January is a great time to use our “20/20 vision” & look forward to the rest of the year, creating goals and predicting trends. A trend that we have seen over the recent past that is likely to continue is SNFs will continue to see more and more medically complex patients.

Fortunately, PDPM allows SNFs to capture reimbursement for the care associated with these residents, as long as documentation is present to support coding of the initial MDS. Besides proper coding, which we will cover in a different article, skilled and trained professionals need to be on site to ensure proper care.

As a practicing speech language pathologist, I am always most concerned with breathing and respiratory support. Comorbidities such as COPD, asthma, and CHF all make eating and swallowing more difficult. It still surprises me that every time we swallow, human beings experience a period of apnea for up to 5 seconds.

Breathing and swallowing are interlinked and expands the need for a well-trained speech language pathologist to ensure safe eating, reduce re-hospitalizations and help restore people to their prior level of function. Using an instrumental examination such as FEES to ensure the resident is tolerating their current diet and interventions is more valuable now than ever.

Documented proof of the existence of a swallowing problem is more crucial than ever and clear empirical evidence, such as a picture or video from a FEES, will not only help the resident but the staff that helps the individual and the facility.

About the author:

Michael V. Webb, MS CCC-SLP, Chief Executive Officer of Language Fundamentals. Michael is a graduate from the college of Saint Rose in Albany NY with his Master’s degree in Communication Disorders and more recently earned his Masters of Healthcare Administration from the University of Ohio. He has presented at the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, the New York Speech Language Hearing Association, New York State Health Facilities Association, as well as the National Convention of State Veterans Homes.