Magazine cover: Perspectives: Measures Make the Difference

I was excited to learn that my article on how physical therapists use outcome data was the cover story in the spring 2019 issue of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Perspectives magazine.
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Your data has power. Every day, physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) use data from patient measures to guide their treatment decisions. But those measures—and, in fact, every piece of information that goes into a patient’s chart—can do more. Data can demonstrate your efficacy and the value of physical therapy on a broad scale. And as value-based payment, merit-based incentives, and interprofessional care teams become more prevalent, communicating the impact of physical therapy will be crucial.

PTs and PTAs play a vital role in patient outcomes across an entire episode of care—and a patient’s life. For those early in their career, “it’s going to become very important to say, ‘I help manage people over a lifetime,’” said Paul Rockar, PT, DPT, CEO of the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When a PT or PTA helps a patient’s situation, such as overcoming low back pain, and becomes “their go-to person to keep in touch and help them manage that problem,” Rockar said, the practitioner’s information about that success is a significant selling point.

“We’ve realized that a lot of health care providers still may not fully understand what happens in physical therapy,” said Mike Osler, PT, vice president of growth and development for Rock Valley Physical Therapy, an orthopedic practice across Iowa and Illinois. “Frequently, it’s ‘I didn’t know you guys treated fill-in-the-blank.’” Rock Valley Physical Therapy has used case data to demonstrate how 10 or 12 physical therapy visits can increase a patient’s level of functionality to 80% or 90%.

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