Baton Rouge-based Amedisys Inc. is trying to decide whether New Orleans or Nashville will serve as the satellite office for its top executives, President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Kusserow said Wednesday.
“We’re talking with the governments of Louisiana and Tennessee. …. We don’t know anything really yet,” Kusserow said.
What Kusserow does know is that there are certain types of employees the company has difficulty drawing to Baton Rouge. Building those capabilities, which include expertise in managed care, in a different location is a very 21st-century solution, he said.
“I’ve worked in several organizations where we have people in different places, so I’m not too concerned about that. I think having people in two places is fine,” Kusserow said. “And we like the idea of being able to recruit some executives that we weren’t able to get here.”
Chief Human Resources Officer Larry Pernosky said companies with the most talent win.
The country’s population is aging, and fewer young people are coming into the workforce to replace retiring baby boomers, Pernosky said. The war for talent is going to be more fierce. Amedisys has to go where the talent is.
Kusserow said New Orleans and Nashville are “big meccas for health care,” and Amedisys wants to access the talent concentrated there.
The Louisiana Department of Economic Development said it doesn’t comment on corporate prospects.
Amedisys will use its shares of stock to draw talent. Amedisys boosted stock in its compensation plan by 1.5 million shares. Kusserow said executives will receive a good base salary, but their compensation will mirror his: 88 percent of the equity awards are based on the company’s performance.
The arrangement has allowed Amedisys to draw executives it might not have otherwise. Those are people who have already been successful and are looking for a new challenge; people willing to bet on themselves and the company’s promise.
Kusserow was named CEO in mid-December. In a wide-ranging interview, he touched on his vision for the company, a federal investigation of hospice operations in Massachusetts and home care’s increasing role in an aging population.
Kusserow’s vision for Amedisys includes returning to a focus on home and hospice care.
The company provides home health and hospice care to about 360,000 patients each year.
Amedisys’ efforts to build its own computer software diverted attention and resources from the company’s core business.
While some competitors are buying facilities to gain business in the post-acute health care world — care that takes place after the patient leaves the hospital — Amedisys is looking to improve its people and their skills. By doing so, Amedisys will be able to take care of sicker patients, improve their health and broaden the meaning of home care.
“As we get better and better at this, and technology gets better, more and more people will be available to be taken care of in the home,” he said.
That’s a long-term strategy and will take years to execute.
Amedisys also is looking at tools that develop care plans for patients and do risk assessment, he said. Health care is increasingly moving to paying providers for keeping patients healthier and for taking on that risk.
Those sorts of tools will be vital.
Meanwhile, Kusserow said there’s little he can say about the Justice Department’s investigation of a whistleblower complaint against Amedisys’ hospice operations in Massachusetts.
The investigations subpoenaed records related to 53 patients from 2011 to the present. Amedisys is examining those documents, too, to see if it can figure out what is driving the complaint, Kusserow said. Right now, the company doesn’t know if there is anything to the investigation.
Shorter-term, Amedisys is moving from its in-house software to an off-the-shelf software system, a transition that will take anywhere from 18 to 24 months, Kusserow said. The change also will mean reducing the size of the company’s information technology group, now around 250 people.
However, Kusserow doesn’t know how many employees the company will need in that area a year or two from now, or how many of those people will be able or want to shift to different jobs within Amedisys.