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Why we need to address patient leakage in physical therapy

September 24, 2021
Business Affairs

The answer is twofold: embrace technology and local solutions to recapture patients going to third-party physical therapy clinics.

Over the past 18 months, we have seen healthcare organizations continue to care for their patients despite the major complications introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In the face of the temporary cancellation of elective procedures, hospitals, health systems, and physician practices adopted telemedicine as a critical asset to deliver care and utilize modern technological innovations to meet their patients where they are.

Speaking as a leader in the physical therapy sector, I must emphasize that the value of in-person care services delivered to patients in the comfort of their own homes cannot be understated.

It's crucial to understand that physical therapy is not always convenient for patients and often times, referrals will fall through the cracks and contribute to patient leakage. We already know that distance from care sites can increase the likelihood of leakage, so why not bring physical therapy closer to the patient?

Large health systems have the benefit of sizable resources to fund these efforts, but also have a wide-ranging geographic reach, so another solution for leakage is to embrace the role of local physical therapists. They are eager to help patients recover in the most effective way possible and patients want to be assured that their care is in line with the hospital treatment they initially received.

Additionally, while some appointments may require therapy-specific equipment, most physical therapy can be administered in the home, which reduces another key barrier to delivering care. Patients get the care to come to them, and physical therapists keep them from leaving the system.

Ultimately, that's a dynamic that works to the advantage of both providers and patients. We need to explore those capabilities more seriously going forward if we actually intend on curbing leakage issues.

Patients deserve the best available high-quality care we can offer them, and if that comes in the form of home-based physical therapy, then we have an obligation as healthcare executives to meet them where they are.

If you are an executive at a hospital or health system, then you know that every dollar earned and patient retained is necessary to maintaining the operational success of your enterprise. So, if there's a new way to engage patients and shore up a costly vulnerability, it's in your best interest from a business perspective to pursue that option.

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