The adoption of the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) caused rehab therapists to focus on offering more holistic, collaborative care from the entire medical team.
Now, more than two years since the updated PDPM went into effect, the focus has shifted again, this time to productivity principles among physical, occupational and speech therapists working in the SNF market.
Today, productivity as a healthcare metric fuels overall SNF efficiency, from compliance and billing to staffing and patient engagement among rehab therapy teams. It is a key area of improvement for all SNF providers – nurses, therapists, and clinicians – not just for the sake of the payment system, but also for the quality of care patients receive.
Here are five high-level measures SNF rehab therapy teams can incorporate right now to boost facility-wide productivity.
1. Establish a Productivity Philosophy
As a key performance indicator for SNFs, productivity allows directors and managers to understand the efficiency of rehab therapy staff members and the amount of value they generate within a given amount of time, such as during a shift.
When a skilled nursing facility prioritizes productivity, the result is typically a happier, more efficient team that spends more time treating physical, occupational and rehab therapy patients and less time laboring over monotonous administrative tasks.
However, it would be best for SNFs to avoid prioritizing productivity at the expense of patients or the rehab therapy team, and instead establish a productivity philosophy or approach within the culture. The approach would outline a plan to improve the key drivers of productivity (such as compliance and billing) to create a better working environment for staff and a more advantageous care setting for patients.
2. Ensure Complete Staff Buy-In
There’s a common misconception that a desire to improve facility productivity must stem from an unproductive therapy staff. That could not be further from the truth.
Between current staffing challenges and pandemic restrictions, the reality is that most physical, occupational and speech therapists are putting in more work than expected to keep facilities afloat and patients healthy.
Productivity problems rarely stem from staff; they stem from incorrect processes. However, updates to these outdated processes are only possible with every employee’s help.
To ensure complete staff buy-in when improving productivity, it’s crucial that your rehab therapy team understands productivity gains are meant to make each of their lives easier, not to make them work harder.
3. Optimize Scheduling Efforts
Once your therapy team is on board with benefits and the necessity of improving productivity, it’s time to start making adjustments to troublesome processes.
Among rehab therapy teams within skilled nursing facilities, one of the most time-consuming and ineffective processes is scheduling. How can facilities increase the certainty that each patient will receive the treatments they need when they need them, and in lockstep with their wider course of care?
The answer is to adopt therapy management software that provides templates to automatically optimize treatment plans, therapist availability, and patient preferences.
Seek a solution that delivers smart scheduling guidance to continuously calculate scheduling capacity and alert staff when a therapist is in danger of reaching their limit, so every employee has the chance to recharge.
4. Maintain Timely (and Compliant) Documentation
There’s no industry in which compliance plays a larger role than health care, especially within skilled nursing facilities and its various departments, such as rehab therapy. To adhere to regulatory changes and avoid inaccuracies, everyone must maintain accurate and timely documentation.
Unfortunately, such timeliness can be difficult when you need a physician’s signature for every medical order… and she or he only physically visits the facility once a week or less. Now, there’s a mile-high stack of documents the rehab therapy staff needs to sign every time the doctor is in the office. In the event an insurance company or Medicare denies reimbursement for services rendered, staff have to scale the stack of documents to locate a single piece of paper.
To replace this highly ineffective process with something more productive, try a digital option instead.
CliniSign is a digital e-signature program that allows SNFs to go paperless and still remain compliant with documents requiring a signature. The centralized portal makes it easy for physicians to sign documents from anywhere, on virtually any device, saving time for all parties — including patients.
By replacing traditional filing cabinets with a digital paper trail, staff can focus more on patients and less on tracking down documents and chasing down physicians for signatures.
5. Streamline Workflows and Technologies
Once time-consuming scheduling and documentation processes have been improved, consider other workflows that may be draining productivity. Within physical, occupational and speech therapy departments, there are dozens of administrative tasks and other manual responsibilities that can impact effectiveness.
To identify the problem areas that may exist throughout your skilled nursing facility, explore a Business Intelligence (BI) tool.
Business intelligence enables managers, directors and clinicians to review multiple key performance indicators on a singular, straightforward dashboard. The ability to analyze various metrics in real-time empowers leadership with data to optimize and improve performance across business operations
From clinical outcomes to employee KPIs, keep a finger on the pulse of prominent productivity drivers and measure the effectiveness of updated productivity principles over time.
Improve Productivity, Improve Outcomes
Productivity is a team-wide metric that impacts everyone within the rehab therapy team of a skilled nursing facility, including patients. To improve overall productivity, you must begin with the processes that have proven most troublesome — and this is where Net Health can help.
In addition to Net Health’s robust EMR software capabilities, which can help improve the aforementioned factors like compliance, documentation and scheduling, our product suite also allows therapy staff to optimize time-consuming workflows and technologies.
The result? A rehab therapy department that not only improves productivity, but also achieves optimal patient outcomes as well as a satisfied staff.
Learn how Net Health’s advanced CliniSign and Business Intelligence features can streamline your facility productivity by scheduling a demo today.
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