"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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Patient Self Diagnosis: Good or Bad for Physical Therapists?

Drugs used to treat common, high-volume conditions may become available over the internet and dispensed through your local pharmacy rather than in your doctor's office.
These conditions include:
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • migraine headaches
  • asthma
"We’re seeing the democratization of information that used to be narrowly held by doctors,”
said Joseph Smith, chief medical officer at the West Wireless Health Institute in La Jolla, California.

The Federal Register reported notice of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meetings Thursday and Friday, March 22 and 23, to get input on a proposal to allow consumers to purchase certain prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription.

Specific, enabling technology (as discussed on this blog) will allow consumers to self-diagnose more and more conditions in healthcare.
"FDA is aware that industry is developing new technologies that consumers could use to self-screen for a particular disease or condition and determine whether a particular medication is appropriate for them.  
For example, kiosks or other technological aids in pharmacies or on the Internet could lead consumers through an algorithm for a particular drug product.  
Such an algorithm could consist of a series of questions that help consumers properly self-diagnose certain medical conditions, or determine whether specific medication warnings contraindicate their use of a drug product."
The value of clinical prediction rules, or algorithms, are to make clinical decisions explicit and transparent. Transparent decision making, such as with clinical decision rules, is most useful for 3 stakeholders in healthcare:
  1. Students who need to quickly learn new diagnostic classifications of patients.
  2. Expert decision makers who need to quickly treat patients with unfamiliar or complex patient presentations.
  3. Payers, who need to quickly process claims so they know what they are paying for.
Ultimately, the trend in "patient centered care" will be to create clinical prediction rules that PATIENTS can use to select their care, or their caregiver.

Can anyone imagine that enabling technologies may help patients select physical therapy treatments?

To better understand the "democratization of information" in physical therapy and how you could be affected you should read my new book, Bulletproof Expert Systems: Clinical Decision Support for Physical Therapists in the Outpatient Setting

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.

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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.