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
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.
Feb 23, 2021 / Roundup
The fight to improve direct access continues, use of the licensure compact grows, and telehealth is being discussed just about everywhere.
Dec 9, 2020 / News
ALEC has reauthorized a resolution that backs unrestricted direct access to physical therapy as important to "free-market health care."
Dec 7, 2020 / Review
A new study affirms that direct access to physical therapy improves outcomes and lowers cost for patients with back pain.
Aug 13, 2019 / Perspective
I knew this opportunity was bigger than our anatomy exam.
Dec 10, 2018 / Review
When it comes to management of low back pain, PTs know just as much—and sometimes more—than the family practice physicians who often are sought for primary care.
May 24, 2018 / Review
A new study finds additional benefits to receiving physical therapy for LBP as a first-line approach.
Oct 20, 2017 / News
Most of the use is occurring in private and hospital-based outpatient clinics and group practices.