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Addressing PDGM 2020’s Therapy Changes with Virtual Care

PDGM 2020’s Therapy Impact
Many home health agencies are currently struggling with how to address the compliance regulations which will be required under PDGM.  One of the key concerns is how PDGM 2020 shifts home health reimbursement toward patient characteristics, thus eliminating therapy-visit volume as a determining factor in calculating reimbursements.  As a result, therapy will no longer be a guaranteed revenue-driver.

NAHC recently surveyed home health providers plan to understand their anticipated changes in therapy strategy for 2020.  Findings highlighted that respondents are expecting to change their therapy utilization and staffing strategies:

  • About one-third of surveyed providers expect to maintain current levels of utilization in 2020.
  • 23% said they expect to decrease utilization by less than 10%
  • 25% plan to reduce utilization by more than 10%.
  • About 16% were unsure as to how PDGM will affect their therapy operations.
  • Only 2% said they plan on increasing therapy utilization in response to the payment overhaul.
  • 50% of providers do not anticipate making staff changes in therapy
  • 28% anticipate decreasing staff.

Using Virtual Care to Supplement Therapy Support
Instead of cutting back on therapy services, an agency can become more cost-sensitive when delivering therapy services in the home setting by using telehealth / virtual care.  The technology can eliminate the need for certain in-person therapy visits without negatively impacting patient care.

A Home Health Care News article highlighted that agencies should supplement therapy services with a telehealth / virtual care technology when appropriate.   At a February workshop, Ms. Gaboury also stated that “the survival of this [PDGM] will be cost containment 101… Some of the things floating out there include Telehealth.  If you’ve never thought about Telehealth before, you need to take some deep, deep looks into Telehealth…”  She stressed that agencies should take immediate action in implementing telehealth: “You should have been looking into it for years… You are cost-containing when you implement it. Do you want the home health agency to still be here next year? We got to do something!”

Home health agencies are starting to recognize the value of virtual care / telehealth in terms of supporting their therapy strategies.  More than 25% of NAHC’s surveyed home health providers said they are actively exploring telehealth technology specific to therapy.  Over 5% of providers anticipated an increased use of therapy telehealth tools in 2020.  During the presentation of the survey results with NAHC President William A. Dombi, and Kornetti & Krafft Health Care Solutions owner Cindy Krafft indicated that PDGM may open the floodgates for home health agencies’ use of virtual care in therapy.

Implementing Synzi to Reflect the Focus in Value Over Volume
Synzi’s virtual care platform can help an agency’s therapy services survive and thrive under PDGM 2020.  With Synzi, therapy staff have more consistent contact with patients, leading to better adherence, reduced ER visits and readmissions, and enhanced patient satisfaction.  Given the increased attention to achieving 5-star ratings, home health agencies know that patient improvement and satisfaction are critical component of being able to prove value.  High-quality therapy services are essential to these ratings.  By enabling therapists and clinicians to conduct 3 video-based check-ins with patients in the time it takes to drive to/from and conduct 1 at-home visit, Synzi can help an agency provide high-quality therapy that is patient-centric and cost-contained.

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