"Physical therapy is not a subspecialty of the medical profession and physical therapists are not medical doctors; we are a separate profession that provides a unique service that physicians are unable and untrained to provide."

Letter to the AMA from the APTA, Dec 2009

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Developing Outpatient Therapy Alternatives

I just participated in an open-door session with the company that contracts with Medicare to develop a new way to pay physical therapists.

The firm, RTI International, has developed a web page called Developing Outpatient Therapy Alternatives that will have resources for clinicians to study an anticipation of the new measurement instruments.

On August 13th, the podcast of today's free, two-hour open door session will become available and I will post of provide a link here.

The new payment system is designed to prevent a re-occurrence of the Congressional/Executive S.N.A.F.U. on July 1 that I blogged about here, here and here.

Bottom line, the new payment system is seeking a way to 'risk adjust' patients so that Medicare can pay $50 for a simple ankle sprain and $2000 fro a complicated rotator cuff rehab. These numbers are make-believe but they make the point.

Consider for example two patients - each has the diagnosis 724.4 (Lower Back Pain). All Medicare has now is data from the claim form: that is the diagnosis 724.4 and the billed charge.

By the way, 724.4 is not a physical therapy diagnosis, it's just a CPT code that conveys little actual information.

Medicare would like information that helps them do the following:
  1. Anticipate cost
  2. Know how bad the patient is
  3. Know how long the patient will be seen
  4. Know how much better the patient will get
The new measurement instrument would most likely be a paper or web-based questionnaire that the patient and the clinician fill out together and update regularly, possibly as part of the Medicare Progress Note (every 30 calendar days or 10 treatment session - whichever is less).

Free Tutorial

Get free stuff at BulletproofPT.com

Tim Richardson, PT owns a private practice at Medical Arts Rehabilitation, Inc in Palmetto, Florida. The clinic website is at MedicalArtsRehab.com.

Bulletproof Expert Systems: Clinical Decision Support for Physical Therapists in the Outpatient Setting is a manager's workbook with stories, checklists, charts, graphs, tables, and templates describing how you can use paper-based or computerized tools to improve your clinic's Medicare compliance, process adherence and patient outcomes.

Tim has implemented a computerized Clinical Decision Support (CDS) system in his clinic since 2006 that serves as a Reminder, Alerting, Prompting and Predicting CDS using evidence-based tests and measures.

Tim can be reached at
TimRichPT@BulletproofPT.com .

"Make Decisions like Doctors"

Copyright 2007-2010 by Tim Richardson, PT.
No reproduction without authorization.

Share PTD with your Peers!

American Physical Therapy Association

American Physical Therapy Association
Consistent with the American Physical Therapy Association Vision Statement for Physical Therapy 2020, the American Physical Therapy Association supports exclusive physical therapist ownership and operation of physical therapy services.