The words “Direct Access” have been making headlines in the physical therapy profession over the last few weeks – and for good reason. Illinois recently enacted a law allowing residents the ability to begin treatment with a physical therapist without the need to obtain a prescription from their doctor.
This is big news for the healthcare industry, however many Illinois patients may have questions about the new law and how it positively impacts them. What’s more, patients outside of Illinois may also be wondering how direct access works in their state. Read below to discover the answer to these questions, as well as to learn about the benefits of starting skilled physical therapy without a prescription. Physical therapy with early intervention is known to increase patient outcomes and to decrease costs while getting patients back to doing the things they love to do.
While some states have some restrictions around access to physical therapy services requiring patients to see a physician and get a prescription before seeing a physical therapist for treatment, this is not generally a requirement for many states that have direct access laws. These laws give patients direct access to skilled physical therapy without the need for a referral or prescription from their doctor before starting treatment, under most circumstances. This allows patients to start physical therapy treatment sooner to reduce pain, increase mobility and improve their overall function.
On August 16, 2018, Illinois joined states like Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, which already have direct access laws put in place that allow patients to receive physical therapy without a prescription or physician referral.
It is important to note that even though many states have established direct access laws, these laws vary on the state level. For instance some states offer complete unrestricted direct consumer access to physical therapy, while other states have some guidelines to the amount of visits or time that a patient can receive physical therapy treatment before requiring a referral or prescription from their doctor.
* To learn more about direct access laws in your state, please contact an Athletico clinic local to your area or visit our “No Prescription Necessary” webpage for more information.
For patients, physical therapy without a prescription has many benefits. For starters, patients who may benefit from physical therapy services will be able to begin the treatment process sooner. Direct access may also help patients save money by potentially avoiding unnecessary visits, medication, surgery or extensive imaging tests. In fact, a recent BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina study showed that direct access to physical therapy led to a 31 percent reduction in total healthcare costs, 80 percent decrease in patient out-of-pocket costs and a 90 percent reduction in opioid use.
At Athletico, we can see you when it’s convenient for you. We’ll see you fast – sometimes the same or next day, but always in 24 to 48 hours.
At Athletico, our clinicians are part of your healthcare team. Although direct access gives patients the ability to start physical therapy treatment without a prescription, our clinicians will provide each patient with a personalized plan of care following an assessment of their injury, pain or musculoskeletal complaint. This plan includes information about the injury/condition as well as next steps for the recovery process, which may include, if indicated, follow up with the patient’s physician and/or physician specialist.
Oftentimes the recovery process for injuries can be expedited when treatment is started early. So instead of “toughing it out” the next time you are feeling unusual aches and pains, take control of your health by scheduling a free assessment at a nearby Athletico clinic. One of our licensed healthcare professionals will take a subjective report of your musculoskeletal complaints, as well as assess any strength, motion and movement impairments. Then we will provide a plan that includes information regarding next steps for the recovery process so that you can start the healing process as soon as possible.
Free assessments are available both in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.
*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of federally funded plans are not eligible for a free assessment.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.