What is the difference between partnering with a speech therapy service and using an employee or staffing agency to perform speech therapy at your skilled nursing facility?   Having a SNF speech therapy service as a trusted partner can lift your building’s performance from just OK up to that of a top performer. 

During conversations with owners and administrators about the performance of speech therapy at their building, I often hear “I haven’t heard any problems, so everything must be OK.”

Unfortunately, measuring the Key Performance Indicators for skilled nursing facility speech therapy rarely makes it to the top of the SNF Administrator’s priority list. Fear not.  They are easy to measure.

Just providing an able-bodied therapist isn’t good enough anymore.  A quality speech-language pathologist at a skilled nursing facility must have a much more robust skill set than that of 10 years ago while also functioning as part of the interdisciplinary team.

The most common pitfall for SNFs that employ their own speech therapist is when the speech therapy caseload only fits the number of treatment hours the SLP is able & willing to be productive.  This means missed patient care and immeasurable lost revenue opportunities. 

In an ideal world, the number of speech therapy hours available should fit the number of patients in need of speech.  The bandwidth must be flexible to meet the changes in demand. See the difference?

What are the Unique Elements of a Speech Therapy Service?

Part of an SLP Network – A speech therapy service is, by definition, a network of speech-language pathologists who are passionate about their field and improving patient care.  This network is routinely discussing new treatments, best practices, and procedures all geared to enhance the quality of care delivered to the patients.

PDPM and Part B Reimbursement Expertise – Much has changed in the last few years, especially since the arrival of the PDPM SLP Component. A strong nursing home speech-language pathologist must have a working understanding of coding the SLP component to capture valuable reimbursement. Consider having speech therapy perform the BIMS and utilize their special insight.  Lastly, great nursing home speech therapists should shine in treating long-term care patients, where valuable Part B revenue can be generated.

Program Development – When you have a network of experts in medical speech-language pathology, the SNF client receives the speech program development needed to enhance the treatment options available for patients and foster collaboration amongst the members of the interdisciplinary team.

Off-site support – When the SLP has a challenging case, having immediate access to that network of other experienced SLPs to discuss and share ideas benefits everyone, especially the patient.  What happens when your SLP has no one else to ask?  Also, do you have an SLP that can review speech documentation to ensure it supports the skilled need.  Having access to a layer of audit protection is quite valuable.

Incremental staffing – When the caseload exceeds the hours available for the staff SLP, a speech therapy service has the ability to provide additional support and treatment hours.  Staffing companies rarely provide this level of flexibility.

Backup and support – What happens when your SLP is on vacation for a week or out unexpectedly? Do you have a knowledgeable medical SLP to step in and not miss a beat? Not only is the SNF paying vacation time, but also likely paying an expensive hourly rate to temps or per diems to cover the caseload.  There’s little guarantee they are as efficient or as savvy at capturing revenue opportunities. A speech therapy service solves this issue for you.