Health care as a profession is constantly evolving. It wasn’t that long ago that patient care was wholly reliant on the expertise of a single provider: the family physician. Even as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and other specialized disciplines developed, the belief that a primary care physician had to remain at the center of patient care coordination persisted until fairly recently.
With today’s shortage of primary care physicians and the current push to decrease healthcare costs and increase access to care, times have changed. Today, PTs, OTs, and SLPs serve as primary care providers for a growing number of patients with MSK-related issues. And while that growth is undoubtedly a positive development for the profession, that expanded role comes with increased patient expectations and demands from payers.
Although payers are relying on therapists to take on this primary care role, payment continues to be a battle—and payers are compounding our pain by heaping more administrative responsibilities on clinicians’ shoulders. These responsibilities, paired with increasing patient volumes and greater expectations around convenience and customer service, have created a perfect storm in which rehab therapists are constantly asked to do more with less.
In order to thrive in this environment, technology has become a “must-have” as opposed to a “nice to have” as it was 20 years ago. Compressed profit margins and provider burnout have forced more clinic owners and managers to start thinking about how every technology tool being used in their practice helps to drive better patient care and, ultimately, helps meet business goals. And they’re scrutinizing how connecting each of these once-disparate parts into a single, integrated system can drive greater patient engagement, better outcomes, and sustainable growth. That’s where practice experience management (PXM) comes in.
What is PXM?
It’s been mentioned before, but bears repeating: PXM isn’t a new product. Instead, it’s a new approach to how rehab therapists will think about the technology that they’re using to manage their patients and their practice. The problem our profession has been struggling with isn’t that there’s a lack of technology available to meet a practice’s needs; it’s that these various tools aren’t working well together, making it impossible to have an efficient, unified view of the patient journey and interaction with the practice. With PXM, we’re setting the standard of what every rehab therapist and clinical leader should expect from their technology partner.
With the PXM approach, each provider and business leader will have access to the solutions, data, and insights they need to empower both executive and clinical decision-making, improve patient care, and enhance patient experience right at their fingertips.
Why is this the moment for PXM?
The push for efficiency, accountability, data-driven decision support, enhanced clinical care to drive improved patient engagement, and ease of administrative burden for providers has never been stronger—and for good reason. Rehab therapists are still striving to provide patients with the best care possible, but that work gets more and more complex every year.
Margins are declining for most practices.
Annual cuts in payments paired with increasing operational costs make it hard for most rehab therapists to achieve targeted profitability margins as well as growth projections. Add in the increasing administrative burden of payer requirements, provider attrition from the industry, and rising interest rates, and you’ve got an industry ripe for change. Practices are innovative patient care delivery models in response to the increasing demand for rehab therapy services.
The landscape is getting more competitive.
As the demand for rehab therapy services increases, it only makes sense that the supply for services will follow. Despite the ongoing provider shortages, industry growth projections continue to be positive and trending upward. Similarly, private equity funding has helped push an increase in mergers and acquisitions, as well as the opening of new practices at a healthy pace. In the face of heightened competition, a focus on an exceptional patient experience has never been more important to stand out from the crowd—and as new patients engage in treatment for the first time, new practice demands are emerging that must be addressed, and those that do are differentiating themselves in this competitive landscape.
Rehab therapists’ roles have increased.
A culture of continuous learning is crucial to meet the demands of the industry as we evolve to meet the needs of our patients and the operational and compliance challenges presented by payers. Many practices have opted to combat declining reimbursement by adding various new services, including cash-pay and wellness services, telehealth and virtual care, remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM), and more. Managing all of those different services for your patients requires the right tools for marketing, clinical care, documentation, billing, and management.
Patients demand a better experience.
In 2023, the average consumer expects a certain level of convenience and connectedness to their providers—whether that’s with scheduling an appointment, accessing their records, communicating with the provider, or performing their home exercise programs. Health care remains behind the times with digital or virtual interaction options, and rehab therapists in particular struggle due to the nature of our more traditional treatment methods. To meet the demands of the modern patient, we need to catch up—and fast.
Healthcare is now a data-driven industry.
The emergence of EMRs has helped to aggregate a massive amount of patient data, and it’s on us to start making better use of that data. A clinician's insight and touch can never be replaced, to be clear—but that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from more information to help make clinical decisions, gain insights from benchmarks, or even get suggested treatment plans that have shown success in providing positive outcomes. If you’re hesitant about data as part of your care, remember that it's not about replacing the clinical reasoning of the provider; instead, you’re enhancing it with data that helps drive better outcomes, better efficiency, and improved reimbursement rates.
WebPT’s platform has evolved into a unified PXM solution.
When we started WebPT 15 years ago, we wanted to solve the problems plaguing the rehab therapy industry at the time: pen and paper documentation in a world that was moving digitally. Over time, we have evolved, grown, and continued to solve the relevant issues to meet the needs of our members. What started as an EMR has transformed into a platform of tools and solutions unified to optimize the Provider, Patient, and Practice Experience.
Why is PXM so important for rehab therapists?
With our industry's growing challenges, there is no better time to reflect on your business to find areas and processes that can be optimized for efficiency and effectiveness. Using technology as a partner to help providers spend more of their time in patient care, to help patients navigate their clinical journey with ease, and to help your practice maximize its financial opportunities are the goals of PXM.
One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou. She wrote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your practice has the opportunity with every patient or potential patient interaction to make a difference in that person’s life—to make them feel valued, heard, understood, and cared for. Why not spend more time doing that and let technology help automate the rest?
It might seem paradoxical to suggest that technology can help create that connection and experience, but with PXM, you gain the potential to lift patients’ barriers to entry, create more interactive touchpoints, and lighten the workloads of both providers and front office staff, allowing more time for that human interaction and touch that differentiates us as a profession.
What’s changing with PXM?
In addition to this new term for our holistic approach to practice management, you’ve probably noticed that our website has undergone a bit of a revamp and that we’ve made some changes to our logo and colors to boot. I’m very excited about this new chapter in WebPT’s natural evolution as we continue to lead the industry in our quest to provide the tools and solutions to help our Members achieve greatness in practice.
Regardless of the new look, logo, and branding, the things that you have come to rely on at WebPT remain our priority:
- a Member-first mindset,
- industry-leading thought leadership,
- technological prowess,
- compliance and security standards,
- solution-oriented service models, and
- our love and dedication to the rehab therapy industry.
PXM is simply the next step in our ongoing quest to move the rehab industry forward and create a better future for our profession. We look forward to continuing to be your technology partner through thick and thin.
Of course, this is just an introduction to what PXM can do for rehab therapists. If you’re eager to learn more, keep your eyes on our blog and Resources page and your ears tuned to our Practice Experience Podcast for more PXM content in the coming weeks and months. Thank you, as always, for your partnership, loyalty, and shared commitment to help move the rehab therapy industry forward. Together, we know the future will be bright.