The competition is fierce for specialty providers, and those working in the Physical Therapy space are certainly no exception. And yet, it’s these very providers, vital to the patient experience for their impact on patient outcomes, who can feel disconnected from the care continuum and other care providers. We are passionate about giving a voice and drawing attention to healthcare professionals in post-acute care settings because this is often where we see referrals go to die, and as a result, where patients are limited in their ability to recover and truly rehabilitate from disease or injury. Let’s consider how leveraging simple communication tools can help not only create a strong client base for physical therapists, but also how the referral management experience can contribute toward better outcomes for patients and more empowerment in physical therapy practice.
Direct Secure Messaging as a Simple (Yet Powerful) Step One!
We’ve shared before how Direct Secure Messaging can jumpstart steps toward interoperability, and the use case for physical therapy is super strong here given that PT may be leveraging completely different tools (i.e. not EHRs) than hospitals or large health systems. Creating a Direct address and making sure referral partners know it’s available can create a secure, efficient means of exchanging patient information. This is a powerful step to drive a referral base where administrative staff isn’t drowning in faxed paperwork or paralyzed from serving the patient because they are missing documentation to even get an appointment on the books.
The goal in physical therapy is getting patients moving and helping them get their lives back! The sooner we can close the loop from referral to appointment, the better outcomes we can expect. Not to mention, there are cost savings in keeping that patient out of the ED and reducing the need for home health or long-term rehab care as they regain independence.
Isn’t it amazing how a simple little inbox can unlock a life-changing experience for patients needing PT?
Closing the Loop on Physical Therapy Referrals
It is quite unrealistic (and arrogant, if we may be so bold) to expect physical therapy providers to integrate with healthcare IT solutions targeted for very different use cases and modalities simply to be able to exchange patient data and support referrals. But on the other hand, it’s missing the holistic picture to keep PT in a silo, unable to effectively share treatment plans and exercises with PCPs and other specialists on a patient’s care team. Leveraging the 360x protocol, for example, empowers physical therapists to exchange data and healthcare records without expensive integrations by encouraging use of straight-forward specs to request referrals, accept patients, share basic demographics and data, as well as establish a mechanism for closing the loop with subsequent care records for visits and/or closing out the referral itself.
The Power of Simple to Attract Referrals for Physical Therapy
Where this use case really impacts physical therapy experience is in creating a smooth, efficient process for everyone involved, from the patient to the referring provider, to the therapist and their staff! And when workflows are simple and clean, the volume will follow. (Just ask any front desk staff their favorite providers to work with, and our guess is it’ll be the ones with the simplest processes to coordinate care…not necessarily the most expensive or even robust.)
A central goal in healthcare delivery these days is to improve communication and coordination to benefit the patient, the provider, and everyone in between who is serving that relationship. No specialist should be left behind because their toolset doesn’t lend itself to running like a full-fledged EHR running on all cylinders. Unlocking communication tools like those offered by Kno2 can serve appropriate workflows for the work at hand, while leveling up the ability for PT providers to communicate with those who are running on robust solutions. It’s a beautiful connection to be made!