While media coverage loves the excitement of medical breakthroughs, be it a new clinical application of artificial intelligence or an innovative drug, less attention is paid to the value and substantial benefits of rehabilitative therapy. The disciplines of physical, occupational and speech language therapies have been a bedrock of better patient outcomes up and down the care continuum, and as our nation’s population ages - and the desire to age-in-place grows - it follows that the need for rehabilitation therapy will expand exponentially.
Yet conducting business as a therapy practice is not without its challenges. With regulatory changes introduced by PDPM and PDGM, many skilled nursing and home health providers reacted by reducing their therapy workforce. With Covid-19, therapists encountered the same health risks, limited patient census, and unexpected costs that their healthcare colleagues faced. As of this writing, CMS is still proposing up to a nine percent reduction in Medicare Part B reimbursement for therapy services starting January 1, 2021, and it may suspend the emergency measure which covered rehab services delivered via telehealth. All of that comes ahead of more CMS-approved changes which will dramatically cut into therapy assistants’ reimbursement rates in 2022. For all the tremendous good they provide, these are significant obstacles for any therapy provider to navigate and remain a viable business.
A new way forward
Meredith Mull, the EVP of population health management at Quality Rehab Management - Continuum (QRM-C), is not focused on the barriers, but what lies beyond. Meredith and the executive team at the parent company, Quality Rehab Management (QRM), offer the industry an opportunity to reimagine the rehabilitative therapy business model that won’t just be better for therapists, but for the patients they serve.
QRM works with skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and home healthcare providers to bring their contracted therapy services in-house, a cost-saving measure which provides their clients a better degree of insight into and ownership of the patient. QRM - Continuum assists post acute providers with expanding their rehab therapy services into the community. By providing outpatient therapy and remote patient monitoring services in the home, therapy is no longer a cost center but a revenue generator. With both business lines, therapists can better influence patient outcomes, especially when transitioning from one care setting to the next.
QRM and QRM-C are actively working towards making the post-acute sector stronger partners for payers and acute-care providers, particularly as the industry moves away from fee-for-service and embraces value-based care. Add the expanded coverage under Medicare Advantage plans that target social determinants of health, and Meredith is bullish about the possibilities: “not only are we moving the needle towards a possible capitated or retrospective unified payment, but we're also recognizing the importance of population health determinants as a preventative measure.”
Gaining efficiencies with technology
Meredith points to the common sector inefficiencies and expensive operational gaps that motivated the team at QRM-C to find a technology solution - and discovered Forcura as a perfect fit. In Meredith’s experience, many therapy practices depend on manual, paper-based and labor-intensive processes to manage workflows for referrals and routing plans of care and similar documentation for physician signature or review. Too often, these workflows are non-standardized and fall outside any managerial oversight. This makes bottlenecks impossible to spot and cash flows at risk from aging accounts receivable that can’t be monitored. As a rehab management company, these issues are compounded for QRM-C as they increase their volume of clients and route referrals in multiple directions.
With Forcura, QRM-C not only gets the control over the operational and care coordination processes they needed, most importantly, they don’t have to worry about embedding staff in each of their clients’ offices. What had been decentralized and inefficient is now centralized, streamlined and cloud-based, with account managers able to oversee several client locations from a single dashboard. According to Meredith, “Forcura has made our goals of improved timeliness and efficient staffing processes achievable. We now have a more cohesive, digital referral management process that enables us to get in front of the patient faster. Forcura is an essential part of what helps us keep clients satisfied.”
As your rehab therapy business navigates this challenging market, find out how Forcura can give you the operational control and cost-saving efficiencies it needs to thrive. Contact us today!
As Forcura's Director of Communications and Brand Strategy, Kate brings a robust background and knowledge of the healthcare and post-acute industry to Forcura. She also represents Forcura as a social media ambassador at events around the country, is an on-camera reporter and interviewer, and host of our Innovate Jax podcast.