What is it?
Direct access is a law about the requirement for referrals to attend physical therapy. Prior to this law, you would need to obtain a referral from your primary care physician before going to physical therapy. In most instances this is no longer the case. This allows for quick access for evaluations and a decrease in time between injury and rehabilitation. There are some limitation, that we will discuss, but this has been a huge advancement for the physical therapy profession.
The Old Way
Prior to direct access, you would have to make an appointment to see a physician before attending therapy. You could pay more for an urgent care visit or wait the necessary time to get in to see your doctor. If the doctor felt there was no need for surgery, you would be referred to physical therapy. At physical therapy you would receive a much more in depth evaluation of your injury and begin the rehab process. It could be weeks of waiting to get in to see your doctor and then the PT clinic. Valuable time that could be spent on healing from your injury was lost through this process.
The New Way
The solution, direct access. The goal is get patients in our door quicker so we could begin providing care. This will cut down on medical costs and time from start to finish. Our training through school, has prepared us to determine if someone needs imaging or further medical treatment beyond our scope. In these instances, we will refer back to the doctor for more sever cases. Most of the time, the injury can be addressed through physical therapy.
All Roads to Therapy
At some point all roads lead to physical therapy. Initially after injury, you can come to our clinic to be treated. If a doctor feels you need an MRI, insurance will typically require you to receive PT first. Finally, if you get surgery, you will need rehab to get you back to doing the things you love. This all can be a very cumbersome and costly process. The idea of direct access is to get you into therapy sooner. When we feel we are not having success, we refer you to the doctors for further imaging and evaluation.
Unfortunately, not all healthcare insurances approve direct access. All federal, such as Medicare, VA, and Medicaid, require a referral from your doctor. Few, but some, private insurances require a referral. Finally, there are different laws and restrictions within each state in regards to direct access. Here is a link for direct access laws in every state. If you have further questions about your state, you can reach out to us at any time. We recommend you contact your insurance company to find out how you can benefit from direct access.
The more prepared you are now, the less you will have to worry when you get injured. We are specialist of the body and how it functions. We can help you heal from an injury and educate you on how to avoid them. It is well within our scope of practice to work on aches and pains as well as injury prevention. We know physical therapy is not for everyone, but we are here to help educate you on how to best manage your pain and injuries.