A Guide for Physical Therapist Selection
Most interactions with a healthcare provider are prompted by something not going well in life. In a crisis or emergent situation there won't be time for vetting a provider or deciding on where to go specifically. If I'm having a heart attach or stroke...send me to the closest hospital so life saving measures can begin ASAP.
In cases of physical rehabilitation, there likely isn't a life threatening situation taking precedent over choosing your provider. You ought to have plenty of time to search for a good fit for your needs. All the more important as rehabilitative providers, such as physical therapists, on average have significantly more encounters with their clients compared to other health professionals. Depending on the circumstances, you may be spending a lot of time with your therapist. A solid relationship can be key to success! A bad one could be the impetus for failure.
So how do you go about choosing the right provider?
There is no one, ideal method for going about this selection process. However, here are some considerations that may be helpful in making a decision. *The rest of this post will read like a stream of thoughts, rather than any concrete advise. I hope reflection on these thoughts and questions provides value and helps to make a more informed decision the next time you choose a physical therapist (or other healthcare provider).
Will you be seen solely by a physical therapist, or will assistants/techs be involved?
How much time is spent with the therapist versus others?
Will your sessions always be with the same provider?
Will the provider be seeing other individuals during your appointment time?
How many stakeholders are involved in the episode of your care?
How difficult is it to reach the provider personally?
How much time do you they give you to speak?
Did they listen to and address your concerns?
How long did it take until your side of the story is interrupted for their questions?
Were you asked about your goals?
Do they state or give the impression that they can solve ANY problem?
What is their experience with problems similar to yours?
Do they speak with absolute certainty?
Do they acknowledge uncertainty, gaps or limitations in their expertise?
What's the treatment plan?
What is the evidence and rationale behind decision making? Is it discussed?
Is there a back up plan if the expected results are not achieved?
Is there a plan for a flare up if/when things go wrong? Are you prepared? Are they prepared?
Does the treatment plan steer you towards your target activities or advise against performing them?
What's the reasoning?
Were you able to weigh in on any of the decision making?
Was your input taken seriously?
Are they trying to sell you something (this may not be a physical entity/item)?
What value does that something provide?
Is the treatment plan tailored or generic? Are other people in the office being treated exactly as you are? Are you doing the same exercises as those around you? Why?
How much time is spent on educating about factors relevant to your problems?
How much time is spent on doing things to you?
How much time is spent moving and practicing skills?