Frank De-Levi and his wife Kristina are from Pacifica, California and run a medical home health agency called HomeAssist Home Health Services to serve people who are homebound, usually after being discharged from a hospital or facility. Their doctor will refer patients with medical home health, meaning they could receive visits from a range of professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dieticians, and medical social workers. This helps maintain safety and care in the home for patients and it also saves the insurance companies money. It is less expensive to have a nurse from a home health agency come to the patient’s home than to have them recovering in a hospital or a facility. It is better for everyone because more often than not, the patient wants to go home and it’s a lot more convenient for them to receive services there than being stuck in a hospital room that is oftentimes much less pleasant.
Home healthcare is an extremely difficult business to get into, especially in the state of California. Frank De-Levi and Kristina De-Levi are independent business professionals and needed to be licensed with the California Department of Public Health with various accreditations. Frank has studied business and marketing and have a vast background in small business development and marketing to consumers on an international level. Kristina is currently studying medical administration and she also has much experience in business administration and management. They both have a deep compassion for the elderly and patients who require an additional element of safety at home and took their common skillsets and experiences and applied them towards this company.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Both Kristina and I had grandparents who are deceased now. Towards the end of their lives, they received home health services. When Kristina was in her late teens, she noticed that her grandfather was very dissatisfied with the services he was receiving. The nurses were never on time, and sometimes they would completely flake on appointments. They often did not speak the same language, and they were not very informative about the services being rendered. Needless to say, this could cause compliance issues with the patients. Her grandfather was not made aware of what to expect or even when to expect it. The clinicians didn’t seem to be held to any time of schedule and they weren’t keeping up with their obligations. Watching that kind of thing unfold in our own families really gave us a lot of insight as to how care should be handled regarding the elderly.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Our day begins with checking schedules to see which of our clinicians is going out to see which patient. We keep an eye on each patient’s chart to see how far along they are in their plan of care. Then we follow up with our clinicians to see if they have any input to give us that can be relayed to either the patient or their family, caregiver or physician.
We also keep in touch with physician’s offices and follow up with our marketing team to ensure that they continue to market our services to additional healthcare providers. We work with doctors and hospitals. It’s very difficult to earn the trust of an office or an institution that doesn’t know about your services. When you’re trying to offer your services, it’s not like making a regular sales call. That’s one thing that I had to learn in the marketing realm of this company: you’re not really selling anything. What you are doing is convincing a practice or institution to entrust you with a patient’s care and earning someone’s trust is a lot more work than simply making a sale.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve been known to take a “shoot from the hip” approach. Every situation warrants a different response. Different people, offices, practices, and disciplines all have different priorities. I like to research what’s important to each of those different industries, practices, and disciplines of medicine so that I can tap into them. Then I have meetings with my clinicians so I can make sure that we can provide those services to meet their needs. Once it’s determined that we are in fact able to meet those needs, only then do I go out and promise to deliver them.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Especially during the pandemic, I have found that physicians are more inclined to prescribe services at home out of safety concerns that go beyond just the condition of the patient but to be mindful of COVID safety as well. We have become COVID-19 certified which means our clinicians take extra precautions before entering the home. They wear additional PPE, gloves, masks, face shields, and upon request, they will wear what is called a “bunny suit” which is a disposable body suit which goes over the nurses or clinician’s scrubs. Being compliant in this manner gives everyone a better sense of safety in the home during a pandemic. It’s a big effort, but it is one worth doing.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As funny as it sounds, I make lists. Every day I’ll make a numbered list of the tasks I need to complete, and I will literally check them off as I complete them. I’m very serious about my lists. They must be on paper. I can’t have it on any kind of digital platform. It has to be in my face. Just an old school pen and paper list is all I need to keep productive. It’s something that has always worked for me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to take more risks in regard to investment in money and time, because later in life you won’t have the opportunity to take those risks. With increased age comes increased responsibility. My younger self didn’t have kids or a mortgage. My younger self was very careful with money – probably too careful. Maybe that money should have been invested somewhere. Ten years ago, Bitcoin just started and now look at it. If I’d invested some money I had into Bitcoin or a multitude of great stocks, I’d be much better off.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People think hard work is always productive, but if you invest a lot of time and hard work in the wrong place, you delegated energy towards something that could have otherwise gone towards something more productive.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always make lists, set goals, and do all that I can to accomplish them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I let go of my personal fear of rejection and to let go of my fear of financial loss of an investment in my business. Whether it means hiring someone to help me or to pay for something that progresses the company, giving in to those fears around these concerns will hold you back. Let go of those fears and invest into your company and more often than not, the benefits will greatly outweigh the risks.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There was a time in my early-to-mid-20s when I decided to go into consumer electronics. I flew to China with a business partner to oversee our operations and to negotiate deals. We decided we didn’t have enough time to oversee our domestic operations. In a hurry, we hired someone to take on those responsibilities, but it wasn’t the right person and as a result the business failed.
It taught me not to put your eggs into a basket that you can’t nurture. If you cannot put your all into something, then it will most likely fail. There’s no such thing as doing something halfway when it comes to running a successful company. That mentality will always lead to failure. It’s important to delegate responsibilities but it’s also important to hand them to someone reliable and in doing so you still need to be fully invested in who you hire because once you step away nobody is going to care about the business as much as you do.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would say that it is important for every person who makes a comfortable living, whether they are a business owner or employed, should set aside money for personal investment, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Everyone has an opportunity to be in charge of their own financial portfolio, and in many ways, it is like a job. Financial growth goes well beyond entrepreneurship.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently put $100 towards a surfboard. Surfing helps me remind myself that it’s important to step away from work sometimes and focus on yourself and your inner peace. For me my inner peace is being in the water and surfing. It’s important to have something outside of work to remind yourself that you can still have fun.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Microsoft Excel. You can use it to make a spreadsheet of information that’s valuable to you. My appreciation for Excel goes back to me taking notes and making lists. It’s a very efficient means of organizing information about clients and patients.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I like the “10,000 Hour Rule” which is the idea that you need to spend 10,000 hours on anything for you to become a world-class expert at it. I’m a firm believer in how repetition creates habits, and that habits create professionalism. Professionalism in any industry needs to be second nature for you to be an expert. You need to be able to be woken up in the middle of the night in any condition, be asked any question about anything in your industry, and be able to answer it with little hesitation. That’s what it takes to be a master or an expert in your field. You always need to be a student, keeping your mind open to learn more about your industry.
What is your favorite quote?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Set goals, write them down, check them off as you complete them, and stick to the game plan.
• Continuously remain a student to your craft. In order to be a good teacher, you must be a good student.
• If you don’t take risks, you’ll reap no rewards because great rewards only come with great risk.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.