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Discuss the home health care competitors, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Competition is a central force in home health care and is factor in reducing the overall number of home care providers by causing weaker, less resourceful agencies to close or merge (Harris, 2010). The new competitors of home health care include geriatric care managers, group homes, and continuing care retirement communities that may be targeting the same customers (Harris, 2010). A competitive analysis also should review more than just other home care providers. Harris (2010) indicated that “competition for home care patients can stem from sub acute or transitional care units, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation facilities and skilled nursing facilities”(p. 780).

The weakness of transitional care units and outpatient clinics is their failure to establish a competitive advantage. Harris (2010) established that too many customers, patients, families, physicians, payers look alike. The quality is not a competitive advantage in the current transitional care and outpatient clinics but it is regarded as a baseline expectation. This competitive advantage is what sets home health care agencies apart from its competitors.  The strengths of home health care agencies include special clinical skills or programs, rapid response time, streamlined paperwork, electronic medical records, laptop computers in the field, superior clinical outcomes and cross-training of staff (Harris, 2010).

Discuss how you plan to differentiate your home health care from the closest competitor.

The home health care will be differentiated from the competitors through service guarantees, discount prices and vast service areas. We will also ensure that there are disease management programs or clinical pathways for high-cost complex diagnoses, one stop shopping, and follow-up phone calls for our customers (Harris, 2010). The location of the home health care main office will give it increased visibility to our customers. The home health care will promote its incentives through forming partnerships, invest in information systems, follow a multi-disciplinary approach and more focus on the family and besides that use technology to improve patient care (Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout, 2006).

Harris (2010) recommends that the products should be defined by geographical boundaries, third-party markets or medical specialty. We will focus on a narrow time during post-hospitalization or view the service or product as one involving a more extensive time commitment. We will differentiate the home health care from our competitors through the nature of services provided in that they will be restricted to more narrow technical services or expanded to include broader socio-psychological support services (Harris, 2010). Our definition of the home health care products will involve the development of social and recreational services and the recruitment of clinical specialists with the skill set to provide these services.

Discuss the home health care intention to be a leader or follower within the industry.

The intention of the home health care is to be a leader within the industry. McKeon (1996) says that being a leader within the industry will be achieved through the improvement of home health care services that will result from a very strong emphasis on enhancing health care value through addressing quality and cost factors. Leadership will also be attained through the opportunity to learn for continuous improvement and value the individual needs of patients (McKeon, 1996). The design of the home health care will involve effective means for gauging improvement of health status and include a quality assessment strategy. Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout recommends that to be a leader, we need to instill an ethical orientation and ethical guidelines in its operations, ethical behavior and their codes of conducts (2006). In addition industry leadership will be achieved through patient-focused quality and value strategic concepts.

Industry leadership requires the services to be directed towards obtaining and retaining patient loyalty, referral of new patients and market share gain in competitive markets. In this context home health care should provide patient-focused quality and value demand constant sensitivity to emerging patient desires and health care marketplace requirements and measurement of the factors that drive patient satisfaction (McKeon, 1996). Industry leadership entails that home health care will seek to build internal and external partnerships to accomplish its overall goals better. McKeon (1996) says that to be a leader in the industry home health care should establish internal partnerships to promote cooperation between health care staff and other employee groups, cooperation with unions and among departments and work units. On the other hand external partnerships will include businesses, business associations, third party payers, community and social service organizations and other health care providers (McKeon, 1996).

Assess the macro-environmental issues (legal, technological, social, and economic) trends with which your home health care must contend.

Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout (2006) says that external forces have considerable influence on the home health care marketing system. Social and cultural forces such as lifestyles and social beliefs are changing rapidly. More emphasis will be placed on quality of life and consumers are seeking value, quality and safety in home health care delivery. Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout (2006) studied that “recognizing the growing economical power and changing lifestyles of people, marketing programmes should be adapted to address the healthcare needs of clients” (p. 167). An increased interest in health and physical fitness in recent years seems to have cut across most demographic and economic segments of the society.

Political and legal forces stem from legislation and policies established by government institutions. The home health care will be affected by the level of government spending on health care services and tax legislation. Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout (2006) noted that governmental relationships with the health sector play a role through subsidies and government regulation. Our Home health care providers will therefore be aware of any legislation related specifically to the marketing and operations of healthcare institution.

Harris (2010) perceived that advances in technology have been a significant boon to home care, enabling ever more sophisticated capabilities to be delivered in the home setting. Harris (2010) determined that technology has changed the way information is captured, stored and communicated. In addition, technology will be our competitive advantage, reducing costs, eliminating redundant procedures and streamlining administration. Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout (2006) mentioned that technology will have a tremendous impact on lifestyles, consumer patterns and economical well being. Technological breakthroughs will expand our healthcare horizons and affect the home health care market by stimulating new procedures and processes (Muller, Jooste & Bezuidenhout, 2006).

Identify the most significant trend to impact your business and discuss how the company intends to minimize or capitalize on this trend

The most significant trend in home health care is the aging population. Harris (2010) says that the fastest growing segment of the US population is the age 85 and over group. Harris notes that as elders live longer, they are living longer with chronic health conditions that may limit their ability to care for themselves independently in the community (2010). In our case, the aging population will ensure that demand for home care services will continue. Another important trend in home health care is constantly changing reimbursement environment. Harris (2010) says that since the creation of Medicare Prospective Payment System (PPS), home health reimbursement has been continually shifting. This implies that with pay-for-performance on the horizon, we will have continued threats of Medicare rate cuts. In relation to this we will need a keen understanding of the reimbursement landscape is critical for us. Harris (2010) says that “home health care agencies need to be able to translate that understanding into a clear picture of the specific market segments they need to pursue” (p. 781). An educated consumer is another important trend in our industry according to Harris (2010). This is brought about by changes in the healthcare systems which have created an impetus for consumers to become better advocates for themselves. These consumers will ask more questions demand more information, and challenge our healthcare professional’s guidance, command greater knowledge of home health care issues and options, and are asserting their rights more adamantly (Harris, 2010). 

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