By Susan Chamberlain, Project Manager/Privacy Officer, Pacific Rehabilitation Centers, Bellevue, WA
Originally published in the CARF International Medical Rehab Connection, December 2020.
Pacific Rehabilitation Centers has been providing CARF-accredited Interdisciplinary Pain Rehabilitation (IPR)
services at its western Washington state locations for over 30 years. As part of the strategic planning process, the team was exploring ways to improve access to its services across the state after the only IPR program in the Eastern part of the state closed its doors.
When COVID-19 was discovered in the state, Governor Inslee quickly issued stay-at-home orders. Access to non-emergency care was restricted to all patients needing rehabilitation services. In response, Pacific Rehabilitation Centers decided to provide its services via telehealth. The organization’s psychologists already had experience delivering behavioral health services via telehealth so they had some idea of the challenges they would face.
The rehabilitation team took the challenges in stride, completing multiple steps in the process:
● IT staff set up video studios for filming classes, and remains available to troubleshoot any difficulties patients have accessing virtual classes.
● Patients who need equipment (i.e., laptops, tablets, wireless access) are loaned the equipment in order to mitigate access barriers.
● Separate language channels are available for patients requiring interpreters.
● Physical and occupational therapy issues a box of tools and equipment to each patient so they can exercise and manage their pain at home.
● Staff learned how to broadcast classes and individual sessions over HIPAA-compliant telehealth systems.
● Leadership consulted with funding sources on policies to allow telerehabilitation services.
● Leadership contacted Pacific Rehabilitation Centers’ resource specialist at CARF to learn which standards would apply to the new method of service delivery and ensure that the program would be in conformance.
● Safety protocols, including emergency drills for home-based patients, were implemented.
Within six weeks, Pacific Rehabilitation Centers launched the first Telehealth Return-to-Work – Pain Management Program in the state of Washington. The program is now receiving referrals from areas outside of Washington and is working to meet the legal requirements of other states.
As a CARF-accredited program, Pacific Rehabilitation Centers understands the importance of tracking satisfaction with services. Satisfaction surveys are conducted at the end of each treatment day. To date, satisfaction with services is rated in the high 90th percentile. Seeking feedback immediately allows any issues identified to be promptly resolved.
A patient provided this review of her experience:
“The staff all listened to me, and that means a lot. Each and every person I had contact with taught me something new and useful in my journey to recovery. Everyone worked extremely well as a team.
Using Zoom was interesting but helped me overcome a few of my personal fears. I enjoyed the home program, and being able to use ice packs and other equipment I had to help me relieve some of the pain was extremely helpful. Thank you for all your help and patience.”
Pacific Rehabilitation Centers has reopened its clinics to in-person services using safety measures and following state guidelines required to prevent infection such as providing personal protective equipment (PPE), training, symptom monitoring for all patients and staff, and instituting extensive cleaning protocols and work-from-home options for staff. The organization plans to continue to offer telehealth services on an ongoing basis not only to continue care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to overcome geographical barriers some patients face.
As the world changes, Pacific Rehabilitation Centers must continue to live up to its core values of caring, compassion, and flexibility.
If you would like to learn more about Pacific Rehabilitation Centers, please read more about us
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