OTs Find Niche Consulting to Assisted-Living Facilities
(Source: Creative Commons)
Cindy Mehallow | Monster Contributing Writer
On the West Coast, Mary Foto, OT, FAOTA, CCM, a former assisted-living facilities consultant, has carved out a thriving consulting practice. Through The Foto Group, she and others consult with Blue Cross of California, providing catastrophic case management, policy development, utilization review and retrospective medical reviews. She also provides individual rehabilitation services through her San Bernardino, California-based company, Rehabilitation Technology Works.
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Lisa Fagan, a licensed registered OT (OTR/L) and licensed assisted-living facility administrator, consults with facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on quality-of-care issues, regulation compliance, program development, environmental modifications and staff training.
OT Consulting Success Factors
Based on their experiences, these established consultants identify factors for consulting success:
• A Track Record: Consulting is not for recent grads or beginners, emphasizes Foto. Richman concurs. “Consulting calls for a very thorough knowledge of geriatrics, especially dementia, and an advanced level of skills gained through direct therapy work and continuing education,” she says.
• Business Skills: “Very few OTs are good businesspeople,” says Foto, a past president of the AOTA and a board member at the University of Southern California’s School of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. “They need practice-management skills. Many OTs may not fail as consultants, but they aren’t nearly as successful as they could be, because they don’t understand business issues.” The solution: Attend practice-management workshops at conferences and get sound legal and accounting help.
• Salesmanship: OT consultants must generate their own business by showing facilities how their services can benefit the bottom line. As part of that effort, they must communicate why an OT can do a better job than other potential providers, such as recreational therapists, exercise trainers and certified gerontologists. “You’ve got to make people realize they need you,” Richman says.
• Income: Building a business takes time, so have supplemental income sources until your consulting practice is established. While Medicare and private insurance reimburse for direct rehab services, OT consulting fees are generally borne by the facilities.
• Visibility: “Becoming active with the Assisted Living Federation of America and speaking at industry conferences and meetings has helped build my credibility,” Fagan says.