The biggest challenges facing the rehab therapy industry today include provider burnout, increasingly complex payor relationships, and mounting student debt, according to a recently released State of Rehab Therapy report that details findings from an industry-wide survey.
The survey, conducted by WebPT, included more than 6,000 physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals from an array of specialties, settings, and geographic locations.

Organized into five sections — demographics, business and financials, challenges and opportunities, salary, and technology — the report presents data on job satisfaction, billing and reimbursements, revenue, practice size, patient volume, career outlook, top challenges and technology preferences. Key findings include:

  • Within the next five years, more than 51.9% of rehab therapy professionals are considering a career change, with many looking to either reduce work hours or move into non-clinical roles.
  • As organizations get larger, they are increasingly participating — or planning to participate — in value-based payment programs. In fact, more than 25% of 21-plus-provider companies report that they already participate in such programs.
  • About 23% of all respondents reported being involved in a merger or acquisition within the last 5 years.
  • More than half of rehab therapy graduates will have more than $70,000 in student loan debt, and nearly 25% will owe more than $100,000. However, overall, students reported slightly lower levels of debt in 2019 compared to 2018, with the percentage of students owing $0 at graduation jumping from 8.3% in 2018 to 13.5% in 2019.
  • Nearly 80% of organizations require a physician referral for new patients even though some form of direct access to physical therapy is available in all 50 states.
  • High copays and coinsurances were the top-ranked regulatory issue in terms of impact to the rehab therapy community, regardless of respondent role, longevity or sex.

[Source: Business Wire]