Title

Retrospective Analysis of Physical Therapy Utilization

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2016

Program

Physical Therapy

Abstract

Background: Arguments against reimbursement for direct access to physical therapy (PT) are that a physician examination is necessary to diagnose and that there is a potential for increased cost. Objective: To determine what percentage of PT referrals had a specific diagnosis and treatment orders. Additionally, specific and non-specific diagnoses and treatment orders were compared in regards to PT units billed, average visits per referral, and average cost per referral. Methods: The charts of 1,000 patients treated in outpatient PT underwent a retrospective chart review. Interferential statistics were used to determine if there was a statistically significant difference between specific and non-specific diagnoses and treatment orders in regard to PT units billed, average visits per referral, and average cost per referral. Results: Twenty-nine percent of all referring diagnoses were non-specific in nature and 58% contained treatment orders that were non-specific. Charts with a specific diagnosis had a statistically significant higher utilization as compared to non-specific diagnoses (p ≤ 0.001). Patients with a specific treatment order also displayed a statistically significant larger average in billed units, average visits per referral, and average reimbursement per referral than those without a specific treatment order (p ≤ 0.0001).Conclusion: Our findings suggest that a physician diagnosis and referral may not be required to direct care for patients seeking PT services. Third-party payers that require a physician referral for PT services may be delaying access to healthcare and increasing costs.

DOI

10.3109/09593985.2016.1145310