This is the third in a series of articles exploring ideas and processes behind managing a healthcare organization focused on maximizing both patient care and profit. 

We’ve all worked with those patients who we know we can help, if only we can just figure out how to get through to them. 

Getting through to patients, however, means meeting the patient’s needs before, during and after their interaction with a provider – and it requires the unique input of each employee, from front desk staff to clinicians. 

People make poor health decisions because there are too many unknowns on their path to good health, and they get overloaded with confusing and conflicting information as they try to stay healthy. Everybody faces some version of the following questions throughout their lives:

  1. What diet should I follow to make sure I stay healthy? And how many Twix bars is too many?
  2. I know I should be exercising, but I don’t because it sucks – is there a way to exercise that is both healthy and fun? 
  3. What does my path to good health look like?
  4. I’m in pain – what’s the best way for me to get relief – medicines, surgery, or something else? 
  5. How much is it going to cost for me to stay healthy? Is the cost of getting that treatment really worthwhile?
  6. How do I fit in my medical appointments when my schedule is so hectic with work, kids, and more?

Mentorship, defined in article 2 of this series, extends to the relationship between healthcare organizations and their patients as well. Mentorship in this context means two things:

  1. Giving each patient information they need to make good decisions; and 
  2. Putting each patient in control of their lives by making them active participants in their health

In practice, patient care at Accelacare is defined by mentorship – meaning each employee’s efforts are coordinated to deliver understandable answers to each patient’s questions and put patients in the driver’s seat.

Here’s what patient mentorship before, throughout and after the plan of care, looks like at Accelacare:

Prior to each patient’s visit:

  • Accelacare makes each of its therapists available for phone discussions with existing and potential patients regarding the best next step on their path to recovery.
  • Accelacare’s therapists and staff develop and participate in educational outreach programs aimed at educating specific patient populations regarding the resources available for them to maintain and improve their health. Examples include:
    • Women’s health outreach
      • International Women’s Day event focused on Q&A to allow attendees to drive the conversation
      • Courses on common women’s health issues hosted in partnership with local gyms 
      • Educational outreach to local Women’s Health Physicians
    • Hourlong radio broadcasts that are translated into Spanish, with the majority of the time dedicated for caller Q&A
    • Broadcasts on Facebook live and other media to educate patients about musculoskeletal conditions, the benefits of physical therapy, and other topics
  • When scheduling patients’ initial evaluations, Accelacare’s front desk explains what physical therapy does and details the initial evaluation process so that the patient understands how they can use physical therapy to improve their health
  • Accelacare’s front desk, rehab techs and therapists set patient expectations ahead of each patient’s initial evaluation by sending informational cards to patients a week before their initial evaluation, addressing the following topics:
    • What physical therapy does
    • What information to bring 
    • What to wear 
    • How much time to budget
  • Prior to each patient’s eval, the patient is contacted to remind them of the following:
    • Appointment time
    • How much time to budget
    • Information to bring
    • What to wear

During the patient’s plan of care:

  • As part of the initial evaluation intake process, the front desk walks each patient through a customized description of their insurance benefits for physical therapy and gives an estimate of the cost of each visit, so that patients can assist their therapist in developing an affordable plan of care

  • Accelacare sets hour-long eval slots to allow enough 1:1 time for the therapist and the patient to form a relationship and for the therapist to educate the patient about their condition and path to recovery

  • At the end of each patient’s initial evaluation, the therapist actively works with the front desk and patients to develop a treatment schedule that works best for the patient

  • Accelacare’s therapists focus on progressing the patient in each visit towards full recovery from their movement deficit, and help patients understand what their go-forward path to recovery looks like

  • During each patient visit, every member of the clinical team (clinicians, physical therapy students, and rehabilitation technicians) learns something new and unique about the patient, and shares it with their teammates so that the patient can be cared for at the highest level

After the patient is discharged:

  • Accelacare’s rehabilitation technicians call patients 3-4 weeks after discharge to ensure that they are still achieving their goals. If a patient is not meeting their goals, they are offered an opportunity to come back in for a check-up with their therapist.

Accelacare’s unique approach to patient mentorship, as outlined above, solves for the patient at the highest level and forms a trust within the community that makes Accelacare the preferred physical therapy provider at any location. 

The next article will examine how Accelacare faces external shocks to the business, and continues to deliver high-quality patient care to the community – by keeping personnel and mentorship processes intact.