Examining Practice Patterns

Health care managers may find the COPM useful as a way of collecting data for a number of administrative purposes. For example, the COPM has been used to structure databases tracking occupational therapy practice patterns and referral profiles. Several government departments use the COPM to keep utilization and practice statistics on a system-wide level.

It is also possible to use the COPM as the basis for individual therapist performance evaluations. By pulling, at random, several charts and examining the problems addressed and the outcomes achieved over a particular time frame, it is possible to give an individual therapist feedback and supervision about his or her performance relative to peers in the department and relative to expectations by practice leaders. By extension, this same approach can be applied to departmental audits, where the overall performance of an occupational therapy department can be tracked and evaluated using COPM problems and scores. A department might ask questions like:

  • What kinds of problems are we addressing in occupational therapy?
  • How do lengths of stay vary according to the problems addressed?
  • How successful are we at achieving changes in performance and satisfaction overall?
  • What occupational performance areas or problems do we typically treat?
  • What kind of balance of effort is expended on self-care problems versus productivity or leisure problems?
  • Is this ratio appropriate to our client mix and clinical circumstances?

Some of these questions could be answered routinely if the department used the COPM to maintain workload statistics. Instead of simply tracking direct and indirect patient contact, by using the COPM to keep workload information, it would be possible for a manager to produce regular reports that give both management and staff more occupationally relevant information about the activities and successes of the occupational therapy services.

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