On the WebPT Blog, we’ve extensively covered the benefits of tracking and accurately analyzing outcomes data—from why it’s essential for patient safety to why it’s necessary to brand physical therapists as neuromuscular experts. But, as we move toward a pay-for-performance healthcare paradigm, objective outcomes data won’t merely be beneficial to physical therapists; it will be necessary for them to get paid. Here’s why:

Suppressing Sticker Shock: How to Handle Your Patients High-Deductible Health Plans - Regular BannerSuppressing Sticker Shock: How to Handle Your Patients High-Deductible Health Plans - Small Banner

Payers Depend on Data

Payers are transitioning to reimbursement structures rooted in service value—rather than service volume. And to prove the value you provide, you need a way to communicate the efficacy of your care to payers. So, how will you do that? You guessed it: through tracking and analyzing outcomes data. If you’re a Medicare provider, data-tracking should already be part of your routine. After all, you’re already submitting data through a number of channels—including the PQRS and FLR programs. That said, there is a difference between outcomes data and the other data you’ve previously collected: outcomes data—particularly data collected via patient-reported outcome measures—emphasizes care quality and patient satisfaction, two important factors in care value.

New Initiatives are Paving the Way for Healthcare Payments


One of the ways that the government is moving the entire US healthcare system toward a value-based mode of care delivery is through the introduction of the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). What is MIPS? Essentially, this new initiative consolidates three existing pay-for-performance programs and introduces one new program—all in an effort to more strongly encourage providers to deliver higher quality care at a lower cost. The whole shebang is set to go into effect in 2017. If you’re interested in learning more about the ins and outs of MIPS, check out this post.

So, how does MIPS impact rehab therapists? Unfortunately, as of right now, therapists aren’t eligible to participate. As Brooke Andrus explains in this article, a limited list of clinicians will be eligible to participate during the first two years of the program. These providers include:

  • physicians,
  • physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs),
  • certified registered nurse anesthetists, and
  • groups that include the above-listed professionals.

Now, while rehab therapists won’t be able to take part in MIPS right off the bat, PTs, OTs, and SLPs will become MIPS-eligible beginning in 2019. At that point, therapists may be required to report a variety of data points. To properly prepare for that day, therapy providers should get used to tracking quality data now—before their payments depend on it.

Alternative Payment Models

In addition to introducing programs like MIPS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is rolling out a host of programs to encourage provider participation in alternative payment models—and thus, move closer to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) goal of tying 50% of all Medicare fee-for-service payments to alternative payment models by 2018. One example that’s already in place is the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model (CJR). CMS explains that the “CJR model holds participant hospitals financially accountable for the quality and cost of a CJR episode of care and incentivizes increased coordination of care among hospitals, physicians, and post-acute care providers.” This model holds providers accountable for care quality and cost—rather than reimbursing based on service volume alone.

Collaborative Care is the New Normal

In the next few years, the importance of proving the value of your services will only continue to grow. In the words of this Medical Economics article, “the shift from fee-for-service (FFS) to value-based reimbursement will be even more dramatic [in the next two to five years].” And that means providers must prepare now—or risk being left behind. Bottom line: the rehab therapy community has no time to waste. Furthermore, as this Modern Healthcare article explains, the healthcare powers that be clearly believe this transition is mission-critical—despite the massive investment of time, money, and labor that comes with it: “while the movement away from fee-for-service and toward value-based care requires a hefty investment in infrastructure, cultural changes around operational practices and intensive care-redesign efforts, these developments clearly illustrate that providers are being pushed to change and embrace a new normal.”

And that new normal includes a move to a more collaborative, patient-centered care delivery paradigm. In fact, that’s arguably the overarching goal of healthcare reform in general—and it’s one more reason outcomes tracking is crucial to rehab therapists’ ability to survive and thrive in the future. As the APTA explains, “the ability to measurably demonstrate objective results is critical in the pursuit and development of collaborative health care relationships. This will require you to be up-to-date on clinical practice guidelines and protocols as well as to be able to document your adherence to evidence-based practices sufficiently, and share your data with bundle partners.”

Are you tracking outcomes data? If not, what’s stopping you from embracing this new normal? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • WebPT Outcomes OMT Reference Guide Image

    downloadDec 22, 2016

    WebPT Outcomes OMT Reference Guide

    Ever feel like the results your patients achieve don’t match up to the statistics your payers bring to the negotiation table? Now you can prove them wrong. Collecting objective patient data can help you, the rehab therapist, yield better patient outcomes—and pad your bottom line in the process. And that’s kind of a big deal in today’s value-based healthcare system. Today, with the right practice management tools—including WebPT Outcomes—it’s easier than ever to set concrete performance goals …

  • You’ve Got Outcomes—Now What? Image

    articleMay 6, 2016 | 3 min. read

    You’ve Got Outcomes—Now What?

    The launch of WebPT Outcomes is officially complete—which means every single WebPT clinic now has the ability to collect and track patient outcomes data directly within the EMR. And as you may have heard from our president and founder, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, that’s kind of a big deal . But, as Uncle Ben (Peter Parker’s uncle—not the rice guy) once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We’d be doing our Members—and the entire healthcare community at …

  • Is PT Valuable? Why Outcomes Data is the Proof We Need Image

    webinarFeb 3, 2016

    Is PT Valuable? Why Outcomes Data is the Proof We Need

    In this day and age, it seems like everybody wants more for less—and that’s certainly true in the healthcare realm. With nationwide reform efforts pushing providers to deliver higher-quality care at a lower cost, value—and the ability to prove it—is absolutely critical. Most rehab therapists will tell you the services they provide are more valuable than anyone knows. And that’s precisely the problem. No one knows the value of physical and occupational therapy. But outcomes tracking can …

  • WebPT + Outcomes: A PT Software Love Story Image

    articleMar 7, 2016 | 7 min. read

    WebPT + Outcomes: A PT Software Love Story

    Developing and launching WebPT Outcomes has been a labor of love—one that’s lasted about 15 months. At times, it felt more like the kind of love you’d have for a sibling—after he or she pushes you off the bunk bed and you split your lip open. You know, that kind of love. But, after lots of triumphs—and just as many fat lips—it’s been wonderful seeing the fruits of our labor come to life. Hello, WebPT Outcomes: the …

  • How Outcomes Tracking Fosters Quality Care Image

    articleFeb 3, 2016 | 4 min. read

    How Outcomes Tracking Fosters Quality Care

    You know you do darn fine work as a rehab therapist—and we do, too. But when asked to prove your value as a healthcare provider to patients, payers, and the rest of the healthcare industry, do you resort to anecdotal evidence of patient improvement, or do you have at your disposal cold, hard, irrefutable facts (a.k.a. outcomes data) about the results you and your patients achieved? Unfortunately, many PTs and OTs are still relying on the former—and …

  • Common Questions from Our Patient Sticker Shock Webinar Image

    articleMar 31, 2017 | 33 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Patient Sticker Shock Webinar

    From copays and deductibles to payer contracts and benefits verification, understanding all the nuances of third-party insurances is tough enough for healthcare providers—let alone their patients. In WebPT’s most recent webinar— Suppressing Sticker Shock: How to Handle Your Patients’ High-Deductible Health Plans —co-hosts Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, the cofounder and president of WebPT, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham provided a lot of great advice on how to have productive conversations about healthcare costs with your patients—without …

  • Luck o' the Outcome: Which OMT Are You? [Quiz] Image

    articleMar 8, 2016 | 1 min. read

    Luck o' the Outcome: Which OMT Are You? [Quiz]

    Whether you’re Irish or simply Irish-at-heart (hey, even St. Patrick himself didn’t hail from the Emerald Isle), March 17 is reserved as a day to bust out your best jig; don every imaginable shade of green; and partake in some delicious food and drink—even if only for nostalgia’s sake. So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve decided to combine two—no, three—of our favorite things: OMTs, holidays, and quizzes. So, plant a smooch on the ol’ Blarney …

  • Channeling Your Inner Chuck Norris: How to Master the Art of Outcomes Image

    articleFeb 17, 2016 | 6 min. read

    Channeling Your Inner Chuck Norris: How to Master the Art of Outcomes

    When I was growing up, I stayed at my grandparents house after school. This meant I spent the better part of my youth tuning into whatever my grandpa watched on TV. And because he watched a lot of Walker, Texas Ranger, I watched a lot of Walker, Texas Ranger. Chuck Norris was basically my afterschool nanny. (Don’t tell him I said that.) Each afternoon, I watched this karate-kicking cowboy fight off bad guy after bad guy. He …

  • Why You Shouldn't Track Outcomes in Isolation Image

    articleFeb 29, 2016 | 3 min. read

    Why You Shouldn't Track Outcomes in Isolation

    Outcomes has been a popular topic of conversation lately; as health care drifts further away from a volume-based payment environment, proving the value of your treatment will become essential to getting paid. According to this article on PhysicalTherapist.com, as provider incentives begin to change, your “strategy and behavior must change as well.” Tracking outcomes is a giant leap for rehab therapists—but if you’re tracking outcomes at your clinic only, then Houston, we have a problem. To make …

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