Healthcare worker burnout was front and center of the pandemic efforts to flatten the curve and preserve vital resources, including access to care and the staff to provide it. And while that press has quieted, the crisis impacting providers and healthcare staff is far from over. It’s worse. In fact, the Surgeon General has an entire page dedicated to the prioritization of addressing health worker burnout. One of the contributing factors cited in Dr. Murthy’s advisory? Administrative burden. Imagine getting into healthcare with a desire to help patients, to impact your community, and then finding yourself dealing with increasingly less resources and mounting piles of paperwork, the management and exchange of which is always days to weeks behind. Also, it’s 2023. Why must there still be so much physical paper involved? But for Physical Therapy providers, paper continues to proliferate, and Therapy staff are struggling to bear the weight (pun intended) of tedious and time-consuming administrative processes.

How do we get ahead of this burnout in Therapy and change the experience to keep valuable staff and providers engaged and ready to provide their valuable services to patients? The answer lies in automating the exchange of care plans for Physical Therapy. And the best part is that firing up that automation doesn’t have to be complicated or costly!

Managing Therapy Referrals Is a Full-Time Job

Therapy staff are spending hours of their days (repeat, hours…every day) wrestling toner and staplers and physical copies of care plans and patient records. Therapy treatment inherently starts with collaboration with at least one other provider, and continues as such, usually with more providers looped in along the way. There is absolutely going to need to be secure, timely data exchange with the care team. But the idea that Therapy EHRs like WebPT or Raintree would interface to every provider’s EHR in their care community is untenable. Point-to-point connections (be it fax or integrations) are not going to move the needle on interoperability, especially not as quickly as we need connectivity to happen and exist for effective collaboration.

Consider, then, the importance of technology vendors looking at the full spectrum of health IT infrastructure that already exists to build from that framework. The 360X referral management protocol, for example, is such a boon to our collective efforts because it doesn’t require expensive solutions or lengthy implementations to allow providers to exchange information securely while managing and tracking referrals…paperlessly!

And bear in mind, efficient referral management is not only important to streamline the provider’s ability to deliver care and prevent their staff from pulling out their hair, but better communication for Therapy referrals also results in a better patient experience, encouraging compliance and follow through.

Focusing on Exponential Connectivity for Therapy Is a Stretch in The Right Direction

If we really want to change the administrative experience for Therapy providers and staff, shifting to digital healthcare communication and records exchange is vital. Care Plans will absolutely need to be shared, so keeping those records (and their associated documentation) within the natural systems in which Therapy providers are already functioning reduces inefficiencies and creates a single source of truth. The key is connecting those solutions to a communication network of other providers to share those records as is, avoiding the dreaded fax screeching and creating a more secure, scalable channel for collaboration.