Physical Therapy Patient Care | Are You Ready for the Overwhelming Impact of our Aging Patient Population?

Physical Therapy Patient Care for Baby Boomers

By Thomas Champine

At the start of the new millennium 12.4 percent of the population in the United States was 65+. By 2030 that number is expected to rise to 19.6 percent, an increase of over 35 million people. The baby boomer generation, people born roughly between 1946 and 1964, is the largest generation in America. This group is better educated and will expect better physical therapy patient care from our healthcare system, including your physical therapy practice.

These facts bring three questions to mind:

  1. What are some of the anticipated results of these two facts? 
  2. Are you ready for a massive demographics shift at your physical therapy practice?
  3. Can your current physical therapy practice management program handle an increase in scheduling, records, and claim processing?
There are many more questions that come to mind, however, these first three will have a dramatic effect on your ability to stay profitable in tomorrow’s healthcare industry. We will explore these concerns, and any others that are brought to our attention, to help your physical therapy practice be prepared for the changes ahead.

What are some of the anticipated results of these two facts?

As a physical therapy practice management service, we keep ourselves close to the healthcare industry “pulse” so we can adapt prior to changes coming into your workplace.  One of the biggest challenges we see in the near future is the massive demographic shift that will occur in the next 15 to 20 years.  A highly educated, highly informed, aging population will be walking through your doors in rapidly increasing numbers. This patient group will demand more of you and your staff, better results of treatment, quicker than ever before. The effect this will have will be industry changing and could result in a number of effects.One result is that we will need an influx of professionally trained personnel, of all specialties, to meet the demand. For current practices to stay away from patient saturation the marketplace needs more PTs, OTs, SLPs and various highly trained support staff. Next, new practices/facilities will need to open to provide the physical treatment spaces for the influx of patients.

The fact that these patient are more educated and connected to education resources, sometimes appropriate and other-times detrimental (*as a former EMT/Firefighter, nothing was worse then hearing the phrase “I went on the internet and…”), means that the patient will expect better and quicker results from treatment.  Our ability to properly educate about, establish and maintain realistic patient goals will be heavily tested in the coming years.

This shift will also put a major strain on your payment structure for services.  All major insurance payers, specifically CMS, will see a sympathetic increase in claims submission based on the increase in patient services provided by you.  This inundation will increase the pressure CMS is receiving from its’ oversight committee, which will increase CMS’ likelihood of denial.

This is just a short list of the possible anticipated results of this known patient population shift.  Are you ready  for a massive demographics shift at your physical therapy practice? Do you have the tools necessary to continue an increasingly intense fight with payers to continue to operate your practice? Have you selected a physical therapy practice management tool that can adapt as quickly as you need to stay current with industry trends?…..

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] In part 1 and part 2 of this series on physical therapy software and practice management we highlighted the anticipated results of the expected increase in our patient population due to baby boomers as well as some operational considerations that must be met by your physical therapy practice to manage this shift. In today’s final installment we will address the administrative side of a growing practice–  can your current physical therapy practice management software program handle an increase in scheduling, records, and physical therapy claims processing? […]

  2. […] In part 1 of this series on physical therapy practice management we focused on the anticipated results of the aging baby boomer population on the health care system in the United States. Today, I would like to cover the second question that we raised and that was “Are you ready for a massive demographics shift at your physical therapy practice?”  Well, are you? […]

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