Sterling Heights, 6/16/2020 The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed many physician appointments, elective procedures, and medical tests. As restrictions ease, working through this backlog will be a challenge. For people who have pain or orthopedic issues, their best option may be to see a physical therapist first. Physical therapists are highly trained specialists who are well equipped to be the first point of contact for patients with musculoskeletal issues. Most states have direct access laws that allow patients to see a PT without seeing a physician first. In addition, research shows that people who see a PT first have better outcomes, recover quicker, and spend less money. Better Outcomes Because back pain is so common, there is a lot of outcome data from people with back pain.
A study of 150,000 insurance claims published in Health Services Research, found that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription, a 28 percent lower probability of having advanced imaging services, and a 15 percent lower probability of an emergency department visit. Faster Recovery The Mitchell Study published in Physical Therapy looked at outcomes when patients went to a PT first vs. seeing a physician first. It found that patients who went to their physician before their PT spent 65% more time recovering, and had 60% more office visits than patients who went directly to their PT. Less Expensive There are many studies showing that the faster you get to your PT, the less money you spend. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy showed that patients who obtained physical therapy via direct access had significantly lower medical costs—an average of $1,543 less per patient than those who chose referral from a physician.
The Mitchell study mentioned above found that the total cost for physician referral to physical therapists was 123% or 2.2 times higher than the paid claims for people who went straight to PT. As the healthcare system tries to work through the backlog of delayed visits and procedures, using physical therapists as the first provider for patients with pain or orthopedic issues could take some of the pressure off of primary care physicians and orthopedists. It could also lead to better outcomes, quicker recoveries, and cost savings for patients. That's a winning solution for everyone involved.
About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the healthcare system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org. About Clegg & Guest Physical Therapy Clegg & Guest Physical Therapy is focused on hands-on manual therapy and custom exercise. We are committed to providing one on one care throughout each visit. Our therapists are well versed in managing pain and hypermobility and are experts in joint protection and exercise techniques. Learn how we can help you to decrease pain and return you to an active lifestyle.