For more than 14 years, I have been a proud healthcare provider, initially as a patient-contact sports medicine physiotherapist and then in administrative / managerial roles.
During my graduate school training and career, I have heard the phrase “The health system is broken” too many times. There are complaints about the high costs of health insurance, extended waiting lists to receive the skilled care the patient needs, and the decline of the patient-clinician relationship, once known as “bedside way”.
Before I entered the health care field, the landscape was, in fact, very different: insurance deductibles were lower, the cost of health care was more affordable for the overall population, and patients developed trusting relationships with their providers. Things have changed since then.
Insurance premiums have skyrocketed, allowing large insurance companies to boast huge profits for stakeholders. Reimbursements to health care workers have become very thin, putting financial stress and burdens on institutions. The population lives a longer and more active lifestyle that requires a greater volume within health care organizations that may not have licensed doctors to meet the needs of the community. All of these things have not broken the health system, but they have caused health care to lose focus. The healthcare system is here to provide evidence-based quality patient care to the communities it has the honor of serving, not simply focusing on financial profitability and pleasing shareholders.
Physical rehabilitation should enable people to achieve the highest level of recovery and participation in life through excellence in rehabilitation. Central Florida healthcare organizations have the opportunity to refocus on outpatient physical therapy (PT), outpatient occupational therapy (OT), and outpatient speech pathology (SLP) if we work together to increase access, improve assistance and reduce costs to the patient.
Every patient has the right to be treated by the highest level doctors at all times during his care. This includes PTs, OTs, and SLPs, especially those who have certifications that extend beyond their degree, making them experts in the fields of orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, pelvic health, sports, and language.
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Only the best qualified care should be provided to members of our community, with a focus on evidence-based treatment.
In addition, the low patient-doctor volume ratio promotes greater interaction between client and therapist to focus on the patient’s personal goals and to achieve the highest level results in the shortest time, making rehabilitation services affordable and providing the highest level of care. customer service at all times.
The Central Florida community continues to grow every day. Working together, Orlando healthcare organizations should strive to provide access to those in need of outpatient rehabilitation services. Gaining access to an initial rehabilitation exam within 48 hours is a key to success in returning the injured individual to their previous level of functionality. As professionals, we must provide the public with access to therapy and reduce the burden on our overwhelmed hospital systems by providing them with an outlet to send their post-surgical patients to be seen immediately by a therapist when medically appropriate instead having to wait weeks for treatment.
“There is growing evidence to suggest that a lack of quality rehabilitation care early in the recovery process after injury can lead to prolonged disability, unnecessary medical procedures and ultimately higher healthcare costs,” according to William Hanney. , associate professor of physical therapy at UCF.
Ultimately, our healthcare organizations need to invest in the highest-level technology to positively complement the expertise of our highest-level licensed physicians. Currently available technology, such as the Cyberdyne robotic exoskeleton to help people with traumatic spinal cord injuries to walk again and Smart Glove technology to allow those with catastrophic wrist and hand injuries to grasp and re-mobilize objects, should be available to all members of our community who need these rehabilitation advances to help them regain function after an injury.
I challenge our fellow Central Florida healthcare organizations to work together and strive to best benefit the communities we have the honor of serving. It’s time to refocus on health care and put the patient first.
Tom Langer is the regional outpatient, Orlando, director of Brooks Rehabilitation, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit that runs clinics.