and enhance operational efficiency.

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