[SLIDESHOW: How to Get The Most of a Physical Therapy Tune-Up]
What is needed, he said, is a system to provide a continuum of care. Conditions requiring chronic care, including COPD, diabetes, osteoarthritis, will benefit the most from such an approach. Dr. Hough added that a coordinated facility may reduce costs and will most likely improve outcomes, as demonstrated in the study.
With such promising results and the hope that collaborative care facilities may, in fact, save money in the long-term, why haven't all facilities begun to make the change?
"There are communities where this style of care will work and other communities where this approach won't be so great," Dr. Hough stated. "In some communities the providers are already structured to work well, where the providers are used to working together, where more coordinated care will be easier to do," he added. "It's not likely that we will find the magic bullet, the one thing that will solve all problems, but we can look for different approaches and perform different experiments anticipating that only some will work."
It’s important, notes Dr. Hough, to publicize these initiatives, and to find out when this approach will work, what are characteristics of those that work and how to replicate them. The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) encouraged the expansion of these programs as part of a focus on the process of care in a much more comprehensive way.
Unfortunately, many organizations that could be supporting these initiatives are not yet doing so. "Nobody is saying, 'not here, not now, not ever,' but I think many organizations are sitting on the sidelines for now," said Dr. Hough. "A lot of organizations have been burned before, so to speak, and won't have the resources or will to try new approaches."
Dr. Hough concluded: "I look at this as an outsider – we have to find ways to better integrate care. It matters to me, to my mother, to my grandchildren. I have a personal interest in seeing this happen, and I hope it does before we Baby Boomers start having to really lean on the health care system."
Christopher Regal with Dr. Douglas Hough. Telephone Interview. September 7, 2012.
n.p. (30 August 2012). "Collaborative Care Facilitates Therapy Compliance For Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis Improves Function, Pain, And Quality Of Life." Medical News Today. Retrieved from