Of all the benefits of virtual physical therapy, accessibility is among the most important to consider. Cost can sometimes be the cause of patients choosing not to seek out physical therapy. Lack of access to clinics is a barrier that many patients also face.
There is also a misconception that physical therapists are only accessible through seeing a medical doctor first. Many patients don’t know that this isn’t the case. While some states may have limitations in place, patients actually have direct access to physical therapy in some form in all 50 U.S. states.
What do my patients need to know about direct access to physical therapy?
Direct access to physical therapy means that a patient can seek out physical therapists without a note from a doctor or specialist. While this is good news for patients, state laws may limit the services that can be obtained without a referral.
For instance, Maryland currently does not have any legal restrictions in place that prevent physical therapists from seeing patients directly. Meanwhile, the state of California only allows direct access for the first 45 calendar days of treatment, or for the first 12 sessions. Further treatment requires a signed and dated plan of care from the patient’s primary care physician. It is important to check all state regulations regarding direct access when discussing your patient’s options.
However, even if you practice in a state that does not place limitations on direct access to physical therapy, your patient’s insurance provider may not allow it. If your patient is insured through United Healthcare’s Community Plan, for example, outpatient physical therapy services can only be performed only if they have been ordered by a physician and have been deemed medically necessary. Not all insurance providers will have the same restrictions, and some may have none at all. Your patient can check with their personal insurance providers to learn what kind of limitations they may need to consider. Patients who are paying directly need only worry about their state’s laws and restrictions regarding direct access to physical therapy.
How can direct access to virtual physical therapy benefit my patients?
Direct access to virtual physical therapy opens up services to many people who might otherwise not seek out the care they need. If your patient is showing interest in virtual physical therapy, here are few things they should know:
- Direct access can save your patient time — According to leading health care publications, patients tend to have to wait for an average of a few weeks to see a physician. While this may be fine for some, if your patient is living with pain day to day, they won’t want to wait that long to receive care. Direct access to virtual care means that your patient can book an appointment directly with a physical therapy provider without having to wait for an appointment with a physician.
- Your patient can avoid unnecessary medication — When a patient complains of pain, a physician will often prescribe pain medication. However, this does not address the root of the problem. Direct access to physical therapy allows the patient to seek treatment for the cause of their pain, not just their symptoms. This can help improve their well-being over the long term. It may also help reduce the risks that may come with prescription pain medication. These can include side effects such as nausea and fatigue, as well as the more serious risk of addiction.
- Your patient can save on medical costs — Having to book multiple appointments with doctors and specialists likely means having to pay for multiple appointments for most patients. Many of those patients may be paying out of pocket. Cutting out the need for a doctor’s referral is one way that direct access to physical therapy can save your patient money. With virtual physical therapy, transportations costs are also eliminated.
- Virtual physical therapy accommodates your patient’s schedule — It is important to acknowledge how much or how little flexibility patients have in their schedules. Many have jobs with unpredictable schedules, or that do not offer very much time off. Many patients are also parents, who may not have access to child care while they attend a physical therapy appointment.
Virtual physical therapy offers more opportunities for patients to seek physical therapy. Direct access also allows them to do so with fewer appointments, and from the comfort of their homes. These considerations and more are part of what makes virtual physical therapy the obvious choice for many patients.
How can Agile Virtual Physical Therapy help my patients gain better access to physical therapy?
By partnering with Agile Virtual Physical Therapy, you are opening up a world of possibilities to patients who might otherwise have not sought out the care they need. Agile Virtual PT is an on-demand, HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. We are redesigning physical therapy through improved accessibility and convenience for patients, as well as concierge service for businesses and partners.
We are currently offering direct access to physical therapy in 45 states, without the need for a physician’s referral. Patients will receive one-on-one care from a licensed physical therapist. These clinicians are able to diagnose musculoskeletal issues and provide personalized care plans to each patient. Our team is equipped to help patients with a wide array of common conditions, including:
- Shoulder pain.
- Elbow pain.
- Wrist and hand pain.
- Foot and ankle pain.
- Hip pain.
- Knee pain.
- Neck pain and headaches.
- Back pain and sciatica.
Agile Virtual Physical Therapy has a proven rate of success among patients: 98% of our patients make functional improvements while spending 32% less time in sessions compared to in-person therapy. As providers of world-class care, we are dedicated to making accessibility a priority. Part of our vision includes partnering with employers and other companies with similar values. We can help employers manage the costs of musculoskeletal care. We also provide white-label service for companies looking to add virtual physical therapy to their roster of services.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an appointment to talk with our team about becoming an Agile Virtual PT partner.