What might the future hold when it comes to demand for physical therapists (PTs)? According to the latest models developed by APTA, that depends on several factors, including the rate at which PTs leave the profession over the next 7 years.
The association has just released the results of its latest adjustments to predictions of supply and demand for PTs through 2020, and while 2 of 3 possible scenarios show a healthy growth in demand, changes to demographics, health insurance use, and projected supply of PTs may make that growth less dramatic than earlier reports suggested. A third scenario contemplates the possibility that by 2020 there may actually be a slight surplus of PTs—about 1,500 over demand.
The APTA Workforce Task Force makes adjustments to projections each year. According to the report, the differences between the 2012 and 2013 projections are mostly due to 3 factors: a lower rate of US population increase than projected in 2012, a lower percentage of insured people than projected last year, and an anticipated increase in the supply of PTs. The lower demand numbers mean that if PT attrition rates are 1.5% or lower, supply could meet or even slightly exceed demand by 2020.
Most projections show physical therapy as a growing profession, with projected unmet demand ranging from 13,638 to 27,822, depending on the attrition rate of PTs over time. The APTA Workforce Task Force now uses 3 projected attrition rates—3.5%, 2.5%, and 1.5%. When balanced against PT workforce rates that include a projected 4% growth in graduates, a 1% increase in candidates who pass the licensure examination, and a steady flow of international PTs who pass the exam, the number of licensed PTs is projected to rise from about 176,000 to between 203,000 and 232,000 by 2020. The supply and demand data are part of a suite of resources on the physical therapy workforce available on APTA's website.
Eligible professionals, including physical therapists (PTs), who reported at least 1 2013 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) quality-data code through claims can now access an online dashboard to review data on their submissions. PTs in private practice who do not participate in PQRS in 2013 face a 1.5% penalty that will be imposed in 2015.
PTs who reported measures can view data organized by taxpayer identification number or individual national provider identifier. The dashboard is available through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician and Other Health Care Professionals Quality Reporting Portal and can help PTs monitor whether or not they will avoid the 2015 payment adjustment and possibly earn a 2013 PQRS incentive payment. The site includes a User Guide for additional information on the types of data available.
APTA offers a site dedicated to explaining PQRS and helping PTs understand their reporting responsibilities. The penalties can be avoided if PTs meet the PQRS measurement specifications, an approach that allows the PT to earn a 2013 incentive payment of .5% of covered Medicare part B charges. PTs can also avoid the 2015 penalty (but miss out on the incentive payment) by submitting 1 valid measure through claims, participating registry, or through a qualified electronic health record, or by reporting at least 1 valid measure in a measures group through claims or a participating registry.
PQRS also offers a help desk accessible by phone at 866/288-8912 (TTY 877/715-6222) or e-mail. Assistance is available Monday through Friday 7:00 am-7:00 pm, CT.
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