7 Key Insights on the Future of Physical Therapy

Active knees

At the American Physical Therapy Association Conference and Exposition in Salt Lake City last month we got to speak with a select group of physical therapists and rehabilitation experts. Here are seven highlights from the meeting that were top of mind from that group:

  1. Healthcare reform is here.. and more change still coming. Physical therapists are adapting to a new healthcare environment ruled by value and accountability. There is a higher bar at the organizations they work with and to payers they are accountable to. Finding and delivering value as well as leveraging documentation of functional measures and outcomes is key to thriving in this new era.
  2. PTs need to do more to define, promote, and deliver their unique value proposition. A resonating theme was that PTs are better positioned to be partners with their patients – focused on function – across the continuum of care. Their patients see them not as dictators, but a sort of cheerleader to help them along in recovery and build confidence. Patients tend to trust their therapists above others.
  3. The physical therapy audience is ready to use their skills to help achieve goals of population health. They have begun to add on wellness responsibilities, instead of just sick care. They are moving out of clinics and into medical homes.
  4. Bridging the resource gap is key. Everyone has been tasked with cutting waste and eliminating excess costs. With new care models they must be more efficient and do more with less. LEAN, Six Sigma, Value Streaming and process improvement initiatives are underway everywhere. And PTs are excited to be actively involved in those interdisciplinary projects.
  5. Mobility projects are finally catching on. Early and consistent mobilization is key for patients of all kinds. “Get out of bed” and “Just Move” programs are popular to promote the best outcomes and to ensure the maximum percentage of patients can be discharged back to their homes. Mobilization efforts have also shown to reduce length of stay and falls among patients.
  6. Patient-focused care was just the beginning. More and more PTs are now looking at and developing programs that include families in the plan of care. Family caregivers can make a big difference when thoughtfully and systematically included in the care conversation.
  7. There’s a need for innovative disruption to change old ways and create new healthcare structures to overcome obstacles. PTs in some hospitals are trying new things in 100-day sprints and piloting new processes to find their future success.

We were excited and energized to engage with this active audience. We’re meeting up with the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) crowd later this week in Chicago and launching our Patient Guidance Solution for ACLs, stay tuned!

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