"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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is there a physician shortage in America?

Uwe Reinhardt is an economics professor at Princeton and former keynote speaker at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Annual Conference sometime back in the 1990's.

Professor Reinhardt pokes holes in the "doom-and-gloom" scenario of a pending physician shortage in America and I agree.

I wrote about this fallacy on November 28th, 2011 in Can Physical Therapists Replace Physicians as Primary Care Providers in Hospitals?


I believe economic necessity will intervene as public policymakers and private payers join forces to push physical therapists into direct access roles for musculoskeletal conditions.

The time is right now. According to Professor Reinhardt:
"...the suspected physician shortage now imputed by critics of the Affordable Care Act may actually drive our health system into more efficient medical practice.
Step No. 1 in that direction, of course, would be to lighten the enormous administrative load now heaped by our health insurance system onto physicians devoted to rendering patient care."
Delegating high-volume spinal pain, sports injuries and many chronic pain patients to physical therapists would relieve much of the physician workload and eliminate the physician shortage.

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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.