Therapydia launches Find a PT, a free tool matching consumers with expert physical therapists

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 12.57.11 PMMill Valley, CA- Therapydia, the largest online community dedicated to physical therapy, has launched a new tool to help consumers find physical therapists in their area based on expertise, ailment and more.

“We designed our Find a PT feature from the eye of the patient, driven by ease of use,” said Jonathan Shariat, Director of Product.“ It’s simple for users to search within their city, by specialty, or for a specific therapist.  We surface PTs with the highest Social Pulse Score, our ranking of how active PTs are online, to the top, making it easy to find PTs who write the best blogs, have great Yelp rankings, and interact with patients online. “

Technology and legislature, a winning formula for patients
Traditionally, a person could not receive treatment from a physical therapist without first getting a referral from a physician. However, many states now allow direct access to physical therapy treatment without a prescription saving patients time, money, and empowering them to find the best care for them.

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5 New Years Resolutions for Physical Therapists

5 New Years Resolutions for Physical Therapists

At the conclusion of each calendar year, people make ‘New Years Resolutions’ in anticipation of the new year. While typically these resolutions are based on self-improvement goals, the new year is a good time to reflect upon your practice’s progress over the past year and plan how you want your business to develop in 2013.

1. Engage in social media
Social media is the easiest way to make your mark online. This year, make it a goal to utilize the big three social media tools; LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter on a consistent basis.

2. Facebook. Make a Facebook page for your clinic, continually update it, and encourage your patients to like it.

3. Get on Twitter. Create an account and follow other physical therapy related accounts. Stay up to date on the latest industry news, enter into conversations with other therapists, practices, etc. and create, discover and share your ideas with others.

4. Update your LinkedIn. Create an account for your clinic and join physical therapy related groups, connect with other practitioners, participate in discussions and establish your credibility as a practitioner.

5. Blog. This year, make it a goal to enter the blogosphere and share what you know through a blog. There is no point in being skilled in your profession if you people don’t know about your skills. For physical therapists, blogging is a great way to promote your clinical expertise and increase the overall awareness of your practice. For your patients, your blog can answer any questions they may have about their diagnosis, help explain the treatment plans, and explain the rehabilitation process in greater detail through introducing video posts or detailed content. Blogging will allow you to reach a wider audience and improve your online visibility, thus improving your reputation as a physical therapist.

iPad envy? You know you want one…for the office!

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I just got a new iPad 3, and even convinced my wife to buy one for her PT office.    You may have noticed that we have an iPad giveaway contest on Therapydia, so you may have guessed that I am a fan. While the iPad 3 is not really that different from the iPad 2, the PT-related apps are getting better and the video capability, coupled with the higher resolution display, is a really great feature for PTs who want to work video into their treatment programs.

Since I am spending so much time trying to understand trends in the Physical Therapy market, it is interesting to look at the iPad from the perspective of a PT, or any other wellness professional, who has held off on buying one for office use. I think four things really stand out:

1)   After a slow start, there are now a lot of apps for PTs:  64 for the iPad and 89 for the iPhone.  27 of the iPad apps are free with the rest ranging from $1 to $80.  Also, many useful apps like Pocket Body exist in the broader “Health and Fitness” category.  As a patient, I would much rather a PT walk me through the 3D layered images on Pocket Body than show me a poster on the wall. I remember looking at iPad apps for PT two years ago, and loading some of those on my old iPad. There wasn’t much to choose from, and the apps were marginally functional. Now, it would be a serious challenge to review all of the useful apps. Luckily, I think the community does a pretty good job of that.   You can sort under relevance by “most popular” and “customer rating” to see what others are using/buying.

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2)   Other advanced apps for managing your personal and professional lives are taking off, and the higher volume means they are getting REALLY good.  If you haven’t heard of Dropbox, and you don’t know what the “Cloud” is, it will all come together when Apple bombards you with iCloud marketing in the upcoming months. It will be very seductive;  “Own an iPhone, an iPad, AND an iMac/MacBook! Store files ‘in-the-cloud’ and share them across all your devices whenever you need them.”  OK for Mac super users, but  for those of you who  have other non-Apple devices, and for better sharing features, I highly recommend Dropbox.  just bought 100 GB of storage with Dropbox for $10/month!  I can remember what XDrive charged for 1 MB back in 1999, and what Akamai charged to host website photos in 2005 so this feels like quite the bargain, no?

3) Video! PT is an industry made for video! It is crazy how easy it is to take a great video on the iPad and display it immediately to someone (say, a patient like me), and email it to someone (say, a patient like me). It’s even easier to store videos, and add videos to your personal video library accessible from almost anywhere. I wonder if video will do for wellness blogging what photos did for food blogging? The food blogging environment changed drastically when cheap digital cameras and enough bandwidth to store the photos for free came together in 2007.

4) Voice interface. On the new iPad keyboard, you will see a little microphone icon right next to the space bar on the keypad.  If you put the cursor in almost any application requiring text input and then hit the microphone button, you can dictate text. For professions where your hands are occupied and you want to take notes, this is pretty cool.  I don’t know if this is going to transform the way PTs take down their notes, but I do think that PTs are pretty good candidates to be early adopters of this feature. Like most new technology, speech to text functionality takes a little getting used to. If you are like me, you will spend the first few sessions with this feature wondering how anyone can understand what you are saying in the first place, and considering diction lessons. And ultimately, contemplating the future of voice interface, worrying when you or someone you know is going to end a sentence with “Period, Paragraph”

Not convinced? Here are some iPad-related numbers as Apple eyes a $1 Trillion market cap (today, it is the most valuable US company with a market cap of $700 Billion).

Tablets will pass personal computers in units sold per year by 2015:

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Already over 84M iPads sold in just two years; a faster uptake rate than either iPods or iPhones.

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2 Million iPhone 5 pre-orders on launch day September 21, 2012.

Which all amounts to enormous peer pressure to buy one or all of these devices.  So, feel fortunate if you have a legitimate professional reason to buy one!

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Why Now is a Great Time to be a PT!

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Full disclosure:  My wife is a PT.     We started dating when she was in PT school at UCSF.  At that time I did not know what “P.T.” stood for, and I could not imagine why anyone would leave a job with Morgan Stanley to become a one.   Especially when becoming a PT meant three years of very expensive graduate school.   The average PT currently graduates with a Doctorate and over $96,149 in debt. I doubt that any profession has that level of disparity in average debt versus starting salary.  According to the census, PTs makes $76,310 per year (not a starting salary, but an AVERAGE salary). I challenge you to find a profession with a higher debt/salary ratio than 1.26!

Even faced with those numbers, my wife wanted to help people and wanted to learn more about the human body.    Who can argue with that?   So, 14 years later, she has her own successful PT practice, and here I am, building an online physical therapy community.

And, I really do think that now is a great time to be a PT!

If you are a PT, there are at least three big trends working in your favor;  Demand, Reform and Technology.

Demand (and Supply)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that PT will grow 39% from 2010 to 2020. Ranking #20 in growth out of 796 categories that the Bureau tracks -from 198,000 thousand PTs in 2010 to 276,000 in 2020.   Is there really a farm system in place that can add 77,400 PTs over 10 years?   With 211 PT schools and average class sizes of 40 students (according to the APTA) in the US, this could only happen if NOBOBY ever retired.   A 1 in 30 annual retirement rate would almost nullify the inflow of new grads.    So, either 1) the US will be a net importer of PT jobs or 2) schools will need to get bigger or 3) PTs will need to work longer, or 4) all of the above.

On top of that, I don’t think the BLS is being very sophisticated with their estimates.  Their estimates only seem to mirror the growth in the population 65 and older over the same period; 36%.   In addition to that, the new 65 year olds are a lot more active and are anticipating a longer lifespan than in previous generations; replacing hips and tearing tendons with abandon.   IMHO, they are going to spend a lot more of their disposable income on wellness.   This appears to be a trend across all ages.   We are spending more on wellness.  It is like coming to grips with the fact that you are going to own your Audi for more than 10 years, so you better add oil, rotate your tires, replace the water pump etc…

So, supply and demand are on your side, PT.    And, you are in a “hands on” profession:  Your job is not moving offshore.    That $94k in debt doesn’t look so bad if it comes with 40 years of guaranteed employment!

Reform

There are three legislative movements that are going to have a big positive impact on the PT profession.

First, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is going to add 30 million insured Americans to the demand side of the equation.   In case you have been in Ibiza for the last month, or hiding in a closet full of Thera-bands, the Supreme Court upheld this Act in a somewhat surprising decision on June 28 of this year.   So, more debt for the country, but good news for PTs.

Second, there has been a systematic trend toward allowing Direct Access to PT.    By the APTA’s count, 46 of 50 states have some form of Direct Access now; up from 35 in 2002. And those states with limited Direct Access are working towards getting unlimited access.   California is tantalizingly close:  SB924 passed through the Assembly Business and Professional Committee on June 26th, and goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 8th.  Anyone up for an Egypt-style flash-mob in Sacramento?    Seriously, I don’t think PTs have really begun to see the full impact of the Direct Access movement.  The real benefit will be over the next ten years when consumer awareness kicks in and consumers strive to fully utilize their healthcare policies.

Third, the HITECH ACT of 2009 is about to start working in PT’s favor.  I know that is hard to believe given the fact that PTs were excluded from the initial Meaningful-Use cash giveaway.  Even Chiropractors got $44k for scanning their charts.   But in 2014, the carrot will become a stick, and Doctors will get 1% lower Medicare re-imbursement if they don’t have EHR.   PTs may not have to comply by law, but they should if they are opportunistic.  The ones that do, and fit into the process flow of their referring physicians, will see something interesting take place:  Doctors will need to track outcomes, and they don’t have the time to do it.   Know anyone else who might be qualified?  Congratulations, PT, your time has come.

Technology

When my wife started her practice just three years ago, I imagine that the process was twice as easy as it was ten years before, mainly because of the Internet.  If you are starting a practice today, it is probably twice as easy as it was just three years ago.  Need to incorporate?  Try LegalZoom. Need to accept credit cards? Try Square.  And it is more of the same across all services from scheduling to accounting; cheap if not free solutions.

The rest of the business world has been upgrading technology incrementally.  Physical Therapists, as super late adopters, are positioned to make a telescopic leap right into cloud-based services and touch-pad tablets.    It is like China going straight to cell phones and not worrying about the landlines.

The amount of cost that is about to be taken out of the system, and the amount of efficiency that is about to be added, are unparalleled in any other service industry that I can think of.  It is not that hard to imagine a PT office where a patient taps a screen to announce their arrival, their insurance is automatically billed, a PT records their evaluation on a iPad, they are given a video home exercise program that is interactive, their course of treatment is automatically tracked online for doctors to see, their satisfaction and outcomes are monitored regularly, and it all ties into accounting and business analytics, real time.

Count me in.

Therapydia Launch Press Release