There are lots of places to get physical therapy. What makes you different?
I love it when I get asked this question. To start, we are a physical therapy company owned, created and managed by physical therapists. We designed PT Professionals to be unlike our competitors, and surprisingly our philosophy is simple. We hire very smart, motivated individuals who care about the quality of their work and put them in an environment where they can use their skills and help people to the best of their availability. We believe in physical therapy, we know first-hand how if done correctly it can help people, and simply put we are good at it. It takes a team approach to create satisfied patients, and we have an amazing group of individuals that work for this company and they know, understand and believe in our philosophy. I would describe our employees as driven, and we are skilled at motivating individuals to do what it takes to achieve their goals. We feel good when our patients feel good, and we also hurt when our patients hurt. Using the team approach we can achieve amazing results. We also feel blessed to be in business for so many years in Brevard County. We feel compelled to give back to our local community, and we can frequently be seen volunteering our time and supporting local charities and businesses. In short, we love what we do and it can clearly be seen in the quality of our work and in our results.
Are you a doctor?
Physical therapists are not medical doctors. During the 2016 Legislative Session, SB 450 passed, giving physical therapists usage of the term “doctor.” With regards to the profession of physical therapy, the prefix “doctor” can be utilized by any person who holds a physical therapy license and a degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy. However, the physical therapist may not use the term “doctor” without clearly informing the public of his or her profession as a physical therapist. SB 450 also clearly stated that it is unlawful for a person to use the letters “DPT” unless the person has a physical therapy license as well as a doctor degree in physical therapy.
Why don’t you have a lot of exercise machines in your clinics?
Over the course of many years, we have acquired our own style of physical therapy. We like to work directly with our patients. We feel that in many facilities, therapists can utilize machines as sort of an assembly line for patients, where they go from station to station without any specific guidance. In my opinion, this does not give the opportunity for the physical therapist to watch and listen the patient. Additionally, many of the exercises that we prescribe during a session can be duplicated at home, so the advice is practical and will likely be used as part of a home maintenance program. Many patients do not have access to a gym and therefore can not reproduce machine based activities outside the office. We also feel that machines can be too specific and limit our ability to work on multiple body systems. We feel that when the patient is ready to progress to gym activity, then they can likely be discharged to a gym. For those of you who prefer machines, yes we do have some and we do use them. However I am quite confident that any of our patients will tell you that they get a significant workout under the direction of our therapists, more than they could get from a line of machines, using our style of treatment. We feel that the more opportunity that a physical therapist has to work directly on and directly supervise a patient, the more likely that patient is to get better.
Do you have fun when you work or are you strictly professional?
Just ask anyone who has been here, we like to have fun when we work. In fact, as I am writing this blog there is room filling laughter coming from the gym area (before 8:00am on a Friday). We are ALWAYS focused on our patients, but we have found that our patients will typically relax more if we help them to feel comfortable around us. We try to create the perfect balance between professionalism and laughter, and you would be surprised at how good we are at it. As professionals we know when we can joke with patients and when we need to be more serious with our demeanor. We also have the ability to control where we position patients within the facility so that they are in the right environment that best suits them. We can treat patients in private rooms or treat them in the open gym area. In fact, Shauna and I designed our facility around this concept. The layout of the facility is just another example of how we cater to the individual needs of each patient. To answer the original question, we love to laugh when we work and we also enjoy making others laugh as they go through the rehab process.
Do you actually read my intake paperwork?
Yes! We are able to learn a lot about each patient before we actually meet them. After looking at paperwork from thousands of patients, we are quickly able to pick up on small details such as hand dominance, pain thresholds or even the severity of the condition. We look through the medical history and look for relevance to the current condition and how the presence of certain conditions can impact the recovery. If a referral is available, we always screen it. The referral should compliment the pain diagram that is included within the patient paperwork. We can also quickly screen medications, which will help us to make sense of what body systems are being treated by a physician. Personally I also look to see how the patient found our office, and if they have been a previous patient of ours.
Are you up to date with Medicare changes?
We sure are. It is a continuous process to stay up to date with Medicare regulations, and rest assured that Medicare compliance is a part of our everyday lives at PT Professionals. We learn about Medicare regulations from a variety of sources. Daryl regularly participates in webinars and blogs regarding the subject of compliance. We also attend face to face compliance meetings throughout the year in order to make sure that we stay current with new mandates and regulations. We regularly read publications and articles from compliance experts. We discuss what we learn monthly at employee staff meetings, and quarterly we have special meetings with the staff that deal with any and all compliance issues. Routine internal chart audits and documentation review are part of our regular lives, and we discuss documentation reviews as a group. Daryl also belongs to small business groups that regularly discuss compliance issues and ethics.
We strive to be community leaders in many aspects of our business. By standing out as compliance leaders, we hope that we can encourage other physical therapy clinics to routinely follow Medicare regulations. This is one way we work to improve the overall image of private practice physical therapy, which is part of our company vision.
How can you treat me without an MRI or other images?
This is a very common question that we hear during our initial evaluations. Its turns out that in the majority of the cases that we see, there is no diagnostic imaging available. In many instances, a referral will read “shoulder pain,” or “knee pain.” This is where the clinical skill of the therapist is paramount, and also why we are so selective with our staff. Our physical therapists must use their evaluation skills and measures to help determine the root cause of the problem. If images are available, we will read them. However we are quite comfortable performing an evaluation without them. Also, patients will often bring us a CD that has images from an MRI or CT scan. What is more helpful to us is to see the interpretation from the radiologist, as it is quite easy for us to read from the report and relay to the patient what it states, in plain language. We do consider diagnostic imaging information useful, but we always perform a thorough evaluation to ensure that we can prioritize issues and to create a plan for resolving dysfunction.
Is “no pain no gain” the right way?
Not necessarily. Admittedly, physical therapists do have to put some people in pain to complete the rehabilitation process. However, all of our patients at PT Professionals will readily admit that they are never in an “unreasonable” amount of pain treated in our office. It is most unusual for a person to leave our office and feel worse than they did prior to their arrival at our facility. In fact, most of the time patients leave our office feeling a sense of relief and accomplishment. The therapy that each patient receives is unique to that patient. Our therapists always consider pain threshold and tissue response to therapy when administering treatment. Contrary to popular belief, as physical therapists we do not enjoy torturing people. The nicknames PT=pain and torture, and PT= physical terrorist, are meant to be funny, but not true. To be completely truthful, in many instances the therapist hurts when the patient hurts. Our education and clinical experience is how we know how hard to push each patient to meet their goals. We hire compassionate and intelligent therapists that are able to relate well to each patient’s pain levels.
Am I going to be evaluated by a physical therapist in your office?
Yes! In our office, every patient is evaluated by a State licensed physical therapist. The term “physical therapy” is often used loosely and in many instances, even in this community, patients are led to believe they are receiving physical therapy from a state licensed physical therapist, but in reality they are not. In Florida, there is currently no legislative language to prohibit anyone from using the use of the term “physical therapy” for advertising or for billing. At PT Professionals each patient evaluated by a State licensed physical therapist, AND every physical therapist in our office is extremely competent and qualified to treat musculoskeletal injuries. We also give our therapists adequate time to perform a thorough evaluation and use their clinical experience and skills with each patient. The take away from this blog is that you are ever in the need of “physical therapy,” always be sure to check to make sure that the provider is a State licensed physical therapist. Don’t be fooled by what is, in my opinion, an inappropriate usage of the term.
Do I need a referral from a physician to receive physical therapy in your office?
Maybe, Maybe not. Legally a physical therapist is able to treat individuals using what is called “direct access” for 30 days under Florida Law. So to answer the question literally, a referral from a physician is not necessary to come to our office. However, it is up to your insurance to tell us if they will pay for your treatment without a physician referral. So even though you can legally receive treatment from our office, you may not be covered and have to pay out of pocket. In order to avoid unexpected out of pocket expenses, we call your insurance company on your behalf to make sure that we fully disclose coverage benefits prior to the first session. Many insurance companies now recognize the cost savings and improved access to care that come with direct access and do not require a referral for payment. Our therapists routinely examine individuals under direct access and make appropriate recommendations when they identify something during the examination that needs physician intervention. The law does require that after 30 days, if the patient needs continued physical therapy intervention, the patient must be evaluated by a physician in order to verify correct treatment intervention and diagnosis. For the aforementioned reasons, it is routine procedure for us to call the insurance company on your behalf and verify if a referral is necessary for every patient that is referred to our office.