May 18, 2022 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

The Key to Improving Efficiency in Acute Care Rehab Therapy? Fewer Steps!

Gotta get those steps in!

In an era when so many are tracking movement through fitness apps and devices, hitting 10,000 steps per day (give or take) is typically the gold standard for those striving to maintain optimal health and wellness.

Reaching these daily milestones is certainly not a problem for those who work within acute care settings. Nurses, for instance, achieve numbers far beyond that benchmark, taking more than 16,000 steps per day.¹

It stands to reason, then, that acute care rehab therapists put up similar numbers. And, while that’s no doubt good for your personal wellness as a physical, occupational or speech therapist, a nearly 7-mile hike each day isn’t exactly conducive to the optimal function of the hospital’s rehab therapy department.

In fact, rehab therapists – and nurses, too – could benefit from taking far fewer steps daily, specifically when it comes to maintaining peak daily productivity.

In other words, the key to improving rehab therapy efficiency in the acute care setting isn’t to ramp up our intensity and walk more quickly when tracking patients across departments, floors, and throughout the entire hospital complex.

What’s the difference between acute care therapy and inpatient PT? Learn about it here

The key is to work smarter, not harder, by striving to decrease the overall number of steps taken each day.

Here are five simple tips that, if implemented in acute care rehab therapy, can reduce the number of steps physical, occupational and speech therapists take each day, thus enhancing efficiency throughout the department. 

1. Ditch the Patient Whiteboard

The patient whiteboard is the first thing most acute care therapists review each morning, and, more often than not, it’s located halfway across the hospital campus. So, each shift must begin with 500 steps to check updates to patient location and status, and to catch up on new orders. 

The physical patient whiteboard process takes valuable time that could otherwise be devoted to patient care. It’s time to ditch the whiteboard in favor of a digital management tool that can reduce administrative burden and receive and track new orders electronically. 

2. Upgrade Outdated Communication Strategies

Once the whiteboard has been checked, early mornings and afternoons are often spent tracking down other therapists for additional details. This, of course, can lead to dozens of additional steps. Replace Post-It notes and missed calls (and foot traffic) with digitized communication strategies that eliminate the need to manually transfer updates to the whiteboard and verbally relay the news to staff. 

3. Streamline Evals and Documentation 

With patient assignments and new orders in hand, rehab therapists must perform chart reviews for new evals within just 24 hours. Then, they hit the floor, consult with nurses prior to seeing a patient, administer treatment, and spend a chunk of the afternoon documenting all of the above. 

Documentation can take significantly longer with EHR software that wasn’t built for the intricacies of acute care settings. Acute care EHR software designed for rehab therapists, by rehab therapists, allows for documentation that’s discipline-specific, emphasizing function, precautions, and discharge recommendations for streamlined processes.

4. Implement Real-Time Alerts

How often do you as a rehab therapist enter a room, only to learn that the patient you were there to see, evaluate and/or treat was moved to a different bed earlier that day? Not only do small hiccups like these create dozens more steps for acute care staff, but they also impact the time devoted to clinical outcomes. 

Rather than rely on stationary updates that provide limited accessibility, a digital solution allows for real-time alerts that always reach the people who matter. Admission/Discharge/Transfer (ADT) and Orders Interfaces minimize time lost searching for patients and update clinician assignments accordingly.

5. Leverage Smarter Scheduling

Acute care rehab teams across the nation are still struggling under the weight of pandemic-related staffing shortages that have only increased the number of steps current staff take each day. It’s been difficult to ensure patient coverage during off-hours, particularly in acute care settings that aren’t leveraging a smart scheduling solution. 

A smart scheduling solution equitably distributes patients based on given real-time updates of patient status and location. Clinicians can regain countless hours lost to patient and order tracking, and staff scheduling can function in a way that best benefits both patients and therapists. 

The Last Step to Improving Efficiency in Acute Care Rehab 

From digital management tools to real-time alerts and communication strategies, the above tips to minimize daily steps might seem like an additional amount of work for acute care staff — but not anymore. Net Health’s Patient Management Board for Hospital Acute Rehab Therapists houses all of the tools to improve efficiency in acute care settings, and more, within one, convenient software.

Now, providers can automate and simplify order and patient tracking in real-time, reduce the time from order to evaluation, and facilitate the transfer of patient information across medical providers instantly. Schedule a demo today for the last step you’ll need to take to minimize daily steps for good. 

The Ultimate Guide to Therapist Productivity

30+ pages of detailed info to help you manage this crucial element of your rehab therapy operation.

¹ Healthline Media, “Average Steps Per Day by Age, Gender, Occupation, and Country,” Nov. 27, 2018.

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