Massachusetts Work Injuries and the Value of Physical Therapy

In recent years, group health insurers and Third Party Administrators (TPAs) have been looking for inventive ways to provide better and less expensive health services to their customers.  This comes at a time when the nation has been spending billions on medical and insurance expenses for employees injured at work.  Two Thought Leadership papers were published from PTPN, a national network for independent rehabilitation specialists, that study the positive effects of physical therapy in terms of collective health and workers’ compensation cases.  PTPN has led the rehabilitation business since 1985, innovating original payer contracting, quality assurance, outcomes measurement, and pay-for-outcomes (P40) programs.  The network includes hundreds of therapy office locations and thousands of physical, occupational, and speech therapists across the nation.

The two papers, one focusing on workers’ compensation payers and one regarding group health organizations, emphasize how innovation can decrease costs of patients while delivering better outcomes for patients.  Michael Weinper PT, DPT, M.P.H., and president of PTPN says that these papers illustrate ways to “improve the delivery of health services, but also deliver better outcomes for a wide range of patients at a lower cost.”  However, there also needs to be ample providers of physical therapy.  Studies have shown that introducing physical therapy early on in a patient’s treatment program can greatly improve patient outcomes, reduce the use of pain medication, improve patient satisfaction, reduce the number of re-admissions and lower medical and insurance costs.  A few main key points should be taken away from the PTPN paper, including:

  • A 2015 Health and Service Research Journal study showed that treating patients first with physical therapy resulted having average costs $4,793 less than patients who were treated with imaging first.
  • A 2012 Spine study showed that swift recommendation of patients from primary care physicians to physical therapy resulted in reduced use of advanced imaging, surgery, injections, and prescription pain medications resulting in average savings of $2,736.23 less for those who received early physical therapy.
  • Workers’ Comp Research Institute reported that 65 to 85 percent of injured workers are prescribed an opioid for pain management. However, almost 90 percent of these injuries would be better treated with over-the-counter pain medication and physical therapy.

The American Hospital Association urges organizations to develop “preferred relationships with post-acute providers that have demonstrated good outcomes and are willing to collaborate on performance improvement.”  The PTPN incorporates this recommendation by offering steps to finding physical therapy providers who meet these criteria in addition to the quality of care you should expect from a physical therapy network.  Included in these standards are “innovation in care pathways and readmission risk reduction; the highest credentialing and quality standards; and outcomes measurement.”  With trusted and independent physical therapists who hold themselves to the utmost standards of care in collaboration with health plan and workers’ comp carriers, we can achieve a reputable and affordable healthcare system for today.

If you have been involved in a work injury and would like a free consultation give our experienced Boston workers compensation lawyers a call today.

“Physical Therapy Can Reduce Workers’ Comp Payer Costs, Improve Outcomes.” Claims Journal News. N.p., 22 June 2016. Web. 22 June 2016.

“PTPN Thought Leadership Papers Highlight How Innovation Can Reduce Costs for Payers While Providing Better Outcomes for Patients.” Yahoo Finance. N.p., 6 June 2016. Web. 22 June 2016.


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