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APTA Combined Sections Meeting Wrap Up

Walking the floor at APTA CSM 2016 Anaheim, CA

Last week, I attended the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting (APTA CSM) in Anaheim, CA. The show was well attended by about 18,000 Physical Therapists and professionals in related roles. The packed house meant lots of energy, a few full sessions, and long lines for coffee at the two overwhelmed Starbucks kiosks in the nearby hotels. Wellpepper started out in physical rehabilitation, so it was great to be back in the company of many talented ‘movement system experts’ and associates working together to gain knowledge in order to achieve best practices for healthcare systems, patients and/or caregivers.

I attended a number of sessions, mostly focused on the shift to value-based payment, and outcome measurement. The healthcare value equation has penetrated deep in this community. I saw the same basic slide in at least 3 talks:

* This formula has been widely discussed by Michael Porter and others.

I attended two presentations on outcome measurements by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Johns Hopkins. Both organizations spoke about the task of adopting outcome measurements in an acute settingand their thoughtful deliberate steps to take research-based measurement techniques and apply them into clinical practice;BIDMC’s applied the Knowledge Translation framework, and Hopkins’ applied the Translating Knowledge Into Practice (TRIP) initiative. There were many similarities that both organizations encapsulated in their task of adopting outcome measurements; both organizations had to fight against “don’t give me more documentation work” attitudes, worked cross-functionally with PTs, nurses, physicians and administrators to gain support for their plans. And both adopted process measurements to observe the rollout of outcome measurement tools and practices. Furthermore both had some crossover in the specific measurement tools they used (e.g. AM-PAC / 6 clicks).Another common thread I believe important to note was the development of practical tips and tricks for how to make it easy to capture data into their EMRs that weren’t always designed to capture this kind of data (real nuts-and-bolts stuff like how to copy and paste boilerplate text).

Finally, armed with data on patient functional outcomes, Johns Hopkins shared some of the work they were doing on risk-stratifying patients to help control costs. In a world where Post-Acute Care costs represent one of the largest and most variable cost centers for many procedures, this is critical. The quantity and richness of this data is something I hadn’t seen presented at this conference before. Here is real objective data on how real patients progress through their care journeys that can be used to at the individual level to have an informed conversation with the patient and provides fantastic optics into the most important work product of the healthcare system: making people better.

I was struck that both presentations concluded that measuring outcomes was less of a technical feat than an organizational one. It is, as Michael Friedman a presenter from Johns Hopkins articulated, “About culture change more than anything.”

Throughout the conference, there were also mentions of Patient-Reported Outcomes (Oswestry, HOOS, KOOS were frequently mentioned – thankfully ones that Wellpepper supports!) My sense was that these are still not as widely deployed and not as consistently measured to have made their way into any of the mainstream presentations. As Wellpepper and other companies keep pushing to measure (and improve!) the patient journey with patient reported outcomes, I expect this will change in the coming years.

The one disappointment I had from the conference was that the excellent session on the Patient Experience was not better attended. Jerry Durham (a minor celebrity in the PT world!) introduced a panel of 2 patients to present on their experiences and lamented that often the Triple-Aim objectives are reduced to a Double Aim, ignoring the patient experience. So we had the excellent chance to learn and hear real patients talk. Both patients were both doing great thanks to their Physical Therapists, but both talked about the significant failings they’d seen in their medical practitioners (of all stripes). In a string of wrenching, quotable sound bites, one said “I couldn’t have gotten this bad without the help of PT”. It’s a shame that despite the healthcare rhetoric about putting patients first that more attendees didn’t put this into practice and take the opportunity to learn from some honest patient-driven conversation.

All told, this was a good conference, notable for the increasing use of patient data to measure and improve. If the attendance for CSM 2017 in San Antonio is anything like this one, let’s hope for more coffee and more chairs!

Posted in: Adherence, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Technology, M-health, Telemedicine

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