Post Acute Operations Specialist PAOS

Post Acute Operations Specialist (PAOS) – Jodie Norwood

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Save 40% on Unlimited Medbridge CEUs with promo code TNCPT!
Save 40% on Unlimited Medbridge CEUs with promo code TNCPT!

This week, we’re doing a double feature on Jodie Norwood and Larissa Pauly! They work together at Signify Health. Jodie is a Post Acute Operations Specialist (PAOS) and Larissa supports her as a Special Teams Episode Manager (STEM). Learn more in Jodie’s spotlight, then have a look at Larissa’s spotlight, too!

The views expressed on this spotlight are that of the spotlight participant, Jodie Norwood, MPT, and do not reflect the views of her employer.

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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?

Jodie Norwood, MPT
Post Acute Operations Specialist for Signify Health

Signify Health Logo - Jodie works as a Post Acute Operations Specialist (PAOS) here!

Where are you located?

Winter Springs, FL (Orlando)

Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?

Saint Louis University, 2001

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

When I first finished school, I worked at an acute care hospital (now AdventHealth) in Winter Park for 10 years. I also did some moonlighting at a home health agency (with permission, of course), doing four visits per week.

In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?

I worked in acute care, of course, as well as IRF, SNF, and home health (I eventually did full-time home health).

In acute care and IRF, I did a LOT of wound care, ICU, spine/orthopedic care, cardiopulmonary, and post-gastric bypass care. In the SNF setting, I saw amputees, more traumatic ortho cases with the geriatric population, and neurological cases (CVAs).

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

I enjoyed learning about EVERYTHING. The physicians in the acute setting were always willing to entertain my questions about disease processes, lab results, and pharmaceuticals. (I am still friends with many of them!)

I also felt like the jack of all trades, but master of none. That was a good thing, but I never ended up having a coveted specialty like some of my other colleagues. My home life as a single mom limited my time to grow in my professional life.

What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?

On top of being a treating clinician, I have also been a Care Transitions Coordinator for a home health company for two years. That role truly prepared me for my current position.

When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?

I started looking for a non-clinical PT job when I was working in the SNF.

At that point, I had been treating for 16-17 years. I was tired of the monotony of daily therapy evaluations and treatments. Sometimes, I felt like I cared more about my patients than they cared about themselves.

Mentally, it was becoming more difficult to be the “cheerleader” for my patients. Also, I started to wonder if I was injured doing such a physical job, would I be able to work until I was 65 or 70?

I felt this was a good time to start looking at non-clinical work. About a year after my search, I met my husband, who is a non-clinical nurse. He helped support and motivate me the rest of the way!

What are you doing these days?

I am a Post-Acute Operations Specialist for Signify Health. In that role, I follow BPCI-A patients in various post-acute settings (mainly SNF) for certain hospital systems who participate in the bundle program. We are also able to pull the metrics for the entire hospital system: the SNFs, HHAs, IRFs, LTACHs, hospice and so on. I primarily look at the readmissions data and length of stay data for SNFs, and readmissions and timely initiation of care for Home Healths. If the data at any one site looks like it has opportunities for improvement, I will schedule a meeting with the stakeholders in that SNF or HHA and present the data, get buy-in, do a gap analysis and support with them with ways to improve processes.

Per the hospital’s request, I give quarterly presentations on the collective data for SNFs and HHAs and post-acute steering committee meetings for the hospital system for which I am responsible. I like to cover various best practice topics during these meetings in regards to readmission prevention or appropriate next site of care placement for patients. To prepare for these meetings, I do deep dives on the data I pull and put together some awesome PowerPoint presentations!

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Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

Solely non-clinical.

How long have you been in your current role?

18 months.

How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?

I got this job on a prayer. I had a recruiter/talent acquisition specialist message me through LinkedIn, had a phone call where he explained the job, and then he set up the interviews from there.

The company has evolved since January of 2020, so it doesn’t necessarily work that way any longer. I have tried to be a good connection for anyone searching for a non-clinical position to pay it forward.

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

The majority of clinicians I have worked with were very supportive and have asked me to help them get a non-clinical job, too!

I have only had one negative comment from a friend who mentioned, “Oh, so nobody in your house is using your clinical skills.” (My husband is a nurse educator for HillRom/ WelchAllyn (non-clinical).

I took that with a grain of salt. 🙂 We are happy, and that’s all that matters!

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you as a Post Acute Operations Specialist?

Besides managing three kids at home, I typically start checking emails at 8 am, then have several meetings a day starting around 9 am.

In between meetings, I have various tasks to do:

  • Pulling data
  • Creating slide decks
  • Learning new workflows that have been established
  • Meetings with facilities to discuss patients in their care (I usually work with 70-80 patients per week)
  • Traveling to SNF sites for meetings approximately 3 days a week (when COVID is a non-issue)

What are some of the rewards of being a PAOS? What are the biggest challenges?

The rewards of my role are helping to educate and drive value-based care, so the patients can ultimately benefit from better care.

The biggest challenge would be getting buy-in from the SNFs and HHAs. Implementing change within the post-acute realm has been especially difficult during COVID. The facilities struggle with census at times, and that translates to longer length of stay (LOS) at times.

We are always trying to find a balance between saving Medicare dollars and the facilities being able to keep their doors open. It’s a catch 22. We are also aware that the facilities are busy, and finding the time to make the changes that we suggest in their workflows is a challenge. At Signify, we do whatever we can to help support the SNFs and Home Health Agencies.

How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?

As a physical therapist treating for 18 years in various settings, my background helped me to have a better understanding of patient functional reports and progress.

When a facility paints a picture of what a patient can do, I also use my “case management” skills to help arrange a safe discharge to the next site of care.

Also, my knowledge of disease processes and medications has helped in managing the patients I follow.

Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?

Some days my hours are longer; some days my hours are shorter and sometimes things are less stressful…LOL!

The pay is about the same as when I worked in home health (as a treating therapist).

What type of person do you think would do well as a Post Acute Operations Specialist?

Someone who is good at establishing relationships, has good computer skills, is not afraid to give presentations, and is task oriented.

Do you work remotely or onsite?

I do both; it is somewhat of a hybrid position.

The listing for this job states “remote” because our office is our home.

We are expected to go out in the field to SNFs, to HHA offices and to meet with the hospital post-acute team when they request a meeting or a presentation.

Since COVID, we have been in our homes working virtually. We just started going back out to visit with facilities again last month.

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?

Yes! Signify Health does hire PTs, OTs, and SLPs for non-clinical roles. Some of the titles include:

  • Client Clinical Executive
  • Acute Optimization Specialist
  • Executive Operations Lead
  • Post-Acute Optimization Specialist

Did you read any books, take any courses, get certified, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

No, I did not.

What is a typical career path for someone in your role?

The next role would be Executive Operations Lead, or I could switch gears to a Client Clinical Executive role.

To prepare for the Client Clinical Executive role, Signify Health provides training in a Clinical Certification Course. You have to be selected to do this course.

What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?

For now, I am content becoming a champion in my current position and learning everything about being the best at what I do.

The next step up would basically be managing a group of Acute Optimization Specialists and Post-Acute Optimization Specialists who cover 1-2 states.

I have also thought about the Clinical Certification Course to put me on the path of becoming a Client Clinical Executive.

With either of those positions, I would have to travel, which is difficult since my husband is already traveling 3 days a week.

What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?

The one career move I regret NOT making would be that I did not join the armed forces after I graduated PT school. I would have had my school loans paid for, I could have traveled around the world and would have been able to serve my country.

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