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  • Study: Direct Access to PTs Associated With Lower Costs, Fewer Visits

    A new study suggesting that "the role of the physician gatekeeper in regard to physical therapy may be unnecessary in many cases" could have significant implications for the US health care system, APTA announced in a news release yesterday. Funded by a grant from APTA, the Private Practice Section (PPS), and the Section on Health Policy and Administration (HPA), this study examined non-Medicare claims data and compared self-referred episodes of physical therapy to physician-referred episodes of physical therapy.

    Published ahead of print September 23, in the journal Health Services Research (HSR), the study found that patients who visited physical therapists directly for outpatient care had fewer visits and lower overall costs on average than those who were referred by a physician, after adjusting for age, gender, diagnosis, illness severity, and calendar year. In addition, overall related health care use—or care related to the problem for which physical therapy was received, but not physical therapy treatment—was lower in the self-referred group after adjustment. Examples of this type of care might include physician services and diagnostic testing. The study also found that individuals were similarly engaged with the medical care system during and after their course of physical therapy care, suggesting that continuity of care did not differ between the 2 groups.

    In the coming weeks, APTA, HPA, and PPS will be providing more information about this landmark study as a communications plan is rolled out to members, the media, and the public. In addition to the news release referenced above, sample presentations, talking points, and other tools will be developed for members to use in community outreach.

    Jane Pendergast, PhD, professor of biostatistics and director of the Center for Public Health Studies at the University of Iowa, was lead author of the study. Coauthors of the study were Stephanie A. Kliethermes, MS, a doctoral candidate in biostatistics at the Center for Public Health Studies, University of Iowa; APTA member Janet K. Freburger, PT, PhD, research associate and fellow at the Sheps Center for Health Services Research and a scientist at the Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and APTA member Pamela A. Duffy, PT, PhD, OCS, CPC, assistant professor, Public Health Program, at Des Moines University.


    • Outstanding work. Our profession needs to be released from control. We can save the government tremendous money with direct access. Thanks for the hard work.

      Posted by Gina Ricci on 10/14/2011 6:26 PM

    • Fantastic job! What a great marketing tool as well. We will be posting a blog and pushing it through our social media and PR outlets as soon as those talking points come though. Thanks for your dedication!

      Posted by Sarah Walmsley on 10/14/2011 8:51 PM

    • What a fantastic idea! I look forward to more news!

      Posted by Michael Bender -> ?OU`DG on 10/15/2011 12:54 AM

    • A great example of contemporary research for contemporary issues in healthcare!

      Posted by Gretchen Galschjodt -> AGY[BK on 10/16/2011 5:06 PM

    • This is a great tool! Our organzation continues to focus on areas in which we can directly and positively impact our community.

      Posted by Kelly Ingram-Mitchell on 10/17/2011 7:15 AM

    • This is a very interesting article based on needed to research but the first thing we need to get changed is for PT's to be able set a medical diagnosis. Why would any insurance and CMS reimburse for seeing a first line provider if that provider is not able to diagnose their own patient. Also, if you are the patient and you are trying to find out what's wrong with you, would you opt for a doctor who can't diagnose? I think this is where the main focus is. We have done plenty of research that shows that PT with their clinical skills can very accurately diagnose a patient and this is done in many countries outside of the USA and it has been proven to be a very important first step in getting true direct access, Jay

      Posted by J Wijnmaalen, PT,MBA, MTC on 10/17/2011 9:22 AM

    • I hope this will be sent to every legislature in states where direct access is being introduced. Also every insurance company. What percent is the savings? It could also be used in our fight against POPTS and our savings there. Thanks for your work again.!!!

      Posted by Walt Abbey on 10/19/2011 9:39 AM

    • What's wrong with POPTS?

      Posted by J Wijnmaalen, DPT, MBA, MTC on 10/19/2011 3:42 PM

    • Conclusion Recognizing the incongruity of POPTS and APTA’s Vision 2020 that embraces the autonomous practice of doctorally prepared professionals, the inherent conflicts of interest existing within POPTS, the loss of the patient/client’s right to choice of provider, and the increased cost to society identified resulting from POPTS, the American Physical Therapy Association reaffirms its decades-long position of opposition to physician-owned physical therapy services. APTA supports legislative and regulatory measures at the state and federal levels to ban physician ownership of physical therapy services. These efforts include sponsoring efforts to strengthen state practice acts to prohibit POPTS—and gaining direct access to Medicare patients.

      Posted by M Gibson on 10/19/2011 8:49 PM

    • Fabulous! Will the APTA be posting the full article so we can send it on to our state legislators?

      Posted by Mary Massery on 10/23/2011 2:08 PM

    • i want afree and sponsor physiotherapy course

      Posted by mnoorulislam on 2/6/2012 11:42 AM

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