APTA House of Delegates Sets Priorities for PT Industry

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Originally posted by JobsTherapy.com Content Staff.

The need to establish best practices for using telehealth technology and for more collaboration with patients’ mental-health specialists were among the many issues discussed at the 76th APTA House of Delegates meeting in June. The House is the policymaking body of the American Physical Therapy Association, which will celebrate its centennial next year.

The House held its annual meeting online for the first time this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to PT in Motion, published by the APTA, taking a broad view of physical therapists’ role in providing health care and coalescing around a vision for the future of PT.

COVID-19 has left medical professionals with little choice but to embrace telehealth technology, and since it likely will remain a popular option for patients, PTs should establish best practices for its use, the House recommended, according to PT in Motion. The House also called for greater collaboration between PTs and patients’ behavioral-health specialists since PTs can play a role in screening for and addressing mental-health issues, PT in Motion said.

Here are the other major recommendations and resolutions passed by the House at its June session, according to PT in Motion:

● Sleep health – The House called for greater collaboration between PTs and sleep-medicine professionals, acknowledging PTs’ role in the prevention and management of sleep impairments and in promoting healthy sleep behaviors.

● Emergency PT services – The House supports the expanded use of emergency PT services at sites including “hospital-based and freestanding emergency departments, urgent-care clinics, observation units, athletic events, emergency-medical-response vehicles and disaster sites.” The House also directed the APTA to “identify barriers to and opportunities for provision of emergency physical-therapist services” and to develop relevant resources.

● Patient safety – The House supports efforts by PTs and PT assistants to reach the goal of “zero preventable patient harm by demonstrating transformational leadership, a culture of safety and robust performance improvement.”

● Environmental conservation – The House is calling for a sharper focus on environmental sustainability and greater public awareness of the effects of environmental conditions on the movement, health and safety of people.

● World Confederation for Physical Therapy meeting – The House expressed concern over the WCPT’s decision to hold its 2021 conference in Dubai because of the United Arab Emirates’ poor record on human rights. The House officially censured that decision and called for the WCPT to choose locations that support diversity, equity and inclusion.

● Transparency in PT education programs – The APTA is now urging PT education programs to provide full transparency regarding the costs of their degree programs and to improve students’ financial literacy.

● Practice and business financial arrangements – The APTA will now support collaborated practice and business models, but only insofar as they are consistent with APTA positions and policies, prioritize best clinical practice, provide consumer value and choice, are data-driven, retain “organizational flexibility” and adhere to laws and regulations.

● Workforce planning – The House called for workforce-planning efforts to include ongoing assessments of supply and demand for PT professionals as well as needs assessments to better define and predict the employment landscape.

● Recruiting and hiring PTs educated abroad – The House amended the APTA’s guidelines providing safeguards for PTs trained outside of the U.S. and for employers interested in hiring these PTs. The new guidelines aim to enhance the support provided to these PTs, including more employer responsibilities and greater transparency.

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Editor in Chief, PhysicalTherapist.com

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