“Why do you give your patients exercises without booking them into follow up sessions? Surely that’s bad for business”
A comment made by a friend who works outside of the healthcare industry – on some level they’re 100% right. For me to stay in business as a physiotherapist, one view might be that I need injured people to be able to stay in practice. Sometime during our education or practice as health care professionals we are made to believe this. Dentists and cavities, Orthopods and surgeries – why on earth should we then promote well-being and even attempt to empower patients to take responsibility for their own health, because clearly – it will have a negative affect on our own pockets!?
This being said there are several global movements to promote Health-Care. “Get physio First” “Level Up”, Pain Science and education, “Health is Wealth”, and “Exercise is Medicine” to name just a few.
Here in lies the paradox, are we in the Health Care, or Sick Care business?
I’m going to frame this topic through my own experiences in sports and orthopedic physiotherapy. As always, the aim is not to make definitive claims about right and wrong, but to rather stimulate some thought and invite conversation around this topic…
Sick-Care in Physio:
Repeat consults, symptomatic treatments, selling “Add-On’s” to clients, extra taping, using adjunct therapies which have additional costs, not referring clients on, and ultimately not treating the cause of the problem.
Health-Care in Physio:
Taking a thorough history, educating patients, building clinical rapport, addressing training load issues, goal setting, planning return to activity, matching the intervention with the patients therapeutic expectations and ultimately solving the problem with a solution that empowers the patient to take care of their own body and to be active in the rehab process.
Notice how many of the techniques used in the Health-Care spectrum can’t be billed for? How does this stack the deck in terms of what we push and advocate to patients? Are all the products and modalities we push onto patients valid? Do we use them appropriately? Are we creating active patients who are responsible for their own health, or are we encouraging chronic rehabilitation because it suits our business models?
My personal view is that EVERY practitioner of any health care discipline, ultimately chose this career path because of their passion to help others. Lets not lose sight of that. There are plenty of patients to educate in the world and surely the best marketing angle to clients and to the public is to show our genuine compassion for patient well being – educate, empower, advocate the science and the business part of healthcare will take care of itself!
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Cheers, Nick Pereira