How to do it... Therapy contracts

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Choosing a therapy contractor isn't as easy as it may sound. Many providers simply don't expect enough of their therapists. Experts in the field advise that a therapy provider help plan for all residents' needs, and anticipate a facility's future needs. Therapists also can help build census and develop marketing plans. While being up-to-date on technology and maximizing reimbursements, a contractor also should be well-versed in recruiting, training and retaining therapists. Two top long-term care therapy providers expand on those thoughts below.

1 In order to maximize revenue and meet all reporting requirements, your therapy company must fully understand the evolving and often complex regulatory world. This includes things like RUGs refinements, Part B therapy caps and more, says Martha Schram, president of Aegis Therapies. If your therapy company isn't maximizing profit capabilities, then there is no reason to employ it.

2 Given the tight labor market, especially for therapists, your therapy company must have strong recruiting and training capabilities, and a high therapist-retention rate, Schram said.
Every therapy company will tell you that they can staff your facility, note Peter Doerner, senior vice president, Business Development, and John Lovelace, vice president, Business Development, at RehabCare.
"(But) do they have a recruiting department and recruiters that will be dedicated to your facility's needs? Are they staffing based on your current needs, or are they measuring your future needs to provide staffing and programs that will grow your programs for this year and the coming years?" they added in a statement.

3 Similarly, many know how to provide therapy, but facilities need a contract firm that truly integrates into your organization.
"Determine if the therapy company has the resources, capabilities and contacts to assist you in census development efforts by helping you to market your therapy program," Aegis' Schram says.
In addition, the RehabCare leaders say you should ask: What does the therapy provider know about your market? Does it have access to hospital discharge data and by utilizing this data, can they assist you in developing your marketing strategy?

4 If you're a provider with a specific resident population, look for therapy companies that already have expertise in those areas.
"Therapists who work with dementia patients, for example, follow different protocols and require additional training," Schram notes.

5 However, you also want a therapy provider that takes the needs of all of your residents into account.
"A good therapy company will work with you to achieve the best results for every patient who can benefit, as opposed to simply providing therapy staff," Schram adds.

6 The key to a successful therapy program is the therapy director. Therefore, you should know how much the therapy company invests in his or her training and education, according to RehabCare officials. And will this director be able to spend adequate time administering a growing program, or just working with residents?

7 Stay away from therapy contractors that do not use state-of-the-art, or at least current technology, to improve resident care and efficiency and maximize your revenues.

8 Remember that although real estate may be all about location, location, location, therapy is not necessarily all about price.
"The lowest price does not necessarily mean the lowest cost," said the RehabCare officials. "Seek a provider that provides a fair price but builds into the value proposition opportunities to impact overall costs of the operation."

9 Finally, check not only references, but make sure they're appropriate.
"The therapy provider may be giving you three great references, but all are very small, and do not have the Medicare census your facility has," Doerner and Lovelace caution. "Managing a facility which averages 5 Part A's, is very different from a facility that averages 25 Part A's."
Overall, you must make sure your therapy company has a strong compliance program and conducts business with integrity.

Helpful tips
- Compare therapy providers that are experienced with your size and type of resident population.

- Make sure a company has a strong therapist supply and retention rate.

- Know whether a company is able and willing to help market and grow your business.

- Accept only top-notch coding and rules knowledge from a therapy provider.