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Is the PT Industry a Doormat?

Written by: Bob Habasevich, PT on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 Posted in: Inpatient Rehab

If you are like most, hitting the “delete” button as you course through the daily dose of email offerings has become a common housekeeping chore. The “open” button is hit only when the message title strikes a purposeful note or curiosity factor and followed by a click-read-drilldown sequence of analysis.

“PT Industry…Doormat” in the message title of a recent Rehab Management newsletter (http://www.rehabpub.com/2015/05/pt-industry-doormat-speaker-tells-conference/) brought on an immediate click for more information response.

Addressing the 2015 conference of the Independent Physical Therapists of California, revenue strategist, Timothy Gendreau, discussed strategies to increase reimbursement and the perceived value of physical therapy among payors. Gendreau cautioned if PTs don’t use data, processes, and information to demonstrate the value of their services, payors will walk all over the profession and continue to reduce payments. While his presentation is directed at physical therapists, the message is applicable to all providers in rehabilitation. Communicating value through measurement of outcomes is required to sustain professional relevance.

Providers are challenged by the shifting payment and regulatory expectations. Now that revenue is linked to value of services, therapists are turning to evidence-based outcomes data to support payment rates. A data-based strategy that provides evidence demonstrating the value of physical therapy in the overall episode of care adds critical support in building a sustainable future for the physical therapy industry.

It’s not enough to collect data to meet payment requirements. Data must demonstrate outcomes. Quality and value must be expressed by data. Rehab Management quotes Gendreau, “It’s a great idea to talk about outcomes, and say, ‘Outcomes are going to be what we measure everything by,’” Gendreau explains, “but you can’t have the legislation, you can’t have the payors, you can’t have the providers all saying outcomes is the right thing to do if no one has defined what an outcome is. Or what it will take to measure an outcome.”

It’s not enough to collect data to meet payment requirements. Data must demonstrate the outcome of therapy. Quality and value must be expressed by data. Professional survival depends upon the ability to prove that services provided by physical therapists are not the same as when provided by someone else for less. That difference must be shown by achieving better outcomes for the price paid for therapy.

Anyone can be taught to perform procedures and follow orders, some better than others. Measuring effectiveness and communicating value requires additional skills, tools and initiative to prevent getting walked on. Doing nothing now, will mean getting trampled.

bobspic