The statement, “Your treatment is only Physical Therapy if it is provided by Physical Therapists or Physical Therapist Assistants” rings true in today’s healthcare environment. Unfortunately, some high patient volume and Physician Owned Physical Therapy clinics in an effort to strengthen their bottom line utilize individuals such as technicians or aides to provide their treatments. These individuals lack the education, training, and most importantly licensure to safely and effectively provide care in a Physical Therapy clinic. The delegation of care from Physical Therapists to less educated and qualified personnel has also been shown to impact the outcomes for patients with low back pain.
In the journal Physical Therapy, researchers retrospectively analyzed the cost and clinical outcomes of patients with low back pain (Magel et al. 2018). Specifically, authors wanted to determine if the continuity of care (number of providers) was associated with low back pain outcomes and health care costs. Researchers found patients who experienced care from fewer Physical Therapy providers had a decreased likelihood of low back surgery. In addition, patients with greater continuity of care paid $800 less for their low back pain compared to those seeing greater numbers of providers. Although the study design cannot support a cause and effect relationship the evidence supports the use of fewer providers in patients with low back pain.