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5 Hot Topics in Physical Therapy in 2023

Staying aware of the hot topics in physical therapy can help your practice evolve with the industry. Here are 5 physical therapy hot topics in 2023.

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5 Hot Topics in Physical Therapy Your Practice Should Be Up To Date With

The physical therapy industry is constantly changing. Keep up with the current issues in physical therapy in 2023 to ensure that your practice remains competitive now and into the future. By preparing for tomorrow today, you'll offer your patients the latest proven care techniques, avoid pitfalls caused by existing problems, and keep your clinic thriving for years.

Five Hot Topics in Physical Therapy in 2023

1. The Growing Importance of a Digital Footprint for Your Practice

Patient expectations have changed, and awareness isn't limited to referrals. All 50 states, with varied provisions and limitations, allow direct access to physical therapy. This direct-to-patient access and strong digital adoption mean practice owners should take a good hard look at increasing their social media presence.

It doesn't stop there; with 90% of adults having access to the internet, your website is always on display and needs to look its best. While most practice owners already have a website, it must send a message to prospective patients of trust, security, and professionalism.

Outside of the marketing world, efficiency will play a massive role in 2023. With all-in-one software solutions balancing the most challenging aspects of running a practice, the call for seamless, integrated software is growing louder. Finding software that provides telehealth services, billing, communications, and compliance in one bundle is essential to enrich the patient and staff experience.

2. Mental Health Prioritization Through Physical Therapy

The CDC announced a boom in mental health issues during 2020, with 40% of US adults reporting mental health or substance abuse issues. And while the pressures of COVID dramatically inflate these statistics, physical therapy can give patients the tools to begin the healing process moving forward. Patients who are exposed to a more active lifestyle through rehabilitation or increased exercise notice the following changes and more:

  • A reduction of overall stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased energy and mood
  • Better perception of self, leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle
  • Increased cognitive functionality
  • Improved sleeping habits

Promoting the benefits of increased activity, range of motion, or general functionality should be at the top of every practice owner's list, especially in this current environment. You can reach out to patients targeting these specific benefits by making minor changes to your marketing strategy.

3. The Challenges of Physical Therapy Hiring

High Demand for PTs with A Limited Candidate Pool

Physical therapy is a rapidly expanding field. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2021 to 2031, the field will likely see a 17% increase in employment. This percentage ranks it as a much faster-growing job than many others. Additionally, each year during that time, the industry will have an average of 15,400 job openings. New positions will open as many physical therapists choose to switch fields or retire.

However, by 2025, an estimated 26,000 physical therapist job openings will not have anyone in them. Employed physical therapists will take up the slack and increase their workloads, which can result in burnout. Consequently, no matter how many people you currently have employed at your clinic, you'll have to face the challenges of finding new qualified physical therapists in the future.

The high number of unfilled job openings means that highly qualified candidates will be in short supply. You'll need to compete with other clinics to gain the attention of these individuals and entice them into applying for your clinic. Offering competitive compensation levels and quality-of-life benefits, such as professional development and measures to reduce burnout, can encourage highly qualified candidates to apply to your clinic.

Attracting Qualified Candidates to Your PT Practice

If your clinic has one or more openings, you may feel compelled to accept the first applicant to your clinic. However, to ensure that your patients get quality care, you need to thoroughly vet each applicant to find those who will best fit with your practice.

First, make sure to articulate the specific characteristics you want for PTs at your practice. You'll want candidates who can balance compassion, professionalism, and respect with good communication and collaboration skills. Every new hire should have the capacity to work well with others at your clinic and with their patients.

Second, craft interview questions that can identify these characteristics and uncover specifics of how the applicant would handle various situations. These questions can reveal the candidate's work ethic and approach to problems. Like finding out about personality characteristics, the answers to interview questions can help you to determine if the applicant will fit well with your practice.

Attract the types of candidates you want at your clinic through industry-competitive compensations and professional development opportunities. Use a finely tuned interview process to find applicants who will work well within your practice. Keep those hard-won physical therapists by maintaining reasonable schedules that can reduce burnout. By taking these measures, you can ride through the future of hiring physical therapists in the future.

4. Improving Patient Adherence Through RTM

Patients frequently fail to comply with at-home exercises. Some estimates put noncompliance between 30% and 50% of patients. A study from 2018 suggests that home-based systems that help monitor patients have the potential to ensure patient compliance with home-based exercises.

Now in 2023, physical therapy technology has finally reached the capacity for home-based monitoring of patients. With remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) devices, such as wearable monitors, physical therapists have the tools to track patients' movements, health metrics, and compliance with exercise.

RTM devices allow physical therapists to keep tabs on patient compliance. Plus, patients can feel more motivated knowing that they have their physical therapists monitoring their at-home exercises. Adherence to at-home exercises and in-person visits can improve outcomes and patient quality of life.

RTMs also overcome many hurdles patients face in physical therapy treatment. By being able to do exercises in the comfort of their home, they don't have to worry about finding transportation to get to the clinic. Additionally, for those who have pain when walking, by staying at home to do physical therapy, patients may have more energy to complete the work because they won't wear themselves out walking into a clinic.

Finally, physical therapists who integrate RTM into their practice can reduce overall costs by lowering the number of patients who need to come into the clinic. With more accessible treatment for patients at home with an RTM system, your clinic can help more patients and see better compliance.

5. Handling Insurance Reimbursement Cuts

Reimbursement rates for your practice could shrink in 2023 unless you take action. For example, the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2023 cuts the amount paid to physical therapists who provide outpatient services, among other providers. If you have multiple Medicare patients in your practice, you could face serious financial setbacks in the existing inflation economy.

In light of the pending payment reductions from payers such as Medicare, you need to prepare your practice by improving how you handle billing and payments and clinic efficiency. Reduce the chance of having outstanding payments by streamlining your billing methods. Also, consider introducing a cash system that allows you to bypass billing insurance companies and get paid for your services faster.

Cutting out overhead is another way to save your clinic money and increase your bottom line, even with reimbursement cuts. Making your clinic more efficient with practice management software reduces wasted time and effort, which also costs you money.

Even if you cannot expect as much money from insurers for your services, you can still maintain a profitable state. Shortening payment times by streamlining billing, accepting cash payments, and using efficiency-boosting practice management software and help you to reduce the impact of lower reimbursement rates on your clinic.

The Bottom Line: Monitoring Hot Topics in Physical Therapy

The trend of digitization—bringing your practice into the now—has revolutionized the industry by making it easier to connect, bill, and communicate with patients. All changes aside, taking care of patients' physical and mental health is still the bottom line.

Your practice will likely face challenges in the future, too. Greater difficulty in hiring qualified physical therapists, keeping patients on task with their regimes, and reduced reimbursements from insurance can put a strain on your practice. Leveraging the latest tools in practice management can help you to overcome some of these trending difficulties. With tools that assist you in developing more balanced schedules, streamlining payments and billing, and monitoring patient adherence, you can mitigate the impacts of the negative trends within the physical therapy field.

Monitor these trends and adapt as necessary. If you're considering future-proofing and building on your already successful practice, try a free demo of MWTherapy's all-in-one PT practice management software.

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