The past year was another eventful one for the physical therapy profession, and with more than 270 stories posted during 2017, readers of PT in Motion News were able to keep up with a wide range of developments, from payment to research to new APTA offerings. Here are 7 of the most-read stories from 2017.
(Editor's note: Don't miss reader comments on the articles—often as interesting as the story itself.)
A change in how CMS calculates reimbursement results in generally higher payments under the new CPT code set.
January: When the 3-tiered current procedural terminology (CPT) code set launched in 2017, not much was known beforehand about its effects on payment. Early on, however, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revealed that it had tweaked a formula in ways that would likely result in modest payment increases, depending on geographic region and other factors.
A study underscores the importance of patient education and choice when it comes where to receive physical therapy soon after surgery for TKA.
January: Authors of a retrospective cohort study found that patients who receive home-based physical therapy before entering an outpatient program do just about as well as those who receive immediate outpatient physical therapy—but it may take them longer to get there. The results, they say, point to the importance of shared decision-making between patient and the care team. PT in Motion News readers were eager to share their personal takes on both the research itself and the role of home-based physical therapy in general.
The Physical Therapy Licensure Compact reaches a critical milestone.
April: Washington became the 10th state to sign on to the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact (PTLC), allowing for official establishment of a system designed to allow PTs and PTAs to apply for privilege to practice in any participating PTLC state without having to be licensed in each one.
A new guideline says no to arthroscopy for knee OA or meniscal tears.
May: Delivered in the form of a clinical guideline, researchers said that short-term gains and function from arthroscopy are outweighed by the burden and risks of the procedure. Instead, the guideline recommends conservative treatment for "nearly all" patients with degenerative knee disease.
A new APTA webpage focuses on the PT's role in nutrition.
June: APTA unveiled a new "Nutrition and Physical Therapy" webpage with resources reflecting the association's position that it's appropriate for physical therapists (PTs) to "screen for and provide information on diet and nutritional issues to patients, clients, and the community." The story prompted a lively exchange of reader comments, both pro and con.
PTAs are included as providers under TRICARE.
December: In a big win for the profession, the new defense spending bill signed into law by President Donald Trump paves the way for physical therapist assistants (PTAs) to be recognized providers under the TRICARE payment program used throughout the Department of Defense health care system.
Capitol Hill inaction triggers a no-exceptions therapy cap—at least until mid-January, 2018.
December: The celebration of the news that PTAs would be included in TRICARE had hardly died down before the news hit that Congress was headed into recess without addressing the Medicare therapy cap in any way—including creating a stopgap exceptions process. The result? The $2,010 hard cap on therapy services is now in place until legislators decide to take up the issue once they return in January. The news was especially disappointing given that a bipartisan agreement to end the hard cap had been reached.