How Physical Therapy Has Adapted One Year Into the COVID-19 Pandemic
Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, physical and occupational therapy professionals have faced historic challenges in delivering care to patients in need. Confronting these challenges has not been easy, but our community has made significant progress in adapting our services to the new reality.
One of our most critical lifelines throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency has been telehealth. When Medicare extended beneficiary access to telehealth-based care in April 2020, APTQI Executive Director Nikesh Patel, PT says therapists immediately embraced the use of technology to reach vulnerable patients and ensure critical continuity of care:
According to Tara Barrie, Ivy Rehab Network Regional Director for New York & Connecticut, telehealth has become an integral pillar of support for her patients:
And while flexibilities for telehealth utilization and reimbursement made a positive impact on access to care for patients, physical therapists were facing another great threat on the horizon: A 9% payment cut to Medicare therapy services starting in 2021.
Fortunately, Congress took action to mitigate this cut at the end of 2020, but as Nikesh Patel explains, the reprieve is only temporary:
As we continue to adapt and anticipate even more changes to care delivery post-COVID, APTQI remains committed to working with policymakers to ensure access to community-based physical therapy services well into the future.