As a physical therapist, I am incredibly proud of what our profession has done for the patients and communities we serve, especially in these trying times. Physical therapy has been good to me personally, and I have always encouraged young students to consider healthcare, specifically the rehabilitation professions, as they begin their search for a career. There are certainly challenges, but we all know the achievement moments between a therapist and a patient can be priceless, which helps explain why we do what we do.
As we wrap up 2021, I just wanted to first wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. I also want to spend a few minutes pointing out essential qualities of our profession that we can use to help define us into the future.
I am always impressed at the tradeshows when talking with industry people. The ideas we hear about therapy businesses, the profession, and general healthcare always inspire us. The dedication by individuals to the industry has always been welcomed because it helps set our priorities. Having outstanding leadership in any profession creates relevancy, and we have some of the best clinical and business people in any industry. Creative thinkers, individuals who create a new niche, and trendsetters contribute to better rehabilitation. Our profession has made enormous strides in a relatively short period, but we certainly have more to do.
If I could offer a suggestion: I would start with eliminating the plan of care requirement and increasing the real-world ability for therapists to participate in Health Information Exchange.
Plan of care will serve no purpose if we have a better way to exchange patient care data among all healthcare providers. This move would not only be a financial and resource win for therapists, but it will undoubtedly promote better care and outcomes for patients.
Today, we have so much data; how can we use it constructively to optimize care and business models? I was raised in a house where it was ok to not always know the answer. However, I was encouraged to research and seek answers for myself. If we agree that data tells a story, but it will never be the ONLY story, we can begin to move in a data-driven direction that will help us improve care and business operations.
The learning process was more important than the destination if an answer could not be found. So, if we can continue to apply science and data with a sprinkle of art, we will undoubtedly continue to become a better profession for our communities.
Spread the word: what works, what doesn’t, and support it with data and stories. Continued education and engagement with everyone about rehabilitation is probably the best way to increase our footprint in the healthcare community.
Our success is related to patient outcomes; the more we can quantify and explain them, the easier it is to move the needle.