By focusing on quality and software improvements, Amedisys, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) has been able to slash turnover in recent years and, in turn, boost productivity and profitability.

Three years ago, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Amedisys’ turnover rates were “shockingly” in the high 30% range, CEO Paul Kusserow said Wednesday afternoon at William Blair’s 38th Annual Growth Stock Conference in Chicago.

Although that turnover was generally below the industry average, Amedisys made efforts to improve nonetheless, according to Kusserow. Since then, the company has been able to drastically reduce turnover. Today, full-time turnover is about 18% and overall turnover, including part-time employees, is about 22%.

Amedisys is one of the largest home health care providers in the country and also delivers hospice and personal care services. It has more than 17,500 employees in total.

“We focus very heavily on this,” Kusserow said. “If you have good people that have been with you for a long period of time and understand the rules of the road and are able to use our tools in a very optimal way, you’ll be able to drive very, very strong results.”

One of the reasons behind Amedisys’ decreasing turnover rate has been its ongoing dedication to providing quality care, Kusserow said. The vast majority of Amedisys home health care centers were rated at or above 4 stars by the most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) star ratings. A total of 201 care centers achieved a rating of 4.5 stars or higher, while 54 received 5 stars.

Overall, the company’s quality scores have risen in 10 consecutive quarters.

Quality measures are important for attracting patients, but they’re also important for hiring quality caregivers, as people want to work for companies with a demonstrated commitment to excellence, according to Kusserow.

“[Quality] is important for a couple of reasons. Number one, it’s the right thing to do, and you shouldn’t be in business if you aren’t going to deliver high quality,” he said. “That’s the most important reason. Number two, good quality attracts good, quality people, and we’re in the people business.”

Amedisys has “looked at” the correlation between quality and profitability and found that higher quality ratings, indeed, lead to increased profitability, he added.

As a result of Amedisys’ decreased turnover, the company has seen productivity gains of about 7%, translating to about 2.5 clinician visits on a per week basis.

Amedisys previously targeted its turnover rate in a strategic initiative known as “Project Redwood.”

Gains in productivity can also be attributed to software improvements initiated about a year and a half ago, Kusserow said.

William Blair is a global boutique investment banking and asset management firm. More than 240 companies and 1,000 investors are expected to attend its three-day conference.

Written by Robert Holly