Blue Sky Therapy Blog

2020 Year in Review: Finding Blue Skies No Matter The Weather

by Blue Sky Therapy

2020 was a year of rapid change in every facet of our lives and in our way of business. Our industry was turned on its head by the pandemic. While we may never go back to the way things were before, we have learned so many lessons that will carry us forward into the New Year.

Here are a few of the highlights of 2020:

One Year of PDPM
We survived our first year of PDPM! There were many great lessons learned along the way including the need to pay close attention to EVERYTHING about patients. Collaboration became essential between nursing and facility staff to ensure nothing is overlooked. This year also showed us how incredibly important speech therapists are to both residents and partners. Their help in identifying cognitive deficits, altered diets, and swallowing disorders are critical to PDPM performance. PDPM lessons learned will continue to be ongoing into our second year under the payment model but we are excited by how successful year one was especially given the public health emergency.

These unprecedented times forced us to reflect and adapt which are skills serve us best in our quest to provide care to our most vulnerable population. We had to shift the way we provide care to focus on 1:1 treatments, working with our facilities to combat isolation and loneliness in our residents, preventing declines in cognition and function and identifying residents at risk for depression due to the restriction of visitors. We have learned to work in PPE while providing resident centered care and most importantly be a collaborative team to ensure we are mitigating risk and staying focused on our resident’s health and well-being!

Cuts to Therapy
We learned that we are all in this together as an industry when it comes to outpatient reimbursement. Even after all the trials we have faced this year due to COVID-19, CMS still plans to proceed with the with the 9% payment cut to PT, OT, and ST services. This is a major blow to our industry and deeply undervalues the incredible care and service that these clinicians provide. We will continue to advocate for Congress to pass legislation to Fight the Cut into the New Year.

Transition to Teletherapy
2020 certainly taught us how to be nimble and pivot when necessary and one big piece of that is teletherapy. Immediately when the pandemic hit, we transitioned services for our in-home and outpatient clinics to provide teletherapy. Our teletherapy patients receive the same 1:1 interaction with our licensed therapists virtually as they do in our clinic. Teletherapy allows our therapists to deliver high quality, convenient care to our patients and help them stay engaged with their treatment plans all while being in the comfort of your own home.

The patient works one-on-one with the physical therapist without additional distractions. Patients can also involve family members or caregivers in the appointments if they want to do so. There is no training required for patients to take part in teletherapy even if they have not been seen in the clinic previously. The patient will need an email address and access to a computer or device that has a video camera and microphone. Even when the pandemic is over, we see teletherapy as here to stay as it provides flexible options for our patients.
Above all this year, we have learned how incredible our healthcare providers (aka HEROES) are . They have adjusted their way of living and working to meet the needs of our patients and continue to provide the highest levels of care to them. Their dedication to their patients has been incredible and has been the brightest light in the darkest of times.

We look forward to a successful 2021 and taking these lessons, and many others, forward into the New Year!

New Year 2020 2021

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