I have been a Physical Therapist since 1997. During my time working with patients we have identified common questions that most patients have. I have made these into a list of four facts as they pertain to Sterling Physical Therapy, in an effor to educate patients and the public.
Today I’ll discuss fact #1. “If your physician suggests physical therapy, you have the right to choose Sterling Physical Therapy.*” This comes as a surprise to many people, they assume that they have no choice and need to do exactly what the physician says. We educate patients that they are the untimate consumer of health care for their body and they need to exercise this right. Many times when you are not given a choice for where to go for physical therapy or you are referred to a clinic where a physician holds a financial interest, a hidden reason exists….money. The evidence against physician self referral continues to build with a new study published in the Archives of Special Surgery showing that financial incentives linked to ownership of either specialty hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers influence the frequency of outpatient orthopedic surgical procedures. A Washington Post article focused on the over-utilization of imaging tests and the problems this can cause for patients and the health care system in general. In 2010 a report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) dealt a heavy blow to physicians who self refer patients to their own physical therapy services.
R. Scott Ward PT, PhD, President of the APTA, wrote “Although it was no surprise to those of us in the physical therapy profession, the MedPAC found that over the past 5 years certain services provided by physicians, including physical therapy, have experienced rapid volume growth. The report cites several studies that have found physicians with a financial interest in physical therapy initiate therapy for patients with musculoskeletal injuries more frequently than other physicians and that physician-owned physical therapy clinics provide more visits per patient than non-physician-owned clinics. Moreover, says the MedPAC report, there is evidence that some diagnostic imaging and physical therapy services ordered by physicians are not clinically appropriate.”
Some people will also submit that in hospitals where there is no financial stake by the physicians, an effort is made to refer patients “in their system” which in turn is a form of Referral for Profit. Finally in an era of increasing health insurance premiums this type of referral pattern drives up your premiums. We all want to save money and not be part of a pattern that costs us more every year in insurance premiums.
So remember the next time your at your physicians office and they tell you that you need Physical Therapy, tell them you want to go to Sterling Physical Therapy (Sterling PT fact #1). Sterling is locally owned and locally invested in our community. From our inception we have specialized in orthopaedic, sports, and workers compensation cases and choosing us will not make your health insurance premiums rise. Our mission statement is “Personal Care. Proven Results” and we look forward to sharing this experience with you the next time you need physical therapy.
*Sterling will consult with your physician if appropriate.
Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist