Admit it: you love data.
Or maybe you don't love data. But hey, maybe you should give data another chance, because data love you.
The Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry, one of APTA's biggest projects in several years, is taking shape, and it has the potential to be the largest outcomes registry in the nation. Not just the largest physical therapy outcomes registry: the largest outcomes registry, period.
Though a sophisticated system, the basic idea behind this high-powered database is simple: input patient and treatment information, synch up EHRs when possible, and see how patient and practice data connects with similar data from every other participating PT and facility.
The key, of course, is early participation from PTs and clinics, and a willingness to invest in populating the registry with data, over time. But once the registry receives sufficient data, the results might just rock your world.
How? Here are the 4 biggest ways the Registry will directly benefit you and your patients.
PTs are treating patients every day, which means that every day, more and more evidence is being established for the efficacy of certain approaches in particular patient, condition, and physical therapy circumstances. The Registry will give this evidence a home. Your decision-making process will become more informed, because you can see what's working—and not just from a broad perspective, but through data searches that allow you to filter results according the condition severity, patient demographics, comorbidities, and more.
When practices share data, the physical therapy profession grows stronger. That's not just pie-in-the-sky sentiment; it's a reality of survival in a health care environment in which payers and policymakers are continually demanding to see evidence of an entire profession's value—not just your particular successes. The only way to demonstrate that value is through collected data, which not only validates current practices, but points the way to efficiency and productivity increases that are linked to patient-centered care. The Registry will store this kind of information and allow users to benchmark their individual and facility performance against others.
The data available through the Registry is also a kind of market and business research tool. Benchmarking with other PTs and facilities will allow you to see where you fit in the picture, how your patient population compares with colleagues, and what makes your practice special (could be something you're not even aware of—yet). You'll also be able to compare your own practice over time to see what's working and what's not. The bottom line: better bottom lines. In addition to providing tools for here-and-now, the Registry also contains that kind of data that can help you demonstrate value in innovative payment models—bundling systems, for one example—that are coming in the very near future.
Private and government payers continue to increase their understanding of and regard for the effectiveness of physical therapy—that's great. But we all know what that means—more compliance requirements to participate in the various systems. The Registry could create avenues to make it easier to fulfill reporting requirements and to access feedback reports. It has the potential to help PTs position themselves to receive the reimbursement incentives—and avoid the penalties—associated with certain reporting systems.
And those 4 elements don't even touch on 1 of the Registry's biggest potential benefits—the absolute boon it could prove to be for researchers, and for producing the evidence that the profession truly is transforming society.
Karen Chesbrough, APTA's director of the Registry describes it simply as "power in numbers."
"The more data we have the stronger the evidence is going to be," Chesbrough explains. "This will make research more real. It will allow PTs the ability to run reports, to do benchmarking reports, and to even QC themselves easily."
"It's coming," Chesbrough said. "PTs who don't participate will be missing out."
This article is a part of APTA's "Profession in Transformation" series. Check it out!