By Erin Huddock, PT, DPT, DOR, Vista Knoll Specialized Care, Vista, CA

When looking at what programs haven’t been tapped into, my ED and I decided to focus on outpatient and what we could do differently to get our program back up and running again. Outpatient at Vista Knoll Specialized Care has always been something that was never really focused on and was getting by with minimal referrals over the past few years. To start, we looked at our outpatient census and how we could gain more referrals. With that, we decided to make our rehab tech, Diana, the outpatient champion.

We first looked closely at our referral sources. A great way to start was to look into those referrals from patients who are currently in-house.  We are already developing a great rapport with the patients and family members; they are comfortable with our therapists and it would provide a smoother continuum of care. And guess what? We can also keep a look-out for our patients who may be struggling or potentially be at risk for readmissions to the hospital and let our admissions coordinator know. It’s a win-win.

Next step, do they have insurance that we can accept? My rehab tech, Diana, will run the common working file on each patient who is here under Medicare or Managed Medicare that we contract with for outpatient. From there, we would discuss those patients who are appropriate to transition to outpatient during our weekly rehab meeting and would have Diana speak with the patients and discuss the benefits of returning to Vista Knoll for outpatient. Those who are appropriate and are interested, we let our case managers and social worker know to encourage the patient to transition to outpatient upon discharge. The biggest barrier that we have run into has been the lack of transportation for our patients who do not drive and do not have family. We do our best to assist those patients with finding options for transportation at the lowest cost possible.

It has been quite the team effort, and I really could not have done this without Diana, who has really taken to heart the care for our systems and the well being of our patients.  Prior to starting this transition, we were averaging about four to five outpatients per month. To this day, we have been able to successfully maintain, on average, 17 outpatients per month with 55 percent of those referrals coming from our inpatient population.