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  • From PT in Motion Magazine: Health 'Consumerism' Is Changing How PTs Think About Care

    Call it the Amazonification of society, or a signifier of the shift toward "value-based" models, or simply a logical response to the pressure of ever-growing insurance deductibles and copays, but one thing's for certain: patients are increasingly extending their consumer savvy to choosing health care providers—and that includes physical therapists (PTs).

    In its March issue, PT in Motion magazine offers a primer on what's known as the "consumerism movement" in health care. The article explores how some PTs are responding to an environment in which patients take a more active role in selecting a provider and making informed choices about pathways of care.

    The movement is associated with the rise of online provider rating systems, but it's broader than that—according to author Chris Hayhurst, it's a mindset in which "would-be patients are the drivers of change, leveraging the power of their limited health care budgets to push providers to better meet their needs." And if they're not happy with the result? You (and anyone else with Internet access and a smart phone) will hear about it.

    In addition to providing the fundamental concepts behind health care consumerism, "PTs and the Consumerism Movement" also shows how some PTs are recognizing the new realities and making changes to their practices to stay competitive.

    Kathryn Stenslie, PT, DPT, one of the PTs interviewed for the article, puts it bluntly. "The fact is, people are shopping around for care," she says. "And as much as we PTs don't like to think about it, not every practice is equal."

    Stenslie and other PTs featured in the piece offer up multiple examples of changes they've made to improve patient satisfaction—everything from routinely walking patients to their cars to offering Saturday hours and more extensive home-exercise regimens to keep clinic visits (and copay totals) as low as possible. The PTs interviewed agree that while the changes can require that more effort be applied to developing team approaches and dedicating more time to discussing patient expectations and treatment options, the payoffs can be significant.

    And those payoff aren't just limited to business results. Janet Bezner, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA, a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Texas State University, says the changes can help promote what she sees as a much-needed evolution in the way society approaches health care in general.

    "The idea that I don't have to blindly take what my health care provider tells me and just do it is part of the notion that 'I'm in charge of my own health,'" Bezner says in the article. "It's the idea that I, the patient, know what's best for me. I may appreciate you, the health care provider, telling me what my choices are, and explaining them to me. But in the end, I'm the one who gets to decide."

    "PTs and the Consumerism Movement" is featured in the March issue of PT in Motion magazine and is open to all viewers—pass it along to nonmember colleagues to show them one of the benefits of belonging to APTA. Also don’t miss the issue’s other articles that cover the use of hippotherapy in PT interventions, perspectives from PTs who have disabilities, a look at CPT codes beyond the 97000 series, a PT who continues “rescuing” people after retiring from military service, and an ethics scenario around responding to a critical online review.

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