The New Demand for "Concierge" Physical Therapy
Over the past several decades, physical therapy education has advanced from a bachelors degree, to a masters degree, and now to a doctoral degree as the standard for clinicians treating in most orthopedic settings. The benefits of physical therapy are becoming more widely understood and proven through clinical research. The depth with which physical therapists are currently trained to examine and assess human movement and function is far greater than it was many years ago. We have an enormous variety of strategies and approaches to improve mobility and performance, and to decrease pain, because we understand the anatomy and principles of functional movement incredibly well.
While the level of physical therapy education and training increases, the rate of insurance reimbursement is decreasing, making it difficult for most PTs to offer the best care that they are capable of. In typical insurance-based settings, physical therapists are limited by insurance in multiple ways. Firstly, the rate of reimbursement for a single patient visit has dropped so low that the only way for a business to survive is to treat more patients in a given day. As a result, many clinicians have resorted to overlapping 3-4 patients per hour to make ends meet. Secondly, most insurance policies have a set number of visits that are allowed per year, regardless of whether someone suffers a minor injury or undergoes a major ACL reconstruction or rotator cuff repair. Thirdly, an insurance policy may restrict certain treatments or modalities. When insurance companies limit services, physical therapists are forced to modify the plan of care in a way which is often not conducive to the patient getting better as quickly as possible.
Now we have entered into a new era, where many medical professionals, including physical therapists, have opted to abandon the insurance systems in order to provide superior service and achieve faster results. Simultaneously, people are becoming increasingly frustrated with their insurance limitations and are willing to pay out of pocket for a higher quality service in which they get the personalized treatment necessary to achieve their goals. Depending on the specifics, this may be described by such terms as out-of-network, cash-pay, or a concierge service. Without getting too caught up in the details, the main point is that there is another option available to receive very high-quality, personalized, one-on-one physical therapy, where your physical therapist takes the time to get to know you and the complexities that develop within your individual presentation. These physical therapists generally thrive by word of mouth marketing because they go above and beyond standard expectations of care, they develop powerful relationships with their patients, and they produce excellent outcomes. The trend is growing very quickly, and the demand for concierge physical therapy is spreading across all populations, targeting people who place a high priority on functioning at their highest possible potential and are willing to pay more than the average person to achieve it.