Last month, a therapist called the MetroHSN office and asked why she was “required to submit to these silly drug screens every single year”. This wasn’t the first therapist to express their frustration with the MetroHSN drug screening policy. The reasoning for our policy is very simple and straightforward, but perhaps we haven’t communicated it to our contract therapists in a clear and concise manner…and no, the answer isn’t that the office staff likes to run you around and take up your already scarce free time.Yearly screenings are for protection – yours as a therapist, MetroHSN’s as a contract service, the client agency’s for liability and vetting purposes and, most importantly, that of the patients and clients, who should always be our ultimate concern.
Your protection as a therapist is tops on our list of priorities. MetroHSN asks you to carry liability and auto insurance to protect your livelihood and your ability to travel. While a drug screen cannot provide you insurance, it can help provide you with assurance. Should one of your patients lose or misplace his prescription medication, you have the assurance that we have thoroughly checked out your background and have a clean drug screen on file for you. That isn’t to say that you can’t contract through MetroHSN if you screen positive for one of the prescription drugs on our list (of which there are many), but we do require that our contract physician review any positive results and consult you about any positive findings. MetroHSN does not require anything from the physician other than a “go” or “no go”.
If a therapist screens positive for illegal substances or does not have a prescription for a drug for which he or she has screened positive, MetroHSN cannot take on the potential liability of having said therapist contract through our service, nor can we reasonably expect the client sites to take on that liability themselves. Client sites that hire their own therapists usually conduct a drug screen upon hire, and as-needed thereafter; these drug screens cover the clients’ own particular regulatory obligations. However, the purpose of supplemental staffing for most clients varies and can be sporadic. Sometimes a client will need supplemental therapy staff for a day, a week, a month, or a year and then not again for a very long time. Clients need their regulatory and human resource requirements to be met no matter how long the gap between assignments. The client sites usually cannot, or will not, accept drug screens that are more than a year old. In many cases, the need is immediate and the client cannot wait 24 to 72 hours for a therapist to have a specimen collected and screened. Therefore, having a drug screen run on each therapist at least once a year helps MetroHSN provide relief/supplemental therapy staff to clients as quickly as possible.
Patients and families should be concerned first and foremost with actual therapy sessions and completing any independent exercises for the patient’s continued health and improvement. Clear-headed and competent professional care should be a given for patients and families. Annual drug screens are another way to give the people who matter most the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are being cared for by therapy professionals who are not working under the influence of illegal or recreational drugs.
In short, illegal substance abuse becomes a liability for the therapy professional, for MetroHSN, for any client, and ultimately for the patients who trust therapy professionals to help them. Annual drug screens give a measure of assurance for therapists by establishing a record of negative screens, which also provide vital pieces of vetting requirements for client site usage. In addition, patients and their families can be at ease regarding therapy professional drug use. While the drug screen takes a little bit of time out of a therapist’s busy schedule to complete, the benefits of having that clean screen on file far outweigh the temporary inconvenience.
May 30, 2012 – Autumn Kerrigan, Director of Support Services
I’ve had a few weeks to now reflect upon another one of the great Missouri state association conferences – MSHA. The 2012 MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention was once again a hit. Over 1000 attendees, great speakers, and a wonderful variety of vendors from Missouri and Nationally.
So let’s get right to it…what do I and so many other professionals find unique about the MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention?
First off, in comparison to the Missouri Occupational Therapy Association and Missouri Physical Therapy Association Annual Conferences, the MSHA is the giant of them all. Over 1000 attendees – from seasoned speech language pathologists, to new grads, to current students. All wanting to learn, network, and contribute to their profession. It’s something that you absolutely feel in the air at the MSHA Conference. Which may be why I thoroughly enjoy my conversations with speech therapists…these professionals are vibrant, flexible, and very down to earth. Much like you and me! :)
Secondly, the variety of vendors are pretty amazing. Sure, there are therapist employers, such as Metropolitan Health Staffing Network, but there are also book vendors (something very cool since I have 3 little boys at home), jewelry vendors, handbag vendors, app vendors, and more. Start up companies. Seasoned companies. Companies from Missouri. And National Companies. This makes for quite the dynamic environment in the exhibition hall…you’re bound to find something or someone that you like!
I spoke with one particular vendor, whom I consider friends in the business. The conversation brought out a wonderful idea (not mine, I’ll admit) of combining the MSHA, MOTA, and MPTA annual conferences. Not each and every year, but what about once every 2-3 years? Think about the attendance boost, the greater number of vendors, the higher quality of speakers, and the collaboration that it could bring. Why not do this? More therapy settings are increasingly emphasizing communication and collaboration across disciplines – PT, OT, SLP, nursing, and more. This would be a perfect setting to enhance and emphasize that concept and more. It just makes sense, and yes, I’m sure there is a way for MOTA, MPTA, and MSHA to share the profits. So get going and make this happen people! ;)
Next, I noticed something this year at the 2012 MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention that I hadn’t noticed the previous year that really got me excited. (We’ve only exhibited in 2011 and 2012). It’s something that I have noticed in general about speech therapists, and I mentioned above that SLPs are for the most part flexible and vibrant. (No offense, but much more so than PTs and OTs) We’ll, this year, I noticed that more SLPs are open to any of the following: picking up PRN work in a setting other than their “specialty”, SLPs near retirement looking to stay active in their retirement years, students not committing 100% to either a school or medical setting, and more SLPs that either have their own business or those that are piecing together the equivalent of full time work with a few part time or PRN opportunities. The humble nature of their flexibility and enthusiasm in being able to work in many settings is energizing. And quite refreshing to see.
Lastly, a couple of things to note. I eluded to this above, but I witnessed fewer students that were adamant about working in either a medical setting or a school setting. A big shift from the previous year. Another interest worthy of mentioning was Vital Stim. There was a bit more “buzz” about this treatment option this year – especially from the younger generations. More SLPs desire to become Vital Stim certified, but have not yet for several reasons. And deservingly so, but not because of their fault or lack of desire. See why here…
So there you have it! The 2012 MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention was a fun, informative, and exciting time. It was our second consecutive year as part of the event, and we are already seeing trends changing in the field.
Hats off to MSHA for a job well done once again!
Were you at MSHA this year? What are your thoughts on the conference and the observations I listed above? It’s OK to agree, and disagree – so please, leave your opinion. ;)
Every company is constantly trying to improve…and we’re no exception, as we’re always looking to better the services we provide in staffing temp PTs, OTs, SLPs, PTAs, and COTAs. That’s not news. But something occurred to me the other day that I’d consider a no-brainer. Perhaps I missed it earlier because I’m so intertwined in the daily tasks of our company, but to just about everybody else, it’s a no-brainer.
The source of my great revelation was centered on our timesheets. We don’t have anything that explains their use and benefits to the rehabilitation facilities we service. That’s it…pretty simple. I’ve previously outlined our timesheets from the therapist perspective, but not for facilities.
The purpose of this post is to explain how our therapist’s timesheets work and to demonstrate how this benefits the facilities we service. So let’s get right to it. ;)
How do our timesheets work?
Quite simply, like many others, our hourly timesheets require the therapist to record their start and stop time, date, facility, mileage, and drive time – all the basics.
We also utilize a timesheet geared specifically for the home health setting. Most of these opportunities are paid per visit instead of hourly and are a bit more detailed, including everything previously mentioned, but also types of submitted documentation and visit.
Both formats are simple, one page timesheets that are completed weekly by therapists working with us, and they are due to our office each Monday by noon so that we can begin the internal process of invoicing the facilities and paying the therapists.
How does this benefit the facilities?
On the surface, it may look like an extra piece of paper for a facility to process. A headache, if you will. However, once explained, facilities often agree on the benefits of this simple sheet of paper. Here’s how…
Each therapist must sign and date their timesheet, which again, is nothing groundbreaking. Then, the therapists submit their timesheet, along with all the necessary patient documentation, to the facility. Not exactly rocket science, but why? Here comes the cool part.
We also require the facility to sign and date the timesheet as well. This does several things:
1) It allows the facility the opportunity to ensure they have all of the documentation for the hours/visits completed by the therapist.
2) It allows the facility to verify that the hours/visits completed by the therapist are accurate and are 100% complete.
3) It allows the facility to contact us with any questions and concerns before they’re invoiced or the therapist is paid.
This is a very good system of checks and balances and probably one that is far better, simpler, and more cost effective than that of our government. It’s probably less corrupt,too. ;) But let’s not get into politics. If we don’t have a timesheet signed by both the therapist and the facility, we start tracking it down to see what documentation is missing. It’s often hung up somewhere…the therapist had not submitted, or the facility is still processing. Easy to resolve.
We won’t pay our therapists without a timesheet signed by both the therapist and the facility. Why? Because those hours/visits have not been verified by the facility. So simple, yet so beneficial for the facilities.
Once facilities understand the simple checks and balances process of our timesheets, they often agree what a benefit it really is.
Do you agree? What system do you use to ensure your employees and contract staff are reporting accurate hours/visits and completing all necessary documentation?
It was 2004, and I was loving my work as an athletic trainer in Northwest Tennessee industrial clinic. To say we were busy would be an understatement as fifteen patients in an eight-plus hour day was the norm for each of us on staff. I was the constant face of the clinic, but it also included a full time PT, PTA, and OTR. We were young, energetic professionals, and humping it to take care of the injured workers! :)
Our timesheets were due weekly – on a Tuesday if I remember correctly. One day it hit me…I hadn’t turned in a timesheet for a couple of weeks. Had I gotten too busy to remember it? I panicked, because as with many young professionals, my wife and I were living paycheck to paycheck. This certainly presented more than a couple problems, to say the least.
My initial frightened reaction was to call my boss…and to say the least, she had my back. This kind soul had submitted my hours for me – she knew I had been working like crazy, and didn’t even have an ounce of doubt about it. So she just submitted my 40 hours for me. God bless you Tammy! ;)
Moving forward to present day, I make sure our therapists’ timesheets are submitted each Monday by noon, or they don’t get paid in a timely manner for their work. Submitting timesheets past the Monday noon deadline could result in at least one week’s delay of receiving their paycheck.
Notice I said “make sure”…and not “responsible for turning in therapist timesheets.” There’s a difference, albeit subtle, but I find myself explaining this concept time and time again. So, here are some recommendations to ensure this process goes smoothly, and our therapists get paid timely.
- Therapist should submit their timesheet to the facility or home health agency along with patient documentation.We process timesheets on a weekly basis, so this should be completed as soon as possible after the last day of service provided for the week. This is often accomplished via fax or in person. If your last day is on a Wednesday, submit your timesheet that Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest.
- If the timesheet is submitted via fax, the therapist should contact the facility or agency to confirm receipt of their timesheet and documentation, and ask them to fax to our office ASAP. Our timesheet requires approval (signature) by the facility or home health agency for the therapist to be paid. This system of checks and balances ensures the accuracy of the hours or visits completed. This is often where the process gets delayed – possibly a fax that didn’t go through or was misplaced.
- The facility or agency will review, sign, and fax the therapist timesheet to our corporate office. The timesheets received by Monday morning are crosschecked with our scheduler to ensure we have received everyone’s timesheets for the previous week of scheduled hours and visits. For those timesheets not in, we make the appropriate contacts to ensure their receipt. An assertive therapist should contact our office by Monday at noon to confirm the receipt of their signed and approved timesheet.
So there you have it. ;) As I’ve said with other things, it’s not rocket science. But sometimes technology does fail and delay the process. Ultimately, as contract therapists, it is the therapist’s responsibility to submit their timesheets in a timely manner. We’ll fax those as needed for the approval and signature of the facility or home health agency, but that delays the process and risks a delayed paycheck.
If you’re a contract therapist, how do you handle your timesheets to ensure you get paid for your services? Or if you’re an employer that utilizes independent contract therapists, how do you verify accuracy of hours and consequently pay them?
Email etiquette: Does it apply in the fields of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy Staffing?
I can’t believe I’m writing about this, but it’s something I’m reminded of daily…several times a day…so I’ve got to do it, even if it’s just to clear my own thoughts.
I’m not a philosopher, I’m not a coach, and I’m not a self-proclaimed expert on the use of email for business. But I have put a lot of time and effort into improving the use of business e-mail over the last two years. Utilizing e-mail successfully is an essential element of business, and it’s easy to tell the people that put effort into their electronic communication from those that just slap the keys and hit send.
I choose to write about this because my e-mail inbox is littered with shabby, thoughtless emails, and while this is in no way meant to criticize, I want to raise awareness on the topic. We all make mistakes and have accidentally hit the send button too early, but when done repeatedly, these aren’t mistakes. They are called habits. Bad habits.
As you read this, ask yourself these three questions:
1) Do I do that?
2) How can I compose better emails?
3) How will the e-mail be received on the other end of the send button?
Here are some examples:
1) An email with text only in the subject line. Really? Are you that busy, or do you really only care about yourself and not the person on the other end of the send button? Being busy is an excuse. Everyone has a lot to do in their daily grind of work.
2) Not including a thank you or salutation at the end of your message. Some people use their email signature to do this automatically. You’re supposed to have a relationship with the person on the other end – or striving to develop one, so automation of this is both impersonal and corporate, and clearly misses the mark.
3) Using all caps to make a point. In case you haven’t studied this subject matter, use of all caps indicates you are shouting. I don’t like to be screamed at. If you want to make a point, try these instead:
- Bold the text.
- Make this the only subject of your email (don’t discuss anything else).
- Repeat the text, repeat the text, repeat the text.
- Have a visual to go along with it (best practice).
4) A reply with only one word in the body. Luckily, it’s been a while since I’ve received one of these, which was an absolute favorite of a former boss of mine. Do you know the message you’re sending with these one-word replies??? I’m too busy for you…I don’t care about you…You’re bothering me. Even when your one-word reply is approval, it still carries a very negative impression. If you care about the recipient, don’t do this. Period.
5) No compliments necessary. Really? You don’t need to compliment someone? Even in email? Try starting your email by simply asking how the recipient is doing or about their family. Compliments breed positive two-way relationships. I, personally, love it when someone asks about my wife and our three boys – it always causes me to light up, and I really want to thank the person on the other end by helping them. Try it!
Believe me, when it comes to e-mail communication, I’m far from perfect. I’ve been guilty of all of these at some point, but I strive to eliminate these mistakes as much as possible. True, some times I am in a hurry to send something and I don’t include a salutation or my name at the bottom, but when I do, it just doesn’t feel right. And I’m working to eliminate those mistakes. ;)
So there you go. This list of five is not all-inclusive. But I hope it makes you think the next time you hit that send button. What are your email pet peeves?
I was a bit naïve, and thought I knew all the reasons a facility could use PRN Physical, Occupational, or Speech Therapy help. Well, I was recently humbled and introduced to yet another reason. ;)
Now, you may be blessed with a large staff of therapists – so much so that caseloads on sick days and vacations can be absorbed by the group as a whole. If so, congratulations! But what about those facilities that aren’t blessed with numerous therapists on staff? If you’re a one-PT rehab facility, you could certainly use the help.
This is especially the case with a scenario I was recently presented. The rehab facility in question had one part-time PT, and another PRN PT. This arrangement was more than sufficient, but it wasn’t without a curveball. The facility was switching over to an electronic form of time clocks called Kronos. I’m somewhat familiar with Kronos from an employee standpoint as my former employer implemented this during my tenure…and I’ll just say that it had its advantages and disadvantages. It seems logical for a healthcare facility to progress to an electronic time clock system; after all, everything else in healthcare is going electronic.
However, there was a potential disadvantage in this particular scenario. Each employee must have their own Kronos user ID to log in to the system in order to clock in and out, which of course, isn’t free. I browsed the Kronos website, and couldn’t find pricing, but this particular facility was going to have to spend $200 on each employee annually in order to have them in the Kronos system. Ouch!
This begs the question from the facility rehab manager: Do we use our PRN staff enough to justify paying $200 annually for them to be in our Kronos time clock system?
Good question…and one I cannot answer. Only the facility can. And at best, it may be an educated guess and not a black and white answer.
But…would it be more economical for the facility to utilize contract therapists instead of their own employed PRN therapists? Maybe so, maybe not. And that answer may differ from year to year.
There are potentially more hidden savings with using contract therapists instead of PRN employed therapists.
1. Reduced HR hours to maintain personnel compliance.
2. Contract therapists may not have to attend mandatory HR training, which is usually a paid training, at least to some degree.
3. HR doesn’t have to pay for TB tests, background checks, drug screens, and more for contract therapists. These are all the responsibility of the therapist.
One last thing to ponder for this particular facility is the idea of contract therapists. If therapists are now required to be their own independent contractor, many are not used to this fact. Or maybe more accurate, the vast majority are not used to this fact. As such, the therapists will not want to pay for and keep current their TB test, background checks, drug screen, professional liability insurance, and other requirements that fall upon an independent contractor’s shoulders.
But there’s good news! MHSN can take care of these staffing headaches. A facility is able to choose from a pool of contract therapists for help as needed, and therapists within our network don’t have to worry about the responsibilities mentioned above; we do that for them.
So there you have it. I don’t know every reason for a facility to use contract therapist staffing…and I’m sure more reasons will continue to surface. ;) In the meantime, do you Kronos?
What are your thoughts? Do you utilize electronic time clocks, and has it affected your PRN staffing of therapists? If you are a therapist on PRN staff somewhere, would you become an independent contractor if that facility asked you to?
You’ve no doubt heard me reference the importance of relationships at some point. This is such a hot topic for me, I frequently suggest friending someone on Facebook with whom you do business. Yes, it’s that important! This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking strategy, but let me digress.
You can go back over 25 years with the Metro family of businesses, and at the core of every service provided are relationships. Our business has evolved to its current state primarily through word of mouth referrals, which obviously don’t come without valuable relationships. In fact, our president, who personally staffs temporary pharmacists in Missouri and Illinois, knows his Registered Pharmacists so well that he rarely needs a file to help him know which one is best for our opportunities. Pretty cool, huh?
It’s the same story within the Therapy Staffing branch of MHSN where relationships are emphasized to such detail that we strive to meet everyone face-to-face. Yep, that’s right – face-to-face…no matter their location. Sadly, this is crazily uncommon these days! :)
Even with all the shiny gadgets and new social media platforms emerging daily, the face-to-face meeting still holds great value. It’s seemingly a lost art in today’s hectic, mile-a-minute society – and one that I’d like to say we have nearly perfected. And clearly, the face-to-face meeting is valuable for everyone involved. Take this recent example:
As I’m regularly out and about, meeting with therapists and facilities, I often drop by unfamiliar facilities in an effort to form new relationships. I recently dropped by a skilled nursing facility in Sikeston, MO. Yes, Sikeston MO – I bet no one else in our field has stopped by there. ;) This single face-to-face encounter has the potential to be very beneficial in many degrees.
- The rehab manager, a speech therapist, is local. Future friendship?
- The speech therapist expressed interest in PRN work with MHSN and while this wasn’t the purpose of the visit, it sometimes happens.
- The facility has contract or PRN therapist staffing needs, especially in rural areas such as Sikeston. Future agreement?
- Motivation. Yes, motivation for myself. The positive experiences of this one drop-by can open doors for more relationships. More relationships = more positive experiences.
- Success. This motivation tends to snowball with other activities and relationships, which leads to future success. And when we’re successful, it means more therapists are helping local facilities in need of PRN help. Your success is our success.
It’s easy to see why we value relationships. Sure, we’re advocates of connecting via social media and other more cutting edge avenues, but there simply is no substitute for a good, old fashioned face-to-face meeting. The benefits for everyone involved are exponential.
What are your thoughts? Do you still appreciate the face to face meeting? Or do you prefer relationships that exist solely online? Does a face-to-face meeting fit within your business model? Be truthful to yourself and others – does your individual or company philosophy devalue individual relationships?
I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts entitled “A Quick Start Guide to becoming a 1099 PT, OT, or SLP” that I would share a spreadsheet to help keep your documents organized. As promised, here is that spreadsheet! ;)
Organization is crucial in your quest to becoming a contract therapist. Working for yourself means that it’s imperative for you to have any and all documents ready at a moment’s notice because you’ll frequently find yourself in a new setting or location with a totally different set of HR requirements.
Once you have all of your documents compiled, simply keep a hard copy on hand. If you spend a fair amount of time travelling locally for work, it’s a good idea to keep one with you at all times. This makes it simple to drop by the local Staples to send off your information by fax…or better yet, keep these files electronically, and you can quickly email them off to take advantage of that killer new opportunity on short notice.
Some of these documents will need to be kept current annually or biannually, which is as simple as setting a reminder on your smartphone to take care of these before they expire.
So what documents do you need? Check out our Quick Start Guide for details on these, but here is the spreadsheet that we use in the Metropolitan Health Staffing Network office to keep these documents organized on each and every Physical, Occupational, or Speech Therapist that works with us. It’s actually a modified version, but the meat and potatoes of it are still there. ;) Just email me at email@example.com, and I’ll shoot you the form right back…promise! :)
Contract Therapists, what do you use to keep yourselves organized that differs from this? Everyone would like to know, so please share!
I had several meetings last month in the St. Louis, MO area. An equal amount of these were with therapists we work with and facilities we assist – in this particular case, home health agencies. There were some really good meetings with some great people, but it didn’t occur to me until further reflection that what we offer truly is different.
I’ve heard it a million times myself – as I’m sure you have as well…everyone thinks they’re different. I always thought it was pure bologna – no one is that different. Well, we are different…bear with me for a moment and I bet you’ll agree.
First off, let’s talk therapists. Therapists that work with us earn their money (a higher, but reasonable wage) on their watch. Simply put, they are their own boss. This no-pressure concept may be hard to grasp, but you really do only work when you want to. And if you can’t work at any given point, no big deal. We still care about you and will always treasure our relationship with you. Crazy isn’t it? ;)
Therapists will never find us calling them telling them where they will be later that day; nor will we assign someone to a facility without allowing them to have input into the decision. Treating people like that is just ridiculous and leads to unhappy therapists, which we all can agree affects the quality of the service they provide. I can’t promise staffing cancellations won’t occasionally happen, but because of our staffing format, it is a rarity, and certainly doesn’t occur at the last minute. Therapists always are provided with a healthy dose of information about an assignment prior to accepting or declining the opportunity. And once it is accepted, it’s almost always followed by an orientation – either by the facility themselves, or us. Pretty cool, huh?
Now, let’s talk facilities. There are two things to consider here: documentation and scheduling. Let’s get the easy one out of the way first…scheduling. Facilities are often shocked when they realize there is no minimum required number of hours when they request one of our therapists. It can be a full day, a half day, a few hours, or a couple visits. It is completely according to the facility’s need and the therapist’s availability. With the flexibility of our gracious therapists, everyone remains happy. :)
Now… about documentation – uggh! Just uttering the word is like running your fingernails down a chalkboard. So how is this a positive? First off, we don’t have our own documentation forms – we comply and utilize whatever forms the facility is currently using. This keeps consistency of care and documentation at an unprecedented high. Secondly, our therapists submit documentation directly to the facility as if they were employed directly by the facility. With this, there are no delays in submitting the documentation to us, having us review it, and then submit it to the facility. This format fosters a greater sense of control for facilities regarding quality, functional documentation. This all plays a huge role in reimbursement for services… a definite positive for the bottom line of the facility.
So there you have it. I told you we are different and I stand by it. And if that doesn’t convince you, just check out this therapist video testimonial.
What are your thoughts? We realize that everyone has different needs, so how is your employer different for you? For employers, how are you different for your therapists? In other words, what attracts therapists to you?