What is Direct Access?

 In Wisconsin, as well as in all other states in the U.S., patients have the right to direct access to physical therapy. With the current law, this means that patients have the option to see and be treated by a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral. Each state has direct access in some form with regulations depending on the state. Due to constant changes with insurance companies, it is important to contact your insurance company to verify the requirements since there are a few companies that still require referrals.

Many people are unaware of the direct access option and believe they must see their doctor first, receive a script for PT, and then and only then are they able to call and schedule an appointment. This common misunderstanding can delay treatment significantly, thereby delaying and potentially increasing a patient’s recovery time. Although some patients may be nervous bypassing their physician, it is important to note that physical therapists today are doctorate-level medical professionals who are more than qualified to perform these initial evaluations. They also will know when a patient presents with an injury or condition that falls outside of their scope of practice.

Why should I take advantage of Direct Access?

#1 Quicker treatment

As people know, the time between an injury and physician availability can be weeks and sometimes even months. Due to this often lengthy process, a significantly smaller percentage of patients who could and would greatly benefit from physical therapy never make it in the door to receive the help they need. Now that direct access has been implemented, there is another avenue patients can use to evaluate and treat their injuries.

  #2 Alternative option to manage pain

Both physical and occupational therapy are methods to manage pain that have been proven to often reduce the need for opioid use. With thorough and individualized care there is often a decreased dependency on opioids thereby decreasing the risk for addiction.

   #3 Cost-Effective

In conjunction with #1 above, by saving money through potential avoidance of unnecessary injections, doctor appointments, and X-rays, physical therapy is often a much more cost-effective option for patients. Decrease your co-pays and co-insurance with fewer visits, both to your doctor and to Physical Therapy. 

 Hopefully, this sheds some light and helps explain a bit about how direct access can be used and how it could benefit you! Get PT first and avoid prolonging treatment, increasing costs, and use of addicting medications. Schedule your appointment today!

Rachel graduated with honors from Concordia University Wisconsin in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology and in 2017 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. At Concordia, Rachel had the opportunity to take advanced coursework in manual therapy and sport specific training.