Dr. Clint Woo, DPT, PT
Concierge Physical Therapy: Why It's the Future
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Concierge physical therapy was born from those who were tired of the insurance system (both the patient and the healthcare provider). As a physical therapist who has worked in inpatient, home health, and outpatient, I always hated how it was insurance who determined how many PT sessions a person needed, as opposed to the PT (go figure). Why was it that while we were making progress, and there are noted concepts of plateaus, that insurance can suddenly say "Sorry. That last week of PT won't be covered since the patient is costing us too much money".
I also realized that even though physical therapists can spend up to $250,000 in student loans to get their doctorate, they are underpaid and so we are forced to see 3-4 patients per hour to make adequate money for a business. This system hurts everyone including the patient. When a typical "PT factory" has to admit a new patient every 15 min, that patient literally only gets 15 minutes with the PT before getting passed onto the technician. This tech is not a replacement for a PT or even a physical therapy assistant, but they are often used as such! I hear it all the time: "I come into the clinic. I am put on heat with electrical stimulation for 10 min, the PT does manual therapy for 10 min, then I do exercises with the tech for 30 min, and ice for 10 min and I'm out of there not sure what just happened".
I used to demonize the average PT clinic for this system, but I realized that this is part of the machine due to the insurance companies underpaying and restricting visits. Because of that, the PT clinics has to take on more patients, the therapists get overworked, and patients aren't given the 1-on-1 attention. Everyone loses.
There is a movement among PT’s who no longer want anything to do with the insurance system. They want to find patients who want quality care and want to get better as soon as possible while working with someone who has the proper qualifications. This new age of ‘cash-based out-of-network physical therapy’ allows PT’s to focus on just one patient every hour without feeling stretched thin mentally and physically by the end of the day/week/month/year.
In the first 5 years of my career, I spent an average of 48-77 hours at work every single week including birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Years, you name it. I went from loving my job to hating everything about it due to the sheer work load. I was ready to change jobs, as were some of my classmates (all jobs that required way less school mind you). All that studying to get a 3.9 GPA in undergrad to get into PT school wasted. The countless hours during PT school itself, gone. The entire year spent as a FREE UNPAID resident/intern, wasted. I was devastated that the career I was wanting to do more than any other field, regardless of requirements, may no longer be in my future.
Enter concierge physical therapy! My dream is to see a 4-6 patients a day where the patients at the end of the day are still getting the most attentive and passionate version of me. I dream of actually enjoying going to work in people's homes or online, as that genuine passion is impossible to fake. I dream of having a core group of patients that realize that they don't need to wait a month to see their doctor just so they can wait another few weeks to get an appointment with a PT who can barely concentrate because they're stressed about how they'll pay off student loans 3x their salary.
I'm making this dream a reality because this is what healthcare should look like. Individualized care with the human aspect injected back into the plan of care! I hope you can be apart of my dream of not feeling that you are just a cog in the system. If you have had a bad experience with PT, understand that there are bad eggs in every profession and bad systems in every business. On the other hand, understand that if you have a skilled therapist who has a combination of experience and energy coming to you, the sky is the limit. We are talking about your quality of life and understanding that there shouldn't be a price for that. This is not about whether you have the funds or not, it is about your QUALITY of life: to connect with a therapist as soon as possible to prevent your small pains from growing into big ones. To not have an overworked health professional try to remember your medical details only to give you generic and unhelpful advice.
Invest in yourself with a concierge physical therapist. We at Woo Physical Therapy and Wellness are proud to serve the Anne Arundel, Howard, and Prince George's counties in-home and online anywhere in the U.S.A.!