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Physical Therapy Outcomes Tracking Tools | Making Results Count

physical therapy outcomes tracking
That the core mission of physical therapists is to care for patients and improve outcomes may sound like stating the obvious. But the best way to track outcomes and measure results may not be that obvious. Outcomes tracking has become a science today and like any other science it would require careful attention to detail along with the right tools and processes. The idea is to enable physical therapists to improve patient care and demonstrate clinical performance to payers, patients, and referral sources through patient data collection and industry standard reports.

Need for Outcomes Tracking

In the past, PT clinics have relied on individual patient level improvement data to establish and prove value of care to patients and payers alike. However, this approach failed to evaluate effectiveness of individual activities and treatments when measuring patients? end results. With today?s outcomes tracking tools, it has become much easier to track outcomes both at the individual patient level and in aggregate and benchmark results against other clinicians across the country using thousands of data points. Outcomes tracking measures the impact that a physical therapy plan of care has on each patient. After adjusting for factors like age, weight, sex, height, and overall health, the data helps therapists detect trends, measure true cost of care, and monitor patient satisfaction. There are three kinds of outcomes, broadly speaking.

Clinical/Functional Outcomes

First off, there are the clinical and functional outcomes like range of motion, strength, functional activities, and ability to carry out simple tasks.

Operational Outcomes

These are the measures that signal how efficiently are the internal operations run namely operational outcomes that include appointment scheduling efficiencies, compliance levels, documentation of care, and tracking of insurance authorizations.

Patient Engagement and Satisfaction

These measures measure patient engagement and patient satisfaction based on results delivered for patients so that they turn into loyal advocates and fans for the clinic.
The focus of this blog is primarily on clinical/functional outcomes. Implementing outcomes tracking calls for integrating data about patients? functional improvements into daily clinical workflows. This has been somewhat challenging in the past. Therapists are indeed very busy, patients say it takes too much time, and the front desk finds it challenging to take on extra work. More than 50% of clinicians who responded to a 2019 APTA survey indicated they capture patient reported outcomes data via paper forms that are often cumbersome and inaccurate. That is where physical therapy outcomes tracking tools like Foto come in with Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT). The term refers to a method of scoring and collecting patient reported outcomes data in which the computer customizes physical activity questions for each patient by matching the question to the patient?s ability. By minimizing the number of assessment questions without increasing measurement error, the outcomes tracking process is made easier for both patients and therapists. Factors like age, appearance, comorbidities and other factors should go into classifying or categorizing therapy patients. Judging the quality of care is not an apples to apples comparison. Risk adjustment helps by controlling for complicating factors ? such as age, weight, litigation, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease ? in order to generate accurate, risk-adjusted comparisons.

Benefits of Outcomes Tracking

When tools like Foto are integrated with EMR products like Practice Pro, the result is a rich selection of healthcare outcomes data and analytics that is seamlessly sourced from patient-reported outcomes. This data informs physical therapists as they are seeking to streamline operations and step up patient care and engagement. Benefits are many.

Better and Faster Assessments

For patients, completing self-reported assessments means having to wade through a lot of questions in a time intensive process. Outcomes tracking tools cut short this process by tailoring questions for each patient with only a few needed to get an accurate score. This makes it easier for providers to gather assessment data and reduce the amount of paperwork that patients have to deal with.

Easier Measurement of Functional Status

Enabling patients to complete functional status assessments from home is vital for physical therapists who use telehealth platforms to deliver physical therapy. Outcomes tracking tools deliver functional status results to the EMR in real time that can be readily incorporated into the evaluation and plan of care.

Greater Patient Engagement and Satisfaction

Patients are understandably hesitant about committing time and expense to physical therapy. What can help is outcomes data that demonstrates the extent to which they are making progress and predicts the total number and duration of visits needed to realize full/maximum recovery. This data could motivate patients to continue their plan of care, avoid missing therapy visits, and refrain from prematurely discharging from the treatment plan.

Simpler Path to MIPS Reporting

Patient-reported outcomes are a key component of MIPS reporting as well for practices to coordinate and improve patient experience. To participate in MIPS, tracking outcomes data and reporting it to the CMS is crucial and could qualify for the incentive payment.

Improved Payer Reimbursements

Be it the CMS or private payers, dealing with reimbursement challenges is par for the course for therapists. Objective and non-biased outcomes measures provide proof of quality to payers, referral sources, and the public and make it more challenging for payers to deny claims.

Increased Number of Referrals

While digital marketing has emerged as a way to acquire patients, physician referrals continue to be a key channel to obtain new patients. These practitioners would want to recommend therapists who deliver the best results. By reporting and tracking the data points that matter to physicians, outcomes management software strengthens the referral pipeline for therapy clinics. Outcomes management systems are a critical necessity for navigating today?s complex healthcare landscape, enabling practice growth, and driving patient satisfaction. After all, results count!