The Value of a Physiatrist

June 4 2024

A physiatrist, also known as a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician (PM&R), is a specialist in medicine who helps patients regain functionality and manage pain. Patients could be experiencing pain from an injury, disease or disability that is impacting the way they function on a daily basis.

Instead of just prescribing medication to manage various types of pain, these specialists work closely with the patient to provide a diagnosis and develop a personalized rehab program. Their goal is to ensure that pain is not a limiting factor to rehabilitative progress. They also often work alongside other medical professionals to enhance patient care.

As the landscape of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) continues to evolve, the demand for physiatrists will continue to grow. They play an important role in SNFs, meeting the unique needs of patients who require physical and cognitive support.


Understanding Physiatry and Its Role

Because physiatrists specialize in PM&R, they are skilled in diagnosing a wide range of conditions and issues like chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders and common injuries. They are able to treat arthritis, carpal tunnel, neck pain, herniated discs and more. This makes the role of physiatrists in SNFs important. They are able to step in and determine what is going on and then help patients manage their condition so they can regain quality of life.


How Do Physiatrists Differ From Physical Therapists?

While physiatrists will often work alongside other health care professionals like occupational, speech or physical therapists, they are distinct from these other professions. Physiatrists are doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. They look at the whole patient and consider everything that's going on.

This means that, unlike a physical therapist, they can provide a diagnosis as well as prescribe medications if needed and develop a treatment plan for patients. Physical therapists are responsible for actually carrying out the treatments and exercises that the physiatrist or other doctor prescribes. 


The Unique Value Physiatrists Bring to Facilities

Within the medical field, there is great value in physiatry. These medical specialists have the expertise to help patients restore function and reduce pain they are experiencing from their injury, disease or disability. Specifically, they bring these three main values to facilities. 

1.  Holistic Patient Care

Physiatrists provide comprehensive assessments and personalized treatment plans that look at each patient in a holistic way. When one part of the patient is suffering, it can impact their overall mobility and the way their body functions. A holistic approach promotes functional improvement and quality of life.

2. Multidisciplinary Collaboration

To deliver a patient-centered approach, physiatrists focus on multidisciplinary collaboration. They strive to treat the whole patient, which is why they'll work with all health care team members like therapists, nurses and other specialists. Being able to streamline communication with these professionals ensures efficient patient treatment and management. 

3. Improving Functional Outcomes and Quality Measures

Another asset that physiatrists bring is their ability to prevent complications and optimize recovery. This in turn typically means reduced pain scores and increased functional outcomes. With a Physiatrist’s additional insight and expertise, they are also able to positively impact readmission rates and falls in the facility. With challenging staffing issues across therapy and nursing teams, center receive additional support in the best way possible.


Addressing Common Challenges in Skilled Nursing Centers

There are a few common challenges faced in SNFs that physiatrists can help overcome:

  • Managing chronic pain: Physiatrists bring expertise in pain management. If residents have a chronic condition or disability that they are dealing with, a physiatrist can come up with an appropriate therapeutic approach or prescribe medications if necessary to help with managing the pain. Alternative interventions will reduce the reliance on opioids in SNFs.
  • Rehabilitation after acute events: After acute events like traumatic injuries, surgery or stroke, a physiatrist can support the rehabilitation process. By developing customized rehabilitation plans and supervising patients throughout the process, they'll be able to accelerate recovery.


The Role of Physiatrists in Enhancing Facility Operations

As an active member of the interdisciplinary team, their expertise will enhance the facility's operations. They achieve this through:

  • Optimizing length of stay: A physiatrist carefully monitors and optimizes patient outcomes to determine if any adjustments need to be made to the treatment plan. With a focus on overall function, their scope addresses the full medical complexity of the patient. This can be invaluable in situations where a peer-to-peer review or insurance appeal is needed.
  • Efficient resource utilization: More and more patients are expected to receive care in SNFs. Through their work, they are able to maximize facility resources through coordinated care with other health care providers. By reducing unnecessary transfers through bedside procedures like joint/trigger point injections, physiatrists are able to utilize resources efficiently.


Medrina Can Elevate Your Center's Patient Care and Operational Efficiency With Experienced Physiatrists 

Physiatrists can contribute a great deal of value to SNFs. Through holistic patient care, multidisciplinary collaboration and minimizing hospital readmission, your facility will experience a more tailored and patient-centered approach. You'll be able to use time and resources more wisely while reducing readmissions to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.

At Medrina, we proudly serve as the country's largest physiatry provider. We provide comprehensive physiatry solutions for SNFs looking to improve patient care and financial performance. We are doctor-owned and operated and strive to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Within post-acute rehabilitation settings, our collaborative approach ensures that physiatrists are connected to SNFs who then work with other physicians and medical professionals to provide patient-forward treatment plans.

Because every center is unique and has different goals, we'll tailor our services to meet your needs. Our partnership helps address challenges and drives advances in post-acute care.

If you're interested in learning more about how Medrina can elevate your facility's patient care and operational efficiency with experienced physiatrists, we invite you to reach out today.

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