Juggling many things plays a big role in the contract therapy world. From client needs, to staffing turnover, to logistics, and now PDGM regulation changes— we understand that contract therapists can feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes.
We’ve seen over the years that clients can alleviate the added stress and drive efficiency and effectiveness through the roof by taking control of the things they’re able to change. One of the most significant areas where home health therapy operators can get ahead of the game is scheduling.
By helping our clients take charge of scheduling by being proactive and employing best practices, we have seen increased appointments, a better-streamlined operation, and happier therapists. With PDGM removing therapy volume as a determinant for reimbursement, efficiency of care becomes more important across the board.
We offer these four suggestions for scheduling:
1) Centralize Scheduling
For contract therapy providers, working with multiple companies at once is a part of the game. Things can get complex, though, when trying to balance individual schedules for each home health agency and with each contract therapist. There may be multiple EMRs, spreadsheets, schedules, and communication channels for each of your clients. This can be a recipe for errors with even the most skilled coordinator.
Finding a system to centralize scheduling into one platform is a powerful way to alleviate these issues and streamline workflows. By combining therapists’ schedules into one product, we’re better able to allocate and manage resources. Not to mention that, depending on the current setup, it could dramatically reduce overall workload and provide better support for scheduling teams.
2) Be Aware of Team Capabilities
One of the best ways to drive efficiency of care is by allocating therapists to patients where their strongest skills can be utilized. This starts with knowing each team member’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re already highly in-tune with your team, you can implement that knowledge into the scheduling process. If you’re not completely sure which therapists are better where, that’s okay. You can get this information through a lot of mediums:
- Past patient care data
- Feedback from clients
- Asking each therapist to perform a self-assessment
3) Schedule Geographically Similar Appointments on the Same Day
For home health therapy contractors, planning daily workloads by scheduling geographically similar appointments on the same days can pay dividends. If you have multiple appointments for a therapist in one area of town, try and schedule those back to back or at least on the same day. Something as simple as the west side of town appointments on Mondays and the east side of town appointments on Tuesdays can have profound effects.
Cutting down on travel time between appointments can help fit more appointments into every day and save on gas and mileage costs. This can help therapists be happier and more productive because they can spend the bulk of their time doing their jobs instead of being stuck in traffic.
4) Have a Plan for Handling Curveballs
Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.1 This adaptation of the classic poetic quote reveals a truth that can’t be ignored. Even if we centralize scheduling, maximize team capabilities, and take the time to schedule geographically similar appointments on the same day—it can all change when life throws curveballs.
While we can’t predict or often control what life throws our way, we can be prepared to adapt in real-time. Develop strategies and plans that can enact instantly in case we have a therapist get sick, a patient cancel, or a last-minute change come through.
Suggestions could be developing a process to know which therapists are available last minute on what days for extra work, building standard operating procedures (SOPs) for handling cancellations, or developing collaborative best practices between you, your therapists, and the companies you work with.
Learn how Optima Therapy for Home Health can help you centralize your scheduling and manage the demands of PDGM.
- Robert Burns. “To a Mouse,” https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/mouse/