Franchise Tests Initiatives at Company-Owned Sites and Accepts Medicare Advantage
Armed with data, BrightStar Care founder and CEO Shelly Sun has acted strategically to keep her in-home health care company and its franchisees profitable well into the future. One sweeping initiative was her creation of the BrightStar Owned platform, which will be used to test new technologies and processes, set up national account referrals, and try out new payer and reimbursement models at 20 company-owned sites.
“BrightStar Owned allows us, the franchisor, to walk in the shoes of our over 350 franchise locations by running home-care agencies,” Sun says. “We’ll use insights from our BrightStar Owned locations to benefit BrightStar Care franchisees, helping to grow their valuation, scale their operations and diversify their skilled-care offerings across a varied mix of payers. The BrightStar Owned platform was designed to help our franchisee businesses evolve and expand their care offerings and revenue streams.”
During the past year, Sun also made two additional moves to expand the client base of 20-year-old BrightStar Care.
Accepting Medicare Advantage
One big change is that BrightStar Care locations now accept referrals from plans administering Medicare Advantage so that clients can access their MA benefit and we increase our addressable market. “By 2031, Medicare Advantage is projected to cover more than 41 million Americans, providing the majority of senior citizens’ health insurance coverage – more than traditional Medicare,” says Sun, citing ATI Advisory statistics. “Medicare Advantage already has close to 50% of the market with enrollment of more than 30 million.”
Another driver of that decision was that three-plus years ago, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began allowing supplemental benefits within Medicare Advantage plans – including companion and personal-care home services. And those are offerings of BrightStar Care.
Sun is confident that embracing Medicare Advantage is a smart play. “BrightStar Care’s purpose is to enrich the lives of our clients and their families. Our brand vision is to expand our reach and the accessibility of home care and accepting Medicare Advantage will help our franchisees achieve this goal. This will inevitably drive revenue growth and profitability for us. There’s strength in numbers, and the numbers show that more and more American seniors are opting for Medicare Advantage. Tapping into Medicare Advantage will ensure our brand is around for many years to come.”
Aligning with Moving Health Home
A second recent step was to align her company with Moving Health Home, a national coalition that advocates for in-home clinical care at the state and federal levels. More alliances are likely, Sun says. “The senior-care industry is consolidating. As this happens, we hope to align with a broader network,” Sun says.
She says brand sustainability requires innovating and having an open mind to align with a larger organization. “Aligning with a broader network could mean we enter partnerships with payers, large hospitals or Medicare home health providers to be their network’s preferred or exclusive home care provider.”
BrightStar Care is an attractive partner. “We recently commissioned Avalere Health to analyze our clinical outcomes and value for downstream payers. The Avalere analysis was a big win for BrightStar Care, providing evidence that services such as medication management, meal preparation, personal care assistance and patient education positively impact overall health, which leads to a reduction in health care costs and creates value for payers.”
Other BrightStar Care Endeavors
The company has proved to be nimble, going beyond typical senior care (perhaps surprisingly, pediatric care is available!). The COVID-19 pandemic led to major shifts.
“During the height of COVID, we pivoted our national accounts approach and focused on health screenings and clinical trials, which also increased our market share,” Sun says. “BrightStar Care nurses across several agencies participated in one of the nation’s largest vaccine trials, and a majority of our agencies began offering health screening to care facilities.”
Other members of the BrightStar franchise family are BrightStar Care Homes and BrightStar Senior Living, which are assisted living and memory care facilities that offer comfortable, safe, home-like environments. BrightStar Care Homes operates as a small-home model with fewer units; BrightStar Senior Living serves as a community with more units.
Outlook for BrightStar Care Franchisees
Opportunity knocks for BrightStar Care franchisees. “Home Health Care News projects the number of Americans 65 and older to double over the next 40 years, reaching 80 million by 2040,” Sun says. Many clients just need a hand with everyday tasks, but BrightStar Care also helps people with disabilities, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – even 24-hour live-in care. All of this translates into a large population of Americans who can either age in place with the individualized assistance that BrightStar Care provides or move into a BrightStar residential facility.
National accounts fuel franchisees’ success, too. “Approximately 25% of our system-wide revenue is attributable to national accounts,” Sun says. “We have 170 national account partners, and we’re the preferred provider for Amedisys, one of the largest home health and hospice care providers.”
Owning a BrightStar Care Franchise
Franchisees must align with the company’s core values and meet high quality-of-care standards, be adaptable to the changing industry, and “have an appetite for growth,” Sun says. Each franchise owner is assigned a coach who acts as a resource and provides business advice to guide success.
The BrightStar Care franchise fee is $50,000, and the initial investment ranges from about $111,000 to $191,100. To learn more about BrightStar Care franchises, visit www.brightstarfranchising.com/.