Welcome back for more of your top tips on choosing a Physical Therapist. As mentioned last week, some thought should be put into choosing the right Physical Therapist for you. Don’t find yourself stuck with a provider that does not meet your needs. Or worse become soured on the therapy experience such that you then struggle to find the next one to truly help you. The list continues now:
#5 Insurance…certainly important, however with rising medical costs being pushed to the consumer many are paying out of pocket for therapy services until they meet their high deductible plans anyway. One must understand their policy and realize a bill from the provider may come after services have been delivered. You will likely pay that co-pay day of service, but the rest of the bill (co-insurance, deductible, etc) will appear later after the provider did not get their share from the insurance company. You think things are going along just fine and the insurance company is paying when you learn you now have a $2000 bill for all those visits that you were not told was coming and will be told…you should know your insurance plan…
#4 Recommendation from MD…In the history of medicine, patients often did not question what their MD told them. This however is much less common nowadays. Even when advised, it is still a good idea to do a little research. As large corporations are buying up small family practices, relationships with physical therapists are becoming lost. Why you might ask? Because the doctors are told by the corporation to refer only to PTs in THEIR system regardless of quality or skill. This is a borderline illegal practice but one that is overlooked. YOU as the PATIENT have the RIGHT to go to whoever you choose. AND if you are told otherwise, then please report this to the state board of medical examiners, and go seek the best care you know you DESERVE and have the RIGHT to. Mostly though, doctors will just say go to PT and it will be on the patient to find one.
#3 Seek a PT who you can build a relationship with…your body is likely to need a tune-up from time to time as the body ages (such is life). It is good to have that mechanic who learns/understands you so that if (when) you do need help again, they already have a working knowledge of you. This also helps to create a continuity of care that is to the benefit of the patient. Many choose and remain with a dentist, eye doctor, barber or hair stylist, so why not a physical therapist – the provider best to treat muscle and joint issues?
#2 Call and question their knowledge…if they cannot or are unwilling to answer your questions then they may not be for you. That being said, often times it is difficult to fully answer a patient’s question without more detail, which we gain from our examination process. Start to build that relationship over the phone if you can.
#1 Credentials….those initials behind their name. The DPT (or MPT if educated longer ago) signifies our entry-level degree. But those other letters, say that therapist spent time and effort to further their knowledge and education to become better at their craft. For those seeking outpatient care, receiving care from therapists who are board certified in orthopedic (OCS) or who have the designation of FAAOMPT (only 1% of profession) are likely to experience greater return of function in fewer visits (Rodeghero 2015).
Now that you have seen my list. Please let me know your thoughts. What do you feel is most important when choosing a physical therapist or any medical professional you go to see?