April 28, 2023 | Faith Francis

3 Minute Read

Moving Your Rehab Therapy Program to the Digital World

By Faith Francis, PT, MBA
Clinical Solutions Consultant, Net Health

Patient lists and schedules are like maps around which acute care rehab therapists navigate their day.

And just as maps and the way we use them have evolved throughout the digital era – connecting drivers, providing continual updates and alerts, and varying routes based on current information – so have patient lists.

Yet, be it because of investment oversight or the lack of understanding as to the needs of the department, many hospitals have failed to keep up with such digital advances in acute care rehab therapy management. Cracks in efficiency and productivity are starting to show.

These cracks are exacerbated by revenue and staffing shortages hospitals are currently experiencing across the country.

So, what is the digital equivalent of rehab therapy patient whiteboards and magnet boards? What does the Google Maps or Waze of patient management and scheduling look like?

As someone who has used both traditional and modern digital solutions for these tasks, I will share with you how our team was able to reduce patient turnaround time – from patient orders to initial evaluation – by around one-third.

The turning point for my rehab therapy team was the use of the Net Health® Patient Management Board.

The Problem with Patient Management Boards

Historically, acute care rehab therapists and directors have primarily relied on analog means for patient management and scheduling. Lists, in other words.

We made lists on whiteboards, lists in spreadsheets, and even “enhanced” lists (i.e., added information, clarified orders, etc.) using physical notes. These lists enabled us to plan our days and see what other therapists were doing based on information at a single place and a single point in time.

Then, we would go about our days evaluating and treating patients, regularly checking back to our “home base” for order updates, schedule changes, altered patient locations and so on.

Unfortunately, these check-ins take time, sometimes forcing therapists to walk across hospital campuses and track down nurses and schedulers for additional and necessary details – all time that is not being spent with patients.

These steps (both literal and figurative) cut into productivity.

Go Digital with Patient Management Boards

A digital management board, on the other hand, is made to enhance productivity.

It does this by communicating schedules, orders, changes, and updates in real time – via a digital board rehab therapists can access via workstations, laptops or tablets anywhere in the hospital – ensuring quicker initial evals and less downtime.

The top patient management board solutions will connect with your hospital’s HIM system to automatically pull in patient orders and information, alerting both schedulers and managers while enabling them to quickly (and visually) assign patients to available rehab therapists.

As these assignments are made, individual therapists can then access schedule additions and changes in real time. For our team, this ensured more patients were seen the same day orders came to us, helping us cut turnaround time by around 33%.

Not only did case managers stop asking us for ETAs on necessary patient evaluations, but our therapy team was able to provide patients with the services they needed in a timely manner, which led to quicker discharges.

The Net Health Patient Management Board Solution

As someone who managed a hospital rehab therapy team whose patient management solution evolved from magnets and dry-erase markers to using the Net Health Patient Management Board, I was quick to realize the benefits of going digital.

Not only did it make our therapists much more efficient, but as a director, I was able to assess the productivity of the entire rehab therapy team quickly and seamlessly, ensuring all patient needs were being addressed in a timely manner.

If your hospital acute rehab therapy team is still using the scheduling and management equivalent of paper maps to navigate your day-to-day, it is time you also realize the significant productivity benefits of going digital.

Reach out to me any time or use our “Schedule a Demo” tool on the Net Health website, and we will be happy to show you how our Patient Management Board works and the benefits you can expect from upgrading to a 21st Century solution!

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