Treatment Rate Analysis

Recovering Markets vs. COVID Spike Areas


The graph below shows outpatient rehab treatment rates vs. prior norms for areas of the country that are “in COVID recovery mode”.  Overall, patient treatment rates are back up to 71% of normal with an increasing number of practices reporting a return to full capacity. 

Practices are reporting  that older, Medicare patients are the last to return.   They’re also telling us that patients clearly prefer hands-on therapy vs. telehealth.  In fact, for most practices in recovering markets telehealth treatments are between 0% and 10% of total.

The continued increase in on-site treatments is great news for both patients and practice owners.  During the slowdown a record number of practices changed EMR and billing systems.  These therapists are thrilled that as treatment volumes increase, there is no documentation homework because their new EMR takes about half the time.

Other practices are enjoying an increase in collections per claim of nearly 10%, as their new billing systems deliver first pass claim acceptance rates of over 99.8%, vs. the previous 92% to 95%.  


We’re all aware of the regions that are battling huge COVID spikes.  The red line on the graph below shows the impact on patient treatment rates.  While most of rehab is increasing, COVID spike markets are once again declining, and may continue to for some time.

These practices are reporting much higher on-site treatment rates than we experienced during the shutdown in March and April. But telehealth is a necessity and represents over 30% of treatment volume for many practices in COVID spike markets.  

Treatment rates are extremely sensitive to where the COVID Spikes are happening, geographically.  While a Miami practice struggles and relies mostly on telehealth, elsewhere on the west coast of Florida, practices are actually increasing their on-site patient visits.

Practices caught up in a COVID spike are wise to apply the lessons already learned from previous hot spot markets.

  • Focus on the safety of your patients, staff and family
  • Communicate aggressively with referral sources.  
    • Offer to mitigate patients’ symptoms until elective surgery is possible
  • Communicate with all active patients, maintain treatment continuity either on site or via telehealth
  • Do everything possible to prevent skyrocketing claim denials (while treatments are falling) because of telehealth rejections
  • Understand the six requirements that must be met for successful telehealth reimbursement
  • Take advantage of lower treatment volume by researching options for faster EMR and higher reimbursements
  • Immediately document and bill telehealth claims on Systems 4PT.  You sign the claim, it’s our job to comply with the six reimbursement requirements and get you paid.   
  • Keep your chin up.  As we’ve seen elsewhere, when the COVID wave recedes, treatment volume will rapidly return.

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