The physical therapy landscape changed dramatically in 2022. PTs are rallying to conquer some of the top issues in physical therapy practices across the United States. And while items like self-care are still on the list, clinics have adjusted their protocols to offer modern solutions for patients who need them most. Let's explore the five most significant issues facing physical therapists in 2023 and how to solve them.
In this article, we will discuss the following five current issues physical therapists should be aware of in 2023:
Physical therapy clinics in some regions have reduced staffing due to a lack of patients and state laws. Others are running full steam and need all hands on deck. Whether you are interested in offering in-home therapy to attract more clients or help balance the demand from existing clients, in-home therapy can offer many benefits to your practice.
Many don't know that Medicare does cover in-home physical therapy on an outpatient basis (e.g., under Medicare Part B). These types of visits can be offered and billed in the same fashion as a clinic visit.
Some patients may be more comfortable receiving care in their homes. If you choose to expand your physical therapy services into home health, consider these tips for a successful transition:
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, track and measure metrics to ensure your in-home service line is as effective as your outpatient service line and strive for continuous improvement.
It's no secret that retaining your patients is good business, but why is this one of the most significant issues facing physical therapists in 2023? According to a 2019 survey among outpatient OT & PT clinicians, managers, directors & owners, the three leading causes (outside of insurance concerns) of patient retention are time, cost, and physical therapy expectations.
All three stem from one major problem: value. Time commitments would no longer be a problem if patients understood why therapy is necessary. Expectations would seem easy if the value were apparent. And the cost wouldn't concern patients who knew physical therapy treatment was essential to living their best lives.
Treat every patient with sterling professionalism, continually underline the benefits of physical therapy, and praise people for their efforts along the way. You'll keep the patients you have and fuel future visits from their friends and family. Build a culture of value around your craft; never let your enthusiasm waiver for impressive results.
Other steps you can take to improve the likelihood that patients will return the next time they need therapy include:
Managing a physical therapy clinic is challenging, even for the most skilled entrepreneur. There are so many moving parts in the physical therapy industry. It's nearly impossible to stay on top of everything simultaneously. However, with the proper delegation, marketing channels, and software systems, physical therapists can optimize their environment for patients and staff, promoting a culture beaming with productivity.
The vast world of marketing is constantly changing. Every year the digital space evolves, making older marketing techniques inefficient.
Building a solid customer base, engaging with prior patients, and retaining top PT talent revolves around marketing on the right platforms, at the right time, and to the right audience.
These methods include marketing your practice to physicians along with prospective patients, using a variety of tools. These include the following:
Staying in the digital space has never been more relevant than now when launching a marketing campaign. Once you've polished and launched your campaign, study the results. Pinpointing the most successful features can save you loads of time and money in the future and could reveal eye-opening prospects.
Our free 2022 Marketing Guide offers a comprehensive walk-through of the most critical aspects of marketing for physical therapy practices. You can find it here.
HIPAA violations can be severe offenses for healthcare providers, some resulting in fines up to $50,000 and imprisonment. The Office for Civil Rights has received over 233,581 complaints since April 2003-April 2020. The most significant compliance issues occurred in the following order:
Among these complaints, private practices and physicians were among the most likely candidates to commit HIPAA violations.
Practices that back up their encrypted data create strong passwords, install antivirus software, and continuously educate their PTs about HIPAA are far better at staying compliant. This understanding is doubly essential with so many therapists working from home.
Practice owners have more hurdles when managing their staff as of late. Ensuring your team is educated on new additions to your practice is essential. But certain hardships in physical therapy were already challenging, so what has changed with maintaining motivation, stellar recruiting, and productivity metrics?
Added stress and anxiety have altered career pathways, affected families, and made physical therapy difficult for all PTs.
Now more than ever, one of the most impactful things practice owners can do is actively listen to their employees. You should also communicate all your information about the ongoing situation with your staff. Sharing this information helps employees feel connected and could also help provide solutions. By asking for their feedback and showing appreciation along the way, people will have a newfound sense of purpose and are motivated to find answers in the workplace.
Other steps you can take to help motivate your team members include:
Whether you're ramping back up for business or you've lost valuable employees in the first month of 2023, recruiting and retaining top PTs is invaluable to any organization. The fact is that many healthcare professionals are out of work for one reason or another right now, and your practice could be where this talent lands.
Recruiting is as simple as finding the best place to post job offerings, updating your website's career section, and providing proper job descriptions. Create a framework for your interview process where you can compare rockstars and decline unfit candidates immediately.
Retaining talent is trickier and boils down to excellent communication, goal-setting, and workplace flexibility. Creating an environment where the lines of communication are wide open promotes growth, and when goals are in place, employees feel like their work is meaningful. You'll rarely lose employees when your staff is supercharged with purpose, and you respect their time by allowing flexible PTO policies and scheduling.
Productivity metrics are important while measuring individual PT and the clinic's success. But understand that they are precious tools for understanding your employees.
Use these metrics to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your staff. Ask questions about why specific PTs have better metrics, such as net promoter scores, to figure out how to build up the entire team.
For example, you might evaluate missed appointment metrics to decide how to handle missed appointments in the future. If they happen rarely, perhaps no changes are required. If you see a percentage of appointments missed without cancellation in advance, that can impact your ability to run a profitable physical therapy practice. You might need to consider drafting and implementing a no-show policy to mitigate risk.
Individual metrics for each physical therapist can also provide valuable insight. One therapist with significantly higher volumes or another with significantly lower volumes might trigger additional research and learning.
Finally, productivity metrics can help you measure your therapists' individual performance over time. Access to real-time data allows you to set goals for new therapists and measure their performance against those goals. Likewise, metrics are often the first sign that a team member is struggling personally or professionally and can open the door for conversation.
As many facilities have closed, where does that leave physical therapists in their career pathway?
Continuing education (CEU) is almost mandatory in the world of physical therapy. Highlighting courses that align with professional goals can help develop the best clinical skills and industry knowledge - setting you apart from the competition. But which courses should physical therapists pursue?
Look for classes that match your career pathway with their defined course goals, target audience, instructional level, and faculty certifications.
To obtain a larger market share, consider taking or offering courses in in-demand specialties that 1) few other practices in your area offer and 2) many patients can utilize.
Starting a new practice is complicated by itself. Add the complications of the times, and it seems daunting. The good news is that most states are opening their economies and getting back to business.
Focus your efforts on marketing and building relationships with local physicians to establish a sturdy patient foundation. When opening a new clinic, it's best to check current federal, state, and local guidelines before acting on your business plan.
Other recommendations include the following:
Self-care is always an issue facing physical therapists, as the industry can be demanding. New PTs out of school might face more stress as they learn new skills and adapt to updated procedures. Meanwhile, established PTs attempt to find a positive work-life balance to avoid burnout.
Handling burnout and finding a positive work-life balance can be difficult for PTs working in a hospital or high-volume practice. Especially with fewer employees on the payroll, somebody has to pick up the slack. Managing burnout and creating this balance is typically due to a need for more communication.
Practice owners and physical therapists must be vocal when they've bitten off more than they can chew. Shifting the workload evenly amongst your PTs will eliminate potential burnout, create happier and healthier employees, and allow for a better patient care experience.
You can help prevent burnout by meeting with therapists often to discuss their workload, offering flexible schedules, giving therapists autonomy over their schedules as long as they meet goals, and automating tedious tasks like appointment scheduling and HEPs.
Managing the stress of work, life, and therapy outcomes can be a heavy burden. Patients who don't show up for treatment and wonder why they aren't getting better can overload the best PT. Even worse, some patients have suffered a traumatic injury or are dealing with a debilitating illness.
Identify signs of stress by asking yourself some of the following questions:
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it might be time to communicate your concerns with your leadership, take additional time to decompress, and speak with a doctor or mental health provider.
You can help manage and cope with job-related stress by setting boundaries, communicating openly and honestly, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, and establishing routines at work and at home that keep you organized.
Being a physical therapist is a challenging and rewarding profession. When PTs can overcome these obstacles to their daily routines, it makes their job enjoyable, fun, and fulfilling. Helping patients can be one of the most rewarding feelings on the planet. Physical therapists are on the front lines daily, tackling the issues in this article and making a recovery possible.
Request a 30-minute no-pressure demo today to learn more about how MWTherapy can help you stay competitive in 2023 and beyond.
Easily the best documentation software I've ever used.
Thanks, as always, for your excellent customer service.
I have used your program for 4+ years and just really like it and you folks have been great to help my practice keep running smoothly.