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  • New APTA Strategic Plan: Leading the Profession and Association Into the Next Century

    Take a look at the new APTA strategic plan covering the next 3 years, and almost immediately something becomes abundantly clear: the association has no intention of kicking back and cruising into its centennial in 2021. Dig deeper, and you're likely to find that the goals to be reached between now and the beginning of APTA's next century are as ambitious as anything the association has ever attempted.

    The plan, now available on the APTA website, is the result of an 18-month-long Board of Directors effort that included input from nearly 4,000 stakeholders to identify where APTA needs to go to realize its vision of transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience. The end result: a roadmap built around 4 outward-facing goals, with measurable objectives that don't shy away from some ambitious targets.

    In an APTA Media Center interview conducted during APTA's 2019 Combined Sections Meeting, President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, characterized the plan as a new phase in the association's evolution.

    Dunn said that APTA's previous 5-year strategic plan served as a "pivot" away from work that supported the earlier "Vision 2020" statement and toward the association's current vision, adopted in 2013. During 2017 and 2018, and especially after listening to stakeholders and evaluating the association's opportunities, it became clear to the Board that the pivot was complete.

    "We were ready to make some bold moves toward actually transforming society," Dunn said.

    The 4 main goals in the new plan are centered on increasing member value and engagement, fostering the long-term sustainability of the physical therapy profession, elevating the quality of care provided by physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and maximizing stakeholder awareness of the value of physical therapy.

    Each goal contains 2—and in 1 case, 3—objectives that lay out specific activities that APTA will pursue. The goal aimed at stakeholder awareness of the value of physical therapy, for example, sets APTA on course to advocate for payment policies that increase patient access to physical therapy, to leverage the #ChoosePT campaign and MoveForwardPT.com as public information platforms, and to "embody the APTA mission and vision through an integrated brand strategy." The sustainability goal directs the association to "champion student and early-career issues including debt burden and career-earning potential," and to "make APTA an inclusive organization that reflects the diversity of the society the profession serves."

    The plan isn't designed to be all-inclusive. Many ongoing activities central to APTA—including federal and state advocacy—will continue to be integral parts of the association's operations. Rather than covering every area in which the association will be working, Dunn said, the new plan "looks at what is absolutely necessary to take us into our next century."

    According to Dunn, one of those elements—the long-term sustainability of the physical therapy profession—is a goal that reflects a pervasive sentiment among the stakeholders providing input on the strategic plan's development and, in the case of student debt and early-career earning potential, "one of the things that keep's [APTA] leadership up at night."

    Dunn explained that APTA's efforts in this area must include not only providing program faculty with resources and tools to help keep a lid on education costs but also a wider effort to make the profession itself as diverse and inclusive as possible—something Dunn believes is key to the profession's long-term sustainability.

    "We need to make the path [to becoming a PT or PTA] easy, make it affordable, and engage and mentor along the way," she said.

    All of the goals and objectives in the plan are equally ambitious and equally capable of having a strong impact on the profession and society, according to Dunn. Here's what she had to say about other elements of the plan:

    • On translating the latest research into tools and resources for practice: "There's a lag time to translating evidence into practice. The environment doesn't allow for that lag time anymore."
    • On supporting the growth of the APTA Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry: "Payers have our data, and we need to have our data and use it to advocate for the benefits of physical therapy."
    • On advocating for PTs on the primary care team: "Putting a physical therapist on the front end of anything—pain, chronic disease—rather than the back end, [results in] a lot of quality and cost savings."
    • On expanding the #ChoosePT campaign beyond the opioid epidemic: "[#ChoosePT] will evolve into other opportunities for the physical therapy profession to meet societal need."

    What's next? With the goals and objectives in place, APTA leadership is now developing metrics to not only measure progress but to help keep the association on course as it attempts to achieve results that, as Dunn said, "meet the needs of not only our society but our members as we treat our patients."



    • I believe that we need to focus on enforcement of the Stark Law and work to eliminate all POPTS. I have been a physical therapist for 38 years and feel that the increasing number of POPTS have more negatively affected PT professionalism than any other variable.

      Posted by Lisa Schaefer on 1/28/2019 6:54 PM

    • This is a message for Sharon Dunn. I am 82 years old and still practicing in a very rural community. I have been attempting to get recognition of the SF-12 tools as a comprehensive measurement of the outcomes of Physical Therapy for 38 years (started using it at Coors Brewery in 1979).. Please take a look (or have one of your staff) review these instruments. It has been my belief that measurement of function heal and emotional health outcomes are far more important than what we have been calling outcomes for years. Let me share a step or two of my journey in health care: graduated in 1961 Mayo Clinic , ATC in a Texas high school, pro football, and college athletics, wrote the neuro section of the first ATC test, Started the wheel chair games in Colorado with a rec therapist from Craig Rehab, started a community adult fitness program and a community Cardiac Reha program with university students 1976 (Colorado State University), 8 different cities in Federal region 8 trained for cardia rehab, started the Coors Brewery Wellness program 1981 to 1993, Managed reha for Elko Nevada county hospital, with my wife started a chronic disease management program for Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs 1996. At the present time I am interacting with another Colorado Hospital about Population Medicine program development. Your APTA interview mirrors my career in many ways. where physical therapy has have just started a Thai Ghee program for the community at no charge. Your comment about PTs in small rural communities got my attention! Lets talk from Haxtun, CO Population 1000. 970.774.6123 ex 438

      Posted by Max L Morton PhD, LPT, (ATC RETIRED) on 1/30/2019 5:50 PM

    • I have been a private-practice direct-access PT for over 30 years. I am now totally cash-based. I believe that a component of #ChoosePT should be the ability of patients 65 and older to directly contract with the PT of their choice and pay that PT directly. I also agree with previous comment regarding the harm POPTS has done to the image and practice of the profession.

      Posted by Catherine Mormile on 1/30/2019 5:55 PM

    • "We need to make the path [to becoming a PT or PTA] easy, make it affordable, and engage and mentor along the way," she said. The sustainability goal directs the association to "champion student and early-career issues including debt burden and career-earning potential," Explain to me how a surplus of physical therapists available by making it easier for them to get into and complete school helps us improve career earning potential? Absolute waste of time and the new giant building in one of the most expensive areas in the US proves where APTA dues go to. Let’s do something that matters and improves our profession. Not create another statement that is going to make the board feel great for the time being and after 5 years create a new one without reaching the prior visions goals.

      Posted by Jonathon Eichner on 1/30/2019 6:32 PM

    • Our ability to help persons with chronic diseases avoid hospitalization, maintain their mobility, function and QoL, and remain at home supports our delivery of and advocacy for skilled maintenance rehab services. But outpatient and home care providers remain hesitant to offer these services due to a long history of payment denials. Even providers who are aware of skilled maintenance therapy coverage are challenged to deliver the service within administrative & regulatory systems designed for restorative services. Extra knowledge translation and advocacy work is sorely needed in this area. I'm glad the strategic plan acknowledges chronic disease managment.

      Posted by Cindy Moore on 2/2/2019 10:50 AM

    • Another new strategic plan? Here's a novel idea. Let's have a plan that gets us reasonable reimbursement in a reasonable length of time with a minimum of paperwork and bureaucracy. At the same time, let's focus on continuously improving clinical knowledge and skills for "results based" physical therapy to improve our value to society and stop wasting our time on externally imposed propaganda like "evidence based" this and that and politically correct, social justice issues that act to deter us from greater effectiveness and efficiency, distract us from more important and substantive issues, and divide us and turn us against one another while allowing a political and corporate elite to harvest our labor and wealth for their own selfish benefit. How long are we going to allow ourselves to be played? How long are we going to act like sheep? .

      Posted by Brian Miller on 2/19/2019 9:23 PM

    • To achieve these goals we must change the way practice! Doing things the same- short term expensive PT treatment and a home exercise program will not transform society- Revolutionary change is needed! Real change includes Alternative models- doing things differently! One model which requires PT knowledge and innovation is a combination of group and individual treatment- this model is used at GroupHab® PT (real, challenging, skilled, rehab -PT designed classes and programs). Let our communities EXPERIENCE the difference in our care and what we can offer- show them- let them feel it. ! That will transform society. Double booking and short-term treatment will not inspire anyone to choose PT! The social aspect of group exercise can be used to keep patients exercising to their maximum potential and treat chronic pain- with music and social support. Innovate and provide alternative models of care! Patrice Hazan

      Posted by Patrice Hazan on 2/22/2019 7:24 PM

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