Why are physical therapists not appropriately recognized in Healthcare?

It is still very shocking to see that physiotherapists are still not appropriately recognized for the role they play in the healthcare sector.

Someone should please wake me up! Who talks about back pain without a mention of physiotherapy? How long will physical therapists continue to fight for recognition and relevance when their roles are clearly defined?

Heidi Jannenga, cofounder of WebPT, shares her experience at the 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference & Exhibition which took place in Orlando, Florida. Here is an excerpt:

"it was extremely disappointing—more like maddening, actually—to sit through an entire presentation on low back pain without hearing a single mention of physical therapy. 

This discussion specifically delved into the role interoperability plays in ensuring patients achieve optimal outcomes. Sure, several speakers from hospitals and other large health organizations talked about using some of the sameoutcome measurement tools (e.g., the Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire and Neck Disability Index) that PTs use every day. But PTs—and our hands-on, non-invasive, patient-centric approach—were left out of the equation completely. 

And that’s not okay—not only because it means we, as a profession, are nowhere near achieving the level of respect and recognition we deserve in the greater healthcare community, but also because it means there are thousands of low back pain patients out there who are paying way too much for dangerous treatments (e.g., surgery and prescription painkillers) that could actually threaten their long-term health and wellbeing.

Physical therapists should’ve been at the forefront of this conversation. After all, low back pain is one of our most-seen diagnoses. 

Even more disheartening: After raising my hand and questioning the speaker’s glaring omission of physical therapy in his presentation, he paused, scratched his head, and said, “That’s a really good point—I’m not sure why or how we would get PTs involved.” 

Talk about a huge slap in the face to our entire profession. PT wasn’t even on his radar—and that should be a major wake-up call for all of us."

How has physiotherapy fared in the healthcare sector in your own country or city? Are you still fighting for relevance trying to convince other members of the team on why physiotherapy should be recommended?

Let me know your thoughts.



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