With the new year, there always comes change and new trends to pay attention to in the ever-evolving field of physical therapy. These trends are important because they are aiming to improve patient care, therapist job satisfaction, and patient satisfaction. Below we will take a look at some of the predicted trends for physical therapy in 2021 given the consequences of COVID19:

Increase in Telehealth + Wearable Tech

Telehealth is increasingly popular and for good reason, it has allowed therapists to see a greater number of patients and keep an eye on their patients’ development outside of the clinic setting. Wearables keep patients engaged and treatment adherence is linked to better results for patients. Telehealth helps bridge the patient care access gap and makes physical therapy more accessible to all. For these reasons it is important to take advantage of telehealth services, like AC Health, because it increases patient engagement and satisfaction. Throughout this year, this trend will continue to rise as new technologies emerge and existing technologies are improved upon.

Greater Push for Patient Engagement

Patient engagement has always been a hot topic in physical therapy. In a survey conducted by the Center for Connected Medicine and KLAS, 70 hospitals were interviewed and over half of them listed patient engagement as one of their main priorities for the new year. Therapists will push for greater patient engagement because it benefits their patients, builds a positive relationship between patient and therapist, and because of data. Data, when properly used can majorly improve business. The better and more accurate the data collected, the better therapists know how to connect with their patients and keep them engaged. Data also allows clinics to run more efficiently by examining its operations.

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More Therapists Approaching PT from a Whole Body Perspective

Many therapists have come out in favor of approaching physical therapy from a holistic perspective and this trend is going to continue to rise in 2020. The topic of mental health has played a large role in society this year and has impacted all healthcare providers in how they approach patient care. Holistic, or integrative, PT practices treat patients as a whole – mind, body, spirit. For physical therapists, this means integrating safe, alternative treatment options alongside traditional manual or rehab therapy practices. This trend will rise because patients are continuing to gain interest in alternative treatment options.

Merit-Based Incentive Payment System for Physical Therapy Billing

The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) is a branch of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) and having started in 2020 more therapists were required to participate thanks to regulatory changes. MIPS is a Medicare program and used to incentivize or punish, based on the level of care provided. Clinics with a large enough patient base will likely meet mandatory reporting standards. This program has replaced three existing measure programs and has also included a new performance measure section. If your clinic is not eligible, you do not have to participate but if you are required then you may lose out on money if you choose not to participate. This topic will likely be revisited before 2022 when it is predicted to become required by all.

The new year is the perfect time to try new things and innovate your physical therapy practice. Increasing patient engagement, using an engagement platform like AC Health, and approaching PT from a holistic perspective are all trends predicted to grow in 2021 because these practices all aim to improve the field of physical therapy.