As 2021 approaches, it is time to start thinking about new goals and ways to innovate your physical therapy practice. This is a great time to incorporate new technologies or models of care to stand out in an oversaturated market. Clinics need to keep up with the latest developments and provide the highest quality treatment to stay ahead of the competition. Below are five ways to innovate providing physical therapy care. These methods aid therapists in reaching more patients, increasing efficiency in clinics and accuracy of diagnoses. These methods also increase patient engagement which can lead to better results and faster recovery time for patients.

Patient Engagement Platforms 

With technology constantly advancing, businesses need to grow along with it and update their models and offerings to stay relevant and better serve their customer base. Physical therapy is no exception to this rule. One innovative idea for PT providers is to incorporate patient engagement platforms into their model of care. Telehealth platforms, such as AC-Health, are a proven way to increase patient engagement, close the patient care access gap, and reinforce treatment adherence. Telehealth systems and online platforms provide a way for patients to take a hands-on approach to their pain management outside of a clinic setting. They also lower costs for both patients and therapists. Another one of the benefits for patients is that those who comply with their physical therapy and stick to their treatment plan, see better results and feel more in control of their health and pain management. This trend is expected to continue to rise in popularity because of the many benefits.

Wearables and Sensors 

Another technology-based innovation that can be used to improve patient care is wearables and sensors that record workouts and movement for PT monitoring. Wearable technology in the medical field can provide solutions to barriers to entry for patients. Smartwatches and fitness trackers have already dominated the tech market for the past few years which shows that adoption will likely not be an issue for patients. Wearables create a way for PTs to provide specialized care to patients with chronic illnesses or to those who live in remote settings and can’t travel to clinics regularly. They can also help to reinforce patient compliance for differently-abled patients and the elderly. The biggest benefit to PTs is that wearables increase productivity and the quantity and quality of data gathered on patients. This data can assist in providing higher quality care to more patients.

On-site Physical Therapy

Workplace-based physical therapy is a trend that has increased. In on-site PT a trained physical therapist with experience treating work-related injuries provides care and treatment in the patient’s workplace. They perform all the same duties as if they were in their own clinic; initial patient intake and evaluation of injuries, creating a treatment plan and exercises, re-injury prevention plan and even manual therapy. This innovative physical therapy trend encourages employees to pay attention to their musculoskeletal health and helps heal current or prevent future injuries. One-site physical therapy is beneficial for PTs, patients, and employers. Physical therapists benefit because they can assess and adjust a patient in the environment they were injured in, patients benefit because having a PT on-site reinforces their level of compliance, and the workplace benefits because on-site therapy eliminates the need for taking time off work for physical therapy appointments.

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Cash-Based PT 

Another innovative physical therapy idea for the new year is to incorporate a personal pay model for certain care provided. This could mean adding wellness services such as private or group yoga classes by a trained and certified staff member. Since there is already a relationship and rapport with the patient, these wellness services could be a continuation of physical therapy after the patient has been discharged from their original care. One of the benefits of cash pay based services is that there is no dealing with complicated insurance care providers and there is the opportunity for less overheard by decreasing the need for claims processing. Since cash-based treatment is not dictated by the rules from insurance companies, therapists can spend more time with their patients to provide the care necessary for each patient. Patients benefit because they are not limited by their network in choosing a physical therapist. However, cash-based PT comes with its own set of responsibilities to consider since there might be a barrier if the clinic’s patient base is lower-income or those relying on Medicare benefits.

Wellness and Fitness Partnerships

As mentioned in the paragraph above, wellness and fitness services are a great way to ensure that patients continue focusing on their health in the long-term and prevent re-injury, but what if there is no certified yoga instructor or specialist on staff? This is where partnerships with certified and trusted fitness and wellness providers can expand your network of offerings and provide whole-body care to patients. However, it is important to partner only with trusted and verified service providers. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) published an article this year about the growing need to approach physical therapy from a holistic perspective to ensure the optimal health of each patient. This holistic approach is not new but can innovate your physical therapy practice and increase the clinic’s referral network in the new year.

Health care providers want to provide the best up to date care possible and with the help of advancing technologies and models of care, therapists can improve their productivity, provide better more informed care, and a long-term network of support. These innovative physical therapy ideas can change the lives of patients and therapists for the better.Patient engagement technologies like AC Health, are providing accessible and highly personalized solutions. AC Health’s platform allows patients to read notes from their PT providers and engage through the platform when they have questions. On-site physical therapy solutions bring physical therapy to those who might have otherwise never gone to an appointment. Expanded PT services, either cash or insurance-based, and fitness offerings either in-house or through partnerships create an extended support system for patients, post-rehab.