When senior-focused health care facility administrators want to expand their inpatient Medicare populations, they may want to consider taking the plunge into aquatics. Revenue generation is a critical component when it comes to growing a skilled nursing center—without growth, it will be very difficult to survive in this competitive environment.

When our leaders at Westview Health Care Center took a comprehensive, holistic look at how we could attract additional Medicare inpatient and potential outpatient eligible recipients, we became certain that adding aquatic therapy to our amenities would accomplish these goals. That hypothesis has come to fruition, thanks to some serious and careful planning.

Why Aquatics Is Attractive To Medicare Populations

A world-class therapy pool can be used to attract new patients thanks to the positive effects that are regularly seen from the consistent use of aquatics as a complement to more traditional land-based therapies and exercise protocols.  Some driving forces of aquatics can help bring seniors in the doors because:

·         Few places offer the public the chance to utilize an advanced therapy pool in many markets.  While aquatics in a crowded, cold-water public pool may be commonplace, having the choice of using a warm-water therapy pool with all the bells and whistles, such as an underwater treadmill floor or resistance jets, is not.  This sense of exclusivity is highly attractive to people looking for innovative ways to live longer, healthier lives without the need for increased dosages of prescription medications, assisted living devices, and surgical interventions. When what you’re offering isn’t typical, you can be the first in the market to establish a program, and that sense of partnering with a leader fosters loyalty.

·         Aquatics is a reliable tool for helping Medicare patients stay fit longer, recover from surgeries better, and improve balance and gait after incidents such as a stroke or a fall.  Aquatic therapy is a reinvestment in a population that is dealing with the natural process of aging. From a financial perspective, Medicare will cover aquatic therapy in many cases because of its acceptability. When we opened our nursing home in the 1950s, we couldn’t have imagined putting an aquatic therapy pool in our facility. But now, it just seems common sense, when you consider the number of individuals that can benefit from it.

·         Doctors who know the benefits of aquatics will refer their Medicare patients to a facility with a warm-water therapy pool. Certainly, not all physicians are familiar with aquatic therapy, but more and more are opening up to this option for the people they serve. When their patients return to them with positive feedback, the doctors are even more comfortable becoming referrers. It’s a cycle that keeps repeating, and it results in increasing revenue streams.

Aquatic Therapy:A Creative Solution To An Ongoing Need

Let’s face it—many of us will require a skilled nursing facility, if we’re fortunate enough to live that long. We won’t want to feel tied down and trapped by our bodies. Aquatic therapy and exercise is a refreshing, appealing, fall-proof way to safely combat the problems that come with aging.

The health care environment, whether you’re talking about reimbursement, regulations, expectations of patients or expectations of our communities, is changing rapidly. The pressure rests with the providers to meet expectations and regulations with dwindling revenue sources. Aquatic therapy can work as a viable solution to avoid closing down, having to merge with another entity, or being bought out, when you consider it with an open mind and strategic planning. If we’re not smarter, quicker, and creative, we won’t be in the game. 

The good news is that there are always answers. We just have to be bold enough to search for them.

David Pantelakos is administrator for Westview Health Care Center in Dayville, CT (http://www.westviewhcc.com/). He can be reached at dpanteleakos@snet.net and (860) 774-8574.