The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has made several configurations to existing trends under its Vision 2020 strategy. For instance, one of the tenets of Vision 2020 is autonomous practice. Private practice physical therapists are encouraged, as opposed to corporate culture. The APTA Board has said that autonomous practice is applicable to all physical therapists cutting across practice setting or business arrangement.
Autonomous practice means that a physical therapist has the right to independent and professional judgment within the scope of her practice and in the patient's best interest. This has advantages and disadvantages. The therapist has to take responsibility and accept the risks for all aspects of physical therapy patient management. He / she has to work alongside other health care providers to provide value-added services offered to their clients.
As a profession, the therapist is committed to using the best available scientific evidence for client management. All applicable legal and regulatory requirements in this context need to be followed. APTA has issued guidelines specific to the physical therapy trends related to telehealth. Telehealth refers to the 'use of electronic communication to provide and deliver a host of health-related information and health care services, including, but not limited to, physical therapy-related information and services over large and small distances'.
In this definition, electronic communication includes text messaging, e-mailing, faxing, using such devices as cell phones, fax machines, and the Internet. Services provided via telehealth must fulfill minimum standards of professional health care as prescribed by APTA. The patient should be as safe as she would have been if the physical therapist had been there to advise her in person.
APTA plans to post resources on their website for members to understand the various aspects of telehealth for physical therapy. Women's heath has been voted as a focus area by the APTA Board. These trends have major implications on setting up specialty physical therapy clinics for women.
The APTA Board has made it a responsibility for the profession to maintain patient records to support that she practices physical therapy. The data should be collected in such a way that it can be collectively analyzed when required. Each of these goals will inevitably impact businesses in making them more evidence-based. Each of these trends will help to make the profession more independent and autonomous.