New Year. New Payors.

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 12, 2022 7:33:17 AM / by Erin Norton

Make 2022 your year.   

Physical therapy clinics took a hit from the pandemic and the reduction in patient visits carried over into 2021 for many clinics.  Clinics also took a hit when Medicare cut rates by 3% in 2021.   And since bad things seem to happen in threes, a third hit is expected in 2022 when another Medicare slash of 2% hits the revenue line. Add in regulations and regulatory hoops; the work increases while the reimbursement decreases.  

So how will you address 2022?  Will you join the group of clinics who are sinking?  Will you hang in there - just keeping your head up and waiting for a lifeline?  Or will you be in the elite tier who are leading the way-finding ways to keep moving forward?  

We all want to be on the winning side, but how do you do that when the outlook seems bleak?  

The answer - diversify. 

Take a page from history’s playbook.  When prohibition hit, breweries made a choice; either shut down or diversify.  The breweries that survived prohibition diversified by making products such as near-beer, soft-drinks, ice cream and cheese.  Some diversified even more to making machinery and ceramics.  

As a physical therapy clinic, consider diversifying your payor mix.  In many states, workers’ compensation is a good payor.  Why not target a practice niche that pays fairly for careIt makes sense to lean into workers’ compensation, as more workers get back on the jobs.  

So how do you start building your work comp referrals? 

Make a plan.   

Here are some questions that have helped clinics evaluate workers’ compensation as a solution. 

  • Who are your current workers’ compensation referral sources and is there an opportunity to expand those?   
  • Are you seeing patterns of patients coming for treatment of work-related injuries from specific companies in specific jobs?  
  • Are there other services that you should add to your offerings, such as FCEs, RTW screens, work conditioning?  
  • How many other clinics within a 20-mile radius are offering these services and what do they charge?  
  • Is there a state workers compensation fee schedule and if so, what will your reimbursement for be for their services?   
  • Do you or your staff need additional training in areas such as FCEs or work conditioning or just better understanding the workers’ compensation system?  
  • Do you have money in the budget for training or purchasing an FCE system and if not, can you shift funds from another line item of your budget?  
  • What type of equipment will you need for FCEs and work conditioning and how much will it cost?   

When brewers switched to producing soft-drinks or ice cream, they didn’t simply snap their fingers and it was done.  They may have needed a mentor or some training in the processes.  They likely had to adjust some of their equipment or purchase additional pieces.  Staff needed to be taught the new process.  Marketing materials and strategy changed.    

Diversifying means there may be changes in processes.  If possible, identify a staff member to help lead the charge.  Or find a mentor to help guide you through the steps to grow your workers’ compensation referrals.  A great way to bring your staff on board is to provide education.  Many clinicians hear the term work comp and immediately know they don’t like it.  A short course to help clinicians understand the workers’ compensation system and how to handle patients with self-limiting behavior, can make treating this patient population easier and more rewarding.   

Adjust marketing accordingly.  Marketing in the workers’ compensation arena means marketing to more than just physicians.  Oftentimes, work comp case managers and insurance adjusters have a great deal of influence on referral patterns.  Knowing and communicating with all the influential parties is key. Building relationships with your referral sources in work comp will help drive this business to your clinic. 

Add services to differentiate your practice from other providers. One of the simplest ways to differentiate yourself with referral sources is by implementing return-to-work (RTW) screens. By adding this one extra step, a brief RTW test, to the discharge evaluation, clinics differentiate their clinic from competitors. A well-designed FCE system can give you, not only an objective RTW testing protocol, but versatility to offer other services such as FCEs, pre-hire physical ability testing and work conditioning. 

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome.   

If you are ready to make a change and grow your clinic by expanding your workers’ compensation referrals, ErgoScience can help.   

Contact us to learn more about our Industrial Athlete series or how our FCE system can bring in new payors in 2022. 

Erin Norton

Written by Erin Norton

Erin help clinics find the best solution to fit their needs from functional capacity evaluations, to job analysis, pre-employment screens or impairment ratings.