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Increase Medicare Revenue with Aquatic Therapy

Increase Medicare Revenue with Aquatic Therapy

Senior-focused health care centers such as skilled nursing centers must continue to grow and expand their revenue in this increasingly competitive market. When looking for ways to attract additional inpatient and outpatient Medicare populations, Westview Health Care Center looked at aquatic therapy as a way to positively impact their brand image and revenue.

Aquatic Exercise

How Aquatic Therapy Is Beneficial For Medicare Patients

Warm water therapy is rare in many markets. 

While aquatic therapy is offered in many places, it is often in a colder water, public swimming pool with lower water temperature. Offering a warm-water therapy pool with advanced technology makes the facility very attractive to those looking for top-notch services that offer innovative ways to stay healthier longer.

Aquatic therapy benefits a multitude of conditions. 

It is a great modality for active aging, recovery from surgery and gait and balance improvement. Westview considers it a “reinvestment in a population that is dealing with the natural process of aging.”

Doctors begin to refer patients. 

Once doctors begin to the see the positive effects that aquatic therapy is having on their patients, they become a valuable referral source. As the cycle of positive feedback and increased referrals continues, revenue continues to grow.

As bundled care continues to change the healthcare environment with changing reimbursement, regulations and patient expectations, aquatic therapy can provide a solution to improve outcomes, increase revenue and exceed patients’ goals.

Tips for Implementing Health & Wellness Programs in Your Clinic

With a bit of research and creative programming, there are many things you can do to keep clients healthy and happy and returning to your facility.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Survey the Audience. Find out what aspects of a health and wellness plan that your patients would find the most value in. Survey patients to find out what health and wellness concerns they have. Combined with your knowledge of patient health histories, build the wellness program from resources you have at your disposal. Place a modern twist to the program to boost popularity.
  • Assemble a Team. A good starting place for a successful wellness program is to establish a team to oversee the development and implementation. Use existing employees or hire a wellness director to champion the new offerings. Make sure the goals and objectives of each team member align to improve the program.
  • Set Goals. Success is based on customizing programs to your specific population’s needs and interests. Determine the goal of the program with these needs and your financial goals in mind. Identify how many participants you would need at what fee in order to see a return on the program.
  • Create Manageable Steps and Achievable Timelines. A timeline that is either too short or too long can either stall participation or create undue stress. Be cautious when putting together timelines. Give yourself time to ramp up and then weigh the positives and negatives for the future.
  • Marketing the Program. It is very important to market the wellness program to make clients and your local community aware that the program exists and to motivate them to take advantage of it. The planning process itself can be a powerful marketing tool. Launch the program on all social media networks, create tangible copies of flyers to hand out or mail to the community and utilize the resources in your backyard to advertise by partnering together.

When implementing a wellness program, The National Wellness Institute devised three questions that can help assess the degree to which wellness is incorporated into the particular program:

  • Does this help people achieve their full potential?
  • Does this recognize and address the whole person (multi-dimensional approach)?
  • Does this affirm and mobilize peoples’ positive qualities and strengths?

Who Can Benefit From Aquatic Therapy?

An aquatic wellness program can be used to help a variety of individuals reach their goals, whether they are to run a marathon, or simply to feel more independent while performing activities of daily living. Here are a few types of individuals that can benefit from aquatic exercise:

  • Overweight individuals who find it painful to exercise on land
  • Deconditioned individuals who want to be healthier and improve their cardiovascular conditioning
  • Individuals prehabbing or rehabbing from a hip or knee replacement
  • Individuals suffering with chronic pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or arthritis
  • Individuals with limited mobility such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke
  • Elite athletes or weekend warriors looking to recover or supplement land mileage

Woman With Weights

What Makes Water Helpful?

Water’s natural properties create an ideal environment for wellness and fitness. The following properties of water are extremely helpful:

  • Warm water provides a relaxing and soothing environment for aching joints and muscles. For many individuals, fitness goals feel unattainable due to pain.
  • Water’s natural viscosity or resistance can be used for muscle strengthening and increasing the difficulty of a workout.
  • Buoyancy allows for flotation and reduces the effects of gravity on injured or aching joints and muscles. For individuals that have an injury or are overweight, the unweighting offers relief and an opportunity to do more than they are able to on land.
  • Hydrostatic pressure supports and stabilizes the client, allowing people with balance deficits to perform exercises without a fear of falling, decreasing pain and improving cardiovascular return.
  • The respiratory muscles are forced to work harder in the water, allowing for a natural strengthening that benefits the client long after the therapy session has ended.

The Secrets To A Thriving Aquatic Therapy Practice

  • You should go beyond the standard definition of “team.” For most people, the team would consist of the people who are directly involved in aquatic therapy. What they might not recognize is that many other individuals are contributors; therefore, their buy-in must be garnered. Who were Howells’ team members? His administrators, the outgoing rehab director, his therapy staff, his front-office staff, marketing personnel and other hospital directors from various departments. By including everyone at the outset, it’s much easier to get support later.
  • It’s critical to do your market research. Look at your surroundings to determine if aquatic therapy could benefit your clients.For Via Christi Health, the market research was obvious. In a 55,000-person community with a surrounding population of 50,000 and a thriving college and military base, no other aquatic therapy facility was available for 45 miles.
  • Knowing the numbers is essential. Howells doesn’t mean just the numbers involved in the purchase and installation of an advanced aquatic therapy product. He means evaluating the reimbursement rates and seeing how quickly aquatic therapy could pay for itself based on how many more clients could potentially be seen in a day.
  • Marketing takes place on big and small levels. From a bigger standpoint, Howells’ marketing team took out a large ad in the nearby Kansas State University football season program to announce its aquatic therapy offerings. This caused an instant stir and drove consumers to ask their referring physicians to consider aquatic therapy as part of physical therapy. Smaller marketing efforts proved to be just as successful. Howells actively marketed to family practices, orthopedists, pediatricians, neurologists and other physician groups. He also reached out to support groups for Parkinson’s and seniors, as well as the Chamber of Commerce. At Via Christi Health, Howells worked together with the weight-loss clinic, pain management doctors, the diabetes clinic and their in-patient rehabilitation team. His comprehensive efforts drove word-of-mouth marketing to the point that they no longer feel the need to engage in larger marketing efforts.
  • Training a team is crucial. Turning physical therapy professionals and support staff into aquatic champions doesn’t happen on its own. It requires training sessions on everything from water safety testing to patient documentation and regulations. Even the front office should be trained in the right way to answer questions about the new offering; this benefits the consumer as well as the aquatic therapy program.
  • It’s wise to expect the unexpected. When Howells’ aquatic therapy program opened for business, they had a surprising four patients on their first day. From that point, they steadily climbed in numbers, hitting more than 5,400 units of aquatic therapy by year five. This allowed them to pay off their investment faster than they thought, as well as serve populations they never considered. They’ve seen patients with TBI, MS, tumor removals, Down syndrome, spinal muscle atrophy, DJD, Freidreich’s Ataxia and conversion disorder.
Plunge Pool


“Wellness is so much more than moving your muscles, eating veggies and doing yoga! It’s the inter connection of body, mind and spirit! The warm pool temperature provides the participant with comfort, buoyancy and ease of movement. Which in turn decreases the stress on the participant, so physically and emotionally people are more open to wellness suggestions and lifestyle changes! After a few weeks of water exercise people leave the program with a positive outlook, increased abilities and feeling good about themselves and their bodies!” – Barb Cacia, BE Ed. Wellness Coordinator at Pieters Family Life Center.

“Aquatic therapy and exercise is a refreshing, appealing, fall-proof way to safely combat the problems that come with aging.” – David Panteleakos

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For more information about how to increase medicare revenue with aquatic therapy or to request a free info kit, contact us today!


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