On-demand physical therapy prevents costly complications in the future
By Ben Wobker, PT, MSPT, CSCS, SFMAc
You don’t have to be a physician to know that timely treatment helps patients heal better and can prevent further complications. What’s more, prompt medical interventions are usually less costly—and painful—to both patients and the healthcare system. Too often, however, our healthcare delivery model does not allow patients to receive the care they need when they need it.
To see a physical therapist, for example, a patient has an average clinic waitlist of 26 days—almost a month! Luna’s on-demand physical therapy eliminates that problem, and patients can start receiving focused, one-on-one care with their physical therapist within 48 hours of referral.
The Preventive Benefits of Immediate PT Care
The sooner a patient can see their physical therapist for a minor problem or injury, the more likely it will remain minor. That’s because physical therapists can provide the optimal treatment and prescribe an exercise program that will allow the body to heal properly.
In particular, conditions such as iliotibial band syndrome, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, and headaches respond well to early PT interventions. There’s less chance of the problem becoming chronic, which would require longer and more exhaustive interventions at greater cost and a longer timeline for recovery.
Physical Therapy as the First Line of Care
A study of 150,000 insurance claims published in Health Services Research supports this idea. Patients with low-back pain who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had a:
89% lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription
28% lower probability of having advanced imaging services
15% lower probability of a visit to the emergency department
19% higher probability of being hospitalized
Much lower out-of-pocket costs
“Given our findings in light of the national opioid crisis, state policymakers, insurers and providers may want to review current policies and reduce barriers to early and frequent access to physical therapists as well as to educate patients about the potential benefits of seeing a physical therapist first,” said lead author Dr. Bianca Frogner, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and director of the UW Center for Health Workforce Studies.
It is difficult to cancel an on-demand appointment.
A home exercise program is custom-designed to fit a patient’s life, goals, and equipment.
Most importantly, extra one-on-one time between a patient and their physical therapist can build rapport, deepen the PT’s understanding of the diagnosis, and create more time for manual intervention. All of this leads to better healing, which is what physical therapy is all about. Discover if on-demand physical therapy is best for your patient.