If you have been paying attention to the news and political platforms the last 10+ years, Healthcare Reform is one thing you may be familiar with. There are many moving parts to this concept, but one main aspect is how can we as a nation and health care providers cut cost?
Last year the New Yorker published an article written by a doctor about this very concept. It went into detail about the unnecessary care that is given sometimes, which is leading to significant overuse of health care dollars. The article was lengthy, but worth a look at:
So what do we as PT’s have to offer you, the consumer, and the healthcare system in general to save medical dollars?
1) Prevent surgery
One of the examples in the article about dollars wasted was regarding a gentleman who was about to undergo a menisectomy (which is a surgery to remove a torn meniscus in your knee). Rather than just going forward with surgery, he decided to try all of his options, including physical therapy. After completing physical therapy, he met his goals, and was able to save himself thousands of dollars by not undergoing surgery. This example is so important because there are many conditions out there that physical therapy can successfully manage.
2) Help to avoid imaging (i.e. MRI, CT scan, X-ray)
The article also discussed the fact that often times imaging finds conditions that are normal for the population, and have been found by many research studies to not always be correlated to the patient’s pain. The meniscus example above is one of these conditions, but a very common one is degenerative disc disease (usually in the low back/lumbar spine). Often times these conditions are treated successfully by conservative management (such as physical therapy). Your physical therapist will work with your doctor to identify certain signs and symptoms that suggest when further imaging is necessary. Avoiding imaging when it is not necessary not only saves thousands of dollars, but it also expedites the process to beginning conservative management. Many studies have shown that the sooner physical therapy is started, the more successful intervention.
3) Emphasize education to decrease risk for further injury
One of the huge advantages that physical therapists have is the length of our appointment times with each customer/patient. At OSI, the first visits is always 45 minutes, with each follow-up visit a duration of 30 minutes. This extended, individual treatment allows for very specific and targeted interventions to reach individual goals. Research over the years has identified education regarding pathology/injury, proper technique, and the importance of resuming normal daily activities as a huge component to decreasing someone’s fear of movement and increasing their return to functional activities.
Health care can be a complicated subject to understand as a consumer. However, it is important to dedicate time to be as informed as much as possible. This article is a fantastic resource to help understand some of the factors that have contributed to the rise in health care costs, and what we can do to stay educated and manage our own individual health. It also outlines how physical therapy may be a more cost effective and successful choice for certain injuries. To learn more about if your condition is appropriate for physical therapy, call at anytime to set up a free phone consultation with a physical therapist.
– Trish Mans, PT, DPT, AT
(OSI Physical Therapy Clinic in West St. Paul, MN)
Identifying Waste In Healthcare Spending