I still believe physical therapy is the WORST kept secret in healthcare. Last year I wrote a blog titled “Physical Therapy – The WORST Kept Secret in Healthcare” which allowed for some great discussion by the readers on the topic of physical therapy and where we fit into the healthcare system. This blog post followed an open discussion called the “Chelan Chat” at the Washington State Private Practice Special Interest Group (PPSIG) spring conference at Lake Chelan, WA. The ‘Chelan Chat’ is a twist on the Annual Graham Sessions hosted by the Institute of Private Practice Physical Therapy and was moderated by Steve Anderson. This year I was asked to present an “I believe” speech, that I would like to share with everyone here as a means to continue the discussion and a call to action. Here it goes…
I believe we are in the “story” business as physical therapists. We spend countless hours listening to patient stories, stories told by other therapists, stories told by doctors, stories told by friends and stories told by loved ones. We also tell a lot of stories too about weak muscles, weak cores and my favorite the infamous sacroiliac joint slippage! A vast majority of people fail to recognize the difference between a story and fact. In fact, most people view stories as facts and as Carnegie Mellon research shows, our stories carry far more weight than facts. In reality, a story is what we tell ourselves about the facts, it is not real. Our point of view is not the truth, it is our perspective. And perspective is based on our knowledge, previous beliefs, environment, the context or space we are in, our mood, our emotions, social pressures, and so on. Essentially our perspective is based on where we are at in life when we make up the story. I believe it is therefore important to remember that our perspective is just one angle on the facts, it is not the only story. Facts do not determine our point of view, our stories do.
Most of you are familiar with the common phrase “the best kept secret”. Being the best kept secret is great when you want to keep something a secret, such as your favorite coffee shop, restaurant or favorite place to vacation. However, when it comes to the role of physical therapy in healthcare, I believe that we are still a SECRET to a majority of consumers. This was highlighted in 2007 by Stephanie Carter and John Rizzo when they demonstrated that less than 7% of patients with musculoskeletal conditions utilize outpatient physical therapy services and again in 2012 in the Fritz and Childs study.
So, hopefully you are sitting there asking yourselves, why are we a secret? I believe we are the worst kept secret in healthcare for four main reasons:
Despite our shortcomings as a profession, I believe we are the BEST profession in a broken healthcare system and it is our time to move into the limelight.
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