How to find the Best Physical Therapy in Seattle
What is physical therapy or physiotherapy in Seattle?
Physical therapy or Physiotherapy is medical care delivered by a physical therapist or physiotherapist. In the United States we use the term Physical Therapist and in the rest of the English speaking world the term physiotherapy is used.
Physical Therapists or PTs are movement specialists who use expert physical examination techniques to diagnose and then treat issues that limit a person’s sports or life functions. For example the PT’s at Union Physical Therapy are outpatient orthopedic therapists. This means that we see patients from our outpatient clinic for limitations that relate to their orthopedic function. Our therapists have specialty training that occurs in PT school as well as through mentorship, post-graduate course work and certification trainings that gives them enhanced skills they apply to orthopedic issues.
Our clinic is typical for what we treat but not typical in how we chose to deliver care. The care model used in a practice that you are considering should be something you research extensively. The time allotted to your care and who delivers the care in the facility can greatly influence your experience and in many times your success in resolving your issue.
Which Physical Therapy Care Model is the best for me?
A PT care model is essentially defined by how much time you spend with your PT and whether or not your care will be shared between a PT and a PT Aide or PT Assistant (PTA). The prevailing models would be categorized as the following. One on One PT for an hour or 45 min. One on One care with a PTA for 45 min or an hour. Or shared care with a PT for 30 min and care from an Aide or PTA for 30 min.
I’ll begin describing these by saying that each care model cost you and your insurance company almost exactly the same amount based on the amount of time you are treated whether your care is delivered by someone with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the best schools in the world, an associates from a technical college (PTA) or someone who doesn’t have to hold a degree who receives on the job training (PT Aide). You may wonder how this is.
PT services are billed in timed codes which are in roughly 15 min increments. The same codes can be billed by an aide supervised by a PT or by a Doctor of PT providing the services directly for the entire visit.
In the shared care model you see your PT for 30 min and then you are handed off to an aide to do the exercise portion of the care. A lot can be lost in this hand off and it allows for less refinement in how exercises are performed based on what was seen in the earlier portion of the treatment.
These options leave the practice owners who chose the care model with a choice. Does one choose a model that maximizes the company bottom line at the cost of diluting patient care or do we choose a model that maximizes patient care while sacrificing increased profits. There is a lot of variety in how PT care in Seattle is delivered and you can find a good deal of options at either end of the spectrum.
At Union PT we are proud to say that we have chosen the one to one hour long visit care model. This provides the opportunity for our patients to receive the very best care and outcomes associated with the time and money they spend in PT.
Why should I choose a clinic that uses the one to one PT to patient care model?
It’s all about the outcomes. I’ll start by saying that I don’t have an academic paper that demonstrates that one model out performs another. However it is easy to assume that you will receive higher quality of care when you spend the more time with a practitioner that has a much higher degree of training.
Care models where less time is spent with your PT guide your care towards more of a cookbook approach where you will receive the identical set of recommendations as every other patient with a similar set of complaints. In some cases this can be effective but in many it is not and leaves the patient unsatisfied with their experience.
At Union PT we take the time to listen to your history, examine your issues in a sophisticated and thorough way, and then implement a plan for you that is unique to your needs. Each time you return we take the time to re-assess your progress. This allows us to rapidly refine your care plan and make adjustments that will accelerate your recovery.
After 10 years in practice we’ve had some excellent outcomes and this brings satisfaction to our therapists and our patients. Please take a moment to read some of the reviews our patients have left to see what kind of experience you’ll have in a clinic that uses this care model.
Our care model also allows for us to find time to communicate with the other providers you are seeing for this issue. Having everyone on the same page can really improve your outcome.
What makes Physical Therapy in Seattle Unique?
Seattle has some of the PT in the country and it all comes down to the insurance reimbursement and continuing education requirements associated with holding a PT license in Washington State.
Washington state has the highest rate of reimbursement in the country per visit. That means on average insurance companies pay us more per unit we bill. Just for reference we get paid about twice the amount that a PT does in New York State. This all boils down to what mix of insurance companies you have in your state.
It’s the rate of reimbursement that allows practices like Union PT to remain profitable without utilizing aides or assistants and allows us to our patients for the entire hour. We have always been a care first and cash second enterprise and this core value is sustainable in Seattle.
Washington state also has one of the most demanding continuing education requirements to hold a licence to practice PT. This means the therapists in our state spend more time on average improving their skills and staying up to date on the latest advances in the field.
What 4 things to look for in the best physical therapy near me?
Clinics that are owned by PTs tend to keep the quality of care and the environment in which care is delivered a high priority. They also tend to set up working conditions that leave staff satisfied and thus they are more energized to perform their best work for their patients.
One to One Care
Spending the time you are paying for in PT with the most skilled and highly trained practitioner makes the most sense in terms of getting the most out of the time and money you spend on PT. Being handed off to someone with lesser training while being charged the same amount doesn’t.
PT is an art and science. Like being a chef it helps to work around and be inspired by other chefs in the same way that it helps to work with and learn from some of the best PTs. Clinics that have programs for peer mentorship and training allow for new therapists to acquire and master new skills. It also allows for more experienced therapists to share nuanced approaches to treatment. Setting up opportunities for peer mentorship can become the tide that lifts all boats for a clinic. At Union PT we have a mix of new graduates doing structured mentorship and more experienced therapists working to further enhance their effectiveness with every condition they face by training with their peers
PTs have the opportunity to do additional training and testing to get certified in various treatment specialites. We fondly refer to it as initial hunting because if a dedicated PT lists out all of the initials they have earned behind their PT it can get a little ridiculous. Some of these certifications are more useful for you as a patient than others. Common certifications for therapists in an outpatient setting would be manual therapy, strength and conditioning and board certifications in orthopedics and sports PT.
Our clinic has a number of certified manual therapists, and board certified specialists in orthopedic physical therapy. Essentially this is a signs that our PTs have gone above and beyond what is required to improve how we deliver care. Keep in mind that we don’t get paid any more for this. This is purely so that we can be better at what we do because solving the clinical problems that our patients present us with is extremely rewarding. This is what drives us to continue improving our craft. The better we are at our job the more happy patients we see leave our clinic. Tapping into a clinic that understands and supports this with their staff is key to finding some of the best PT in Seattle.
Connect with the Best Physical Therapy in Seattle
Schedule a visit with Union PT online or call our office directly and learn how we can help you meet your goals and get back out there.
About the Author:
Mitch Owens PT is the co-founder of Union PT and the Alpine Training Project. Mitch has been a PT since 2004 and has specialized training in managing sport and spine injuries. Mitch is an outdoor athlete and loves living and playing in the Northwest with his wife Elisa Owens PT (Union co-founder) and his two boys.