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Raising the Bar in Rehab

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

Published April 17, 2014 4:16 PM by Lisa Mueller

One of my student clinical rotations was at a smaller physical therapy outpatient clinic with just three staff members who managed all aspects of the operations. They all worked seamlessly together and the patients had a lot of fun during their appointments, partially because their therapists were very knowledgeable about every aspect of the business. As I think about that facility now, I have even more respect for those therapists than I appreciated when I worked alongside them.

When I interact with patients, my brain is focused on every component of practicing physical therapy. I consider differential diagnosis, muscle fiber length-tension relationships, observing my patient's response to changes in position and palpation... all of the factors that go into successful treatment. It's not easy for me to switch from that kind of thinking, to say, billing cycles or scheduling equipment calibration. The group I worked with in school kept track of all the billing, scheduling, staffing, ordering of supplies, as well as paying the building rent, electrical bills and insurance coverage. This is what a lot of private practice physical therapists take on, and I am impressed.

Many times we are asked to wear additional hats at our jobs. There are other components of physical therapy practice that extend beyond patient care and need to be completed, whether the setting is private practice or a large organization. Each of these parts are equally important in setting the framework to provide excellent patient care. We aren't able to treat patients without a building to practice in, equipment to use, and systems to collect payments, for example. I imagine the variety of responsibilities may be overwhelming for some physical therapists and stimulating for others.

Are you asked to assist with maintaining the equipment in your facility? Do you participate in patient billing? Do you work closely with the landlord of your facility, or schedule fire marshal inspections when needed? How do you balance the multiple hats you wear? How do you multitask your multiple responsibilities?

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This brings up a point on hiring experts for what they are hired for and also becoming invested in a company you either own or have an interest in.  

Billing and coding should be done by experts who will maximize reimbursements.   And cleaning staff should be hired to clean toilets, vacuum, dust, etc.   Too many therapists code wrong and under bill for services and buy cheap tissue for the bathroom.  

Jason Marketti April 21, 2014 2:26 AM

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