APTA Summit Establishes Opportunities for PTs to Drive Health Care Change

"Go fast, deliver something provocative." 

"Listen to caregivers and be willing to collaborate with them." 

"Revolutionary technological change is coming; master it or it will master you."

ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 12, 2009 – As the nation sits on the cusp of massive health care reform, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has taken a unique approach to leading the charge to control costs, improve quality, and expand access to health care for all Americans. The Physical Therapy and Society Summit (PASS), a first-of-its-kind event, held February 27-28 by APTA, brought together more than 100 leaders and visionaries in physical therapy, medicine, academia, engineering, bioscience, information technology, and health care policy. Their goal – determine areas of opportunity to empower physical therapists to be leaders in: 1) integrating innovative technologies and practice models, and 2) establishing collaborative multidisciplinary partnerships that address current, evolving, and future societal health care needs.

"We embrace our responsibility to examine our role in meeting society's health care needs," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "APTA's Vision 2020 is a reality in many physical therapist practices, and we can do more. PASS is the kickoff of that conversation."

Imagination. Inspiration. Innovation. was the theme of PASS. "Go fast, deliver something provocative." "Support the null hypothesis." "Listen to caregivers and be willing to collaborate with them." -- represent just a few of the quotable moments from the Summit. PASS produced agreement among participants -- PTs and non-PTs alike -- that the physical therapy profession has a pivotal role in meeting society's health care needs, particularly in the area of prevention. 

PASS Chair Colleen Kigin, PT, DPT, FAPTA, spoke on the physical therapy profession's willingness to capture opportunity and collaborate with other professions. We're asking for your knowledge, vision, and talent, she said, to help move us ahead.

Clem Bezold, PhD, founder and chair of the Institute for Alternative Futures, presented the Keynote Address "Society's Expectations for Healthcare in a Time of Challenge and Opportunity." We have a "Hummer" of a non-health care system, he said, noting the growing number of uninsured Americans, variations in patient care, and the unsustainable cost increases of the US health system. Bezold spoke about the emergence of the comprehensive medical home, new delivery models, disruptive innovations, and competition.

Panelist presentations and highly interactive sessions focused on education and professional preparation; health care access, systems, and funding; practice models; technology; and research. Common themes included: the pivotal role of the physical therapist in patient care; the importance of collaborating with other health care disciplines and technology experts; the need to coordinate, direct, and manage a collaborative model of practice for neuromusculoskeletal care; the development of new models of education for faculty and students to achieve best practice; and the opportunities that health care reform will offer providers, like physical therapists, who are ready and willing to be a part of – and drive – change.

"This Summit represented a truly unique opportunity for discussing opportunities to address societal needs," said Kigin. "The makers of the motion that brought this concept to APTA's House of Delegates had the vision to include professionals from outside the world of physical therapy. When you work, live, and breathe something every day it can sometimes be difficult to step back and take inventory. These other participants played a vital role in helping us to step outside the boundaries of what we know and do day to day. These invited guests were true team members, and we were able to discuss and incorporate their insights and thoughts, as well as those of our physical therapy colleagues, as we considered how we should move forward -- not only as a profession, but also collaboratively with others to best reform health care for the consumer, who is, after all, the one we're all working to ultimately benefit."

In addition to physical therapist presenters, PASS speakers included: Joseph Kvedar, MD, director of the Center for Connected Health; Reuben Mezrich, MD, PhD, FACR, professor and chair, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine; W. Zev Rymer, MD, PhD, vice president for research, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Kenneth J. Giacin, MBA, MS, chairman and CEO of StemCyte Inc; Michael Weinrich, MD, director, National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; Henry R. Desmarais, MD, MPA, principal, Health Policy Alternatives Inc; Ronald F. Dixon, MD, MA, director, Virtual Practice Project, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Department of Medicine, and associate medical director at MGH Beacon Hill Internal Medicine Associates, and Robert Siggins, chief of staff to Rep Earl Pomeroy (D-ND).

Stephanie Crowley, a graphic recorder, was on hand to visually capture the energy, thought processes, and key themes and insights generated throughout the Summit. Graphic recording is a unique method for breathing life into and sustaining the special force of a group process through colorful and targeted artwork. The result is a simple and surprisingly powerful tool for remembering the hot topics and highs and lows of a meeting. The artwork will help to sustain the drive behind PASS.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of medications. APTA represents more than 70,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com

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