Swallowing is a complex process that involves over twenty-five muscles all working together to move food from the mouth to the stomach. For many older adults, swallowing can become a challenge.

Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, can greatly impact our ability to enjoy meals and stay properly hydrated. If you find eating or drinking feels hard, experience symptoms such as coughing, choking, or feeling of food being stuck – you might be dealing with dysphagia.

Here are some common signs that may indicate you have a swallowing problem:
• Frequent coughing or choking while eating or drinking
• A feeling of food or liquid getting stuck in your throat or chest
• Pain or discomfort in your throat or chest when swallowing
• Unintentional weight loss or dehydration
• Recurrent respiratory infections or chest congestion


How Can Speech Therapy Help?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) are uniquely qualified to help people who are experiencing problems with eating and drinking. During treatment, a SLP may recommend swallowing exercises along with other strategies to help manage dysphagia. If you or a loved one experience difficulty swallowing, talk to your doctor about Speech Therapy. Early identification and treatment of swallowing problems can help prevent complications and improve your quality of life.

As we get older, our bones can weaken, which might cause osteoporosis—a condition where bones become fragile and break easily. However, osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of aging. By learning more about it and taking action early, you can significantly reduce your risk of osteoporosis and keep your bones strong and healthy.

Did you know?
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease” because it progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs.


Prevention Tips:

Preventing osteoporosis is crucial because it is easier to maintain bone density than to rebuild it once it’s lost.

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D from food or supplements.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, and strength training to strengthen bones.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Prevent falls by keeping your home safe, improving balance, and wearing proper shoes.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about bone density testing and, if necessary, medications to help prevent or treat osteoporosis.


How Therapy Can Help
Physical and occupational therapy can help individuals improve their bone health by focusing on improving bone strength, reducing the risk of falls and fractures, enhancing functional abilities and promoting safety and independence.

Now available! New Provider Data Catalog makes it easier to search and download publicly reported data. Also, Medicare’s Compare sites have been improved.

Notice of Upcoming SNF QRP Measure Removals – January 2024

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is alerting Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) providers of upcoming measure removals from the SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP). The following quality measures are planned for removal from the iQIES Review and Correct Reports, Facility-Level Quality Measure (QM) Reports, and Resident-Level QM Reports in January 2024:

  • Application of Percent of Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Patients with an Admission and Discharge Functional Assessment and a Care Plan That Addresses Function
  • Application of IRF Functional Outcome Measure: Change in Self-Care Score for Medical Rehabilitation Patients
  • Application of IRF Functional Outcome Measure: Change in Mobility Score for Medical Rehabilitation Patients

Once removed from reports, users will no longer have access to any data or measure results for these measures.

Click here to read more.

The Opportunity:  Medicaid is a major source of funding for many nursing homes. CMI analysis is crucial for understanding how the acuity and needs of a beneficiary affects reimbursement. A higher CMI directly correlates with increased Medicaid payments which covers the cost of patient care.

Changes on the Horizon: States have an additional two years after October 1, 2023, to implement PDPM methodology. This implies that Medicaid will no longer recognize RUG-III or RUG-IV for federal assessments after PDPM adoption.

Here is what we know so far:

  • Effective July 1, 2024, Kentucky will implement PDPM methodology for Medicaid.
    • Rates effective 1/1/2024 are calculated using RUGs. Rates effective 4/1/2024 will be frozen at the prior quarter’s rates (those effective 1/1/2024). Beginning 7/1/2024, rates will be calculated using PDPM. Rebasing provider rates is also being considered. Additional calculation details to be released.
  • Ohio will continue to determine direct care rates using RUG-IV for this biennium.
    • Effective 10/1/2023, RUGs case mix scores could only be calculated from the Optional State Assessments (OSA). After 10/1/2023, providers were allowed to freeze their case mix for the biennium, thereby eliminated the need for OSAs.
    • No additional information is available for Indiana or Michigan at this time.

Current Methodology:  By benchmarking facility data compared to state and national averages and breaking down report components, we as a team can better assess how we measure up in terms of resident acuity and case-mix. This information guides quality improvement initiatives in a targeted manner.

Scope Out Your Competition Get Your Bragging Data Gain Insight on Your Hospitals & Physicians

HTS offers valuable market insight reporting that delivers an important 360-degree view of competitive data for our post-acute care providers. Our valued customers gain access to the most up-to-date healthcare market data needed to up their strategic game to increase admissions and strengthen referral relationships. Data is derived from CMS and updated quarterly with the most recent Medicare claims data.

Data Points include:

  • Top Referring Hospitals & Physicians
  • Market Share by County
  • Inpatient Claims Data – Medicare FFS & Advantage
  • Hospital Admissions & Utilization Trends
  • Hospital Discharges to SNF Detail
  • Readmission Rate: 30 Day FFS & MA
  • Competitor Insights & Benchmarking
  • Total Patient Cost Following SNF

What Can You Do with this Data?

The opportunities are vast! Our Market Insight data allows you to put numbers behind your census efforts and quantify your goals based on current and potential market share. Additionally, you can compare your metrics against your competition and find new potential referring partners. Maximizing this data invites strategic conversations and future growth plans to further strengthen your network and relationships.

Your back plays a big role in your overall well-being. By protecting it, you can sleep better, feel happier, and maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle. A healthy back means you can do the things you enjoy, like going for walks, gardening, or playing with grandkids.

Regular, low-impact exercises play a crucial role in maintaining the strength and flexibility of your back muscles. Activities like walking, swimming, and tai chi are excellent choices for promoting spinal health without putting excessive strain on your back. Engaging in these exercises helps support your core muscles and keeps your spine well-aligned.

Consistent good posture is key to preventing back pain. Whether sitting, standing, or walking, be mindful of your posture. Keep your shoulders back, head aligned with the spine, and distribute body weight evenly. Avoid slouching or hunching over, especially during prolonged periods of sitting. These adjustments can significantly reduce the risk of developing back pain.

Use proper lifting techniques to protect your back from unnecessary strain and potential injuries. When lifting objects, bend your knees and keep the object close to your body. Avoid twisting your back while lifting, and if an object is heavy or awkward, ask for assistance. Being mindful of how you lift and carry things can go a long way in preventing back pain.


How Therapy Can Help

If back pain is impacting your quality of life, talk with your doctor about physical therapy. A physical therapist will assess the underlying cause of your back pain and guide you through exercises to strengthen the muscles around your spine, improve flexibility, and promote proper body mechanics. They may also use various techniques to alleviate pain such as massage, joint mobilization, heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.

As individuals age, they may encounter challenges in performing daily activities such as getting dressed, taking a bath, or navigating their homes. Assistive tools are designed to make life easier!

Occupational Therapists specialize in assisting older adults to participate in activities and maintain independence and safety. If you experience trouble with completing everyday tasks, talk with your doctor about the potential benefits of physical and occupational therapy.

Pictured: Michaela Sims, Cassie Murray, Sheena Mattingly.

Michaela Sims, one of the top lobbyists in Washington D.C., has developed and implemented successful strategies for nearly twenty years of advocacy in the healthcare industry. Michaela is known for her ability to use plain language when explaining complicated regulatory matters.

HTS leadership had the privilege of attending ADVION’s Annual Conference on October 1 which was a dynamic and insightful experience. ADVION (formerly NASL) is a national organization specializing in legislative and regulatory matters affecting the long-term and post-acute care setting, including rehabilitation therapy. It’s such an energizing experience to be a part of such a powerful group of game-changing leaders in our industry.

The conference was an immersive experience featuring a wide range of seminars and keynote presentations. These sessions covered an extensive array of topics from cutting-edge research in our industry to leadership strategies, and the intersection of technology and long-term care. One of the highlights was a thought-provoking panel discussion with renowned experts on demonstrating the value of effective rehabilitation approaches.

Cassie Murray and Sheena Mattingly also had the opportunity to share feedback with Net Health on functionality. Collaborative discussion is a vital step in ensuring that the software aligns with the needs of both clinicians and healthcare providers which is instrumental in refining the tools and technology that support the critical work of therapists and therapy assistants. Through communication of HTS experience and insight into Net Health’s documentation system, we hope to continue to advocate for improved product offerings. By sharing our thoughts and suggestions, we contribute to the development of more efficient and user-friendly documentation systems. This helps clinicians streamline administrative tasks, allowing them to focus more on what matters most – patient care.

Long-Term Care Facility Self-Reported Incidents

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires long-term care facilities to self-report incidents occurring in their facilities to the Office of Inspector General. For your convenience, fillable forms are available to promote continuity and consistency.

Two new Facility-Reported Incident forms have been released and are now posted HERE.

Please use the new forms effective immediately. Remember, if there is insufficient space to complete an answer, additional pages may be attached.

Questions may be directed to your respective OIG Division of Health Care Branch Office.

Rehabilitation is an important and critical part of the recovery process.  The goal of rehabilitation is to help an individual heal and achieve the highest level of independence possible. Physical Therapists (PT), Occupational Therapists (OT), and Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) all work together to help individuals overcome obstacles and accomplish normal tasks of daily living.


Physical Therapy

Physical Therapists help those recovering after an illness, injury, surgery, or chronic condition. Physical Therapists can help speed up the recovery process by increasing strength and endurance, improving balance and coordination, and reducing pain.


Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists help individuals to safely do the things they need and want to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). The goal of Occupational Therapy is to help individuals participate in meaningful activities, promote safety, and enhance quality of life.


Speech Therapy

Speech-Language Pathology (Speech Therapy) involves the evaluation and treatment of adults experiencing trouble with speech, language, cognitive function, and swallowing disorders.


When Can Therapy Help?

  • Joint Replacements
  • Post-Orthopedic Surgeries
  • Balance & Gait Training
  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • CVA (Stroke)
  • Lymphedema
  • Cardiac Conditions
  • Pain Management
  • Back & Neck Pain
  • Parkinson’s
  • Neurological Conditions
  • Swallowing Disorders
  • Generalized Weakness, Decrease in Strength

Most people will require at least one rehabilitation service at some point in their lives, making it important to know the role and benefits of therapy. After therapy, many patients find a renewed sense of confidence and discover that daily tasks are easier and safer to complete. If you or a loved one could benefit from physical, occupational, or speech therapy, speak to your doctor today about treatment options.