Imagine a scenario in which a patient learns he needs a dreaded root canal. The dentist’s plan of care requires four visits instead of the standard two and the patient will be on the hook for double the typical out-of-pocket costs. On top of that, the patient will receive a lower quality of care than if he went elsewhere. Should the patient stand for that? Of course not.
When it comes to the physical therapy needed following total knee replacement (TKR) surgery, a study published in the scientific journal Health Services Research says this type of scenario may be more common than you think. Where patients get physical therapy following TKR may affect how much the rehab costs, how many visits they need, and the quality of care they receive.
Led by Jean M. Mitchell, PhD, James D. Reschovsky, PhD, and Elizabeth Anne Reicherter, PT, DPT, PhD, the study examined whether the course of physical therapy treatments received by patients who undergo TKR surgery varies depending on whether the orthopedic surgeon has a financial stake in physical therapy services, often called physician self-referral. In reviewing 3,771 TKR patients, the study investigators concluded that physical therapists not involved with physician-owned clinics saw patients for fewer visits and provided more individualized care at a lower out-of-pocket cost.
Specifically, the study found that TKR patients who were treated in a clinic owned by their orthopedic surgeon received an average of 8.3 more (or twice as many) PT visits than those who were treated in a clinic in which their orthopedic surgeon had no financial stake.
We at Greensboro Physical Therapy would like patients to know they have options and do not automatically need to attend PT in the surgeon’s own clinic. Members across the PT profession are urging patients to seek out an evaluation by a physical therapist, recommending one that specializes in orthopedics (We have Dr. Mike Wright, a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist), ideally before scheduling a surgery consult. If that’s not possible, it is highly recommended for the public to consider seeing a PT outside of the physician self-referral clinics (like Greensboro Physical Therapy) in order to receive more individualized care that is task specific to each patient’s deficits and impairments following surgery.
The rehab program in a physician self-referral clinic is often heavily focused on group therapy sessions. In such a setting, the PT may not be able to observe and address each patient’s deficits. Conversely, patients treated in an individualized physical therapy program will be better sooner and receive better care. Higher quality care correlates with more efficient and effective episodes of care.
Greensboro Physical Therapy strives to create a direct, individualized experience in which you forge a direct clinical relationship with your Doctor of Physical Therapy. No schedule shifting done here. You get to see the same clinician each and every visit, unlike some of the other clinics in the area. We strive to be your PT for life. Come see the difference at Greensboro Physical Therapy – schedule your appointment here.