COVID-19 Pandemic; Direct Access to Physical Therapy is Critical

The short of it: you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist in Asheville, NC. So skip the doctor and give us a call, we’ll conduct an evaluation and establish a treatment plan. This is called “direct access to physical therapy.”

The long of it: read below to find out why we think this is important, how it applies to you, and for our opinion on direct access in medical care, and of course, especially in physical therapy!

Direct Access in Physical Therapy

Patients in the United States must often see a physician before receiving a referral for medical care for a variety of ailments. This is true for all sorts of specialist medical care. Is it, however, required for all sorts of medical care that necessitates professional visits?

The answer is no, and this is where direct access becomes necessary. 

Patients have the right to an evaluation or consultation in most situations without the necessity for a referral. This allows individuals to seek medical attention for a condition and learn more about what their next steps should – and should not – be. Physical therapy is one of the sorts of medical care that does not require a referral in order for patients to begin treatment in Asheville, NC. However, there is one drawback. When it comes to using insurance to pay for sessions, some people have restricted direct access. This is when things start to become a little more complicated.

In an ideal world, physical therapy patients would be able to complete all of their tasks in only one session.

  • Select a physical treatment facility.

  • Have physical therapists evaluate their health and ability.

  • Establish and ongoing treatment plan for repeat physical therapy visits.

This is especially relevant now when the COVID-19 pandemic is reducing the amount of non-emergency interaction patients can have with their doctors. Direct access to physical therapy eliminates an extra step — and a journey out of the house – in this situation. Even now, with the pandemic waning and people getting back out into the world, we have discovered a new affinity for easier access to care with fewer barriers. Patients should have the right to go straight to the specialist they need instead of dealing with teh cumbersome barrier of seeing a primary care doctor first for permission. 

Why is it necessary to provide direct access to physical therapy patients?

When it comes to the types of physical therapy sessions that promote better health and fitness, getting started as soon as possible is crucial. Unfortunately, there are often several roadblocks between a patient and a follow-up appointment — especially these days.

Most patients require a referral from their physician before proceeding to the next step following an evaluation or consultation in order to obtain treatment.

While some states do not require a referral to continue treatment, the majority of insurance companies do. For many, this is a barrier because the cost of numerous sessions, as well as the in-office visit for the referral, can quickly add up in cost and time.  

Worse, the validity of these referrals is frequently limited to a specific period of time. Patients must request a renewal of their referrals at least once during their treatment, especially if their injuries are severe or the body takes a long time to recuperate. Those who suffer from chronic illnesses or disabilities that last a lifetime are another typical problem. If a new condition occurs, or if the patient’s functional limitations worsen, the patient must request that the referral be changed again. Additional consultation and examination are frequently required as a result of these difficulties. 

These patients will be able to save time and effort by having direct access to physical therapy. This will reduce the number of appointments patients need to make with their doctors. It will also reduce the amount of time office support needs to file paperwork, which can only in turn benefit the patient in savings that are passed on. 

Our modern health insurance system has made it nearly impossible to secure appointments for basic problems in the United States. Waiting a few weeks to start physical therapy might aggravate injuries or result in a weakened state and therefore longer recovery. Patients – and physical therapy practitioners – want to prevent both of these problems as much as possible. Direct access to physical therapy reduces the likelihood of these consequences occurring.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Illustrates the Benefits of Direct Physical Therapy Access

The concept of social separation wherever possible is one of the most critical parts of appropriately caring for both those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who have not. Limiting the number of places and people we see during times of illness can help stop the spread of disease and allow those who are ill to rest up and get better faster. Seems obvious right? Which is one of the reasons we promote direct access! 

Ways You Can Stay Safe

  • Getting rid of non-essential excursions

  • Not congregating in confined areas such as waiting rooms or even taking public transit

  • Performing home activities that are appropriate for your needs by utilizing your surroundings

Something more to keep in mind?

General practitioners and family doctors will see and treat patients who have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, despite the fact that a physical therapist will not. This implies that each time you visit your doctor’s office, you’re increasing your chances of coming into contact with others who may have or be carrying the virus. 

PT Professionals’ Recommendations for Remote Physical Therapy

Telehealth provides direct access to physical therapy for a range of problems, so it is worth considering remote care when feasible. 

Physical therapists help their patients in a variety of ways. This includes therapies such as cupping, PT tape, stretching, and exercises. Cupping and PT tape might not eb something you can do yourself at home, but you can certainly stretch and perform  physical therapy exercises! Through a remote program, your therapist can guide you on your home exercises. This is a much better alternative to not going in to the PT office. 

Summary on Direct Access Physical Therapy

Direct access to physical therapy is something you have the right to in Asheville, and you can call us directly to set up an appointment without having to see your primary care physician first for permission (a referral). We are huge advocates for this for several reasons – saves you time, saves you money, saves us time, keeps everyone healthier and operating at peak performance. 

If you’re in the Asheville, NC area, CONTACT us here at 1on1 Physical Therapy, we’d love to connect with you. (828) 785-8388

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