The U.S. Department of Labor definition of productivity states it "is measured by comparing the amount of goods and services produced with the inputs which were used in production.
"Labor productivity is the ratio of the output of goods and services to the labor hours devoted to the production of that output."
In today's Medicare PPS reimbursement schedule, how can we accurately define productivity for a SNF Rehab department? Foremost, in order for any business to thrive it must be productive and efficient. A skilled rehab department, like any other business, needs to support salaries, bonuses, benefits and so on, which reflect how the practice/business is performing.
Most nursing/rehab facilities measure productivity by factoring therapist minutes on the premises over number of minutes billed; thus a therapist billing 385 minutes in a 8-hour or 480-minute day would be 80 percent productive. Does this truly measure the productivity of a therapist/assistant? Patients are not products and therapists are not factory workers. However, we do find ourselves to be at close comparison when factoring productivity. When measuring therapist productivity by counting worked minutes/billed rehab minutes, it can not only demoralize therapists/assistants but also create less than favorable outcomes regarding the quality of patient care delivered.
Consider a few example scenerios. In example A, a therapist in her facility is required to be 80-percent productive and her manager informs her to capture the highest category possible in order to get the best reimbursement (not an uncommon scenario). The therapist has five patients placed in a "very high" or RVL catagory (500 minutes); she sees them BID totaling 100 minutes each for five days a week. This means the PT will be well over 100-percent productivity using the given formula. At RVL (500 minutes), PPS reimbursement is $447.49 a day per patient.
In example B, a therapist has six medically compromised patients and scores an RMX (150 minutes) in which he sees each patient about 30 minutes for five days per week. The therapist has a daily total of 180 rehab billable minutes/480 minutes on premises, making him 37-percent productive. At RMX, reimbursement is $465.68 per day per patient.
If we compare, therapist A with more than 100-percent productivity with five patients at RVL $447.49 per day per patient will have generated less in terms of reimbursement than therapist B at 37-percent productivity having six patients at RMX at $465.68 per day per patient. Moreover, the therapist with the lower "productivity" not only generates an increased reimbursement but can also treat other patients, screen more patients and/or develop new programs.
We need to look beyond the "standardized productivity" measures for SNF therapists and properly use the RUGs catagories the way they were designed, which is to fit the needs of patients while maintaining the integrity, ethics and professionalism of therapists.