It’s no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. From empty office towers to home schooled students and social distancing rules, nothing has escaped the long arm of this evolving virus.
Healthcare has been especially hit hard. At a time when patients need more support than ever, face-to-face interactions are both rare and potentially risky. Telemedicine solutions have emerged to help solve this issue — connecting with patients virtually can offer some semblance of normalcy and help healthcare staff track their progress.
For rehab therapists working in skilled nursing facility (SNF) environments, however, current conditions pose a unique challenge: While some care can be delivered virtually, hands-on rehab sessions are equally critical for long-term success. But with SNF residents at significantly higher risk of serious complications from COVID, rehab therapists must find new ways to work with SNF staff to ensure patients receive the best care possible.1
Here are three ways rehab therapists can work with SNF staff to streamline the patient support process:
1) Solve for Scheduling Complexity
To combat the spread of COVID within skilled nursing facilities, these healthcare organizations have adopted strict controls around who can see residents, when, and why. Rehab therapists often make the list — as noted by the CDC, “after severe COVID-19 disease, many patients will experience a variety of problems with normal functioning and will require rehabilitation services to overcome these problems.”2
The challenge? Scheduling complexity. If patients or rehab therapists are potentially exposed to COVID via close contacts, or appointments must be moved due to other external factors, everyone needs to be in the loop. This is especially critical as rehab professionals must now bring equipment for therapy sessions held at bedside, and SNF staff must prepare both patients and a variety of non-traditional treatment areas for the therapists. As a result, even minor scheduling changes can wreak havoc on operations, costing both rehab and SNF operations time and money.
Solving for schedule complexity starts with on-demand, one-click scheduling software that provides complete appointment visibility to all parties involved.
2) Account for Critical Compliance
Compliance remains a critical challenge for rehab staff — and even more so with the rise of telemedicine. While virtual appointments offer a streamlined way to follow-up with patients and deliver consistent care, recent changes to telemedicine fee schedules require rehab therapists to be extremely diligent in their CPT code reporting and ensure all care delivered falls under CMS-approved guidelines.3
To account for compliance both at the point of virtual care and over time, rehab therapists can benefit from cloud-based software solutions that let them easily input key service details, provide automatic alerts and easily connect with SNF operations to ensure complete compliance transparency.
3) Prioritize for Patient Needs
Recent rehab research highlights the need for rehab therapists to prioritize value rather than volume-based rehabilitation care.4 But as the care landscape becomes more complex thanks to evolving COVID requirements, SNF staff and therapists may find themselves spending more time on paperwork than on patient care. Specialized SNF software that provides in-depth content libraries, offline access and configurable workflows can help remove redundant processes and empower rehab therapists to provide patient-centric care no matter the point of contact.
See how you can empower in-person and remote rehab for SNF patients with Net Health Therapy® for Skilled Nursing Facilities.
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1 CDC, “Rates of COVID-19 Among Residents and Staff Members in Nursing Homes — United States, May 25–November 22, 2020,” January 8th, 2021.
2 CDC, “Rehabilitation after COVID-19: an evidence-based approach,” July 20, 2020.
3 AOTA, “The CY2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule Released,” December 3, 2020.
4 PubMed, “Physical therapy in a value-based healthcare world,” Dec 31, 2011.