Where Physical Therapy Fits in Accountable Care Organizations

C. Jason Richardson, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT

As outlined in previous postings, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) aim to improve quality of care, lower costs and provide better outcomes.  In a second podcast with PT Talker, Jason Richardson, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, VP of Clinical Operations for Results Physiotherapy Centers shares ways he is working to make physical therapy the first line of defense within Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). 

One example Richardson provides is for patients suffering from low back pain. In the traditional model of treatment, a patient may undergo a number of tests, medications, MRIs and even surgery before getting a referral to see a physical therapist.  And in many cases, patients never are referred.  In an ACO, a family physician may complete a medical review and then refer the patient to a physical therapist based on clinical presentation. The ACO model encourages efficient coordination which often results in quicker referrals to a specialist and eliminates many of the additional costs incurred in the traditional model.  Richardson mentions some health care professionals embrace this new model while others resist it. He addresses this in greater detail in his recent blog posting.

 To help build awareness for the benefits physical therapy provides, Richardson advises physical therapists to be persistent.  He encourages physical therapists to enhance direct access and help patients become physical therapy advocates.  Listen now to discover more.

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  1. Linda Meneken, PT
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Jason, this approach emphasizing early, direct access is so important for our patients, their quality of life, our profession, and our country’s overall economy in this new decade. I have actually encountered a few patients who have NEVER been referred to PT in their long battle with chronic back pain, just “take the pills”, etc. Please continue your discussions re: improved quality of care/outcomes and cost-effectiveness. Also, the PT profession needs to be more pro-active, and emphasize PREVENTION in all areas. Keep up your good work!

  2. Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Linda, thank you for your comments. In conjuction to our economic arguments, if we can engineer our student PTs to observe direct access being embraced in the clinic and through Direct Access specific community outreach then I believe we can begin to reach a tipping point where PTs are the go-to provider for non-invasive management of musculoskeletal problems! Thanks again Linda.

  3. brian smiley
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    This offers interesting foresight where PT should practice to impact costs and outcomes. Thanks!

  4. Maria Cecilia San Juan, PT
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for providing further insite in regard to the value of PT as those health care professionals that can truly assist in controlling health care costs. Do you have comments in regard to how independent physical therapists are surviving if not involved with ACO?

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