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5 Technology Trends for Physical Therapy Practices

What's new and what's coming next

The last 10 years have ushered in a host of changes in technology both for personal and business use. Physical therapy practices are benefiting from many of those changes. This blog post is dedicated to 5 trends in PT technology. Check it out and stay on the cutting edge!

1. Patient experience is in

Providing great care and positive outcomes remain crucial aspects of any successful physical therapy practice but the trend is that this isn’t enough on its own. Providing a great patient experience is now a key aspect. Patient experience covers every interaction the patient has with your practice from finding or being referred to you, to your website, to the first phone call, to the care, discharge and beyond.

Thinking about the process a patient follows can be a good way to assess the patient experience at your practice. No matter how you do it, technology needs to part of every step of your process if you want to to offer a top notch patient experience. Technology is the key to communicating with referrers and patients alike as well as giving your staff the tools they need to deliver a quality patient experience.

2. Web based is in, server-based and web-accessible are out

In the old days, it was server-based or nothing. Practices that took on a server-based program were pioneers because they were employing technology at great cost and inconvenience. Server based systems (such as EMRs) required constant maintenance and upkeep. They were often clunky and could only be used from certain devices/operating systems.

Sure, server-based systems actually still do exist but they our big time. Web based (also called cloud based) is in big time. In healthcare and beyond, web based systems offer so many benefits that it’s impossible to ignore. True web based systems offered by a good vendor offer you the best of the best:

  • No software installation of any kind
  • Maintenance is taken care of by vendor
  • Data is stored in top tier data centers
  • Work anywhere any time

There are still server based systems out there but they are not a sensible choice for 99.9% of practices. MWTherapy, for example, is ready to serve any size practice and can make it easy. If you’re downloading software and stuck using certain devices when you’re in the practice then you know it’s time to jump on this trend.

Web-accessible – which is a hybrid between server and web based systems – are also out. While it offers some of the benefits of web based systems, it still has many of the downsides of a server based programs. Need more info? Click here to read a prior blog post to help you understand the difference.

3. Bring your own device is in for clinical staff

Bring your own device is a trend that has been taking hold in many different industries. Bring your own device means that rather than the practice providing each therapist or other staff person a computer, the person may bring in and use their own device. In a lot of ways, this technology trend goes hand-in-hand with the trend in use of web based systems. With greater freedom to work on the go and more freely means that people are using personal devices anyways. Many practices have extended this practice to the practice where staff can bring and use their own device. This also allows different people to use the device of their choice – some may prefer a laptop whereas others prefer a tablet.

This trend doesn’t apply to all staff. Front desk staff are still usually provided with a workstation (multiple monitors are a good idea!). This works because most front desk/billing staff work in a fixed location.

If you’re going to allow a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) setup, it’s a good idea to have a written policy on BYOD and how you handle it internally.

4. Patient facing technology is in

Much new technology has been brought forward by use by physical therapy practices and their staff. This has come in many forms – EMRs, Practice Management Systems, Outcomes tools, etc. It has also come in the form of new equipment like state of the art treadmills and other tech-laden products. At the same time, patients have been getting into tech on their end such as wearables.

The new trend is the two of these two trends coming together. Practices are moving more and more towards patient facing technology that enables a patient to interact with their practice electronically. One example is home exercise programs. Many practices have employed HEPs for years and many produce a paper HEP to give to the patient. Today emailing patients, keeping in touch, videos of exercises, etc are all patient facing. This trend is also making its way into other aspects of the patient cycle.

5. Collaborative care is in

Working together among various clinicians both internally and externally is 100% in. Most clinicians innately recognize that working together is for the best. In December of 2018, the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) issued a statement memorializing a commitment to even more collaboration and encouraging each of its members to do the same. There is clear nexus between collaboration and technology.

Collaboration can mean many things but above all it means strong and consistent communication. Tech can make that possible, secure, and often instant or close to it.

Expect this trend to continue and grow especially as technology and interoperability expands.

The bottom line

There’s never a dull moment in the technology world. Things are constantly evolving and changing creating new opportunities for better outcomes, better profitability, and continued growth of your physical therapy practice. Check back into our blog for more trends.

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