If you’ve been following the WebPT Blog for even a short time, you’re likely aware that direct access to physical therapy is the way of the future—especially now that some form of this patient-centric care exists in all 50 states. That’s why we’ve covered everything providers need to know about direct access, from marketing topics to individual state regulations. One thing we haven’t covered: what it’s like to be a direct access physical therapy patient. Interested? Well, you’re in luck; just a few short weeks ago, I was swinging a golf club—actually, more like flailing about with a golf club—and suddenly landed in a world of pain. Here’s what happened:

Physical Therapist Salary Guide - Regular BannerPhysical Therapist Salary Guide - Small Banner

Pain is no Joke

About 24 hours after perfecting my “swing,” I found myself sitting at the WebPT office unable to move my upper body. I thought I’d head over to urgent care, get myself some good ol’ prescription-strength anti-inflammatories, and call it a night. Unfortunately, that quick fix wasn’t in the cards for me. After a steroid shot and a few muscle relaxers, I was still feeling the hurt. That’s when I knew I needed something better and more promising. In other words, I needed a PT.

Easy is Crucial

By the end of my weekend, I was wearing my shoulder as an earring, and trust me, it didn’t look fashionable. I had to find a physical therapist—and quick. I decide to search Yelp for a clinic that:

  • was open in my area,
  • offered a convenient location,
  • had quality reviews, and
  • had immediate appointments available.

I found a clinic that matched my criteria quickly. Even better, the organization was familiar with Arizona’s direct access laws and eager to help me even though I didn’t have a physician referral. With just a quick call, the front office staff confirmed my insurance information, and I was able to see a PT within the hour. I didn’t have to explain myself. There were no discussions about whether the therapist could see me without a script. This clinic’s staff knew their stuff. This was, by far, the best healthcare customer service experience I’ve ever had. The front office staff were compassionate, knowledgeable, and efficient.  

Listening Goes a Long Way

When I arrived at the clinic, the office was organized, friendly, and—not surprisingly—super busy. I was impressed with the staff's ability to quickly check patients in. And I was thrilled to start my appointment on time. After filling out some brief paperwork, I had my visit with the therapist. During the initial evaluation, I explained my history of neck pain and my concerns about how this injury would affect my ability to continue with my normal activities—mainly, my beloved barre3 class. The therapist was more than understanding and spent a lot of time talking with me. And the best part? It might seem insignificant, but she made eye contact with me as I described my pain and concerns. I felt like—for once—a provider was listening to me, not just my symptoms.

Each Visit is Dynamic

Fortunately, my insurance allows an unlimited number of direct access visits—something else the clinic confirmed before I even set foot in the office. So, what does unlimited access to physical therapy mean for me? No stress about my treatment. I’m not worried about whether I’ll be able to reach my goals within a predetermined timeline. I’m able to work with my therapist on strengthening every muscle necessary to prevent re-injury and reduce the pain and inflammation I currently experience. Additionally, my therapist adapts my program to target the areas with which I’m struggling. Because of this approach, I feel like my plan of care is flexible and specific to my needs.  


To sum it up: My direct access physical therapy experience was a game-changer. I now know what it’s like to see positive functional results, feel confident in my recovery, and experience reduced pain as I progress. It’s this type of dynamic and comprehensive care that fuels my passion for the PT industry. Also, I get to experience physical therapy in my own way and by my own choice. And that’s ultimately the whole point of direct access: Therapists can provide their patients with the quality of care they so desperately need, exactly when they need it, in a manner that best suits them—no prescription necessary.

  • 7 Direct Access Myths Debunked Image

    articleOct 13, 2014 | 8 min. read

    7 Direct Access Myths Debunked

    The fight for direct access to physical therapy has been raging for a while—we’re talking several decades—and as with any long-standing controversy, rumors abound. So, in the interest of removing some grist from the gossip mill, let’s tackle a handful of the biggest direct access myths out there: Myth #1: Direct access only applies to private outpatient physical therapy practices. Truth : One of the most pervasive myths in the therapy industry is that direct access only …

  • Future-Proofing Your Practice: Diversifying Revenue Streams Image

    downloadJan 7, 2016

    Future-Proofing Your Practice: Diversifying Revenue Streams

    What does it take to future-proof your practice? In this guide, we’ll talk about how you can incorporate health and wellness services to diversify your practice’s revenue streams and boost your bottom line. Ready to prepare your practice for the age of payment reform? Enter your email address below to download Future-Proofing Your Practice, Volume 3.

  • Direct Access in Action: Jennifer Gamboa of Body Dynamics, Inc. Image

    articleOct 27, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Direct Access in Action: Jennifer Gamboa of Body Dynamics, Inc.

    In many cases, the old retail axiom “you get what you pay for” holds true within the healthcare market as well—and that is precisely why Jennifer Gamboa, DPT, OCS, MTC, and president of Body Dynamics, Inc. , believes that more physical therapy practices should be looking beyond the third-party payer game as they develop their business models. The way Jennifer sees it, declining reimbursement rates not only threaten the survival of private practice physical therapy clinics, but …

  • Common Questions from our Cloudy with a Chance of Reform Webinar Image

    articleFeb 13, 2017 | 13 min. read

    Common Questions from our Cloudy with a Chance of Reform Webinar

    In our first webinar of 2017 , WebPT’s co-founder and president, Heidi Jannenga, teamed up with CEO Nancy Ham to discuss the current and future healthcare trends that will impact PTs, OTs, and SLPs. (Missed it? No worries; you can view the complete recording here .) As always, we received quite a few questions during the presentation—way more than we could address live. So, we’ve put them all here, in one handy Q&A doc. Scroll through and …

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017 Image

    webinarJan 5, 2017

    Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017

    Predicting the weather is tough—just ask any meteorologist who has called for sun on the day of a major downpour. Well, predicting the fate of the US healthcare system isn’t much easier—there’s a lot up in the air, after all. But, even without a healthcare equivalent of Doppler Radar, there are a few key trends that are sure to have a major impact on PTs, OTs, and SLPs in 2017 and beyond. And to keep your practice …

  • ICD-10 FAQs Image

    articleFeb 28, 2015 | 6 min. read

    ICD-10 FAQs

    We recently hosted a webinar focused on helping PTS, OTs, and SLPs prepare for the ICD-10 switch. We got a lot of questions—so many, in fact, that we decided to organize the most common ones into an easy-to-reference blog post. Read on to find the answers to all your burning ICD-10 queries. Don’t see your question? Post it in the comments section below, and we’ll find you an answer. Does ICD-10 affect CPT codes? According to this …

  • Direct Access in Action: Mike Manzo of Atlantic Physical Therapy Center Image

    articleOct 30, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Direct Access in Action: Mike Manzo of Atlantic Physical Therapy Center

    We’ve all heard some variation of the sad story about the poor, defenseless physical therapy practice having its business sucked dry by the big, bad physician-owned physical therapy practice next door. And PT Mike Manzo—who founded New Jersey-based Atlantic Physical Therapy Center (APTC) with his brother Dave in 2001—could very well have found himself living out that tragic tale. According to Mike, that familiar anecdote was all-too-common in New Jersey about five or six years ago. At …

  • The PT Patient's Guide to Understanding Insurance Image

    downloadApr 3, 2017

    The PT Patient's Guide to Understanding Insurance

    Patients are shouldering a greater portion of their healthcare costs than ever before. But when they don’t know the specifics of their coverage, they can end up with much bigger bills than they bargained for—and that often leads to unpaid balances and unfinished treatment plans. Bring them up to speed—and improve your practice’s collections and patient retention—with this guide. Patients will learn: What it means for a service to be “covered.” How to define common insurance terms. …

  • Why My Practice Can’t Live Without Outcomes Tracking Image

    articleMar 15, 2017 | 3 min. read

    Why My Practice Can’t Live Without Outcomes Tracking

    If you don’t measure it, you cannot improve it. For a long time, as our business was growing, we operated by feel. And we “felt” we were doing a good job. Once we started tracking our physical therapy outcomes , though, we finally knew. We found out that we were doing a good job—in some areas. In other areas, we found out that we needed more work. The main point is that we were flying blind until …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.