As you’ve likely noticed, hospital-based rehabilitation is becoming a more and more competitive space. Given fluctuating reimbursement rates, massive health system mergers and an increasingly educated patient pool, rehab departments must work harder than ever to attract new patients and produce exceptional outcomes.
Fortunately, today’s level of competition presents ample opportunity for forward-thinking rehab departments to thrive. From better tools to new rehab techniques, there are many ways to set your practice apart. Following are four things every hospital rehab department will need to make 2017 their best, most productive year to date.
1. Quality Rehab Equipment
A great therapist can accomplish a great deal with just a few basic tools. But while a minimalist setup may work in specialized outpatient settings, your department needs more. From hip replacements to cancer pain, to strokes and other neurological disorders, you need to be able to handle every ailment that brings people into your hospital.
What to buy? Sturdy, reliable plinths, power tables and parallel bars come first. High-quality canes, crutches, walkers and other assistive devices should be a close second. These items provide for quality movement, sound ergonomics and a great patient experience. If yours are in disrepair, they should be the first things you fix or replace.
You’ll also want to invest in equipment designed for patients with significant strength and mobility limitations. These include recumbent cross-trainers, stand-assist devices, bariatric devices and a variety of strength-training equipment.
2. Cutting-Edge Modalities
Your therapists may rely on evidence-based therapies and manual work, but modalities are a critical component of a successful rehab department. From basic heat and cold to ultrasound and lasers, modalities are becoming more popular among patients and PTs alike. The most popular modalities include:
The best investment you can make is to hire, train and educate high-quality PTs and OTs. Skilled, dedicated therapists not only attract patients and generate referrals; they encourage excellent compliance and produce consistently good outcomes by connecting with people on a personal level. Technical skills are important, but those intangible “soft” skills are what separate the good from the great.
Also, whether you’re hiring new therapists or not, it’s important to invest in your employees’ growth. Seminars, certifications and continuing education courses will build their careers and your practice by allowing you to offer cutting-edge therapies that aren’t yet taught in DPT and MPT programs.
4. Patient-Centered Culture
PTs already tend to be selfless and dedicated to their patients, but a patient-centered culture isn’t something you should take for granted. In a healthcare environment where so many rehab departments have the equipment and technical know-how to produce good outcomes, a focus on the patient — not the pathology — is key to continued success.
What does this kind of culture look like in practice? Your therapists aren’t treating knee replacements, osteoporosis or post-surgical pain. They’re treating people who want to return to work, get back to their hobbies and spend time with their families. Focus on your employees’ goals and well-being, and they’ll do the same for their patients.
By focusing on these four areas, you’ll set your department up for success in 2017.