"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

Friday, January 6, 2012

Disruptive Innovation in Physical Therapy

Selena Horner noted in her Twitter stream: "Data doesn't create change... stories that evoke emotion create change..."

Collaborating Reduces Costs of Health Care is such a story.

The story appeared in the Money section of USA Today on January 6th, 2012. The article tells a story about an employee of Intel Corp. and its insurance company, Cigna of Oregon.

Peter Cady, who works 12-hour shifts on his feet at Intel's plant here, occasionally suffers severe lower back spasms. But he nearly gave up seeking medical help because in the weeks it took to get a doctor's appointment and a referral to physical therapy, the pain usually subsided.

These days, he's much happier with his care.

Rather than waiting to see a doctor, Cady and other patients with routine back pain now see a physical therapist within 48 hours of calling, compared with about 19 days previously, Intel says.

They complete their treatment in 21 days, compared with 52 days in the past.

The cost per patient has dropped 10% to 30% due to fewer unnecessary doctor visits and diagnostic imaging tests. And patients are more satisfied and return to work faster.
"It's a real bureaucracy buster that gets you right straight to someone who can take care of the problem," says Cady, 47.
"Before, the doctor wasn't helping me or explaining anything. But the physical therapist educated me, gave me stretches and exercises to do, and cleared it up."
Why is USA Today breaking this story?

Physical therapists are REPLACING physicians as the primary providers of musculoskeletal care. Physical therapists are stealing physicians' caseloads.

Why aren't the physical therapists involved in this pilot project speaking up, blogging, tweeting and shouting from the rooftops?

The Intel/Cigna model is much like the Starbucks/Virginia Mason model of distruptive innovation - market-based solutions, rather than government mandates, that lower the cost of healthcare to employers and patients.

Physical therapist employees will see more work by disrupting traditional physician caseloads - but what about physical therapist employers?

What about the private practice physical therapists who employ physical therapists?

Will we be disrupted, too?

I'd like someone to tell THAT story.

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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.

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 .

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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.