Updated: May 23, 2020
In the world of $50 copays, Medicare and Medicaid uncertainty, and busy schedules, as OT we need to show our patients the value of skilled therapy. We need to be better and more valuable than their personal trainer, on demand television coach, and their massage therapist. If service were free, the attitude would be – Hey! Why not try it?
But with a $50 copay, 3 times per week, its important that your patients don’t feel that they get more out of their $40 personal training session because they don’t know any better.
If you are not convincing your patients that there is a big difference between the specialized and medically necessary skilled care you are doing yourself a disservice.
Here are 6 tips that can help you show the value of your Occupational Therapy services:
1. State the importance and goal of each session. Make a habit of starting each therapy session this way. This will sound like, “This session is so important today because I know that you want to gain your shoulder strength back. Today’s goal is to complete our normal routine as well as learn three new exercises that will help you gain enough strength to put those groceries away again.”
2. Make the patient aware of what their limitations were and how you know they are getting better. This often is in the form of a demonstration, “Three weeks ago your shoulder flexion was at 90 degrees, which looks like this. Today I measured you and you are at 130 degrees, which now looks like this. You are making progress!”
3. Use your functional outcome measures to show and prove improvement.
Show them the actual numbers! Tell them what that number represents and make sure you frequently re-do the measure to motivate and educate the patient on the importance of therapy services.
4. Use your specialized skills! State what you are doing and why you are doing it, every single session.
The goal is getting your patient to functional level. Once they hit functional level, we provide them with the skills and program they need to get themselves back to their prior level of function. Explaining to them what you are doing and why you are doing during each session will help them understand their injury, how they got there, and how to avoid it in the future.
5. Make sure your patient is doing his or her home exercise program perfectly.
The sooner your patient can start using their home exercise program, the better. The more they understand it, the less likely they are to revisit the injury. With that all being said, start early! Add one exercise each session that will be a part of their final take-home program. Don’t hand them a sheet of paper 3 sessions before discharge and expect them to get it correct! Practice makes permanent!
6. Have your patient write you a success story.
I love this because it serves a few purposes.
It asks the person to reflect on their course of treatment, so that they can see and reflect on the value of your services. Have them include what their limitations were when they started therapy and what they are able to do now.
It serves as testament to future patients that your services have been proven to work.
It helps me make sure that I am getting my patients better. If my therapy services did not make the person better, I need to figure out why and decide what my next course of action is – perhaps they need to be referred back to the doctor, or they were non-compliant in some manner (attendance, home program, decreasing activity level, etc.) or I didn’t provide the best services. This gives me the opportunity to notate this on their discharge paperwork. If they show up for therapy three months from now because of another referral, or because the pain has increased, I will be able to refer to the discharge report and see what the barriers to therapy success were so that I can accommodate those problems right from day one.
It serves as a reminder of the good I have done when I feel burnt out. I refer back to my book of success stories to re-energize and refocus.