While being a physical therapist is a highly rewarding position, it is also one that comes with its shares of challenges and issues – especially in today’s world. These complications extend past the costs associated with the educational background of the career and attracting patients once you become a practitioner.
In order to maximize the overall performance of your practice, you must tackle these challenges and issues head on. To provide you with a head start in your endeavor, we are sharing this guide with you. In it, you will gain insight into the biggest challenges and issues and we will provide information on how you can overcome them.
The Legislation on Healthcare
The first challenge and issue that you will face as a physical therapist is the legislation on healthcare. In the year of 2010, the Affordable Care Act was officially passed. As a result, numerous regulatory-based changes have occurred.
Those relating directly to the physical therapy industry include – but are not at all limited to – the ICD-code changes, the introduction of electronic-based health records, and the schedules relating to reimbursements. These changes will continue to affect your industry and you must stay on top of them.
The Expansion of Telehealth Services
Since the year of 2020 – when the COVID-19 epidemic made its way into the United States – many medical professionals – including those in the physical therapy industry – had to make immediate adjustments.
This was especially true during the lockdown. This is when telehealth usage increased well over 3,000%! It was especially challenging for physical therapists given the fact that they typically work in person with their patients. Since that time, remote physical therapy has increased in popularity.
Now, the demand for these services is on the rise and so are the costs of the tools and resources associated with telehealth. The expansion of telehealth services is definitely both a challenge and an issue for physical therapists.
The arrival of COVID-19 and other types of infectious illnesses has forever changed the landscape of the healthcare industry. As a result, practices are having to adopt adaptations to ensure the safety of practitioners, their employees, and patients. This has proven to be both challenging and has turned into an issue for many physical therapists.
In short, the APTA has a set of guidelines in place that will help practitioners make modifications to their practice to reduce the risk of spreading illnesses. As a result, many have found that the following is occurring:
- First, each patient that visits the practice is at their appointment for longer periods of time. This is because of temperature checks, additional paperwork, and having to control the amount of people that are in the building at one time.
- As a result of the above, fewer patients are actually visiting your practice.
- Finally, additional funds are needed for the expansion of your waiting area, making hand sanitizer available to patients, and having to purchase additional personal protective equipment – such as gowns, gloves, and face masks.
Generally speaking, all of the changes that must take place for the purpose and intent of adjusting to our new world and all of the illnesses within it are taking a hefty toll on the finances of the physical therapy practice. To ensure that you meet the guidelines as outlined by the APTA, you have to be both creative and frugal – which is not at all easy in today’s world.
The next issue facing physical therapists is the fact that they are losing patients more rapidly than ever before. If you are reading this, chances are, you have lost a few patients yourself.
Not only does losing a patient have a detrimental impact on their personal health and their outcome, it also has negative implications to the finances and the overall success of your physical therapy practice.
The dropout rate of patients is currently averaging all the way up to a whopping 40%! That means that NEARLY HALF of all patients that you will acquire, you will LOSE!
There are many reasons why patients are being lost. The main reason is because of the pandemic and the fear of contracting an illness. The second reason is due to either the loss of a job, the loss of insurance coverage, or a similar money-related event that has transpired in the life of the patient.
In order to grow your practice and retain your patients, you should consider adopting Telehealth services. Also, you should offer many different ways that patients may pay for their services – including payment plans. If you make accommodations for those that you serve, they are more likely to continue seeking your services.
As a physical therapist, you must place an emphasis on your overall health. It is imperative that you get the proper amount of rest, consume healthy foods, and engage in exercises that will help you stay as healthy as possible. However, each day, it is quite likely that you work long hours.
Between patients, documentation, and paperwork responsibilities, you are sure to find that you end up with very little time for yourself. You must make it a point to stay as healthy as possible – even if that means taking a little time away from your job or implementing an electronic system that automates the administrative tasks of your healthcare practice.
Hygiene Concerns of Employees and Patients
Since the arrival of COVID-19 more people than ever before are placing a high level of importance on hygiene. This holds true in the physical therapy industry, too! Both your employees and your patients expect to work and visit in a practice that places a strong emphasis on hygiene. As a result, it will be less likely for those individuals to catch an illness.
If you offer remote services, this will be a tad easier, but you will also have to continue to ensure the hygiene practices in your clinic for your employees. If you go by the APTA guidelines, you will succeed in this endeavor. It may be a bit time-consuming and you may incur some costs, but it will lend to your success in the end.
Management of The Practice
The successful management of the physical therapy practice is one of the most pressing challenges faced by therapists today. The main reason is that this far exceeds simple medical knowledge. You must also have business skills and basic accounting expertise.
The best technique for successfully managing the practice that you own and/or operate is to join a network – such as that of the Colorado Physical Therapy Network and the Rocky Mountain Rehab Alliance (RoMoRA) that utilizes a special model for handling administrative tasks. These incorporate a single EMR system that specializes in administration and includes a system for outcome collections.
The next challenge faced by physical therapists that own and/or operate their practice is the successful management of employees. This is typically divided into two different issues. The first is the recruitment and staffing process and the second is dealing with employees who are unmotivated.
While this may not seem too difficult, it is.
It can cause other problems such as low-quality care, decreased levels of satisfaction among your patients, and developing a workload that becomes too much. In the end, it all leads to unfavorable outcomes for your patients and your practice. You must place a focus on employee management because the lack thereof will result in immense dissatisfaction of your patients. In the end, your practice will develop a bad reputation and this is highly detrimental to your business.
The final challenge among today’s physical therapists is the fact that most professionals start off their career with an immense amount of educational debt.
Furthermore, it is often required that a PT continue their education so that they stay on top of all within their field. Then, there are those that have a desire to open their own practice – which takes advanced training and funding. While there are many different specialties within the physical therapy practice, it may prove to be challenging for one to achieve success on their own. A network is highly advised to make the most of available opportunities.
Join Us Today
We here at the Colorado Physical Therapy Network (CPTN) encourage you to join us today. We know the ins and the outs of all of the challenges and issues that you face as a physical therapist. We specialize in forming a group structure that helps in ensuring increased levels of mutual cooperation with those in the physical therapy field and other therapy fields. We help in reducing costs, increasing success levels, and helping you make managing your practice a breeze. We have a direct partnership with the Rocky Mountain Rehab Alliance. With this, you can rest assured that your practice is able to achieve the highest level of success while boosting the outcomes of the patients you serve. For more information, contact us today.