Research Article  |   March 2019
Policy and Payment Changes Create New Opportunities for Occupational Therapy in Acute Care
Author Affiliations
  • Kevin T. Pritchard, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapy Resource Coordinator; Department of Rehabilitation Services, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL; kpritcha@nm.org
  • Gail Fisher, PhD, OTR/L/, FAOTA, is Clinical Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Kay McGee Rudnitsky, MS, OTR/L, CLT, is Assistant Director of Inpatient Therapy Services, University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, Chicago.
  • Ricardo D. Ramirez, BA, is Master of Science Student, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Article Information
Advocacy / Health and Wellness / Education of OTs and OTAs / Professional Issues / Health Policy Perspectives
Research Article   |   March 2019
Policy and Payment Changes Create New Opportunities for Occupational Therapy in Acute Care
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 03 2019, Vol. 73, 7302109010p1-7302109010p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2018.732002
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 03 2019, Vol. 73, 7302109010p1-7302109010p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2018.732002
Abstract

Importance: Changes in health care policy and payment over the past decade have resulted in a greater emphasis on cost effectiveness, quality outcomes, and the health care consumer’s experience. Payers’ response to the new policies and their expectations have created expanded opportunities for occupational therapy practitioners in health care overall but particularly in acute care hospitals.

Objective: The objective of this article is to empower occupational therapy directors, practitioners, educators, and students to be proactive in a rapidly changing acute care setting.

Evidence Review: Research on policy and payment changes since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Pub. L. 111-148) was synthesized with evidence related to occupational therapy practice and education.

Findings: Occupational therapy practitioners in acute care environments are experiencing expanded roles in optimizing patient readiness for safe community discharge, decreasing lengths of stay, and protecting them from hospital-acquired conditions.

Conclusions and Relevance: Policy and payment initiatives reward health care organizations for the added value occupational therapy practitioners bring to acute care teams.

What This Article Adds: This article details how occupational therapy practitioners can advance consumer satisfaction, outcomes, and efficiency in acute care, which can lead to increased recognition of the vital role that occupational therapy can play, thus leading to expanded opportunities.