10 Things We’ve Learned as Physical Therapists from Our Patients
Being a physical therapist is arguably one of the more rewarding professions one could have. We have the opportunity to earn the trust of our patients and guide them through a physical therapy plan of care to get them back doing activities they love. It’s just awesome to see the metamorphosis from dysfunctional, aberrant, and painful movements to fluid, painless, and functional activities of daily living. The whole staff at SSOR is very passionate about our approach to care. As a result, we’re continually looking for ways to elevate our care, and often, our patients help us do that.
- They want you to listen to them. Many patients come to see us frustrated because they feel like their physicians don’t listen to them. They feel that doctors can sometimes be in a hurry and not truly listen to what their needs are. Because we spend more time with people, we have the ability to really learn what our patients need from us.
- They want you to educate them. Medical terminology is confusing and frankly scary. The internet is a sea of misinformation, clouded with blogs and posts that elevate patients fears and create misconceptions. Patients really like it when we talk to them about what they have, why they hurt, and what can be done about it.
- They want effective and efficacious treatments. Co-pays are escalating. Deductibles are also on the rise. People can’t afford physical therapy treatments that don’t get them results quickly. A competent physical therapist will use the best available evidence to steer effective and efficacious treatment plans. The caveat to this though is that often, patients feel that something is helping, even though little evidence exists supporting it.
- Their values may not be yours. #3 and #4 on this list go hand-in-hand. A patient may feel that an exercise or treatment is the source of their pain, or that a certain modality is needed for them to achieve their goals. Even if the evidence is minimal or non-existent, to not listen to the patient and do what’s important to them may compromise a positive outcome and rapport with the patient.
- They hate being passed around. If there is one thing that patients always talk about, particularly ones that had a negative physical therapy experience previously, is that they saw several providers who all approached things differently. We are fiercely committed to that at SSOR to ensure continuity of care and to help build that rapport and trust required for a positive outcome.
- They love when you get your hands on them. Patients appreciate when physical therapy is more than glorified personal training, when a physical therapist just holds a chart and takes them endlessly through exercises. Whether it’s manual therapy to the joints or the spine or soft tissue techniques, patients see the value in their treatment when we use our hands.
- They want to like you and maybe have a laugh or two. Health care providers need to have a personality. Period. We have to get away from stuffy and cold bedside manners and show the human side of health care. Because we spend so much time with people, we really have an opportunity to shine here.
- They want a plan in place. Random treatments with no specific goals lead to cancels and/or no-shows or poor outcomes. They may even lead to them leaving one facility and getting treatment at another one. We need to earn their confidence.
- They want you to care. Whether it’s returning a call, an email, or trying to facilitate them getting into a doctor or specialist, they really appreciate when we go the extra mile for them.
- They don’t want you to treat their shoulder/back/knee like everyone else’s. Patients hate the cookbook or “cookie cutter” approach to therapy. Every patient has individual needs, goals, and desires and they want your plan of care to reflect that. Along with that, we’ve learned that one seemingly similar diagnosis will always have a unique presentation that will teach us something.
One other one that we’ve learned – patients always know a good movie, a good handyman, where to buy something, or a great place to eat! When you see a cross-section of people and you hear a fairly consistent comment, rest assured, your patients will steer you in the right direction!
We’ve learned these things over time because we love what we do, we care about what we do, we care about our patients, and we’re always looking for ways to elevate our care and our approach. Give us a call and let us show you how SSOR’s approach will not only get you results quickly, but also provide a great atmosphere for your desired outcome to take place.