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Voices: Madhu Krish, Chief Operating Officer, Synchrony Rehab

This article is sponsored by Synchrony Health Services. In this Voices Interview, Senior Housing News sits down with Madhu Krish, Chief Operating Officer at SynchronyRehab, to talk about the false perception that all therapy providers are the same with respect to resident satisfaction and staffing. He breaks down the key factors that help therapy and wellness providers stand out from the rest, and he also discusses Synchrony’s approach to recruitment and retention, which fosters a higher level of support and commitment, better care services, and better clinical outcomes for patients and providers alike.

What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?

Throughout my 22 years of experience, I’ve embraced the concept of servant leadership within Synchrony Health Services. From our field-level managers to home office managers, this culture is ingrained in our organization. We strive to deliver efficient and effective health care services while exceeding customer and team member expectations. At Synchrony Health Services, we refer to our employees as team members because we truly work together as a cohesive team.

The health care industry is constantly evolving, and the recent pandemic has presented significant staffing challenges. I’ve learned the importance of embracing change enthusiastically and approaching problem-solving with creativity. Adapting and generating innovative ideas are essential for providing exceptional care to residents.

As a member of the board of directors with ADVION, a national organization representing post-acute care ancillary service providers, I advocate for high-quality and cost-effective care. This experience has further shaped my perspective.

Within the rehab therapy industry, I’ve developed a strong understanding of regulatory compliance, quality assurance, and collaboration with interdisciplinary teams, nursing, pharmacies, and vendors. These partnerships are vital to maintaining high standards.

Lastly, our focus on clinical outcomes has led us to establish exceptional clinical programs. Our outcomes consistently surpass the national average, thanks to comparison through our electronic health record.

How does Synchrony’s unique culture help to differentiate it in the post-acute market?

Our organization values the well-being of our team members, aiming to be recognized as one of the best workplaces in healthcare.. We also embrace the culture of servant leadership and consider all home office staff as support for our field employees, which then allows them to provide quality care for our customers.

Our structure and policies are built and improved upon based on employee and customer feedback. We hold quarterly town halls for open communication, measure employee satisfaction through the Great Places To Work survey, and offer unique benefits like tuition reimbursement, wage increases, and gas bonuses.

For our customers, we run the Celebrate Success program to celebrate resident progress. We also hold health-focused events for our customers, such as Senior Health and Wellness Day, and Falls Awareness Week.

For our employees, or TEAM member, we all host an ‘ER3’ program that focuses on recruitment, recognition, and retention and allows us to recognize special achievements. Our annual meetings center on leadership, culture development, and clinical improvements.

Additionally, we follow the 10-foot rule for positive interactions with individuals in our facilities. We encourage eye contact, smiling, and greeting others within 10 feet to ensure a welcoming environment.

What has Synchrony learned about its customers, and likewise, what has its customers learned about Synchrony?

In our customer meetings, which usually happen in person, we utilize a layered approach. Area managers visit customers once or twice a month, and VPs follow up every two to three months.

We actively listen to our customers and ask them to rate us on a 0-10 scale to gauge service quality and forge stronger bonds. We value their feedback and strive to meet their specific needs rather than imposing a blanket approach. Further, our collaborations involve carefully considering customers’ patient demographics before recommending clinical programs. Based on feedback, we either roll out existing programs or create new ones to meet their specific needs.

We believe in a team approach involving all the staff at a customer’s location, as we recognize that therapy alone is insufficient for residents’ well-being. When asked about our high employee retention rate, we credit our supportive culture and infrastructure. We also assist our customers in navigating frequent regulatory changes and keeping them updated. And finally, customers appreciate our use of innovative technologies, like Accelerated Care Plus and Virtu Balance, (should be VirtuBalance) to hasten residents’ improvement processes.

How does Synchrony provide tailored support and care across the continuum to deliver on its customers’ individual needs?

Our tailored approach involves biannual customer satisfaction surveys to gauge whether we’re meeting individual customer needs. Feedback informs adjustments to exceed their expectations. We conduct minimum quarterly sit-down meetings, involving both community, campus and senior leadership from the customer side, called Quarterly Business Reviews. Here, we review past actions, present situations and future goals. The focus is on listening to the customer, understanding their needs, and improving our services. We also engage in advocacy groups to stay ahead of industry trends.

Each customer has an Area Manager who oversees multiple campuses and continuum care settings. Some therapy staff follow residents throughout their care continuum, and we partner with home health agencies for follow-up care and offer wellness programs to maintain resident health post-discharge.

Recently, we’ve partnered with a customer to offer SNF at-home and hospital-at-home services, enabling residents to receive clinical care without relocation. Our training program for onsite managers, emphasizing therapy, leadership, and customer-specific service tailoring, significantly impacts this area.

Talk about Synergy Through Synchrony. How is Synchrony delivering better outcomes by looking at the resident more holistically, particularly through its partnership with pharmacy services?

It’s game-changing. By combining therapy, pharmacy, and lab services, we’re optimizing the synergy between therapists and pharmacists, enhancing their collective expertise for the safety of the patient.

Key programs that demonstrate this collaboration include The Medication Adherence Program (MAP), a self-administration initiative focused on empowering residents’ independence. By enabling residents to manage their own medications, this program not only improves their health but also eases the workload on staff, an advantage particularly evident during staffing shortages in the pandemic.

Screen Evaluate and Treat (SET) is another initiative aimed at reducing falls and educating residents and customers. With pharmacists playing a vital role in preventing future falls by collaborating with therapy, this program has successfully decreased the number of falls and major injuries across numerous campuses.

The Assess, Collaborate, and Treat (ACT) program also fosters active collaboration between the pharmacy team and rehabilitation personnel. Pharmacists review medications and suggest necessary adjustments to therapy plans. This interprofessional relationship, nurtured under the Synchrony umbrella, has enabled the creation of these impactful programs.

What types of innovations is Synchrony deploying in its therapy and wellness programs?

In the post-pandemic era, we’ve shifted our focus to wellness programming, offering 17 tailored programs to fit each campus population’s needs. These programs range from group activities to one-on-one sessions, decided upon after thorough assessment and feedback from residents and customers.

We utilize tools like Accelerated Care Plus (ACP) and VirtuBalance for balance assessment and fall prevention. We also use NeuroGym and VitalStim for speech-language pathology, Solo-Step in certain campuses, and It’s Never Too Late, a virtual reality program, given the growing familiarity of residents with such technology.

To keep customers informed, we’ve developed a customer dashboard, allowing them to monitor service provision and resident status anytime. This move has been widely appreciated by our customers.

Our programs continuously adapt to residents’ expectations, such as training them to use tablets and apps — something unimaginable a decade ago. Such advancements signify the evolving needs in the industry.

In a couple of words, finish this sentence: “In 2023, the senior living industry has been defined by…”

… wellness, integration, and coordination.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

No matter where a patient is in the healthcare continuum, Synchrony is right there with them. This means better care transitions, better communication within the interdisciplinary care team and between hand-offs, lower risk of medication errors, and faster turnaround on important lab results. Synchrony’s approach to integrated solutions means providing higher-quality care at a lower cost for post-acute providers. Click here to learn more.

The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact sales@agingmedia.com.

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