Franchisor Profile: Kathleen Gilmartin, Interim HealthCare Inc.

Kathleen Gilmartin is President and CEO of Interim HealthCare Inc., based in Sunrise, Florida. Kathleen also serves as President and CEO of Caring Brands International, a global healthcare franchisor enterprise.
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Founded in 1966, Interim HealthCare Inc. was originally called Medical Personnel Pool and was a division of Personnel Pool of America, which was founded in 1946. Interim HealthCare’s beginnings go back to its days as a temporary personnel company, providing nurses to hospitals and doctor’s offices to help them deal with the nursing shortage. The company quickly evolved to offer home care services, as patients increasingly requested their nurses to follow them home after a hospital stay.

The concept of providing the much-needed services of a nurse caring for people in their homes resulted in the company becoming the first healthcare franchisor in the United States.

Today, Interim HealthCare offers the complete continuum of care, including personal care, support services, skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapy, end of life care (hospice at home), and healthcare staffing through a nationwide network of more than 300 individually owned and operated franchises. A testament to their success is the fact that many franchisees are the second and even third generation operating Interim HealthCare in their markets.

Community-Based Care

Community-based delivery of care in the home is a complicated, people-intensive business, day in and day out. In the US, every eight seconds a Baby Boomer turns 65, and the majority want to receive care in their own home. Interim HealthCare franchisees are building new relationships daily with over 64,000 caregiver employees who care for over 190,000 patients annually.

Nationwide, they provided over 25 million hours of care, and this number is expected to continue to grow.

Deciding how to provide the best possible care for an elderly parent is an age-old dilemma and one that millions of families face each year. I understand these situations on both a personal and professional level.

I have been a family caregiver for many years with my own aging family members, and I’m also a Registered Nurse. I believe this gives me a unique perspective on healthcare issues and the delivery of in-home care.

The bond formed between the professional caregiver, the patient or client, and their family is what I call “the moment of truth” for how much value our service provides. What I find of particular interest with this “moment of truth” is the fact that it translates beyond the borders of our country. When we launched our international expansion through Caring Brands International in 2013, we sought acquisitions that were focused on the care business and operated through a network of dedicated franchisees. When I look at the people we are serving today through our UK-based brand, Bluebird Care, and our Australia-based franchise brand, Just Better Care, I see that same “moment of truth” making a difference in the lives of each and every client. Together, we are sharing the best practices, technology, and intellectual property that help deliver better care at home with better outcomes, that offers savings overall to the healthcare system.

Across the world, we are experiencing a silver tsunami. Aging demographics and increased life expectancy for those who live with the disease and/or disability will lead to the increased need for home care. The 65+ population is expected to grow 22.4% from 597 million in 2015 to 731 million by 2020. The 85+ population is expected to grow 26.5% from 51 million in 2015 to 65 million by 2020.

Aging in Place

A shift from institutional care and living to sustaining independence in the community care and living, will allow seniors to “age in place” and disabled individuals to remain in the community while receiving care in the home setting. Globally, 40% of individuals aged 60+ live independently. Currently, an estimated 75% of individuals aged 60+ in developed countries, and 25% of individuals aged 60+ in developing countries, live independently.

Cost savings from homecare, relative to the cost of hospital and facility care, will lead to more preventative care, decreased the need for facility stays, and increased management of wellness and illness care in the home. Within the last decade, home health care services have provided over $25 billion in hospital savings in the US alone.

As a healthcare leader in the 21st century, I’ve learned that there is an opportunity to look at global solutions and leverage our experience and expertise. Many countries across the world are facing similar challenges, and I try to look at the universal picture more than ever before. Regulations are changing around the globe, populations are aging faster than in any time in history, and there is a looming shortage of professional caregivers that cuts across many countries. Bringing care back to the home offers us the most hope for meeting our future healthcare needs.

What gives me great optimism is that franchising plays such an incredibly important role in health care today and into the future. Throughout our history of nearly 50 years, Interim HealthCare franchisees have faced continual change and service complexity. But they have demonstrated irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit that drives them to seek solutions and define new avenues of care and service in the home. This same DNA is self-evident among franchisees in the Bluebird Care and Just Better Care organizations.

It’s been my experience that, as a healthcare executive, you have to navigate the industry highs and lows to be successful long term. The key for me is to keep the snapshots of the great days always front and center - they keep me focused on the true purpose of the work we do. Working together with all of our franchisees and their teams, I have tremendous faith that we are following our mission to improve people’s lives. We’re exceptionally well positioned to continue growing our services as home healthcare expands around the globe. I’m honored to be part of our exceptional and trusted brands and very excited about our future!

Kathleen Gilmartin is President and CEO of Interim HealthCare Inc., based in Sunrise, Florida. Kathleen also serves as President and CEO of Caring Brands International, a global healthcare franchisor enterprise that owns Interim HealthCare and the franchise care brands of Bluebird Care (UK based) and Just Better Care (Australia based). Kathleen is the President & Chairman of the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Improvement (AHHQI), and has served on the Board of Directors of the International Franchise Association (IFA).

For more information about IFA and franchising in general, visit the IFA’s website at franchise.org.

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