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Rehab therapy providers are showing resilience and moxie while confronting new challenges with post-acute partners.

“In today’s long-term care landscape for physical therapy, there’s a notable shift toward prioritizing efficiency and safety,” noted Jamie Stoffer, director of Clinical Solutions, Rehab and Falls Management for Medline. “Facilities are increasingly focused on maximizing patient outcomes while minimizing staff resources.”

Their tool chests include more advanced equipment for smoother transfers and gait training, as well as a focus on “the nexus of data and productivity that undergirds the importance of leveraged insights to drive optimal care delivery,” Stoffer added.

A shift also is underway toward more collaborative decision-making and integrated care involving nurses, physicians, social workers and other healthcare professionals within nursing homes, said Renee Kinder, MS CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, executive vice president of clinical services for Broad River Rehab.

Other signs of rehab’s evolution include bolstering functional gains with an emphasis on outcome-focused care, broadened therapist education and electronic health records that facilitate more efficient communication and data collection, she added.

Meanwhile, telehealth allowances and remote monitoring, “are not only impacting the way rehabilitation services are delivered but also shaping the overall landscape of long-term care,” Kinder said. She sees a significant shift toward delivering rehabilitation services virtually, enabling SNFs to extend their reach to remote or underserved areas.

Tech that supports proactive measures will play a crucial role in shaping and refining daily care. Advances could reduce readmissions for issues such as UTIs, while AI-supported documentation could reap time savings and enhanced reimbursement.

Kinder also envisions a time when AI-driven technologies will usher in an era of personalized medicine in long-term care, “where treatments and interventions are tailored to the unique characteristics and needs of each individual and leveraging machine learning to predict treatment responses, identify optimal therapeutic regimens and minimize adverse reactions.”