It is hard to believe that I have been in the physical therapy industry for more than three decades. Over the course of my career as a physical therapist, I have seen our profession flourish in many different settings. We are able to fundamentally help patients by learning the science of the human body and connecting our skills to restore dysfunction and freedom of movement. There are few experiences more rewarding than to see the pain disappear and the musculoskeletal system change based on the skills we share with our patients.
One of the best ways to grow as professionals is to learn what obstacles we face: based on a physical therapy industry survey with more than 5000 participants, recent trends revealed several stumbling blocks that have cropped up in the field of P.T. One of these is that the trend toward consolidation of clinics to larger companies continued in 2017, which can impart a financial struggle for the one-on-one care business model to compete in a market that is more and more saturated. The study also revealed that for many clinics, the average daily volume of patients increased with more use of assistants and techs. This obviously translates to less time physical therapists can actually put their hands on each patient. Not surprising with the current health care climate, the study noted an intensifying squeeze in insurance reimbursements. The insurance companies have ever-changing rules and regulations, which puts stress on each clinic and each provider. And lastly, the survey noted that each physical therapist spends 20% more time on documentation over the past 10 years due to compliance demands and insurance requirements.
It is not surprising that these factors could change the overall vibe of an outpatient physical therapy clinic. But this same survey also revealed that the number one reason people pursue a career in the field of physical therapy is to help people. That fact translates into genuinely good people with a solid dedication to patient care in our field. I am confident that no amount of frustration over declining reimbursements, increased regulations, or time-consuming documentation can stifle the passion engrained in physical therapists and the physical therapy profession as a whole.
Study cited: "The State of Rehab" WebPT