A new study published by the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy from ATI Physical Therapy’s national patient registry, shows that seeing a physical therapist first can lower healthcare costs and reduce expenses related to imaging.
The study queried 603 ATI Physical Therapy patients that had back and/or neck pain from 2016-present. The major finding in the study illustrated that of the patients who came to ATI through direct access (not needing a doctor’s referral) showed a cost savings of $1,543 vs. those who were sent to physical therapy by a physician, a savings of nearly 50 percent compared to those who sought therapy from traditional medical referral.
The study also showed that those in the direct access group had one less physical therapy session and spent 10 less days undergoing care. In addition, less than 20 percent of all patients did not require additional medical care, illustrating that a physical therapy-first pathway can be a cost-effective solution for injury and pain recovery. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, only 18 states allow unlimited direct access to physical therapy, while 26 states allow for self-referral conditionally. Six states limit patient access to evaluation, fitness and wellness and limited treatment only to certain patient populations.
“This study further supports a body of literature that has demonstrated that seeing a physical therapist early in the care for musculoskeletal injuries is safe and as effective as traditional medical pathways,” said Thomas Denninger, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, ATI Physical Therapy. “This study helps quantify just how much of a cost savings is there – patients who come to us through direct access finish up their recovery more quickly and incur less expense.”
ATI Patient Outcomes Registry is registered in ClinicalTrials.gov and the Agency for Health Care Quality’s Registry of Patient Registries which is designed to promote collaboration, reduce redundancy, and improve transparency among registry holders. ATI is the first and only physical therapy company that has created such a Registry.
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