One of the unique aspects of Physical Therapy (PT) within the post-acute care delivery space is the nature of patient engagement. While PT providers are generally brought into the care team at the behest of a referral, the success (or failure) of that experience has a lot to do with a patient’s perception of the provider, the clinic, and the benefits of the therapy itself. Whereas inefficiencies and communication challenges in other specialties – even within the post-acute space – might be tolerated, albeit begrudgingly, there doesn’t seem to be as much patient adherence to care plans where Physical Therapy is concerned if the processes are clunky.
We’ve highlighted before how better communication tools can create a strong patient referral network for Physical Therapy providers, which is critical in a specialty that feels more direct-to-consumer than most. Today we want to highlight the actual care delivery experience in Physical Therapy, and explore how digital healthcare communication elevates that experience for Patient and Provider alike.
The Patient Experience: PT is Hard Work
Given the physical nature of…well..Physical Therapy, it’s an uphill battle to keep patients on track just given the difficulty of the work required to recover from an accident or injury. Perceptions in the PT care delivery space of not having time, not being able to afford treatment, frustrations with insurance coverage, complex schedules and care plans, etc. only exacerbate the compliance piece, leaving many patients needing to repeat the very therapies they are not motivated to complete the first go-round.
Where digital healthcare communication can make an impact is in the ability for secure, closed-loop connectivity channels between providers to minimize burden placed on the patient to make appointments, facilitate referral hand-offs, and articulate care plans to other providers on the care team. Because tools like our Kno2fy™ Portal allow for Physical Therapy providers and their staff to tap into an interconnected network of other providers (and their staff), regardless of existing technology stack or IT budget, collaboration on behalf of the patient is seamless and strong.
The beautiful outcome of this collaboration is that patients are also motivated by a unified care team, who can easily access the latest plans of care and progress notes via their EHRs or Direct Secure Message inbox, to stay the course of their PT plan. When there are multiple providers abreast of and encouraging compliance with a therapy strategy, patients feel more supported and more likely to perceive their adherence and completion of a plan as important to their overall health and well-being. (That’s the dream, right?!)
The Provider Experience: It Takes a Village
Unfortunately, Physical Therapy can be relegated to the “optional” category for some patients, with even just a few sessions and mild improvement marking the completion of their willingness to participate. As we well understand, this is like driving to the parking lot of a majestic locale and calling it “sort of nice,” then driving on home. There’s so much opportunity for optimal health and stellar outcomes left on the table when patients don’t value and show up for Physical Therapy.
The business of PT rests so heavily on engagement and retention. Leveraging digital healthcare communication to replace paper workflows and disconnected connectivity mechanisms between referral sources means that more focus can be put on the high-touch nature of PT patient care delivery versus administrative management. When Physical Therapy providers can easily identify strong referral networks based on digitized traffic, and referrals are promptly responded to and booked to capitalize on potential business, the flow of income and patients makes for sustained work that fuels better collaboration across the continuum of care.