October is National Physical Therapy Month. What’s special about the campaign this year is that the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is promoting physical therapy as a safe and effective alternative to opioids for pain management.
In spring 2014, the FDA cited statistics indicating that 100 million Americans suffered from chronic pain. Painkillers are one of the most widely prescribed medications in the U.S. and this has led to widespread opioid addiction and misuse. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines aimed at reducing opioid prescribing. The CDC conveyed that for most people with chronic pain, the risks of opioid use were much greater than the benefits, and therefore physicians should consider alternatives like physical therapy. This Physical Therapy Month, the APTA is educating the public on the benefits of physical therapy to manage pain without the risks and side effects of opioids.
Independent therapists already have a high utilization rate for outpatient physical therapy services. With the new spotlight on PT as a safe pain management option, providers can expect to see an influx of patients. Busy hospitals, outpatient clinics, group practices and individual orthopedists need to get their documentation in order as they manage their patients. In fact, reports say that in recent years, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that some outpatient therapy claims by independent physical therapists were not reasonable, medically necessary, or properly documented. In these circumstances, the importance of reliable physical therapy medical transcription services hardly needs to be stressed.
Physical therapy has elaborate documentation guidelines. Documentation is required for every visit/encounter. Furthermore, documentation must:
- Comply with the applicable jurisdictional/regulatory requirements
- Have all handwritten entries made in ink and include original signatures
- Adhere to appropriate security and confidentiality provisions for electronic entries
- Include proper identification of the patient/client and the physical therapist or physical therapy assistant
- Include the referral mechanism by which physical therapy services are initiated
- Include indication of no shows and cancellations
The support of a medical transcription company can prove invaluable when it comes to meeting these requirements. Experienced transcriptionists produce accurate transcripts of initial evaluations, reevaluations, progress notes, daily notes, follow-up notes, procedure notes, letters, and discharge summaries. With extensive subject-specific knowledge, they can provide timely and error-free transcripts of all specific conditions associated with physical therapy. As physicians concentrate on providing individualized treatment programs to meet the needs of their patients, they can rest assured that their documentation requirements are taken care of by outsourcing medical transcription.