APTA Leader Works to Get Broad PT Participation in Vital New Registry

The team here at Cedaron has worked closely with leaders of the American Physical Therapy Association since 2003, when they selected us as their sole EMR vendor from a field of 80 competitors. Our CONNECT software automatically uploads data to APTA’s Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry. You’ll understand why this is so important after you read this post from APTA CEO Justin Moore. In it, he shares why this new registry is a vital technological leap for the physical therapy profession. 

Justin Moore: Thanks, Karen, for this opportunity.
We’re moving into the future of health care, an era that will bring unprecedented data-sharing, data transparency and consumerism. 
Health care hasn’t really seen as much comparison-shopping as sectors such as auto repair, hair care and restaurants, but that will change. Consumers, government agencies and insurers will want evidence that a medical provider offers an effective remedy at a reasonable cost.
In physical therapy, we have a good number of practitioners whose reputations and credibility have grown through patient experience. Going forward, consumers are going to participate even more in their health-care decision-making, and they will expect their providers to demonstrate that their outcomes have greater success than other treatment options or competing practitioners.
We believe that APTA’s Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry will play a crucial role in sifting through data and providing the evidence to show the value of therapists’ work. As enrollment in this registry increases, we believe it will become integral not only to proving value but also to other endeavors such as advocacy and advancing payment policy.
We can examine, for instance, whether pills or physical therapy provide the most effective pain management, an increasingly urgent question amid rampant opioid abuse in our nation.
It’s tough to convince veteran therapists that this level of sophisticated data analysis is coming when they haven’t seen it in our profession, but talk to your colleagues in other medical professions such as cardiology and ophthalmology that have already adopted registries. They are using data to improve the efficacy of their treatments and to demonstrate that they are achieving the quality measures that government and private payers demand.
The role of developing and managing registries has fallen to professional associations. At APTA , we see this not simply as a role but as a responsibility. Any successful registry must capture the right data from a wide number of PT practices. Our organization understands the many challenges that therapists face:
  • While most physician registries capture only a single episode of care, ours must recognize that physical therapy, by its very nature, is sequential and requires multiple visits. 
  • Our registry also must captures data on intake and data on discharge, even though, a percentage of our patients don’t complete the episode of treatment or selectively discharge. 
  • Therapists develop an intimate relationship with patients over weeks or perhaps months. What data do we use to record patient engagement? How do we measure patient compliance? How do we partner with patients for their outcomes?
  • And, physical therapists practice across multiple clinical settings, from pediatrics to geriatrics. How do we capture the data we need when patients are trying to recover from stroke, knee replacement, chronic disease and many other maladies?
All these challenges make it difficult to standardize data to achieve the powerful results we want for our industry, but as more and more practices have joined our registry, we’ve become more adept at addressing these complex questions.
We know that all APTA members are working in a tough regulatory and administrative environment. They are feeling the pressures of maintaining time with patients when they must comply with regulations and enter data. After decades of added administrative burden, registry participation is just one more thing to add to a long list.
What therapists need to know is that soon Medicare and private payers will begin offering incentives or payment differentials to registry participants. They do so because they are keenly interested in seeing evidence that treatments work and comparing the effectiveness of various treatments.
The APTA Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry will provide the ability to do cost-effective research that we believe will bear out the value proposition of our profession. We hope physical therapists everywhere will join us in this vital work.