Tracy Milius, OT
Developing and building caseloads are not always responsibilities we anticipate while students. We become licensed therapists and treat patients that come our way, right? The reality in many rural practices is that we must continually educate, market and communicate to others about our services.
Start with Therapy
Sometimes, we need to start with the very closest to us and develop strong grassroots. Make sure every member of the rehabilitation staff has their eyes and ears open for patients who would benefit from receiving therapy services. Each therapist and team member should have a strong understanding of the various skill sets and the services provided within the department.
Screen all Patients
Therapists should complete an informal screen on all patients to determine if cross-referral to another therapy discipline is appropriate. Is there anything a speech patient needs that should be addressed by occupational therapy? Is there anything an occupational therapy patient identifies that should be treated by physical therapy? Start with inpatients, swing-bed patients, home health/home patients and also outpatients (especially those with neuro diagnosis). Are there referrals to be made within the therapy staff?
Ask Facility Staff
Once we are convinced that every member of our therapy team knows how to identify and refer any potential patients, the next step is the facility staff. Just think if every hospital, clinic or skilled nursing employee could tell their neighbor, family member or friend about what services we provide. Think about everyone from the billing staff to the housekeeping/environmental staff to receptionists and doctors, even those who work in lab and x-ray should be knowledgeable about therapy services provided at their own facility.
Educating and empowering all of these individuals increases our marketing power exponentially. But there is always more we can do. Submit therapy information to facility newsletters or write articles for the local paper about patient success stories. Enhance what the facility website says about available therapy services. If your facility has a dedicated marketing department, perhaps they can help produce a video about a particular service to post on social media or the facility website. And utilize our own marketing department for existing printed materials.
A benefit of working for an established contract therapy company is that new therapists, or even new hires, can find a multitude of resources to help with brainstorming and providing actionable suggestions around developing and maintaining caseloads. There are many RehabVisions therapists who have gone through each step in different facility types and with different levels of local competition. You need only ask for help to get started.