Solutions for Mobile/In-Home Physical Therapists

The pandemic continues to change the way we do business as well as the way people get treated.  With many patients concerned about exposure to COVID-19, many therapists have been hit hard in 2020.  There has been an increase of people canceling visits due to the risk of exposure or because of government stay-at-home orders.  For these patients, seeing a physical therapist in the privacy of their own home may put them at ease.  For those willing to make the transition or add in-home physical therapy, one-on-one home visits may offer many benefits to the patient as well as the therapist.

One of the greatest benefits to patients is the convenience.  For many needing physical therapy, mobility is an issue.  Getting in and out of a vehicle and fighting traffic can be an aggravating and potentially hazardous ordeal.  Seeing a physical therapist in a familiar setting, with no travel issues, can be a huge plus.  Adding Part-B in-home visits can expand the services of an existing practice and provide lower overhead costs for those looking to provide in-home care exclusively.  For more information, please see our article on Physical Therapy Home Visits.  Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about running an in-home physical therapy practice.

Be Prepared

Mobile visits require physical therapists to be well prepared for the day’s schedule.  Your phone will be your lifeline.  Make sure you have a phone charger in the car at all times.  That being said, while your phone is critical for communication, one should always resist the urge to text and drive.  Even a quick check of a text can put you and other drivers in danger.  Pull over into a safe area and park your vehicle before checking the text message.

It is also important to complete all of your documentation while you are still with the patient.  It’s understandable that you want to hit the road again and not take up any more of your patient’s time, but it is way too easy to confuse information with other patients, especially on busy days.  This also eases your workload at the end of the day.  Nothing is worse than spending two hours filling out documentation in the evening when there are more distractions around you.

Also, make sure you have everything you need before you start out in the morning.  Make a checklist of essential items like masks, gloves, gait belts, blood pressure monitor, a 4” step with risers, stretching strap, cones, canes, etc.  It’s also wise to invest in some pet treats.  Nothing pacifies a suspicious dog like a yummy snack.  A happy pet also helps to relax the patient.

Perhaps most importantly, in order to identify and address common exposures for patient safety and minimize potential loss, it is essential to have a comprehensive risk control program in place.  A patient’s home presents a number of injury and liability concerns for patients, physical therapists and employees of physical therapists.  New liability exposures may arise from both a regulatory and professional perspective as services change or expand.  Always ensure that therapy provided in the patient’s home complies with state practice regulations and the rules and guidelines of applicable state licensing or certification boards.

Billing Medicare

While traditional home health physical therapy is covered under the patient’s Medicare Part-A benefit (as long as certain criteria are met), outpatient in-home visits are billed under Part-B and follow the same fee schedule as traditional clinic visits.  For more Medicare billing information, please read this article about In-Home Physical Therapy.

Patient Screening

A physical therapist should adopt an effective screening process that reduces the risk of inappropriate patient selections that are not suited for mobile or in-home physical therapy services.  Pre-admission screening allows the physical therapist to determine an applicant’s medical and non-medical service needs, assess their eligibility for in-home physical therapy and initiate the care-planning process.

A patient screening should include, but not be limited to:

  • Making sure they are not currently being treated under Home Health
  • Patient’s medical and cognitive status
  • Patient’s fall risk and history
  • Physical limitations of the patient
  • Current medication the patient is taking
  • Specific wound care needs
  • Safety of the patient’s home environment

Documentation

As stated above, always try to complete your documentation while you are still with the patient.  Proper documentation helps you in the following ways:

  • Assists in planning and provision of quality care for patients
  • Provides proper communication among providers
  • Demonstrates compliance with federal, state and third-party payer regulations
  • In the event of a malpractice lawsuit, it can aid the physical therapist’s legal defense team

Always complete documentation in an objective, thorough, accurate, timely and legible manner.  Electronic documentation is beneficial in keeping these standards while keeping things organized and speeding up the billing process.  

If you are interested in creating or expanding an in-home physical therapy practice, discover more solutions at StrataPT.  We are dedicated to providing physical therapists and occupational therapists with the most practical, affordable and transparent solutions in the industry.  All of our solutions are backed by our 100% US-based customer service so our clients always know they can trust us with unparalleled support.
Contact us today to learn more about our PT and OT billing solutions or to schedule a demo with one of our friendly team members.

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