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Sounding Off: What does 1:1 Treatment Really Mean? Are you a "consumer"? - 5/11/2007

Recently, one of my front office staff required physical therapy. She has an HMO plan and had less than a satisfactory experience in the past. The philosophy of her Hospital system HMO is that they only offer 30 minute treatments and that after her initial evaluation, the majority of her treatment was carried out by a physical therapy assistant and not a physical therapist. She ended up getting an out of network approval from her 2ndry insurance so that she can be seen in our clinic where she and all of our patients receive 1:1 care for an entire hour by an experienced licensed physical therapist. Our office manager knew the difference and knew that she has options and does not have to accept less than satisfactory service or care. She knows that she is a "consumer" and that she has choices. Unfortunately, many patients don't know and understand this.

Over the years I have heard stories from patients, friends and relatives about stories of bad therapy experiences with many different independent outpatient therapy providers. We often are referred patients who refused to go back to a provider that they were referred to in the past. A matter fact, many contemplated whether physical therapy was even worth pursuing. Common complaints were that they actually only saw the licensed physical therapist for 15 minutes and then were pushed off on an assistant or aide, thrown on an exercise bike or other equipment and left to fend for themselves, being seen concurrently with multiple other patients, and not having any continuity of care by seeing a different therapy provider nearly each session. The truth is that providers who do not truly provide 1:1 care or who utilize non-professional, non-licensed staff and who see multiple patients at the same time but still bill out for 1:1 care and not group charges are simply cheating. The regulations and contract for Medicare, worker's compensation and private insurances are clear. Your insurance company is paying for 1:1 care by a professional and may not be getting what they believe they are paying for.

The profession of physical therapy is a wonderful profession and does have much to offer in maintaining and restoring health. Unfortunately some providers have cut corners due to financial gain. You, the patient, are also a consumer and you have a right to quality care or service. You would not accept shoddy work by a contractor, electrician or plumber, so why should you accept less than quality work from a healthcare provider? One reason is that you may have never considered yourself a "healthcare consumer". The bottom line is that you do have a choice. If you are referred to a provider that you are unfamiliar with, you should ask the following questions:

  1. Will I be seen by a licensed physical therapist for the entire length of my care?
  2. Will I be seen for an hour (if appropriate)?
  3. Will I be seen 1:1 for the entire treatment visits?

These questions will go a long way in making you an informed consumer. You can also ask to see satisfaction survey results if you want to dig deeper. Reputable providers will post this raw data unedited on their web-sites or have available in hard copy per request.

As for Ohana Pacific Rehab, Services, we follow the philosophy that "A lie has speed, but truth has endurance". It is a long race. We will not ever waver on our commitment to quality care. We will always provide 1:1 treatments with experienced quality licensed physical and occupational therapists. Please check our web-site to see bios on each one of our therapists. We also post our un-edited satisfaction survey results and update it 2 times a year on our web-site. Lastly, don't forget, that you are a consumer as well as a patient. Expecting quality care and service will not only assure a better experience for yourself but also contribute to improving the quality of care by having forcing all of the providers to "raise the bar".

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