In January, we hosted a webinar focused on the importance of outcomes tracking in physical therapy. In addition to explaining why it’s absolutely critical that therapists collect objective data on patient progress, we highlighted a few of the reports available in WebPT Outcomes. With the move to a value-based payment environment already in full swing, outcomes tracking is a hot topic in the physical therapy space, and that meant lots of thoughtful question from our webinar audience. Since the webinar, we’ve also received a slew of questions on our blog and via phone and email. So, we amassed our most popular Qs—along with answers—into one epic FAQ.
Still scratching your head? Leave your question in the comment section at the bottom of this post, and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.
What is WebPT Outcomes?
In a nutshell, WebPT Outcomes allows you to input and track the results of outcome measurement tests. This product integrates directly with WebPT. The reports are stored within the patient record, so you can see outcomes data analysis for information you most likely already record within your documentation. When you use our outcome measurement tools, the functional limitation values will display within your documentation next to the corresponding current and projected goal statuses.
Why should I use WebPT Outcomes?
WebPT Outcomes provides Members with:
- Integrated patient surveys and comprehensive reports
- Collect, monitor, and compare outcomes data from every patient for every therapist in every clinic—all within one system.
- Industry-standard, reputable outcome measurement tools
- Access a diverse library of evidence-based, industry-accepted tests that are already familiar to—and respected within—the healthcare community at large.
- Ensure accurate, risk-adjusted comparisons across patient types with risk-adjusted tests that account for complicating factors (i.e., comorbidities) such as age, weight, litigation, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
- Visual dashboards and detailed, comparative summaries
- Improve overall patient care—as well as therapist, clinic, and company performance—with a library of visual reports that make it easy to identify and monitor trends.
How is WebPT Outcomes different than the APTA registry, and does it work with the APTA registry?
WebPT Outcomes is the first fully integrated outcomes tracking software. This makes WebPT Outcomes different than the APTA registry, because with WebPT, you don't have to enter your data twice; what you enter into your documentation automatically flows into our outcomes database. To answer the second part of this question, the APTA has implied that it will eventually try to integrate its registry with EMRs, but that has not happened yet.
What OMTs are included in WebPT Outcomes?
- Dizziness Handicap Inventory
- Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire
- Neck Disability Index
- Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS)
- Hip Disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (HOOS)
- Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES)
Does WebPT plan on adding more OMTs to its Outcomes platform?
Yes! We plan to add two to five OMTs in the near future.
How does the patient access the Outcomes questionnaires?
Through our own research, we’ve found that most practices today are printing out their outcomes questionnaires and providing them to patients to complete. For now, WebPT Outcomes is set up to accommodate this process. We recommend that patients complete the questionnaires on their own to ensure therapists don’t unintentionally influence their answers. Eventually, WebPT Outcomes will allow patients to complete their questionnaires electronically via a HIPAA-secure link or tablet.
How much does WebPT Outcomes cost?
WebPT Outcomes is available on a per-clinic basis. However, we recommend purchasing Outcomes for your entire organization. That way, you have the most accurate data possible across your entire company. As is the case with any WebPT product, training and support are always included and always unlimited.
WebPT Outcomes costs $79 per month for the initial clinic and $59 per month for each additional clinic.
How is WebPT Outcomes different from FOTO?
We have a lot of respect for FOTO, because it was an outcomes tracking pioneer in the physical therapy industry. However, FOTO went the proprietary route with its outcomes tracking solution. Here at WebPT, on the other hand, we believe outcomes data is most powerful when the tools rehab therapists use to track this information are understood, used, and respected across the entire healthcare industry. Furthermore, unlike FOTO, WebPT Outcomes is fully integrated with the WebPT EMR, which means no double data-entry—and none of the errors that go along with it.
Can PTAs enter outcomes data?
Yes! Anyone who can access and edit patient documentation—including PTAs—can enter outcomes values. But, keep in mind that, depending on your state’s regulatory requirements, your PTA may not be able to finalize the documentation.
How do we get outcomes data in front of payers?
It’s up to therapists to aggregate their data and present it to payers in a meaningful way during contract negotiations. WebPT Outcomes helps therapists effectively demonstrate their value by providing objective data in easy-to-digest reports and graphs.
Does WebPT Outcomes integrate with other EMRs?
Not at this time.
Can I use WebPT Outcomes if I don’t use WebPT Billing?
As long as you use WebPT EMR, you can use WebPT Outcomes.
How much extra time will I spend tracking outcomes?
WebPT Outcomes is built with therapist efficiency in mind, which is why we’ve integrated it with our EMR. Members can enter outcomes data as part of their standard documentation. After a patient completes the OMT, the therapist can easily tab through the entry form and input the answers. This should take approximately 30 seconds using the Show Test feature.
Where in WebPT do I enter outcomes data?
You’ll log in to WebPT just as you do now. Once you begin a note, you can simply collect data using the OMTs in the Objective Tab. Alternatively, you can access printable versions of the tests under the Tools section on the left side of your WebPT Dashboard.
Does WebPT Outcomes include tests that apply to OTs and SLPs?
Most of the tests available within WebPT Outcomes apply to both PTs and OTs, and we plan to add several more tests this year. Currently, none of our OMTs apply to SLPs; however, that’s on our roadmap as well. In the meantime, we recommend only PTs and OTs use WebPT Outcomes.
Can I email the Outcomes questionnaires to my patients?
We plan to add this HIPAA-compliant feature soon.
What does it mean to be risk-adjusted?
Risk-adjusted tests take into account complicating factors (i.e., comorbidities), such as age, weight, litigation, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, so providers can more accurately compare outcomes data across patients.
Who determines national benchmarks and averages?
Because we created our Outcomes product using a previously available standalone tool, we had a significant amount of data to start with, which helped us determine national averages. Additionally, the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) scores are based on research of each individual OMT.
Are regional benchmark comparisons available, too?
Regional comparisons are not available at this time.
Why does WebPT Outcomes include QuickDASH instead of DASH?
We've found patients are more apt to complete the QuickDASH, because it's a shorter version of the tool that features less-sensitive questions.
Does WebPT Outcomes include patient satisfaction surveys?
Yes! Patient satisfaction plays a large role in patient outcomes. That’s why we’ve built these surveys into all follow-up and discharge OMTs.
How often do I collect outcomes data?
The frequency at which you collect outcomes data ultimately is up to you. However, most WebPT Members collect this information on a monthly basis. This ensures that:
- the data is accurate and up to date, and
- the patient has enough time to show progress.
Can I add other outcomes tests to WebPT Outcomes?
WebPT will continue to allow Members to use custom OMTs; however, enhanced tracking and reporting capabilities are available for WebPT Outcomes OMTs only.
If I purchase WebPT Outcomes, will my historical outcomes data be added to the Outcomes product?
Unfortunately, no. We don’t have the historical data we need to complete the risk adjustment.
I’m a PTPN member. Can I use WebPT Outcomes instead of FOTO?
At this time, PTPN still requires its members to use FOTO. If you’d like PTPN to approve WebPT Outcomes as an acceptable alternative to FOTO, we encourage you to voice your concerns to the PTPN leadership. After all, the more PTPN members who vocalize this request, the better the chances that PTPN will adopt WebPT Outcomes.
How long will it take for my clinic to collect enough outcomes data to identify trends and draw conclusions?
Identifying trends and drawing meaningful conclusions from your data takes time. How much time depends on the number of patients you see for a particular diagnosis that has a corresponding outcomes test. We estimate that you’ll need to collect outcomes for a minimum of 25 patients to start analyzing your outcomes data. So, once your clinic sees 25 patients with, say, a primary diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis, you’d be able to run reports and gain valuable insights using WebPT Outcomes (we estimate that it will take roughly two to three months for a small clinic to see that many lumbar spinal stenosis patients). So again, your clinic’s outcomes timetable ultimately depends on your specific patient counts.
How do I compare outcomes data within WebPT for patients who have different diagnoses?
You can filter Outcomes reports based on primary diagnoses. For patients with different diagnoses, you can run two separate reports, save them as PDFs, and then manually compare those reports. Keep in mind, though, that you can only sort based on primary diagnosis. Thus, it’s imperative that you and your staff diagnosis as accurately as possible, and always select the most fitting diagnosis as the primary diagnosis. (Translation: Code for the injury or condition—not the symptoms (e.g., “pain in [body part]”)— first.)
Why do I have to fill out the entire OMT survey? Why can’t I simply enter the final score?
You can enter just the overall score, if you desire; there is a setting for that. However, we recommend filling out the entire questionnaire to capture information like patient perception, which can be extremely valuable to your practice. Keep in mind, however, that while you can enter the overall score, you cannot skip the patient satisfaction portion of the OMT.
Which OMTs—and reports—should I use, and when?
We’ve tackled both of these questions in blog posts. For a rundown of the OMTs available in WebPT Outcomes—and guidance as to when they’re most applicable—check out this post. To learn more about the reports available within WebPT Outcomes and how to appropriately leverage them, check out this post.
How do I incorporate outcomes data collection into my workflow?
We believe incorporating data collection into your practice’s clinical workflow is a five-step process:
- Make sure everyone—from front office staff and billers to assistants and therapists—understand why your practice is collecting outcomes data.
- Involve everyone in planning and implementation.
- Educate your patients.
- Establish a process for administering OMTs.
- Identify those people within your practice responsible for each outcomes tracking step.
To learn more about these steps and how to put them into practice, check out this blog post.
How do I get my team to care about outcomes tracking?
There are a wealth of reasons, but here are the big ones. Outcomes tracking enables you to:
- Improve patient care.
- Better market your practice.
- Influence payment rates.
- Maximize clinic and therapist performance.
- Position yourself and your peers as key healthcare players.
For greater detail on this topic, check out the following posts:
- 3 Reasons Why Rehab Therapists Should Care About Outcomes
- 4 Ways Outcomes Will Launch PTs to Primary Care Stardom
- The Role of Outcomes in Patient-Centered Care
- How Outcomes Tracking Fosters Quality Care
How do I ensure patients complete their OMTs?
Put simply, you can’t have a successful patient-reported outcomes tracking program if your patients don’t report their outcomes. Thus, honesty and accuracy are paramount, and to ensure both, you must educate your patients. In this blog post, author Brooke Andrus recommends educating patients on: “1. How to complete each questionnaire, 2. How you will use their responses, and 3. How their participation benefits them directly.” Of course, education is only the first step when it comes to patient involvement. We tackle the topic more thoroughly in this blog post.
Have a question that you don’t see answered above? Ask it in the comments section, and we’ll get you an answer pronto!