What is Direct Access by Ryan Schaefer
By Ryan Schaefer, PT, DPT
STAR Physical Therapy, Brentwood, TN
As of January 1, 2015, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands allow individuals to seek some level of physical therapy treatment from a licensed Physical Therapist without obtaining a script or referral from a Physician. This is called Direct Access. Most commercial insurance providers will cover Direct Access visits. You can find out this information by contacting your provider or by calling a Patient Care Coordinator at your local STAR Physical Therapy clinic. Our Patient Care Coordinators are happy to take your insurance information, verify your physical therapy benefits, and provide you with a quick response on coverage. If you do not have medical insurance or do not want to utilize your insurance, you can choose our self pay, flat fee option. Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid plans do not allow Direct Access physical therapy.
WHAT TYPE OF PATIENT IS APPROPRIATE FOR DIRECT ACCESS?
Let’s say you are experiencing a recent onset of joint or muscle pain. You want to alleviate the pain and prevent a recurrence but maybe you don’t feel that it is severe enough to see your Physician. In my experience, this often occurs after someone has started a new training regimen. There are a number of physical therapists within STAR Physical Therapy that specialize in sports/strength training that can perform a full musculoskeletal assessment. After a thorough assessment, we can design a program that will facilitate healing, keep you active, and maximize your performance. We have therapists that specialize in your area of interest and will guide you through the recovery and performance process. Whether your passion is swimming, running, cycling, strength training, yoga, CrossFit, mountain climbing, etc., we will tailor our treatment approach to the demands placed on your body by your activity. You don’t have to be an athlete or a weekend warrior to utilize Direct Access physical therapy. You could be someone that simply bent forward to pick up a sock and felt an intense spasm in your back or a parent that went to lift your baby out of the crib and felt a twinge in your shoulder. The majority of Direct Access patients that we see globally as physical therapists are the general population experiencing pain from the stresses of daily activities.
STAR PHYSICAL THERAPISTS ARE UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO PROVIDE DIRECT ACCESS CARE
In order for a physical therapist to provide Direct Access care in the state of Tennessee, one must obtain a Masters or Doctorate degree with at least one year of experience or a Bachelors degree with at least three years of experience. STAR Physical Therapy requires more education for their Direct Access Physical Therapists than the state practice act requires. This increases our knowledge base of differential diagnoses and improves efficiency of care. Physical therapy programs have transitioned to a doctorate level degree over the last 10 years. This transition has led to an increase in didactic work with emphasis placed on pathophysiology and differential diagnoses. Physical therapists in the orthopedic setting are musculoskeletal specialists trained to assess and diagnose musculoskeletal disorders. Research shows that physical therapy is highly effective and that the overall medical cost for Direct Access patients has decreased when compared with the traditional approach.
WORKING WITH PHYSICIANS
So, why Direct Access? It is very important to note that we are part of a medical team. We are partnered with physicians throughout the community and they provide incredible medical care. If you would prefer to go see your physician concerning your musculoskeletal disorders, then by all means do exactly that. If you choose Direct Access physical therapy and we see something that concerns us during your evaluation, we will refer you to your physician immediately. Proper Direct Access physical therapy provides quick and efficient access to quality medical care while maintaining excellent communication with your MD. If you choose Direct Access physical therapy and want us to notify your physician concerning your evaluation, then we will do so and we will follow up with them at day 15 or visit number 6 concerning your progress. We are making an effort in the medical community to become as efficient as possible to decrease costs in this ever growing era of debt and inflation. We want to alleviate your pain, restore your desired level of function, improve your quality of life, and overall just make you happier while decreasing the financial hardship of medical costs.
Ryan Schaefer is a 2013 graduate of Belmont University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program. Ryan is a certified Sports Specialist and a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He completed his undergraduate work at Southern Illinois University where he played football during the 2006 season before suffering a career ending knee injury. Ryan has spent the last three years assisting the Sports Medicine Team at Father Ryan High School. He has vast experience in working with field sport athletes and strength training for athletes and the general population.
Your health. Our hands. Choose STAR.
317 Seven Springs Way, Suite 202
Brentwood, TN 37027