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  • APTA Breaks Ground on New Headquarters: APTA Centennial Center

    APTA Breaks Ground on New Headquarters


    Let the construction begin: current and former APTA leaders gathered in Alexandria, Virginia, to celebrate the groundbreaking of APTA Centennial Center, a 7-story, 115,000-square-foot building that will be the association's headquarters beginning in 2021.

    The building will support APTA's workforce of the future and better serve the evolving needs of the association's members. But APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, noted that it's also a testament to APTA's proud history.

    "Today marks a culmination of decades of vision, dedication, and leadership," Dunn said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Today is possible due to the legacy of past leaders in the American Physical Therapy Association. It is a legacy of stewardship and of investing in the next generation."

    The investment is more than symbolic. An exploratory work group of APTA members discovered that the cost of adequately renovating APTA's existing headquarters—the association's national home since 1983—would be similarly expensive with only a marginal increase in asset value for the association. By selling the current buildings, which are likely to be redeveloped into more valuable mixed-use properties, APTA was able to capitalize on the opportunity provided by constructing a new headquarters that is more consistent with the association's values and business needs.

    APTA Centennial Center will be many things that APTA's current headquarters are not. For one, APTA staff will be able to occupy a single building, spread out primarily across 2.5 of APTA Centennial Center's 7 floors, rather than divided across multiple smaller buildings, as currently. The new building also will be much more accessible to those who use public transportation, with a new Metrorail station being constructed just across the street (APTA's current headquarters are 1 mile from the nearest Metrorail station). But perhaps most exciting, APTA Centennial Center will better promote movement and health in its physical presentation and its connectivity to paths that promote active transportation and exercise.

    APTA Board of Directors at Groundbreaking
    APTA Board of Directors at the groundbreaking ceremony for APTA's new headquarters.


    The association anticipates that APTA Centennial Center will be a LEED-certified "Silver" facility that meets environmental sustainability standards, and that it will also receive the highest certification from FitWel, a program that recognizes the ways a building encourages fitness, social equity, more healthful food options, and other factors that contribute to a healthier workplace.

    "Our new headquarters will serve as a continual reminder of APTA's dedication to health, wellness, and rehabilitation, community-building and collaboration, and social and environmental responsibility," Dunn said. "It will be a place where staff, members, and visitors can feel empowered to work toward shared goals in a setting that exemplifies our shared values."

    Association and community members who visit APTA Centennial Center will find more space for them, from a ground floor that is likely to include temporary exhibits to a top floor that significantly expands APTA's conference and meeting space, including a partial roof terrace. (Two-and-a-half floors of APTA Centennial Center will be tenant space.)

    Also encouraging for the long-term value of the association's new property is its burgeoning location. APTA Centennial Center is part of a National Landing region that will include Amazon's new Virginia headquarters, plus a $1 billion Virginia Tech Innovation Campus that will be just down the street. Nearly completed and beginning to be occupied is a new headquarters for the National Industries for the Blind, which will sit next to APTA Centennial Center.

    "This building is an investment in our future and in the Alexandria community that APTA has called home for 36 years," said APTA Chief Executive Officer Justin Moore, PT, DPT. "It's also a commitment to best serve the physical therapy profession, and to empower our members to pursue APTA's vision of transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience."

    Sharon Dunn APTA President
    APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, called the building an investment in APTA's future.


    APTA anticipates occupying the building in January 2021, as the association begins its centennial year.

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    Study of Cash-Based PT Services Hints at Possibility of Increased Cost-Effectiveness

    A small-scale study that looks at the effect of cash-based physical therapist (PT) services on utilization points to the possibility that the approach could be associated with lower overall costs and greater patient-reported levels of improvement—although authors say more research is needed before any definite conclusions can be drawn.

    The new research, which authors describe as "the first to provide descriptive statistics for a cash-based PT clinic," involved chart review of 48 randomly selected patients who sought treatment from a Florida-based physical therapy clinic between 2013 and 2016. The clinic accepts only direct payment, and all patients sought treatment via the state's direct access provisions. Results were published in The Health Care Manager (abstract only available for free).

    In their analysis, the authors dispensed with codes from the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) and instead focused on affected body regions. They did, however, stick with the ICD definitions for acute (0 to 4 weeks' symptom duration), subacute (4 to 12 weeks' duration), and chronic (duration of more than 12 weeks) injuries. Patient self-reports were derived from the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) obtained at evaluation and discharge. Male patients outnumbered female patients, 27-21. Average patient age was 41 for men and 47 for women.

    Here's what researchers found:

    • The average number of visits per episode of care was 8, with a median of 5. Authors report that a similar study conducted with patients in a traditional insurance-based model identified a 7.3-visit average.
    • Total cost of care for the cash-based practice averaged $780 (median of $600); the insurance-based study identified a total average cost of $936. Patients in the cash-based system averaged a per visit cost of $97.52.
    • Patients seeking treatment for low back pain (LBP) made up the bulk of the case load, at 39.6%. The second most common diagnosis was leg or knee pain (29.2%), followed by cervical/thoracic pain (14.6%).
    • Average patient NPRS score at evaluation was 6.9 (with a variation of plus or minus 1.9 points), and at discharge was 1.1 (plus or minus 1.9 points). In all cases, patients met the minimum clinically important difference for change in NPRS score.
    • Chronic injuries accounted for 28 of the 48 injuries treated.

    The study's authors acknowledge its limitations, including the small sample size, its focus on 1 practice, and its use of descriptive statistics. While they write that the study "provides a foundation for further research," they caution against drawing conclusions about the cost-effectiveness of cash-based versus insurance-based PT services.

    Still, they argue, the study has uncovered some potentially compelling evidence that merits further study.

    "Our data supports the possibility of increased cost effectiveness when compared with traditional insurance-based PT services," authors write. "Fee schedules and outcome measures used when comparing outcomes across multiple cash-based services are necessary areas for future research to be able to fully compare cash-based practice to insurance-based services."

    APTA members Kyle Pulford, PT, DPT; Brittany Kilduff, PT, DPT; William Hanney, PT, DPT, PhD; Morey Kolber, PT, PhD; and Ron Miller, DPT, were among the authors of the study.

    [Editor's note: Interested in cash-based practice? Check out APTA's Cash Practice webpage for background information, tips, and FAQs.]

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.

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