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Wednesday, July 13, 2011RSS Feed

Do Nice Guys Finish First When It Comes to Health Care?

We've all had them. Those patients who, for whatever reason, are less than cooperative and not who one might classify as a pleasure to treat. Does this influence the level of care we give, our attitudes, or the ways in which we treat these particular patients? There's been much discussion on this subject and it's the focus of a recent article, Do Nice Patients Receive Better Care?, which appeared in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Do nice patients get better care than others? That's a complicated question. As physical therapists we are on the front lines of patient care. Interpersonal relationships and close, one-on-one interactions with our patients are simply a part of what we do. Everyone is unique; we're all products of our own backgrounds and distinct experiences.

Now, I know we've all dedicated ourselves to delivering the highest quality care to our patients without regard for the variables that are part and parcel to individual personalities. The fact is, however, that we're only human and it is in our nature to respond to hostile or grumpy folks. The authors of the JAMA piece agree and conclude that "clinicians are human and subject to the influence of bias." They go on to suggest the development of methods for addressing the existence of bias to ensure that professional standards are consistently met.

The good news here is that we're ahead of the game with our Move Forward branding initiative. You've probably heard this before, but the brand is about more than just educating consumers and other health care professionals about who PTs are and what and how they treat. It's about providing patients a 'total experience' that includes not only excellent health care, but also a higher level of professionalism, organization, workplace cleanliness, efficiency, and overall quality. Once they’ve learned about us and decided that a physical therapist is the right person to see, we want them to have an outstanding experience - every time. Call it the 'Starbucks Effect.' When you go to Starbucks, you know you're going to get a consistently good cup of coffee whether you're in New York or Shanghai; large city or small town.

Based on consumer research, APTA has developed the core professional behaviors that make the Move Forward physical therapist. They are basic, simple and can be found on pages 8 and 9 of the Users Guide to the Brand located on the site, which is the place where all members-only information and tools related to the branding campaign are kept. These brand behaviors serve as a perfect guide to help us prevent personal biases and opinions from creeping in and affecting the way we handle one patient or another.

I suggest to you that if we all take a moment to learn more about the brand and adhere to the core behaviors, messages, and principles then we will be much more likely to deliver that consistent 'total experience' to all patients, regardless of who they are or how they behave.

Let me know - what do you think?


Monday, April 04, 2011RSS Feed

Zero Tolerance

News reports of alleged Medicare fraud seem to be a regular occurrence these days - a reality that should give pause to everyone in the health care field.

With the recent news that the Medicare Fraud Strike Force had charged 111 individuals - including four physical therapists - with fraud, the issue and its unfortunate consequences to patients and the health care system really hit home.

While all of these defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, news of physical therapy services being part of any fraud scheme is deeply troubling to APTA. We're not familiar with, and cannot comment, on the specific charges against the individuals cited in the lawsuits, but we have zero tolerance for the type of behavior alleged. APTA promotes only the highest standards of practice to its members. It is important that individuals receive physical therapy services that are of high quality and medically necessary, furnished by licensed physical therapists or physical therapist assistants under the direct supervision of a physical therapist.

APTA stands ready to work with government and private payers to bring an end to fraudulent activity within the health care system.

What are your thoughts regarding these recent Medicare fraud cases? Why do they seem to be increasing? And what can we, as health care professionals, do to help put an end to this behavior?

Friday, February 11, 2011RSS Feed

Online Reviews: Helpful or Hurtful?

As APTA gears up to launch a robust consumer information portal at this spring, I came across an interesting opinion piece by an MD on the use of online physician review sites. The writer discusses how a negative review by a patient helped him and his office staff improve their patient care and turn a potentially damaging public relations situation into a positive one.

With the help of APTA sections and a team of professional consumer health information writers, is evolving into a dynamic portal that will have a very meaningful level of information and interactivity. While online reviews of physical therapists are not a planned feature of the new portal, the article piqued my interest and made me wonder how physical therapists might react to the possibility of being reviewed online. Should we consider this feature as the site evolves in the future? What are your thoughts regarding online reviews not only of physical therapists, but also of other health care professionals?

If you will be attending Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) next week in New Orleans and would like to take a sneak peek of’s new consumer information portal, please stop by Booth #950 and tour the site and let us know what you think of the features that are currently planned, as well as what you’d like to see in the future.

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