As high-deductible health plans—and other factors contributing to rising healthcare costs—become a mainstay in the US healthcare system, patients are being saddled with a greater portion of their healthcare bills than ever before. As a result, these patients are displaying many more consumer-like behaviors. After all, they’re more conscious about the dollar-for-dollar value of the services they’re receiving. So, instead of taking their physicians’ recommendations at face value, these patient-consumers are doing their own research to find the very best treatment and provider options—in terms of both quality and cost. And while physical therapists have historically had their fair share of challenges with respect to establishing their value with patients and payers alike, the skyrocketing cost of health care—along with nationwide improvements in direct access law—affords PTs the perfect opportunity to shine. That’s because physical therapists often offer better, less-risky treatment at a much lower overall cost than many more invasive interventions (e.g., injections and surgery).

Sure, the rising cost of health care isn’t necessarily great for the healthcare system at large, but this can be a “make-lemonade-out-of-lemons" moment for physical therapists and their patients. Here’s why:

PT Billing Secrets: 5 Things Payers Don’t Want You to Know - Regular BannerPT Billing Secrets: 5 Things Payers Don’t Want You to Know - Small Banner

The Reasons

1. Patients are taking greater control of their healthcare decisions.

Up until recently, one of the only reliable ways for physical therapists to obtain new patients was to develop referral relationships with physicians, because those physicians served as the main gateway to patients. Today, PTs can continue to maintain those relationships and expand their marketing efforts to reach patients directly. This is important—even for therapists who practice in states without unlimited direct access laws—because many patients are doing their homework before they ever set foot in a physician’s office. If they’ve heard—or read—good things about physical therapy, they may go to their physician already armed with data as to why PT (and specifically, why your practice) is exactly the treatment option they would like to explore next. Plus, patients who are more involved in their healthcare decisions may also be more engaged in their care—and more motivated to accomplish their goals. These engaged, motivated patients will, in turn, improve your clinical outcomes—thereby providing you with even more positive data you can use to market your practice.

2. Everyone is on the prowl for high-quality, low-cost options.

Patients aren’t the only ones looking for high-quality, low-cost treatment options. Other providers and payers are on the prowl as well. Data demonstrating the effectiveness of physical therapy—and its comparatively low cost—may not only prompt payers and other providers to send more patients your way, but also lead to funding for additional research on the benefits of physical therapy in a variety of clinical scenarios. This could be a great way for the profession to establish once and for all its reputation as the go-to provider for patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Furthermore, it could lead payers to finally see physical therapy as a value-add—rather than merely a cost to be managed. And that could give way to reimbursement rates that better reflect the value therapists already know they deliver.

Download your 2019 State of Rehab Therapy report now.

Enter your email address below, and we’ll send you a free comprehensive report on the trends shaping the future of the industry.

Please enable JavaScript to submit form.

3. One good deed deserves another.

As more of your existing patients come to experience the value of physical therapy, they’re likely to share that positive experience with their friends, family members, and online communities, thereby expanding the number of people who understand the value of physical therapy—and will potentially consider it for themselves. As Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, wrote in this post, currently, more than 90% of the patients who could benefit from physical therapy never receive it. That represents a huge opportunity for you to reach more of the patients who need you. And one of the best ways to do that is by ensuring you’re fostering patient loyalty with your existing ones, because loyal patients make the very best advocates.

The Action Steps

Now, you could rest on your laurels during this era of change and still experience some of the more passive benefits—for example, you may see a slight increase in new patients who hear about the benefits of physical therapy from someone else. But, there are also action steps that you can take to set yourself up for even more success. Here are a few strategies for making the most lemonade out of this lemony time period (adapted from this post):

1. Become a care coordinator.

By embracing direct access and serving as your patients’ first point of contact in the healthcare system, you’ll be in an incredibly important position. After all, it’ll be on you to ensure patients receive the very best care—at the very lowest cost—whether that comes from you or another provider.

2. Continue marketing the entire PT profession.

Marketing your own practice is a must—but so is marketing the physical therapy profession as a whole. More people need to know the benefits of first-line physical therapy intervention—and who better to make the case than the people who know this industry best?

3. Practice at the top of your license.

Now’s the time to step up your game to ensure you’re providing your patients with the most valuable care possible—and that extends beyond the clinic to include home exercise programs and value-add educational content.

4. Prioritize the right kind of data tracking.

According to WebPT’s Brooke Andrus, “By measuring patient outcomes through the use of standardized tools, PTs can amass an arsenal of objective proof underscoring their value and importance as members of a patient’s overall medical team.” Boom. (To learn more about the kinds of data you should be collecting, check out the full post here.)

5. Make your voice heard.

In 2018, Medicare’s therapy cap was repealed—and that’s a huge win for PTs and their patients. But, we’ve got to keep the momentum going. So ask yourself: What else can you accomplish to move the PT profession forward—and reach more patients—through advocacy?


There you have it: why the skyrocketing cost of health care is good for PTs. Have any other strategies for capitalizing on the current healthcare environment that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them in the comment section below.

  • 8 Reasons You Should Attend Ascend 2017 Image

    articleJun 15, 2017 | 5 min. read

    8 Reasons You Should Attend Ascend 2017

      Great news! Ascend— the ultimate business summit for rehab therapists —is back. Last year, the third-annual event hit Fort Worth, Texas, for two incredibly educational (and incredibly fun) days. This year—September 29 and 30, to be exact—Ascend is heading to our nation’s capital. As we all know, DC is full of movers, shakers, and changemakers, and Ascend will keep that tradition alive—minus the political drama. This two-day conference is a can’t-miss affair. Here’s why: 1.) You’ll …

  • 6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015 Image

    articleNov 16, 2015 | 10 min. read

    6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015

    Last week, I joined hundreds of amazing physical therapy professionals, students, and vendors (including yours truly, WebPT) at this year's PPS Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Despite the uncomfortable combination of tropical heat and humidity outside—and near-freezing conference rooms inside—everyone was in high spirits. Though I never made it to Disney World, I still felt like I was in the most magical place on Earth, thanks to the inspiring and informative presentations I saw and the thought-provoking …

  • Retention, Please: Why Patient Dropout is Killing Rehab Therapy Practices— and How to Stop It Image

    downloadApr 24, 2018

    Retention, Please: Why Patient Dropout is Killing Rehab Therapy Practices— and How to Stop It

    Patient health is the top priority for most rehab therapists—specifically, getting patients back to a level of health that allows them to do what they love. But, when patients say “sayonara” before they reach their therapy goals, they lose the opportunity to live their fullest lives. To make matters worse, the average rehab therapy practice will lose $150,000 annually due to patient dropout alone. Talk about a one-two punch to the gut. Here at WebPT, we believe …

  • 8 Reasons You Should Attend Ascend 2019 Image

    articleJun 26, 2019 | 4 min. read

    8 Reasons You Should Attend Ascend 2019

    Great news! Ascend— the ultimate business summit for rehab therapists —is back. Last year, the fifth-annual event hit our hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, for two incredibly educational (and incredibly fun) days. This year—September 19–21, to be exact—Ascend is heading to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (that’s Minnesota, don’tcha know!) for another round of rehab therapy’s can’t-miss business conference. Seriously—you’ve gotta be there. Here’s why: 1.) You’ll earn CEUs. In addition to upping their business acumen, physical and …

  • Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar Image

    articleFeb 7, 2018 | 9 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar

    Earlier this week, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, the president and co-founder of WebPT, teamed up with Charlotte Bohnett, WebPT’s director of demand generation, to host a webinar on common barriers to patient progress —and strategies for overcoming them. During the question-and-answer portion of the presentation, we received quite a few audience questions on the nuances of fostering patient engagement and moving patients toward their therapy goals as efficiently as possible. We’ve compiled the most frequently …

  • Putting the PT in Hospital: Direct Access in Acute Care Image

    articleNov 2, 2017 | 8 min. read

    Putting the PT in Hospital: Direct Access in Acute Care

    Physical therapy is a relatively new profession—although its origins can be traced back to Hippocrates in 460 BC . And it has quite the interesting history. In the US, many healthcare practitioners used physical therapy techniques to help patients during the polio epidemic of 1916. Then, according to this US Army Medical Department page and this slide deck by Aaron Keil, PT, DPT, OCS, it was World War I—which the US entered in 1917—that really propelled the …

  • The Great 8 Elements of the Patient Experience Image

    articleMay 24, 2018 | 10 min. read

    The Great 8 Elements of the Patient Experience

    As I was getting ready to graduate college and begin interviewing for jobs, I was blown away by the experience I had with Ernst & Young. They were engaging, showed interest in me as a person, and paid attention to all the details. When I flew out to visit the office, they picked me up in a limousine, left a gift bag in my hotel room, and took care of just about every other detail. And even …

  • 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 …

  • 7 Lessons Learned from Opening a PT Private Practice Image

    articleJul 25, 2017 | 9 min. read

    7 Lessons Learned from Opening a PT Private Practice

    A little over a year ago, Kaci Monroe was punching the clock as a staff physical therapist in a small outpatient clinic in northwestern Montana. And while there were a lot of great things about the job—the location was incredible, the patients were awesome, and the practice was growing—Kaci couldn’t shake the feeling that she was destined for something more. “As a new graduate, getting my first job, I remember during the interview telling them someday my …

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