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How long do you really have for IRF-PAI 2017?

Written by: Dennis Stevenson Jr., MBA on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 Posted in: Acute Care Rehab, Inpatient Rehab, IRF-PAI 2017

You know about the IRF-PAI 2017. You know you have to do something in preparation. You know it’s coming this fall. That’s months away, you tell yourself. There’s plenty of time to get ready. Or maybe not. If you stop to think in detail about what is involved in the process, you will likely feel some clarity and urgency about the need for action now.

You need to be ready early. Yes, the effective date is October 1, 2016. But that’s really the latest possible date that you could begin to comply. Most organizations recognize that waiting until the very last moment to try to make the change is a recipe for disaster. New content, new reporting, and new data requirements–along with an inflexible compliance date–do not make for a smooth or error-free transition.

The requirement is that any patient discharged on or after October 1, 2016 must be assessed using the new IRF-PAI. When will those patients be admitted? A significant percentage of the data that needs to be collected on those patients must be collected at admission–before the effects of therapy change the patient’s performance levels! Once past, it will be nearly impossible to go back and reconstruct the data that should have been documented at the outset of the episode.

What is your average length of stay? How long do some of your more acute patients stay? Subtract that amount of time from October 1 to figure out when you need to be ready.

You need to understand the requirements now. Unlike prior years, there are complex relationships among the data that has to be collected. There are rules that make the data valid or invalid. So before you can even start making changes, you need to make sure that someone in your organization understands what the requirements really demand of you. Being ready with the wrong requirements is the same as not being ready at all.

CMS published documents on its IRF-PAI website that describe the requirements. This is a good starting point to begin to learn what is required and what you will need to satisfy. You might also check out the IRF-PAI training website for more information about the new requirements.

If you’ve been thinking that you have four months before this becomes a real issue, you might want to think again. Given the two factors above, the time you really have could easily be cut in half–down to a real change timeline of two months.

The implication is clear: In order to be ready and avert chaos in your IRF, you should begin immediately.