ByJeff Verhoef, PT, MBA
It’s no secret that medical practice owners live busy lives. And so do patients.
When physical therapy is the best course of treatment for patients – whether prescribed after a surgery, as a conservative approach to help prevent the need for surgery or to help manage the pains associated with a chronic illness – that can often mean a suggested two to three appointments per week for anywhere from several weeks to several months.
For patients, even when they fully understand the value of the physical therapy to their future quality of life, all those appointments mean time away from work, family and other activities.
It can also seem costly when evaluating the co-pays many insurance carriers require at every visit.
But physical therapy is an extremely cost effective treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and can often take patients beyond rehabilitation to prevention of further injury, and the need for more costly medical procedures.
In today’s ever-changing healthcare and economic climate, patients are forced to make more conservative decisions about their health based on what they can afford to do.
That’s why, when looking to refer patients to a physical therapist, it’s important to evaluate the value the practice puts on access. Access is crucial not only for patients, but also for the future of physical therapy.
Research shows that patients can heal better and faster when they can get into a physical therapy clinic quickly and in a place that’s convenient and at a time that works around their schedule.
What is access?
It’s the location of clinics where patients live and work, in urban regions and rural outskirts, along medical corridors and in shopping districts, near key neighborhoods and close to major highways.
It’s the times the lights get turned on and off – the hours of operation and clinicians who start treating patients early, throughout the lunch hour and into the evenings.
Access includes coverage and the acceptance of every major insurance company.
And it covers specialties and education. Clinics should have a broad base of general therapy practice as well as specialties that include, among others, vestibular, women’s health, work hardening, hand therapy, pediatric services and temporomandibular joint disorder therapies. An investment in the continuing education of therapists often helps support the need for specialties and ensuring clinicians are constantly learning new treatment methods.
Those treatment methods and the unique understanding of how the body moves that physical therapists have make up their unique skill set that from a preventative medicine standpoint can cut down health care costs and keep patients better longer.
Not to mention, it’s the future of physical therapy.
Jeff Verhoef, PT, MBA is the Chief Executive Officer for Tidewater Physical Therapy, an independent, physical therapist-owned outpatient practice headquartered in Newport News, Va. Verhoef joined the practice in 1995 and soon after became one of its four partners. Learn more about Tidewater Physical Therapy at www.tpti.com.