While civilian health care policymakers and stakeholders in the US continue to debate whether physical therapists (PTs) should be included as primary care providers, the country’s military health systems have marched ahead with the concept. A new study adds to the evidence that the idea is working, both in terms of patient safety and reduced health care utilization.
Authors of the study, published in Military Medicine and first presented as a poster at the 2019 APTA Combined Sections Meeting, frame their research as an exploration of the potential for PTs to address the nationwide physician shortage by lowering costs and increasing access to care. They assert that the potential for more team-based, effective care could be at least partially realized if civilian PTs were treated like their military counterparts and included as primary care providers. It’s a position that APTA strongly supports in its strategic goals and is consistent with APTA’s own investigations into the PT’s role in primary care settings. In addition, in 2018 the association conducted a practice analysis aimed at determining the feasibility of primary care as a specialty area recognized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education.
Tom McPoil, PT, PhD, FAPTA, said he intentionally structured the title of the 50th McMillan Lecture—”Is Excellence in the Cards?” as a question “to raise an element of doubt or uncertainty in our quest to achieve excellence.” After all, he said during his delivery of the lecture on June 13 as part of the APTA NEXT Conference and Exposition in Chicago, he has several concerns regarding the profession’s ability to achieve excellence.
Before describing the reasons for his uncertainty, McPoil did recognize some of the profession’s remarkable accomplishments since he began his career in 1973. “We no longer serve as a subservient technician in the health care system, our students now obtain an exceptional education and are granted a doctoral degree, we can practice in a variety of specialty areas in multiple practice environments, and we have achieved the ability to practice autonomously with patients having direct access to our services,” he noted.
But he said there still is room for improvement from both clinical and academic perspectives, and the remainder of his lecture outlined those perspectives. From the clinical standpoint, he described 3 areas.
The plan was set: on May 21, APTA would hold a congressional briefing on the importance of increasing patient access to nonpharmacological approaches to pain treatment. The event would be highlighted by the story of Cindy Whyde and her son Elliott, who became addicted to prescription opioids, and eventually heroin, after receiving an opioid prescription to treat a high school football injury 9 years ago. Elliott’s road to recovery has not been easy.
But the briefing didn’t go as planned. Days before the Whydes were to travel to Washington, DC, Elliott relapsed into addiction and disappeared. Cindy came to the event alone, determined to do whatever she could to effect change. At the time of the event Elliott had been missing for 3 days.
“That is one of the worst fears any parent should have to go through, not knowing where their child is and what’s going on with them,” Whyde said.
The final report from a US Department Health and Human Services (HHS) inter-agency task force on pain management best practices is out, and its call for greater collaborative care and improved access to physical therapy comes through loud and clear. It’s a report that in many ways echoes APTA’s white paper on opioids and pain management published nearly 1 year ago.
The “Report on Pain Management Best Practices” changed little from its draft version released in January [Editor’s note: this PT in Motion News article covered the draft in depth]. Like its predecessor, the report identifies gaps and inconsistencies in pain management that can contribute to opioid misuse.
While the task force acknowledges that opioids may be appropriate when carefully prescribed in some instances, it also argues that other approaches—including “restorative therapies” furnished by physical therapists and other health care professionals—should be on equal footing with pharmacological alternatives, particularly when it comes to reimbursement and patient access.
Working across health care disciplines isn’t a pipe dream: it’s an increasingly important fact of professional life for physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapists assistants (PTAs). And physical therapy education programs are helping future PTs and PTAs respond to this reality by adapting curricula to respond to an increasingly collaborative health care environment.
In honor of National Interprofessional Health Care month, APTA has refreshed its resources on interprofessional practice and education, offering a range of perspectives on the topic. From research papers to PT in Motion magazine feature articles, there’s a little something for everyone.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a basic roadmap for getting yourself familiar with the issue, all drawn from the APTA Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice Resources webpage.
APTA members are sharing the APTA love—and their stories are all about finding community in the association, no matter the paths they took to get there.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, APTA asked members to share their “APTA love stories” by recounting how they first came to join the association, and what made them feel a true connection to the organization and fellow members. The results are being posted to social media and have been collected on a special “APTA Love Stories” webpage.
The stories reflect the diversity of the APTA membership. From a then-DPT student who questioned a program’s membership requirement only to come to see the value in the connections she made, to an aspiring physical therapist (PT) who asked to join APTA before she’d even entered school, to longtime PTs who’ve spent their careers involved in the association, the details are varied. The common thread: each member discovered the ways APTA builds connections, strengthens the profession, and provides opportunities for professional growth.
Authors of a new systematic review of 11 studies on low back pain (LBP) have found that despite sometimes-wide variation in research design, a picture of the value of early physical therapy for the condition is emerging—and the results are encouraging.
According to the review, e-published ahead of print in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, evidence supports the cost-effectiveness and better patient outcomes of early physical therapy over later physical therapy for LBP, and even points to a correlation between early physical therapy and lower rates of opioid prescription overall. As for utilization and costs associated with early physical therapy versus so-called “usual care” (UC)? Early treatment by a physical therapist (PT) adhering to APTA guidelines could make a positive difference there as well, authors say, but that’s a harder question to answer definitively until studies become more uniform in terminology and design.
Looking back over 2018, it’s hard to overstate the magnitude of Medicare-related changes experienced by physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and their patients. It was a year that included the end of the hard cap on therapy services under Medicare and the announcement of the inclusion of qualifying PTs in its Quality Payment Program starting in 2019—a dramatic shift toward value-based payment. And did we mention the launch of new requirements for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) beginning later in 2019?
While payment news is almost always of interest to PT in Motion News readers, keeping up with the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was apparently top-of-mind in 2018, as Medicare-related stories dominated this year’s list of most-read News items.
APTA member Dani Burt, PT, DPT, has a knack for turning inspiration into…more inspiration. Now a new APTA video helps to tell her story to the public.
As a teenager, Burt underwent an above-knee amputation as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. During her recovery, she became inspired by the physical therapists (PTs) who worked with her and channeled that inspiration into the pursuit of her own career in physical therapy.
But that wasn’t all: Burt’s wholehearted embrace of the profession’s emphasis on movement helped her to push herself as a surfer, ultimately earning Burt the title of World Adaptive Surfing Champion. These days, Burt hopes that her work as both a physical therapist and an adaptive sports champion will inspire others who face recovery challenges.
Technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, but what does that mean for the profession? More important, what does it mean for patients in the here-and-now?
The 2019 APTA Combined Sections Meeting, set for January 23-26 in downtown Washington, DC, includes multiple sessions that go beyond the wow factor of technology and gets to practical applications in the clinic. Check out these suggestions, and find other relevant programming by searching the CSM programming page.
Why We Love AND Hate Our Robots: Implications for Everyday Clinical Practice
When it comes to the utilization and efficacy of robotic technology in rehabilitation of individuals with neurological diagnoses such as stroke and spinal cord injury, the research can be both encouraging and discouraging. What’s behind the discrepancy in outcomes? Learn about the good and the not-so-good in robotic technology, implications for clinical practice, and when other evidence-based therapies are worth considering. Friday, January 25, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm.