Much like any of the children from Garrison Keillor’s mythical Lake Woebegone, I have never met a physical therapist who did not consider their practice to be above average. My private practice was no exception. In fact, in my opinion, it was exceptional. But I was frustrated because I was not getting paid any more for my superior results than my merely “above average” colleagues. In fact, I was probably getting paid less because we were getting patients better, faster, right?
Big Problem: I couldn’t prove it. I had no real idea in relation to others in the industry if we were performing better, worse or about average.
Second Big Problem: It wouldn’t have mattered, even if I could have proven it. The insurance industry pays a lot of lip service to quality, but it has always been all about short term cost. From the actuarial point of view, paying for treatment, particularly treatment for chronic conditions, will often become some other insurance plan’s problem if you can make the patient wait long enough.
But, in my hubris, I was convinced that I could single handedly start a software company, get true clinical outcomes data, and convince the multi-kazillion dollar insurance industry they should pay my little PT practice more for our services, because our services were so much better than the merely above average. It would be obvious to the insurance industry and it would be the right thing to do.
There is still a long way to go to develop meaningful outcomes for our industry. In future articles in this series, I will talk about what currently defines “outcomes”, talk about data collection, and propose a practical solution for finally getting meaningful outcomes data in the near future.
This is part 1 of a 3 part series. To read part 2, click here.