Over the past several weeks, I have learned that physical therapy is not a one-man job. When working with a patient, you are working with the front desk, who are scheduling patients, verifying their insurance benefits, and receiving their payments. You are working with clinical assistants, assisting them with progress reports and discharges for patients. You are working with massage therapists, who help your patients with soft tissue mobilizations. You are also working with a PTA by evaluating the patients they often treat from the get-go. On certain visits, you may not be working with a patient you are used to seeing. You may be seeing one of their patients, and they may be seeing one of your patients. For these reasons, teamwork and communication are crucial to a patient’s health.
This week, one of my goals was to update our PTA, massage therapists, and clinical assistants on how my evaluations with different patients went. This way, when they’re being assigned to each patient I eval, they know how the eval went: where is the patient at right now, what are some of my goals, and what are some things to be cautious of when treating them. Usually, I’ve tried to assign patients with the person who took their height, weight, and portions of subjective info. If this isn’t the case, introducing them to the rest of the team can help as well. I have also tried being more persistent with entering precautions and contraindications for each patient into our computer system. This can help as a reminder for anyone else treating the patients I eval. I am planning to continue improving this next week as well.
As for treatments, there have been several instances where I am treating a patient who has typically seen someone else. This isn’t too surprising, since this happens often in the world of PT. One of the key things here is to be clear with documentation: what exactly did you do for each intervention, and how exactly did you do this. This way, the next time that patient sees someone else, the other person treating them knows specifically how to continue that treatment. If anything in particular occurs during the treatment session, it’s important for myself to notify the next person treating them. For instance, was their blood pressure too high or low? Was there a position or exercise they really couldn’t tolerate? This prevents the same mistake from happening again. Another goal of mine is to work on determining who is treating the patient next, and should any issues arise, being sure to notify them.
Lastly, the clinic wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for everyone at our front desk. When meeting a patient for the first time, they often write down for me the patient’s payment, which is great! Then, I’m able to discuss finances with the patient as well. They are also very busy verifying each patient’s insurance, and checking for authorization. One of my goals in the next few weeks is to check with them on possible insurance authorization requirements. This way, when I’m recommending visits to each patient, I am cognizant of how many visits their insurance will allow.
—Nikole Nelson, SPT from UCF