"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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Will ACO Doctors Refer to Private Practice Physical Therapists?

I'm posting tonight from the First Annual Conference of the Florida Physical Therapists in Private Practice in Orlando, Florida where I just gave today's presentation called How Physical Therapists Can Thrive Under Health Care Reform.

The topic centered on Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and how physical therapists are well positioned within this changing paradigm to create HEALTH, not just health care.

Some hospitals and ACO administrators, however, just don't get it. They're worried about "leakage" to outpatient physical therapy clinics reducing volume and revenue to fee-for-service hospitals. It's like they think its 1995 again.

According to Kate Fitch, RN, MEd in The Nuts and Bolts of ACOs:
"ACO’s should focus initial medical management efforts on reducing leakage to hospitals and specialists that are not part of the ACO.

This will increase volume to ACO providers and help offset revenue loss due to improved utilization management."
Michael Magidson, Esq describes the "fundamental tension" in the ACO coordinated care model that may limit outside referrals to physical therapists in private practice by ACO administrators concerned about lost revenue and volume.

"Leakage" will concern ACOs who will attempt to limit the patients' choice of providers. Patient choice can be restricted by ACO doctors in two ways:
"You MUST go see the physical therapist I tell you to go to."

The ACO will fail to provide information that patients are free to see any physical therapist even if their doctor is in the ACO.

The Florida Physical Therapists in Private Practice (FLPTPP) is organized to advocate and network for physical therapists in Florida.

Criteria for joining the FLPTPP is at least 51% ownership of your physical therapy clinic and an active physical therapy license in the State of Florida.

Why should physical therapists join the FLPTPP? Knowledge sharing about ACOs and positioning ourselves for the future of health care. Physical therapist private practices will not go away but they will be transformed.

Do you know how ACOs will transform you?

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

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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.