How to Help Your Team Achieve More than They Think They Can

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Minda Zetlin, Inc. Magazine Online

Reviewed by Michael Vacon, PT

Author Minda Zetlin interviews Dan Schoenbaum, chief executive officer of the software company Redbooth, about his tips and techniques for getting his team to achieve more. Not only is Dan Schoenbaum the CEO of Redbooth, but he is also a former sniper in the Israeli paratrooper force. He relates how the intense training he had when he joined the military has helped him develop some techniques with his team. In his first day in the military, he learned that the culmination would be an 80-mile march with a 50-pound pack on his back. He shares how no one thought it would be possible at first, but after a gradual buildup of intense training it ended up being very attainable.

Overall, he has four simple tips or principles he uses with his employees. Although simple concepts, these can be very helpful in our industry—or any industry for that matter. If you own a private practice, you realize the importance of having to build an efficient team; one that knows how to pull together, multitask, meet sudden deadlines, and still provide a superior product. Here is how Dan Schoenbaum helps his people go beyond their limits:

1. Break it down into manageable steps. He summarizes that having the long vision of your plan is good for your employees, but many people need things broken down into smaller, more digestible steps to keep them from getting overwhelmed. In some cases, you may not know how to break things into smaller steps, but if you share a grand vision with your team, they might actually help come up with smaller, attainable steps to help you get there. He believes that his job is sometimes to be the rudder. While his team is working on the smaller tasks, he is making sure they are staying on the overall course he has set.

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2. Rally the troops. Achieving goals, especially grand ones, can be a daunting task. We would like to believe that all our employees are endlessly motivated to succeed at any cost, but the truth is people can lose focus on the big picture when they are “in the weeds.” Schoenbaum relates a situation in which his group was constantly losing contracts to a competitor and how he pulled everyone together for a motivational meeting to get all the departments working together to overcome the competing company. Having a sense of comradery can be vital in situations like this; rather than feeling like you are letting others down, you now realize that you have a supportive team around you.

3. Use rewards—the right way. Schoenbaum is not a big believer in “pay-for-play” where you incentivize a team by offering financial rewards for achieving a goal. He believes that people should be paid appropriately for doing their jobs without constantly dangling the potential of extra money for motivation. He does believe in offering rewards that bring a team together to accomplish a goal. He relates a scenario in which a development team was tasked to come in ahead of deadlines for a project and he offered them a huge party for the whole company if they succeeded. They met the deadline, had the party, and it really showed the team the power of collective effort.

4. Clearly define roles and responsibilities. Schoenbaum believes that not micromanaging a team is important; however, being specific about who owns what responsibility and when specific deadlines or checkpoints are, is vital for success. Overall, he believes that teams are not good at setting goals, roles, and responsibilities; however, a team that has this established from the start has a much better chance of excellent execution. He believes it is the leader’s role to “map out the goals and responsibilities…and then get out of the way.”

Overall, I liked the simplicity of his leadership plan. We all have teams of different sizes, but following these basic principles can help us lead our team to greatness. I know they hit home with me and gave me some great ideas for leading my team into the challenges that certainly face us ahead. 

The article can be found at: www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/how-tohelp-your-team-achieve-more-than-they-think-they-can.html.

Al C. Moreau III, PT, MPT

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Al C. Moreau is the owner of Moreau Physical Therapy in Louisiana. He can be reached at al@moreaupt.com.

Practice, Location: Baton Rouge, Zachary, Central, Port Barre, and Opelousas, Louisiana Founded in 1977, Moreau Physical Therapy currently has eight outpatient clinic locations and six contracted management and therapy service sites including hospitals and industrial sites. We currently have over a hundred full- and part-time employees.

What is your most influential book/person/event that enhanced your professional career and give a brief description of why? The most influential person in my professional career has been my father, Al Moreau, Jr, who is a physical therapist. I followed him around as a child and was fascinated by the work he did with patients and knew I wanted to help people in the same way. Observing him taught me that patient care is as much about connecting with our patients personally as it is treating their physical deficits. People frequently stop me and tell me how much my father has helped them and the impact he has made in their lives. This type of patient care and service is what continues to drive our team to inspire and serve others.

Turning the Titanic

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How to stay afloat in today’s health care industry.

By Michael Eisenhart, PT

Most people know the grim story of the Titanic. Whether or not you prefer the love story version with Leonardo DiCaprio may say a lot about your choice of movies but does not change the end result—a slow horrific demise of a “modern” marvel.

Perhaps it is not a leap to liken the U.S. health care industry to the infamous ship. Both were massive: The Titanic was 833 feet long, weighing 50,000 tons, and the health care industry costs almost three trillion dollars per year, representing more than 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Both were technologically advanced. The Titanic had communications equipment and a massive control panel. And today’s health care has magnetic resonance imaging for seemingly every ache or injury, is spending billions of dollars developing devices that prolong life, and offers drugs that promise to tune chemistry to the unique needs of our genetics. However, both have proven to be slow moving and hard to turn, even when an iceberg lies ahead.

Right Time, Right Place

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Physical therapy on Capitol Hill.

By Jerome Connolly, PT, CAE
April 4, 2015

The Private Practice Section (PPS) conducted its third successful Capitol Hill Lobby Day this past February. This year, our forces were fortified thanks to collaboration with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), which brought 25 additional physical therapists to Washington, D.C. Members of the APTA’s board of directors and the Payment Policy Advisory Committee joined the 72 PPS Key Contacts in walking the halls of Congress, conducting 185 meetings discussing the Medicare beneficiary therapy cap, payment rate, and locum tenens. Forty states and 105 unique House districts were covered by the total 97 attendees, many of whom met with their actual representative or senator.

The timing for this meeting, which was optimal, was established by the PPS board of directors and was heavily influenced by the looming March 31 deadline when the therapy cap would be fully implemented and Medicare reimbursement for outpatient services would be cut by more than 20 percent. The payment reduction is due to the expiration of the waiver of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) used to calculate the conversion factor for the Medicare physician fee schedule under which outpatient physical therapy services are paid.

The Practice of the Future Is Now

EMR is more than documentation.

By Dan Alloway

Ask any therapist, “How do you feel about the changes in health care? Are you excited about the future?” After a grimacing stare, they will launch into an often repeated rant about government getting in the way of patient care and “the good old days” when we spent our time treating. “This is not what I signed up for! This is not why I became a therapist!”

While these perspectives are an appropriate reaction to the first generation of electronic medical records (EMR) and health care reform, they are not an accurate description of future generations—or better yet what is available right now.

In the outpatient rehabilitation “practice of the future,” patients will arrive to a calm, welcoming environment. Unlike the overworked, stressed-by-new-rules front desk employee of today, future EMR systems will be aware of payer rules and of changing government requirements. In fact, the EMR will communicate with each patient’s payer electronically, complying with each oppressive requirement. Data will be digitized, substantially reducing the need to scan most documents.

The patient (who books their airplane tickets online, banks online, and shops from Amazon and eBay online) will check in with an automated system that remembers their medical history, emergency contacts, and other details.

The role of the front desk operator will be entirely different in the practice of the future. Since technology will automate most of the “grunt work,” the front desk operator will have the time to focus on patients. The new role of the front desk operator will be practice ambassador. Their focus will be on the patient, with the goal of maximizing their experience in the practice.

While the therapist will edit details and supplement notes, therapist EMRs will be largely automated. Second generation EMRs will employ artificial intelligence to analyze evidence from the patient, both from within the practice and from a nationwide database. This verbiage will be built on the fly, based on the patient’s diagnoses, risk factors, severity, treatment plan, and a host of other factors.

Therapists will be scientists, analyzing nationwide outcome data to identify the treatment plans for the given diagnoses and risk factors that are proven to yield the highest patient outcomes. The analyses will be automated. Think of it as if Google searched, “The top three or four nationwide treatment plans for sciatica for obese 60 to 65 year olds who smoke.” The therapist will analyze a palette of the treatment plans, proven to be most effective and then will apply their clinical judgment and select a course of action. As a result of her/his decision, evidence-based, defensive documentation will be automated, providing statistical proof that the chosen plan of care will restore the identified functional deficits for the specified set of risk factors.

This evidence-based analysis will be one of the most exciting elements in the practice of the future. While this patent pending technology will revolutionize every discipline in health care, automated evidence-based analysis was conceived, developed and first utilized in outpatient rehabilitation.

How patient outcomes are measured and utilized will be turned on its head in the practice of the future. Unlike today, where outcome registries are typically oriented toward the number of patient visits, sometimes including progression, automated evidence-based analyses will emphasize progression. While this technology will identify that treatment plan “A” yields 35 percent progression in eight visits, the practice of the future will also be aware that treatment plan “B” yields 65 percent progression in 12 visits and treatment plan “C” yields 82 percent progression, but requires 16 visits.

This complete paradigm shift in outcomes will be good for the patient (82 percent progression verses 35 percent), good for the practice (16 visits verses 8), statistically validates that outpatient rehabilitation is the most effective, lowest cost medical alternative and it holds the payer accountable to the fact that the patient is paying for insurance to restore their functional deficits, not to minimize their number of visits.

In the practice of the future, every patient will be part of the therapist’s scientific quest to constantly improve patient outcomes. Therapists will be free to apply their clinical judgment and alter the statistically superior treatment plans, based on experience. For the first time in their careers, therapists will see the impact that specific changes in treatment have on patient outcomes. As a result of this “constant improvement” environment, outpatient rehabilitation will enjoy a revolution in patient outcome improvement that will bolster our positioning and importance, amidst other sectors of health care.

In the practice of the future, therapists will finally live in the world of evidence and science that they were trained to use, but never had time to research.

The billing department will be automated. Intelligent, payer-cognizant software will create clean claims and submit them electronically.

In the practice of the future, collections will largely be a battle between integrated EMR billing software and the payer’s computers. Outpatient rehabilitation specific billing software, integrated in the same database with scheduling and documentation will win against the payers’ computers thousands of times every day. The pace of analysis, change, and adjustments are untenable for any human and will not be attainable using a multidiscipline billing software.

Is “The Practice of the Future” an inspired vision? Is it a “longshot” dream? How real is all of this?

Here’s an overview of what is currently available:

  • Automated check in process that relieves front desk staff of their “grunt work”
  • Second Generation EMR that analyzes evidence and recommends complete sentences and paragraphs detailing: functional deficits, G-codes, including defensive documentation, functional goals, clinical rationale and more
  • Evidence-based defense, that recommends the treatment plans that are proven to yield the highest outcomes for a given diagnosis and risk factors (the analogy was, “Think of it as if Google searched, “The top 3 or 4 nationwide treatment plans for sciatica for obese 60 to 65 year olds who smoke.”) Accompanied by technology that automates defensive documentation and statistical proof that the chosen plan of care will restore the identified functional deficit.
  • Numerous patent applications have been filed. These technologies are patent pending
  • Alpha testing is underway today
  • Automated billing department, including workers comp and motor vehicle claims submitted with attachments, touch free
  • Collections being largely a battle between the EMR system’s computer and the payer’s computer, with outpatient rehab-specific software that wins against payers computers thousands of times per day.

Welcome to the future!

Dan Alloway is vice president of development at Systems4PT. He can be reached at DCA@Systems4PT.com.

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