Breaking: The United States is among the top 10 most unhealthy countries in the world. Okay, that probably doesn’t come as a shock, but it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, research shows that Americans are increasing their overall physical activity and nixing unhealthy habits like tobacco use. These notable changes likely contribute to another positive trend: for the first time in decades, the rate of obesity in the United States is holding steady—and in some states, even decreasing. This shift in health and wellness is largely due to greater focus on overall population health. And if these trends hold up, it’s safe to assume that we’ll see a significant drop in the incidence of noncommunicable diseases as well as across-the-board improvements to health care in general.

Pro-health changes could also have a significant impact on the prevalence of musculoskeletal issues. As it stands right now, about 50% of American adults have been diagnosed with a musculoskeletal condition. And because rehab therapy is the most effective treatment modality for these conditions, rehab therapists could play a huge role in fostering better health at the population level. But, where to start?

Top of Mind, Top of Search: 4 Ways to Help Patients Find Your PT Practice Online - Regular BannerTop of Mind, Top of Search: 4 Ways to Help Patients Find Your PT Practice Online - Small Banner

Direct-to-Employer Services

The APTA wants to help therapy providers get involved in population health initiatives, too. But instead of telling therapists to target patients directly, the APTA encourages PTs to start by connecting with employers. Why employers? According to this page, it’s “because they are common aggregating points in society for large groups of people.”

In many forward-thinking companies, this is already happening. Major companies like Google and Zappos have implemented programs that encourage movement and healthy lifestyles, all in the name of creating healthier, happier employees and better bottom lines. WebPT is a big believer in this, too. We have recurring initiatives like our company-wide step challenge, health metrics screenings, and various fitness events—all as part of our continual commitment to physical and mental wellness.

Some employers may need convincing.

But, not everyone is on board with this new approach to health improvement—at least not yet. Some skeptics and old-school corporate types might need a little encouragement, and that’s precisely where rehab therapists come in. The APTA has developed a Working With Employers Toward Population Health webpage, which is chock-full of resources to help providers make the case to employers that prioritizing employee health and preventing noncommunicable diseases makes for not only healthier employees, but also a healthier bottom line. And, to quote the APTA, “Rehab therapy professionals are poised to lead in collaboration with other disciplines.”

Collaborative Care

Population health isn’t just a PT, OT, or SLP concern. It’s one of the three prongs of the Triple Aim, which means all healthcare providers are on the hook for improving the health of entire populations and providing preventive care. And that means all providers must collaborate in order to achieve the best population health outcomes. This could mean making room at the table for new staff members who focus on specific specialties (such as dietitians, psychologists, chiropractors, and physicians) in order to offer patients a holistic, collaborative experience.

It’s mutually beneficial.

In this Founder Letter, WebPT’s president and co-founder, Heidi Jannenga, explains why this approach is good for patients and providers alike. As she puts it, “[collaborative care] allows us to take on a more relevant role in the treatment of population health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. It also helps us position ourselves to provide preventive care—as opposed to reactive intervention.” As a rehab therapist, you can lead the charge toward more holistic care and better population health—especially when it comes to preventing the diseases mentioned above.

It takes a village.

Between sedentary desk jobs and long commutes spent sitting in the car, the average American lifestyle doesn’t exactly make it easy to maintain a healthy level of function. On top of that, staying healthy and active requires significant education to help individuals understand how to:

  • read tricky food labeling;
  • get enough daily exercise;
  • set reasonable goals and expectations; and
  • stay motivated.

So, the question is: Who’s going to teach the population? As this article from Strive Labs states, “There isn’t a singular profession that gets all of the components of a healthy lifestyle in school. Not dietetics (nutrition), not medicine (disease management), not psychology/social work (behavior change & coaching) and not physical therapy (movement & exercise).” That’s why it’s crucial that all of these professionals work together and educate each other—in addition to their patients.

Big Data

The CDC certainly doesn’t mince words in its definition of a positive outcome, which includes good physical function, a sense of well-being, and “being alive.” (I have to agree with that last one.) And tracking outcomes can help providers understand patient health—and adjust treatment protocols—in real time, thus leading to better, more efficient results. But outcomes data doesn’t just help improve individual health. It can also tell you a lot about overall population health. For example, it can help providers and healthcare leaders pinpoint large-scale health trends and adjust prevention and treatment approaches accordingly—all in a streamlined, organized manner.

Outcomes could decrease the cost of health care.

In this short video, Jannenga speaks with Scott Hebert, the co-founder of Strive Labs, about why outcomes tracking plays such a critical role in the push to improve population health. “In our quest towards improved quality of care, we’re now starting to understand the value equation that has to include outcomes—along with understanding how to decrease the cost of care,” she says. She also notes two things that must happen if rehab therapists want their outcomes to actually help move the population health needle: (1) they must use outcomes tools that are understood and appreciated across specialities, and (2) they must complete meaningful analysis of the data they collect.


Shifting the industry’s collective focus from individual care to overall health is a pretty big movement, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. After all, the art of healing is a long-held tradition in health care, and people will always need access to quality care. But, what if providers could prevent individuals from ever needing to seek care in the first place? What if we could reduce the number of musculoskeletal diagnoses and start focusing on creating a healthier population? It’s a lofty goal, but it’s possible with a strong, grassroots effort and the right tools in hand.

  • The State of Rehab Therapy Image

    downloadJul 14, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy

    Health care is not a static industry. It’s always changing, evolving, and progressing. No healthcare provider is immune to the effects of that change, but some—including physical, occupational, and speech therapists—have felt a greater impact than others. In an effort to assess the scope of that impact—and thus, better anticipate the future needs of the rehab therapy community—WebPT conducted an industry survey of therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: …

  • Common Questions from our State of Rehab Therapy Webinar Image

    articleJul 17, 2017 | 16 min. read

    Common Questions from our State of Rehab Therapy Webinar

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In last week’s webinar , WebPT President and Co-Founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham shared the results of …

  • Bigger and Better: How to Improve Patient Experience in Your Large Therapy Practice Image

    articleSep 15, 2017 | 6 min. read

    Bigger and Better: How to Improve Patient Experience in Your Large Therapy Practice

    Think back to the scrappy, bootstrapped start-up era of your practice. If I had to guess, I’d bet those early days were infused with optimism, enthusiasm, and healthy dose of anxiety. But with a lot of hard work—and maybe a little luck—word spread about the quality of your patient care, and your budding clinic flourished into a strong, healthy business. Perhaps you even added another location or two—or more. And at that point, you probably realized that—as …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017 Image

    webinarJun 5, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In our July webinar, WebPT president and co-founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham will share and analyze the …

  • 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 …

  • 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. …

  • Therapy Practice Scheduling Hacks Image

    articleJun 26, 2017 | 6 min. read

    Therapy Practice Scheduling Hacks

    As the old saying goes, “Organization is a virtue.” Okay, maybe that’s not how it goes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It’s impossible to overstate the value of being organized, especially if you’re a busy clinic owner or office manager. And you probably know that the ability to keep yourself—and your schedule—well-organized is crucial. But for some folks, the constant ebb and flow of cancellations, no-shows, last-minute appointments, and documentation demands is enough to make …

  • Death to Denials: 4 Strategies for First-Pass Claim Payment Image

    articleMay 1, 2017 | 4 min. read

    Death to Denials: 4 Strategies for First-Pass Claim Payment

    Claim denials are the worst. You provide your patients with exceptional therapeutic intervention—and bill their insurance companies to recoup payment for those services—only to find out that the payer has no intention of actually doing any paying. Womp, womp. While you could—and should—implement a process to correct and rebill denied claims, wouldn’t it be even better to stop them from happening in the first place? After all, it costs providers an average of $25 to rework a …

  • Think Big, Think Differently: 6 Bits of Inspiration from Ascend 2017 Image

    articleOct 5, 2017 | 11 min. read

    Think Big, Think Differently: 6 Bits of Inspiration from Ascend 2017

    The overarching theme of Ascend 2017 —the fourth-annual installment of rehab therapy’s premier business summit—was, quite simply, “Think big.” But, based on what we learned from our esteemed group of speakers over the course of two inspiration-filled days in Washington, DC, a more accurate tagline for this year’s conference might have been, “Think differently.” After all, in a field as complex as health care, grand aspirations are not enough. To solve the problems plaguing this industry, we …

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