More needs to be done to improve direct access in states across the country.
Direct access means the removal of the physician referral mandated by state law to access physical therapist services for evaluation and treatment. Every state, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands allow for evaluation and some form of treatment without physician referral. However, many of those states continue to impose arbitrary restrictions on direct access, or only allow for treatment without referral under very limited circumstances.
Why It Matters
Direct access restrictions cause unnecessary delays for people who would benefit from treatment by a PT. Delays in care result in higher costs, decreased functional outcomes, and frustration to patients seeking physical therapy treatment. Eliminating arbitrary barriers results in timely, more effective care.
Allowing individuals to make decisions regarding their health care is good policy. Eliminating the referral requirement makes health care more accessible to more people. We must amend current statutes at the state level to remove arbitrary limitations on direct access to physical therapy services.
Additional Direct Access Advocacy Content
Jan 26, 2024 / News
A new report from DOD says that positioning PTs as primary care providers for neuromusculoskeletal conditions is "entirely feasible."
Nov 10, 2023 / Review
Patients who first sought care from a physical therapist or chiropractor had fewer opioid prescriptions and MRIs after diagnosis.
Jul 24, 2023 / Roundup
Growing participation in the PT Compact, expanded direct access, ability to order imaging, limits on prior authorization, and more.
Mar 1, 2023 / Roundup
It's looking like a busy year for state legislatures, with the potential for some good news for the profession. Now's your chance to help.
Feb 8, 2023 / News
The association's public policy priorities are aimed at unleashing physical therapy's potential to take on pressing health care challenges.
Aug 26, 2022 / Roundup
State advocates for the profession racked up some important wins this year. Here are highlights.
Jan 26, 2022 /
Topics covered include direct access, the physical therapy compact, telehealth, and more.
Aug 11, 2021 / Review
Research in the military health care system revealed lower costs and symptom recurrence for patients who saw a PT within 30 days.
Jul 26, 2021 / Roundup
From better insurer responsiveness to direct access improvements, to breakthroughs on PT use of imaging, lots of state-level achievements.
Apr 16, 2021 / Roundup
Many state legislatures are still in session, but positive changes are already in the works. Here's a progress report.