July 17, 2023

Signs of a Bad Physical Therapist: Upgrade Your PT Practice

Creating a reputation for excellence in physical therapy is paramount. It is important that a medical provider is skilled, knowledgeable, and capable of making appropriate decisions if the patient is to be treated properly.

Furthermore, discovering signs of subpar practices is key for your patients, colleagues, and clinic. That is why it's vital to recognize the signs of a bad physical therapist.

In this article, we'll guide you toward better PT practice and health outcomes.

The Role of Physical Therapy

Before we delve into the signs of a bad physical therapist, let's remind ourselves of the essential purpose of physical therapy. Rehabilitation includes a thorough evaluation, examination of the patient’s health history, as well as lifestyle education to cater to the client’s needs.

Physical therapists treat sports injuries, post-surgery recovery, and women's health issues. And while physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option for these conditions, it's only as good as the therapist providing it.

PTs do not prioritize healing when they fail to plan ahead. That is why it's essential to recognize signs of subpar care to ensure patients receive the best possible treatment.

Signs of a Bad Physical Therapist

a bad physical therapist

For physical therapists committed to excellence, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of a subpar practitioner. For instance, lack of communication, not-specific type of treatment, limited skills, and more.

To maintain professional integrity, here are the main signs of a bad therapist and the best ways to avoid them.

Improper Communication

A bad physical therapist may fail to explain treatment procedures adequately or overlook patient questions and concerns. Proper communication is a 2-way street. It involves speaking and listening at the same time. So, it is imperative to actively seek patient feedback so you can adjust appropriately to their needs. Accordingly, patients should also feel heard and informed about their treatment plans.

One of the signs of an effective physical therapist is pushing innovative solutions. A good example is implementing software that enhances communication with patients, such as PtEverywhere. This software allows you to schedule, document, and communicate with patients. That will give you more time to focus on being a physical therapist, helping your patients reach their goals.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Interventions fail and recovery is prolonged because of inadequate PT treatments. Assuming that a patient's condition can be treated by generic intervention and applies the same treatment protocols to every patient. Those are the signs you have a bad physical therapist. So take the first step and recognize that patients are diverse and there's no one-size-fits-all treatment. 

Always customize treatment plans based on each patient's condition, symptoms, and progress. Personalized care is one of the hallmark signs of a good physical therapist. This also includes evaluation and re-evaluation during and after treatment sessions. So keep an open mind when changing interventions, exercises, and re-introducing new modalities. Constantly update and progress your interventions according to the patient’s health status.

Scheduling Problems

The stress and pressure of completing all the treatments will create a negative environment for PT and the patient. That’s the result of overbooking patients. Ensure you allocate sufficient time for each patient, and don't book multiple patients in a one-time slot. They should also feel valued and fully taken care of as they work hard for the money they put into their medical care. They deserved to receive an undivided and well-intentioned management.

One of the bad therapist signs is only looking at the patient's sessions as a time to be filled. Although this is a common situation that medical professionals go through, it can still be salvaged through proper appointment settings. And also, effective time management is key.

Ineffective Treatment Methods

Research has continued to refine our understanding of the latest modalities. And it has been shown that active treatments are more beneficial than other types. It is not that passive treatments do not work; it does work, but the treatment should be more on exercises, strengthening, and stretching.

Signs of a bad physical therapist are only using passive treatments, not keeping up with evidence-based practices, and always after for pain relief. This type of treatment should only be an adjunct to the overall intervention. Patients should be actively moving and doing therapeutic interventions as it yields more long-lasting results. Not to mention, teaching and engaging them in exercising can be carried over to their everyday lives, making it a meaningful lifestyle change.

Incorrect Billing

Billing errors are one of the physical therapist's problems. Precision and meticulousness are necessary for billing because if these problems are shrugged off repeatedly, it will be signs of bad therapist or a careless medical provider. Building your reputation and your physical therapy practice with a lot of honesty and transparency is vital. And one way to show complete transparency is by implementing strict billing practices and ensuring billing discrepancies are promptly rectified.

No License

Physical and physical therapist assistants are obliged to have a license. Confidently treating patients without it is one of the signs of a bad physical therapist, not to mention illegal. 

But even with licenses, always stay vigilant when identifying a physical therapist who can effectively deliver treatment. Just know that if you find out a therapist is treating without a license, you can report them to your state licensing board as they violate state laws and professional regulations.  

So always ensure that your therapists are licensed and qualified. And as healthcare evolves, physical therapists and other medical providers must keep up with the latest research treatments. Thus, continual education and certification are essential for staying updated.

Preventing Patient Dropouts: A Proactive Approach

smart physical therapist preventing patients dropping out

Patient engagement is a key element in ensuring successful treatment outcomes. Examples are give clear, achievable goals, positive feedback and have patient-centered treatment.

Here are a few strategies to keep patients motivated and committed to their therapy:

Emphasize Home Exercise Programs (HEP)

HEP is not only after physical therapy sessions, but it should also be highlighted during the initial visits. Starting HEP early can help recovery and increase their compliance to exercise during treatment. 

To give effective HEP, ensure it is engaging and patient-specific. And always update the patient's HEP as the patient progresses every follow-up visit. So that they can feel and see that their active participation helps their recovery. 

Use Digital Tools

Easy access to their HEP can reinforce their regimen to do it consistently. So, implement digital platforms to provide patients with instructional videos and monitoring tools for their HEP. 

With this technology, it empowers the patient to take effort on their health. And helps them better perform and understand the exercises. This platform has multiple useful features that set up you and the patient for success and boost patient adherence. 

Appointment Management

Having an efficient scheduling software like PtEverywhere can enhance patient experience and commit to attending physical therapy sessions.

The software sends appointment reminders via text or email, provides verbal reminders, and is open to rescheduling when necessary to accommodate patients' changing schedules. So, no more missed sessions for your patients. As a result, you will have a more organized practice that fosters patient trust, increasing your clinic's reliability. 

Maintain Open Communication

Foster a safe environment for the patient to talk to you comfortably about their health.  Encourage patients to discuss concerns or issues they may face during treatment. 

In healthcare, communication between medical professionals is important to gauge the health status of patients and treat them correctly. An open line of communication between you and the patient can resolve potential problems.

Educate Patients

Patient education can expand their understanding and manage their expectations about their rehabilitation. 

Teach patients about the healing trajectory, explaining that progress may not always be linear, but overall, it should trend toward improvement. Some patients might stress about not healing 'fast,' and this will just take a toll on their mental health and further impede recovery.

Adapt to Life Events

Some patients can’t just drop everything and focus on their therapy. Another way to tell signs of a bad physical therapist is not setting realistic goals for busy patients. Treatment plans should be flexible and work around the patient’s schedule. It should be adaptable yet effective to prepare for unforeseen circumstances that can halt their healing. 

Referral When Necessary

Don’t compromise the patient's health by not referring to another capable medical provider. It’s your duty and within the ethical standards of healthcare. Recognize when a patient's condition is beyond your scope of knowledge and refer them to the qualified specialist.  Not identifying your professional limitations, experience, and concern for the patient's recovery are signs of a bad physical therapist.

Start Expanding Your Patient Pool

In physical therapy, quality matters; it benefits you and the patient's health and recovery. If you don't choose the right physical therapist, problems may arise, and many areas of your life can be affected. 

By identifying these physical therapy signs, you can ensure top-notch care in your practice. And the soon you do this, the faster you can heal and return to your everyday life. 

So keep your practice advanced, patient-centered, and organized by embracing tools that can help provide the highest standard of rehab intervention. Hence, to further elevate your practice, consider implementing PtEverywhere, a PT management software for streamlined and efficient patient management.