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Physical Therapy In Georgia

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As a practicing physical therapist in the state of Georgia, and over 35 years of clinical experience in this healthcare field, I am writing to you today to gain the support of your insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGA) in the recent achievement of direct access for physical therapists in Georgia. Currently, patients in the state of Georgia now have direct access to physical therapists without the requirement of a physician referral; however under the current health care system physical therapists are still prevented from providing necessary medical treatment to patients, on the account of that services rendered under direct access are not reimbursed by BCBSGA. This extra step places a burden to the consumer by increasing…show more content…
Their privileges have expanded beyond the typical scope of physical therapy practice to efficiently perform musculoskeletal evaluations in a direct-access, physician-extender role, including referring patients for appropriate diagnostic imaging tests, prescribing certain analgesic, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant medications, and referring patients to all medical specialty clinics. Additionally, in 2005, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington initiated a physical therapy direct assess model for patients with low back pain which resulted in decreased costs per episode of care in the first year, partly due to the reduction in the number of MRI scans ordered. Lastly, in 2007 the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics implemented an outpatient physical therapy direct access program. A comparison of the direct access and physician referred patient episodes of care revealed cost savings in the area of diagnostic imaging. There was 92% more plain film radiography and 193% more advanced imaging procedures in the physician referred episodes. These findings were consistent with previous studies that MRI use dropped by approximately one-third when patients were initially seen by a physical…show more content…
As a healthcare provider involved in the management of patients with musculoskeletal disorders, physical therapists having the capability to order diagnostic imaging is beneficial to differential diagnosis in screening for a medical referral. Furthermore, I have shown that physical therapists having the ability to refer for imaging improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery, particularly in combination with direct
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