Intermountain Shifting to Outpatient Rehab Services

March 29, 2024
Utah-based health system said it is now charging about 30 percent less for outpatient rehab services, compared to the hospital-based system

Intermountain Health is restructuring its hospital-based outpatient rehabilitation services in Utah, moving to a clinic model that the health system said would result in lower costs and allow for more telehealth visits for patients.

This shift comes as Intermountain Health continues to expand its value-based care model. 

With the change, Intermountain said it is now charging about 30 percent less for outpatient rehab services, compared to the hospital-based system. These services include physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help patients recovering from injury, managing pain, or following surgery.

The health system’s rehab services leaders say the move is a step in the right direction for improving access for patients.

“There was a time when most services were at a hospital but we’re seeing a transition away from hospital-based care, and frankly, for certain services to stay affordable they’re going to have to move to an outpatient model,” said Bob McCall, vice president of rehab services at Intermountain Health, in a statement. “Once you see the benefit to patient access and affordability it really is a no-brainer to do it this way.”

With the services now under a clinic license, there is greater flexibility around the use of telehealth, allowing caregivers and patients easier access to virtual appointments and recovery, Intermountain said.

“Both patients and caregivers saw the benefits of telehealth visits during the pandemic, but once rules allowing it expired there was a grey area whether hospitals could still use telehealth,” said Joey Kamerath, M.D., M.B.A., senior medical director for rehabilitation, in a statement. “By restructuring our model we can ensure we can use telehealth when needed and expand access to communities who have been underserved in the past.”

Kamerath added that in-person rehab appointments are vital for ensuring success, so patients won’t only be using virtual visits. Combining in-person and virtual visits gives flexibility to patients who may benefit from having the option to receive therapy from home.

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