Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the senior care industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. So let’s get to it. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Karl Sauereisen:

Yes. Hi Valerie. I’m Karl Sauereisen (www.HopeExtendedCare.com), and generally I’m an executive entrepreneur and consultant. But one of my roles is to serve as president of HOPE Extended Care Services. HOPE is a team of healthcare providers that provides care on a daily basis for patients of skilled nursing facilities. We primarily employ nurse practitioners to manage the chronic health conditions of nursing home residents, and our geographic niche covers Western Pennsylvania, mainly in rural areas where there isn’t as much of a physician presence and the senior population is somewhat underserved.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is really neat. Tell me a little bit more, so the nurse practitioners go out to these rural areas or to any nursing home in Western Pennsylvania that they’re contracted with, and instead of relying on just a physician to make those rounds and nurse practitioners there to oversee some of that in collaboration with the physician that they may talk to at any point if they need to right?

Karl Sauereisen:

Correct. It’s a collaborative model. We have contracts with a number of nursing homes where our nurse practitioner will be there Monday through Friday, basically roughly 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. So they’re embedded daily in those facilities to be available for acute care services or other routinely plant exams.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Do they handle skilled care only? Do they handle Medicaid? Do they handle private pay? Is it everybody in the nursing home or how does that work?

Karl Sauereisen:

We’ve specifically been in skilled nursing facilities and we do build a patient’s insurances, which in our case is probably about 40% of the time Medicare, but we’re an independent company and credentialed with all the other types of insurances that our patients have. So typically there is no charge to the facility for us to be there and everybody benefits in that way.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Why wouldn’t they do that? Right?

Karl Sauereisen:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is amazing. What a nice thing to have.

Karl Sauereisen:

Yes, thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So many nursing homes could use that extra set of professional eyeballs and wound care and whatever else it is that somebody-

Karl Sauereisen:

Oh, yeah. No doubt we’re able to treat people on site and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. So that benefits the patients and the healthcare system in general. The payers have found that we’re very much of a valuable asset to have in place.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, cost savings for them too, and not having to move somebody in an ambulance to the hospital for just to check to see if they’re okay. What a nice thing to have, so I love your model. That’s awesome.

Karl Sauereisen:

Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[inaudible 00:03:31] tell us, what is the best thing about serving aging adults or serving this population that you found?

Karl Sauereisen:

Well, we take satisfaction knowing that our work is somewhat restorative in nature. Even though we’re treating people that in sometimes or in some dire circumstances, we’re able to bring wellness through meeting both acute needs and longer term issues. We intentionally chose the word hope to be part of our company name because we believe that’s what we truly deliver. We’re upholding the dignity of people and it’s nice to enjoy the ongoing relationships and the deepening of relationships that can unfold with us being there on a daily basis.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely, that’s a great resource. It’s not just in and out, it’s there all day getting to know those residents, being a part of their life every day. That’s fabulous.

Karl Sauereisen:

Thanks.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So what other successful leaders or mentors or organizations in your life have really meant a lot to you, maybe specifically to this or anything in your entrepreneurial life? What has led you to this and who has been important to you in your life?

Karl Sauereisen:

Yeah, well I’ve got to give credit to my partner, Dr. James Gardner, the founder of HOPE. Dr. Gardner is based in New Wilmington, PA and he’s been an inspiration from the standpoint of recognizing a need in the skilled nursing facility setting and doing something about it. He recognized the need for there to be a daily care. He’s had a passion for treating the elderly and being an expert in the field of geriatric care. And that passion rubs off on everybody in our company. So it’s been wonderful to work with Dr. Gardner.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. It’s always great to have … For the passion and excitement to come from the top down and to have someone who’s really a great example for everybody in the company, that’s always [crosstalk 00:05:53].

Karl Sauereisen:

Yeah. It’s one of the freedoms of entrepreneurship I’d say, because that freedom of purpose and freedom for relationship. Being able to apply our passions and skills to those things that really make a difference in life and spend our time working with and alongside those that we respect and enjoy.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So I’m going to switch gears a little bit, and I ask everybody this question. Right now, we can’t network together necessarily. We can’t do big group fun things, happy hours. I know some people are still doing whatever they want, but generally speaking we’re not out there, especially for those of us in healthcare, we’re very keenly aware of how dangerous it can be to be in big groups. So online marketing has always been an important part, but now it’s become more important. What has been your experience with online marketing? How are you reaching out to people who … or nursing homes or facilities? How are you doing that now?

Karl Sauereisen:

Yes, well, one of the foundations of online marketing naturally is to have a functional website. And at the very least the website needs to clearly communicate what a company does and share some sense of identity of who they are and what they do. In HOPE’s case, we seek to convey that we’re delivering better outcomes for patients, their families, partner nursing homes and regional hospitals. And that can get a little complicated because it’s many constituents.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Good.

Karl Sauereisen:

So yes, we seek to do that through concise copy, not being overly wordy. We use graphics and some icons as a visual representation, that’s the type of strategy that we have with our website and a means of communicating with people, whether it be a portal for inquiries to be received. The offer of free presentations to potential nursing home partners that would wish to partner with us, which then leads to things that can be shared and electronic means, presentations to be shared online. I’d also say social media can really demonstrate authenticity in particular of service providers.

Karl Sauereisen:

Whether it’s through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, maybe a channel like a blog. It’s a platform to demonstrate culture. Ultimately everybody wants to earn the reputation of being a thought leader, but that’s really required based on delivering content in value through social media. And one of the greatest pieces of advice that I’ve received in my career on the social media front is what a consultant called the rule of 14. Being only one in 14 posted social media postings should be overtly self-promotional.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[inaudible 00:09:19].

Karl Sauereisen:

The vast majority of it needs to be delivering value, content, things of interest to the audience and not just us spouting off about how great we think we are.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you’re right. We run into that a lot. Everybody wants … in my other business, this is more of my [inaudible 00:09:43] freedom, but in our other business that we find that folks want every day there to be something that’s an advertisement. And I say, that’s another great way to run this. So we’ve got to do a lot of educating. And the rule of 14 is a good one. I’m going to use that. It’s the rule 14, you only need to advertise about yourself once a week, twice a week maybe, but you don’t have to do it all the time. They’re watching you for a reason because they trust you.

Karl Sauereisen:

Well, having that discipline to be consistent in the message and regular in the postings. It’s certainly something that I aspire to. I’ve got to be honest, but regularity is key. So whether it’s something that is done hands-on or with a partner or an ally that can institutionalize it somewhat is very helpful.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Sure. Let me ask you a question about your business model.

Karl Sauereisen:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I would imagine, I didn’t know nothing about this, except from a nurse’s perspective. Is your model … It surely is not the only model in the US that does this, or are you the only model that’s doing this right now?

Karl Sauereisen:

Well, at least in our area, there aren’t many. Our area’s Western Pennsylvania. There are one or two services that I know of that are very similar. In Pennsylvania we have chosen to specifically employ nurse practitioners, as opposed to physicians assistants, just because of the legislation in our area of how there are some advantages in the autonomy, a little bit greater level of autonomy that they can work with. Of course we have two physicians on board with us that are collaborating physicians with our staff, providing the records review and oversight and being go-to people.

Karl Sauereisen:

But Dr. Gardner in particular has been influential on a regional and national level for different types of bodies that he’s had leadership roles in. And that has led to us having some neat conversations with other groups in other States about how they’re doing it. So, I’d like to think that we’re helping to rise the tide in many ways.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. I would think that this model in some form or fashion, it may look different in every state, but some piece of this model would be so valuable, not only whether it’s coming from Medicare or it’s coming from an insurance company just to promote the benefits of this. It seems like all across the country, we can use models like this that would enhance the care and not rely on that once a week or once a month visit from a doctor and cut down on those ER visits. I think it’s a fabulous model.

Karl Sauereisen:

Yes, thanks. It’s one of the things I’m proud of because we’ve been able to take some commonly accepted concepts in healthcare and actually be applying them and doing something and making the world better in our own way.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, that’s great. All right. So what piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Karl Sauereisen:

Oh, well, we’ve [inaudible 00:13:14] met a trend collaborating, and I’d say the word collaboration is used extensively in the world of senior care, in healthcare in general. But my advice is to do your best to really define the specifics of what that collaboration looks like on the front end of establishing service relationships. That’s key because we probably know or have experienced the shift of duties and responsibilities that occurs in the healthcare and senior care environment and that’s to be expected in many ways. But that leads to another piece of advice that I would offer is the need to have a balance between assertiveness and also maintaining a servant’s heart.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Nice. Very nice. That’s a good piece of advice. Maintaining a servant’s heart. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s what this show is about is, how can we do better? What business models exist that we didn’t know about before? And how can we give each other some sound advice about what’s worked for us and what we think works best in the senior care industry? So thank you for that. And I have one last question. Okay. All right. It’s my fun one. When we have a win in life or business, how do you like to celebrate? And that can mean anything. We’ve had a million answers, not a million, but lots [crosstalk 00:14:48].

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I had a doctor pull out his bottle of tequila from underneath his desk and say, “Sometimes you just need a shot of this at the end of the day.” He was a hospice physician, a great guy.

Karl Sauereisen:

Oh yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But we’ve had vodka and martinis, we’ve had, jump in the ocean dance, just have a nice dinner. So what’s your favorite way to celebrate?

Karl Sauereisen:

Okay. Well in general, when it comes to celebration, I’d say that wins need to be shared. We all get a sense of satisfaction individually in what we do, hopefully, but it can get lost in the shuffle of everyday life. So, I’d like to see leadership having intentionality of bringing people together, and that’s a challenge for us in the nature of our company being decentralized. So as I think back to some of the events that we’ve had, I try to mainly have our gatherings have a minimal business agenda. And when we do, if it’s a celebration, if it’s a party, a holiday event, I’ve done some unusual entertainment types of things in my career.

Karl Sauereisen:

I’ve hired a handwriting analyst to do something participative with our team. Some people felt it insightful, some people found it comical. Some people were a little insecure about it. All of that made for-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It was fun.

Karl Sauereisen:

… an neat event. On another occasion I brought in a ventriloquist to roast senior leadership.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice.

Karl Sauereisen:

Myself included. And-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That was funny.

Karl Sauereisen:

That went over very well, except for maybe in the opinion of one of my family members. But that’s another story.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s always [crosstalk 00:16:44].

Karl Sauereisen:

Yeah, but speaking of stories, storytelling is key, because when you go out on a limb to do something different, it may or may not go over very well, but either way, it’s going to add a story to the lore of a team of people that are working and living together. And the stories themselves can live on in terms of culture formation within the company, and also in demonstrating that authenticity that I talked about previously on social media.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, trust me there’s plenty of lore in my company. Typically revolving around me. Remember that time when you told us we all had to do this, because this is a great new thing? And it lasted like five minutes. Yeah. So [inaudible 00:17:30] of the great new thing, it was a hassle.

Karl Sauereisen:

Yeah well-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And I didn’t realize it very quickly, but yeah. So no, I’m sure there’s many tales of lore about [crosstalk 00:17:39].

Karl Sauereisen:

Yeah, well, that’s part of the risk taking of leadership.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s right. And I laugh right along with everybody else. That’s always good for good [inaudible 00:17:48]. So anyway, but yes, absolutely. I think that all of that is good there. Those are good ways of celebrating when we can get back together and do a little celebrating together. All those things are fun. I love the hiring somebody to come in and do a little something different for a group. That’s fun. That is [inaudible 00:18:07].

Karl Sauereisen:

Thanks.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the show, for telling us about your business and for telling us, sharing your wisdom with us. That’s what-

Karl Sauereisen:

Thank you Valerie. It’s been a lot of fun and I commend you and the work that you’re doing to get great ideas and strategies out into the marketplace.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I think this is a great way to spread the word about all the crazy things that we do out there to help seniors and our passion for all of this and it’s been great. So thank you.

Karl Sauereisen:

You’re welcome. Take care.