As health care costs continue to mount, more health care providers, insurers and patients turn to home health care workers to handle the burgeoning needs of the sick and disabled. Caring for patients in their homes is more cost-effective than using hospital and clinic facilities and patients often respond better to treatment when they are in the comfort of their own homes. With the proper staff, a solid base of referrals and good management skills, starting a home health care business can provide a lucrative opportunity for an entrepreneur.
While the number of patients and customers may be vast and growing, finding the help to treat them may be the biggest hurdle to overcome when starting a new home health care business. Many successful home health businesses are started by medical professionals who come to the business with a deep list of contacts willing to work on a contract basis. Nurses, doctors and former healthcare administrators can build a list of professional contacts on whom they can call as they build their own network of employees. Without a ready-made roster of potential employees, a new home health care business owner must find nurses, aides and therapists to fill the orders once they start coming in.
When starting out, get a business license and check with the state health department to find out what other kinds of licenses are required. The kind of license will depend on the level of services your company will provide. Medical staffing companies will need to be covered with larger bonds and more insurance to obtain a license from the state, while home health companies that provide more personal services, such as meal preparation, companionship and grooming will not be as restrictive. Look around for software to help manage the business and be in compliance with medical coding required by insurance companies. Sites such as Hometrak and American Healthcare Software can provide time management, coding and other vital business platforms.
Many home health care companies specialize in niche populations or set themselves up as experts in certain fields. Niche companies may fill community health care needs that are not being addressed and can build a client base from those who have not received service in the past. Hospice, cancer related services and head injury cases are a few areas that often require home services. Being able to offer the personal care services such as bathing, overnight stays or transportation services often can set apart a home health care business as well as provide additional streams of income.
Call on potential clients personally to build a clientele. Find out what the needs of local hospitals and clinics are and let them know how you can fill those needs. Visit convalescent centers and rehabilitation facilities where patients often are discharged with additional home health needs. Build relationships with senior center employees and local doctors' offices to develop a network of referrals.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."