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Productivity - What Does That Even Mean?!?!

As a student, you may or may not have heard about productivity. When it comes to travel therapy, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with productivity and what that means. Yes, your recruiter should be able to explain this to you, however, they are likely not clinicians, so you should understand this for yourself prior to accepting a travel assignment.

What is one big piece of information we want to know as travelers prior to allowing a recruiter to submit our profile for consideration for an assignment? PAY!!! Yes… how much will be paid for this particular assignment? The recruitment company is serving as the middle man. We (the therapists) are a product. At the other end of the line, the client is asking the recruitment company what we’ll be able to produce. After all, they are paying a premium for our services. If they are going to be paying top-dollar, there are going to be expectations with regards to production.

Productivity = the effectiveness of productive effort especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. In other words,

PRODUCTIVITY = VOLUME. This will look different in different settings. The productivity expectations may or may not be listed in the job order. It is your job to ask these questions during the interview process so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to accept the position if offered.

Let’s narrow it down by setting!

Skilled Nursing Facility

The skilled nursing facility (SNF) setting tends to be the most stringent in terms of productivity... Not all SNFs have a set minimum productivity, but most do. Many SNF job orders, will contain information regarding productivity. In the SNF setting, productivity is measured as a percentage. This is the percentage of time that is billable time. Therefore, if a SNF requires 90% productivity that means that to meet that productivity requirement, the therapist must be billing 54 minutes of every hour.

On an interview, you’ll want to ask about…

- Ramp-up time to meet productivity expectation

- How are non-billable duties such as co-signing assistants notes and performing functional screenings (which are not billable) handled

- What procedures are set in place to help make the set productivity attainable? Are patients brought down in a timely fashion by transport? Standing outside the room for 5 minutes while a patient receives medication from a nurse is not billable time. Walking to a patient’s room to get them for therapy is not billable time. See where I’m going with this?

Based off of the information you receive during the interview, does the productivity expectation seem realistic and achievable? Make sure to communicate with your recruiter about any hesitations or barriers. They may be able to help you!

Outpatient Clinic

Productivity in the outpatient setting will vary. Typically productivity is looked at in terms of patients per hour or units billed per day. It is not mentioned as often as the SNF setting is.

What you’ll want to ask about…

- How many patients per hour? Per day? Per week?

- How many new evaluations per day? How long do I have for new patient evaluations?

- Do you double-book? If you double-book Medicare patients, do you use the group billing codes?

- How long is each follow-up session scheduled for?

As a generality, outpatient clinics in bigger cities tend to have higher volume than those in more suburban or rural areas. Hospital-based outpatient clinics also tend to have less volume requirements than private-practice outpatient clinics. If high volume is a concern and you want outpatient, look rural!

Acute Care

Productivity in acute care is often looked at based on patients treated per day. You should have some idea of how many patients the facility wants you seeing each day. Some facilities will base productivity goals off of units (i.e. productivity goal of 13 units for evaluating PTs and 15 units for assistants). Other hospitals have points systems in which you receive more point for an evaluation than you do a follow-up visit. In this case, the productivity goal would be based off of a set level of points.

Home Health

Home health typically measures productivity in terms of a points system. In this system, start of cares are worth the most points because they are the most time consuming. Evaluations are worth more points than follow-up sessions for the same reasons. If the home health agency utilizes a points system, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of that during the interview. Sometimes a home health agency won’t use a points system and they’

ll just have an expectation of number of visits per day or week. You’ll want to ask…

- How many start of cares each day/week?

- How many new evaluations each day/week?

- How many follow-up sessions each day/week?

- Do I keep my own patients or hand them off to an assistant after I evaluate them?

- What is the radius that I’ll be covering? The larger the radius, the less patients you should be expected to see.


In the school setting, productivity is typically measured by caseload. You’ll want to ask how many students will be on your caseload. There’s a large difference between 25 students and 50 students. How often are you expected to see each student? How much time is spent with each student? Is it individual time or group sessions? How many schools will you have to cover to meet this caseload expectation? For additional resources, please check my Facebook group! (SORRY TRAVELERS ONLY - NO RECRUITERS OR COMPANY REPRESENTATIVES)

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