The healthcare landscape is rapidly changing to accommodate everyone’s needs. Home healthcare and hospice care has evolved to the point that a long trip to the hospital can be avoided to a certain extent. Intrepid USA is on the cutting edge of health care delivered to your home, no matter where it is. We spoke with Chief Executive Officer John M. Kunysz.
“We are in twenty states, with a couple of thousand employees, spread primarily over the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys, in the Southeast, up through the Mid-Atlantic, with the exclusion of Florida. We concentrate on the sparsely populated areas of the U.S.,” says John.
Intrepid USA began in 1969 with its fiftieth anniversary to be celebrated next summer. The biggest markets are Tucson, Spokane, Nashville, and Knoxville, but it is also on the outskirts of Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Most staff grew up in the communities they serve and, in some cases, have been there all their lives. It really is the hometown team for many of these markets.
Intrepid USA is reaching people who want to get in, get surgery, get out, and go back home for a better recovery through a support network. “If you have ever travelled with family for two or three hours to reach a hospital due to sickness, that is a high-stress situation. You are taking time off, not getting paid, and having to deal with other elements of life,” says John.
The company’s markets are small, within sparsely populated areas, and John emphasized that it requires an extreme commitment to the community. Many of its people are embedded in the fabric of the community and went to grade school here. In many cases, these nurses are treating the teachers they had when in school.
“I am in my sixth month and have seen sixty of our hundred offices. It’s been interesting meeting the nurses because I originally thought they had relocated from other areas, but seventy to eighty percent have grown up and been in these local communities their entire lives. They went to school or community college to get their nursing degrees. This is a big part of our business plan and overall feel to what we do,” says John.
The nurses who work for Intrepid USA are an integral part of the process. “If you look at our environments, it is comprised of one hundred family businesses, with fifteen to thirty-five employees in each. They are family to me, and we do not treat them as a larger entity would,” says John.
Health care starts with the acute care environment, with large hospitals and the big integrated delivery network. The second tier is comprised of group practices, and the final tier involves home health and other aspects of assisted living. “I had a false assumption that a lot of our nurses came here as an afterthought. That they had long careers in acute care, got burned out and wanted that flexibility. But sixty to seventy percent of our people spent their entire careers in home health care or care for the aging,” says John.
Many people will depend on home health care and independent living support services at some point. An aging population will place burdens on families and communities. The younger generation is going to either move closer to those in need or move them to areas with a larger population and support network.
“It will be dependent on where the economics of the cash flow for the family unit comes from. That will answer these pressing questions,” says John.
Intrepid USA is organizing itself differently than traditional companies, “creating a service-based leadership model,” says John. The model stresses empowerment and accountability. As employees move up higher on the organizational chart, they get more responsibility.
“We do some unique things with inbound talent acquisition and job postings. Instead of ‘company,’ we say, ‘a vision makes a difference.’ Instead of ‘job requirements,’ we say ‘what we will love about you.’ For ‘job duties,’ we say ‘great work you will do here.’ Instead of ‘benefits,’ we talk about ‘why working here is awesome.’ It is interesting to see what this has created.”
As a result of these changes, the level of engagement with those under thirty has been very positive. To an applicant, this sounds like a different culture. Intrepid USA will support its staff, but the individual is the one making decisions that determine patient experience and clinical outcomes.
“Part of what we are doing is trying to create a culture where they feel they are completely embedded in our care mission, and they share that,” says John.
Intrepid USA does a lot to help support lifelong learning versus just hiring people with set skills. Someone may start as a home health aide but may desire to go back to school and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). They may also want to get their registered nurse (RN) status, and Intrepid USA is trying to support them with that.
“I would love to get to the point where we can give some tuition reimbursement. We are not there yet, but they continue to advance professionally, and we give them those opportunities,” says John.
The business has historically been focused on providing Medicare services and home health care, hospice and private duty nursing. It is now moving toward providing a continuum of home health care and independent living support services.
“We are really talking about providing affordable patient family centre home health care, home hospice, private duty nursing, personal care, and independent living support services, delivered in a concierge style, available on demand,” says John.
The model enables the patient to have more access and menu choices that may or may not be covered by a health plan. For example, if your mother fell and you cannot get there, you want a quick assessment to ensure that nothing serious has happened. You would pick up your health care app and ask for your mother to get checked. It is much like arranging an Uber but with the service being healthcare instead of a ride. A medical professional will perform the assessment. From there a referral follow up may be needed with a local physician.
People can have a hard time dealing with the fact that they cannot do certain things anymore. Intrepid USA is trying to create a company that is focused on providing affordable, independent support services that are available on demand, as needed to help people age in place. Not all the support that is needed falls under a medical model.
“What if you can’t mow the lawn due to sickness?” John asks. The company is considering partnering with various companies in the community to help. “We can create services that are grocery delivery with the Walgreens of the world to get better support for them on medication, supplies, and other things they need to age in place and do it gracefully.”