The other day I treated a patient with shoulder pain. She developed this pain about six weeks ago, and she can't recall a specific injury to her shoulder.
She said she waited for her shoulder pain to go away, but it didn't, and her shoulder started feeling tight. She told me that someone told her to try physical therapy, but she wasn't sure how to proceed. She states she was not sure if she needed to see her doctor before starting therapy or if she could just go to physical therapy via direct access.
She decided to telephone her insurance company and ask about the best way to get to physical therapy. Her insurance compnay told her that she was able to simply find a physical therapist, make an appointment, and go. She did not need to see her doctor first.
Finally, we are getting somewhere. You see, my state allows patients to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist via direct access. That means that you do not need to visit your physician before seeking out a physical therapist. The problem is that we have practiced for so long under the "physician as gatekeeper" model of care that not many patients know or understand what direct access is all about. It is refreshing to hear that at least one insurance company out there is encouraging their customers to seek out physical therapy first.
- Read more: Direct Access in Physical Therapy