The field of speech pathology grew in the 1920s as clinicians began to work with soldiers, returning home from World War II, suffering from brain injuries. Since then, speech and language pathologists (SLPs) have helped countless individuals as experts in the field of communication, swallowing disorders, and cognitive impairments in a variety of settings.
As we celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month, we recognize SLPs and acknowledge their immense influence in improving the quality of our residents’ lives and being key members within our interdisciplinary teams (IDT).
With the introduction of the patient driven payment model (PDPM) in recent years, SLPs are now more than ever actively engaged with the IDT to ensure the MDS accurately portrays the residents’ clinical characteristics and skilled need. Since SLPs are qualified leaders in the areas of cognitive-linguistic impairments and dysphagia, including them in conversations as the MDS coordinator completes sections C, K, and I, can improve the accuracy of these assessment areas, as accuracy of the MDS remains a critical component of the PDPM and ensures resources are available for each resident’s unique needs. By working with the nursing team, SLPs also provide a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care that is focused on patient outcomes, ensuring both quality of life and quality of care expectations are exceeded.
Recently, as a result of SNFs receiving an unintended increase in payments, CMS has expressed its intention of recalibrating the PDPM “as quickly as possible,” in an attempt to restore it to the original budget-neutral goal. As CMS continues to monitor PDPM and its effects on payments, the IDT will need to ensure accurate and thorough medical documentation is present within the patients’ charts. Due to a sharp change in utilization for speech resources, CMS will be reviewing cases to ensure that speech services were directly linked to a doctor’s order, such as for patients with swallowing issues who require a modified diet.
This month we pause to thank our SLPs and their dedication. Since the inception of the field of speech and language pathology, SLPs continue to rise to the challenge daily. Staying abreast of the latest advances in their field including regulatory changes and requirements, they continue to advocate for the necessity of speech language pathology interventions for the safety and well-being of individuals. SLPs remain a valuable asset to the IDT as a facility leader in dysphagia management, communication and cognitive interventions, and patient and caregiver education.
This time last year, increased reports of scams and phishing attempts referencing COVID-19 captured our attention causing us to be vigilant to protect our businesses and patient information.
Fast forwarding to this year, many states have begun to lift COVID-19 restrictions, but the bad actor’s scams and phishing attempts have not let up. They continue their tactics to entice us through scams and/or phishing attempts.
Many times these attacks appear as innocent emails seeking assistance or providing information regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Bad actors are taking advantage of this crisis to prosper or do damage. Their criminal actions are becoming increasingly sophisticated and look very official, as if coming from government agencies and health organizations.
Today and always, let us remember, it is critical to continue vigilance with all email correspondence and access to websites, but particularly those referencing COVID-19 updates, maps, donations, notifications etc.
To avoid becoming a victim, follow the guidelines below:
- Never click on links or open attachments within unexpected emails.
- If you receive a suspicious email appearing to come from a legitimate organization such as CDC, WHO, FEMA etc., confirm its legitimacy. Make sure links direct you to the official site by hovering over the link. Report suspicious email to your company’s Information Security Department.
- If you visit a website or receive a pop-up window directing you to a phone number for support desk assistance, DO NOT call the number, instead contact your company’s Information Security Department.
- Never share your password with anyone.
Continued trends noted to date include:
- Malicious websites – sites referencing coronavirus or COVID-19 in the URL. Thousands of new websites have recently been registered to distribute malware when the user accesses the site.
- Spam – emails trying to grab your attention to sell information or goods now in high demand such as masks, hand sanitizers, COVID-19 drugs, etc.
- Phishing – emails posing to be from legitimate organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), etc. These emails contain malicious links, and some are collecting personal information.
- Fake charities – emails and websites asking for donations for studies, healthcare professionals, victims, or other activities related to COVID-19.
- Fake internal HR or IT communications such as coronavirus surveys pretending to be from your company’s HR or IT department – these sites are attempting to obtain your User ID and password or other personal information.
- Fake notification of infection – beware of emails reporting you have been exposed to an infected individual, particularly ones asking for personal information to proceed.
Always Think Before You Click.