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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Rehabilitation Services: What Matters the Most?

Does your organization focus on what matters the most?

Rehabilitation-OutcomesMy best friend has been employed within the same rehabilitation organization for 25 years. She will be leaving the organization before the beginning of June. The main reason was because of a sale and a change of direct oversight. As she spoke of the upcoming changes, we both knew that she could not stay.

There are definitely many, many employment opportunities for physical therapists. A major factor when choosing employment seems to be the focus of organization. Do organizations really focus on what matters the most? I actually had to text my best friend that it appeared she had to choose the lesser of two evils. It shouldn't be that way, should it?

What matters most for rehabilitation providers? First and foremost an organization's culture should focus on the patient. I'm not talking the number of units that should be billed per visit... nor am I talking the number of patients that need to be seen per day. A culture that meets the needs of each is what matters most.

What a patient needs fits perfectly into our skill set: they want to get back to life. They want to have someone address their pain; they need someone to educate them. Many want to be actively engaged in their care - they want to be involved in making decisions. They want to be heard. When you meet their needs and create a strong therapeutic relationship, you become their provider for the rest of their life. You will be the person that they seek out whenever your services are needed. If you really knock it out of the park, your patients will demonstrate high loyalty and tell their family and friends to choose you when services are needed.

Each patient is an N=1 opportunity. Each N=1 opportunity is an important step. What if all the N=1 could be pulled together into a big bundle of data? This is definitely possible with the right system. Each N=1 can be measured. A reasonably simple way is to use patient-reported outcome measures. If the system includes a risk adjustment process to predict an outcome, this is a huge added value because you now have a way to compare the actual results with the predicted result. You can do so much with that kind of data.

Your data can be used to help persuade someone to choose you. If you can demonstrate that your services are both effective and efficient, you may gain new referrals. Your potential patients are searching online for options - they have higher financial responsibilities and are more engaged in making health care decisions. If you are able to provide social messages revolving around the quality of the care you provide, you make it easy for your loyal patients to share your messages. You can share results with physicians. You can negotiate higher payments. You can more easily target continuing education needs. You have specific data at your fingertips to help drive decisions to continually improve the quality of the care you provide.

I wonder about organizations with a strong focus on productivity. Are these organizations able to meet patient needs? Are these organizations able to create highly loyal patients? And... in this health care world focusing on value, will these organizations survive? I don't know, but it seems a high focus on productivity equates to short term profit. Longevity requires long term vision that includes more data than just productivity and profit. It costs more to attain new patients than it does to retain patients for life. Retaining and creating loyalty requires high quality of care and strong therapeutic alliance. The cool thing about quality is that there is a way to implement a system into an organization to help with strategies focused on longevity.

Until next time,



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