Get the care you need now!
Physical therapy is a safe and affordable way to treat hundreds of different diagnoses, and a referral or prescription is not required to begin treatment – this is called Direct Access.
Currently, all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow patients “direct access” to physical therapy services and programs without the need for a physician prescription or referral. A major advantage to direct access is that patients see a decrease in their out-of-pocket costs by skipping a visit to their general practitioner for a referral. It also means that treatment can get underway faster. Direct access empowers you to take control of your health by choosing the approach that best suits your needs.
Benefits of Direct Access
Cost-Effective: By coming to physical therapy first, you avoid having to pay for a visit to the doctor – which can save you, your insurance company, and the healthcare system money. Oftentimes physical therapy can also reduce the need for alternative treatment methods such as medication, injections, and imaging.
Quicker Results: When you’re in pain you want to get relief fast, but sometimes it can take weeks to see the doctor. In the meantime, you may begin taking over-the-counter medications, or go to the emergency room or urgent care for pain relief. With direct access to physical therapy, you’ll spend less time and effort on scheduling a physician’s visit and begin feeling better faster.
Higher Patient Satisfaction: Numerous studies have shown that direct access patients report higher satisfaction levels, as opposed to those who had a referral. Even though patients may have received identical treatment, the ability to begin physical therapy right away led to quicker recovery times – this plays a key role in higher satisfaction levels.
You have control over your own health: You know your body better than anyone else. When you’re in pain or have been injured and feel that you could benefit from physical therapy, you should be able to decide where and how to seek treatment and direct access allows you to do just that.
Try physical therapy first
We offer complimentary injury screenings* at many of our locations. If you’re in pain or suffering from an injury, don’t wait to schedule your visit.
Direct access laws vary by state. Click here to see the most up-to-date information. LINK: https://getpt.org/physical-therapy-direct-access-laws-state/
*Beneficiaries of federal health care programs are not eligible to participate in free screenings.
Videos about Direct Access
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the difference between direct access to physical therapy and referral-based physical therapy?
Direct access to physical therapy means that a patient can receive physical therapy treatment without a referral from a physician, while referral-based physical therapy requires a referral from a physician before treatment can begin.
Q: Does Direct Access to my physical therapist cost more?
No, there is no additional cost for direct access patients.
Q: How does direct access help me?
The previous therapy referral mandate caused delays for people benefitting from physical therapy treatment. Those delays often resulted in higher healthcare costs, lower functional outcomes, and frustration to patients who wanted to get in for physical therapy treatments sooner. By eliminating the referral mandate, patients can start treatment faster.
Q: What should I expect during my initial evaluation as a direct access patient?
During the initial visit, your therapist will thoroughly evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan. This may include exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques to help manage your symptoms and improve your function.
Q: Why is direct access beneficial?
There’s no denying that healthcare is expensive. When you can directly seek the services of a physical therapist, it can help save healthcare dollars by reducing doctor visits and potentially eliminating certain medications, surgeries, and imaging tests like X-Rays, MRIs, and CT scans. If further testing is needed, our physical therapists will refer you to the right healthcare professionals.
Q: Will direct access to physical therapy be covered if I’m on Medicare?
Medicare patients who visit one of our facilities without a referral can be seen for an initial evaluation. If our physical therapist determines that physical therapy is a suitable solution for you, the treatment plan will be sent to your healthcare provider for a signature. After receiving a signed plan of care, physical therapy can continue.
Q: Will insurance cover therapy if I’m not referred?
In most cases, yes. However, it depends on your insurance policy. It’s best to check with your insurance provider to determine if physical therapy treatment is covered under your plan. If you have any questions, our patient coordinators are happy to help you.
Q: Will my physical therapist still communicate with my primary care physician if I’m a direct access patient?
Yes, as part of your healthcare team, we want to keep an open line of communication.