When it comes to improving the value we bring to our clients, there’s no time like the present. These five trends will help our profession grow in 2015. These trends are in motion, but not etched in stone. To bring them to fruition in the OT world, we all have to make an effort.

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1. Numbers

We need to focus on objectively demonstrating the effectiveness of our care—not only in the interest of increasing reimbursements, but also because it’s the right thing to do. How do we do this? We can start by simply asking for more numbers. Let researchers, the AOTA, and—for you students out there—your professors know that evidence is important to you. For practicing OTs, ensure you’re tracking outcomes and patient satisfaction; these metrics are key to consistently improving the value that you bring to your clients. Furthermore, these metrics also may increase your sense of satisfaction with the care you’re providing.

Action

Look into outcome tracking tools, and when polls go out about what’s important to you, respond with “numbers.”

2. Patient-Focused Marketing

We are in this field to help patients. Thus, patients are our target market. Period. It’s easy to get caught up in the race for physician referrals—a race created by insurance companies and policy-makers. But, things are starting to change, and in 2015, the manner in which we engage our patients will prove more important than ever. Our patients are scouring the Internet for resources. We have to meet these patients were they are and speak to their concerns. For example, in 2014, OTs loved using the phrase “distinct value” in promotions and advertisements, and while this is an important concept, it doesn’t matter to patients. It matters to practitioners and policy makers. Patients care about how OT is going to help them—so let’s make that our focus.

Action

Take a look at your marketing materials. Are you using words that will resonate with your patients?

3. Grassroots Conversations

This is my favorite trend. With unprecedented connectivity via the web and social media, conversations no longer have to be of the official, mediated variety. We do not have to passively wait for change to come from the top; rather, it can grow from the bottom-up. However, that puts more responsibility on individual practitioners. So, don't wait around. We need to talk to each other so we can share what is working and what isn't working in our practices.

Action

Join the conversations happening on Twitter, Facebook, industry blogs, and OT Connections.

4. OT Doctorate as the Single Point of Entry by 2025

In 2014, the AOTA issued a position statement declaring that by 2025, OTs should enter practice as doctorate-level professionals. If this position moves forward, it will influence the overall direction of our profession for decades to come. There is much debate on this topic, with intelligent arguments falling on both sides of the aisle. If you have an opinion on this issue, 2015 is the year to speak out, because this year, the AOTA board of directors will refer the statement to the Representative Assembly for further consideration.

Action

Participate in one of the meetings the AOTA has planned to discuss this issue.

5. Big Change from Small-Scale Improvements

There are no excuses. With so many new and continually enhanced resources out there to help you streamline your practice, there are no excuses for putting your practice-improvement efforts on the back-burner this year. Whether you work in a giant hospital or you’re a practice owner, there is something out there—a piece of technology, a marketing tactic, or perhaps an educational opportunity—that can help you step up your game. Growing our profession means each individual practice must get a little bit better over the course of 2015!

Action

Read up on best practices. Have fun exploring all the tools out there to help grow your practice.


I believe these five trends will change our profession for the better throughout 2015 and beyond. What OT trends do you think will have the biggest impact in our industry? What are your plans to help move the profession forward this year? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.  

About the Author

Sarah received her Bachelor of Art from St. Olaf College and her Master of Occupational Therapy from New York University. Her work experience includes a critical access hospital, an acute trauma hospital, and a state inpatient psychiatric hospital. She is the creator of otpotential.com, where she blogs for OT students and new practitioners. Nebraska is her home, but she currently live in Chicago. Check her out on Twitter and Facebook.

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