A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, and based on ATI Physical Therapy’s national patient registry, provides evidence that patients who receive direct access care reduced their healthcare costs and time spent in treatment, compared to those who sought therapy from traditional medical referral.

In the study, 603 ATI Physical Therapy patients that had back and/or neck pain from 2016 to the present were queried.

According to the results, the patients who came to ATI through direct access (not needing a doctor’s referral) showed a cost savings of $1,543 versus those who were sent to physical therapy by a physician—a savings of nearly 50%, notes a media release from ATI Physical Therapy.

Patients who received direct access physical therapy also had one less physical therapy session and spent 10 less days undergoing care.  In addition, less than 20% of all patients did not require additional medical care.

Currently, only 17 states allow unlimited direct access to physical therapy, while the remaining 32 states allow for self-referral conditionally. Indiana is the only state that does not allow any form of direct access to physical therapy, the release states.

“This study further supports a body of literature that has demonstrated that seeing a physical therapist early in the care for musculoskeletal injuries is safe and as effective as traditional medical pathways,” says Thomas Denninger, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, ATI Physical Therapy, in the release.

“This study helps quantify just how much of a cost savings is there—patients who come to us through direct access finish up their recovery more quickly and incur less expense,” he adds.

[Source: ATI Physical Therapy, GlobeNewswire]