Physical Therapists =Primary Workers Comp Initial Medical Treatment Provider?
Workers Comp physical therapists have received a huge amount of good press over the last two months. I had always thought that physical therapists could treat certain injuries from the onset.
I have always been a proponent of physical therapy. Check out these two prior articles that I wrote years ago on the subject:
ND Becomes Test Case for Workers Comp Physical Therapists
North Dakota Decided to Step Up and become the state test case for physical therapy. WSI (Monopolistic Carrier) changed its law in August of this year to allow physical therapists to treat injured workers as the primary provider. (thanks WorkCompCentral) The WSI even provided a pamphlet on how this would work in workers’ compensation.
WSI Website Changed For Physical Therapy
The following is directly from the WSI website.
WSI considers the following types of practitioners eligible to be a primary treating provider: MD, DO, APRN, PA, DC, DPM, OD, DDS, DMD, PT. An injured employee may only have one primary treating provider, who will manage treatment, assess functional capabilities, and determine when the injured employee achieves maximum medical improvement.
WSI requires a referral for therapy treatment if the primary treating provider is not a physical therapist. Initial therapy treatment on a claim does not require prior authorization for the first 10 visits or 60 days of care, whichever comes first. WSI refers to this as an initial window period.
WCRI New Study Says Workers Comp Physical Therapists Cut Costs
I was not going to write an article on one state approving physical medicine providers as the primary treatment providers. Then WCRI (Workers Comp Research Institute) published a study yesterday that shows physical therapy as a major cost-cutter if the treatment starts very early in the claim.
The update from the 2021 study covered these points: See the study here
Among workers with LBP who received manual therapy, early manual therapy (within 2 weeks of PT care) was associated with lower costs and shorter temporary disability (TD) duration as compared with late manual therapy (after 2 weeks of PT care). Early manual therapy was also associated with a lower likelihood of receiving magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), pain management injections, and opioids, as compared with late manual therapy.
Will Other States Adopt the WSI Program?
We will likely see more discussion in the future on workers comp physical therapists expanding their roles in treating injured workers as primary medical providers. Do you agree?
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