Key Physical Therapy Industry Trends for 2019

Physical therapy is a rapidly changing and growing field, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports projected growth of 28% from 2016 to 2026—much higher than the average across all jobs. 


Emerging technologies are affecting physical therapy treatment methods in a variety of ways, but there are just as many changes happening in the wider industry. As a result of these technologies, patients have more choices and even better access to healthcare than ever before.

Such technologies are enabling direct access to physical therapy in New Jersey and other states across the US.  The following are a few of the most important developments for physical therapy professionals to be aware of in 2019.

Healthcare Mergers

Healthcare in general is becoming much more centralized, with hospital merger activity remaining at a high level in 2018. This process affects everyone in the world of healthcare as smaller hospital systems continue to be purchased by larger organizations.

Acquisitions and mergers are a major healthcare trend that will only accelerate throughout 2019 and beyond. Fewer and fewer small systems will be able to compete with the efficiency and capital of larger healthcare corporations.

Reduced Referrals

Since these mergers make physical therapists more accessible for most hospitals and doctors, expect them to keep patients in-network whenever possible and make fewer out of network referrals.

Private physical therapists will need to find new ways to differentiate themselves and provide value over in-network options. A strong web presence will help attract new customers, while effective use of emerging treatment technologies can allow you to work with more patients.

Patient Engagement

Keeping patients engaged is often a challenge for physical therapists, so it’s important to use all available tools to make sure each patient finishes his or her treatment and completes any home exercises. BetterPT and other mobile apps are the perfect way to connect with your patients and increase engagement.

With the right physical therapy mobile app, you can stay in contact with patients and even check their home exercise form. Physical therapists should be implementing these solutions in their practice in order to provide the best possible patient experience.

Merit-based Incentive Payment System

The Merit-based Incentive Payment System, or MIPS, is finally available for physical therapists to enroll in 2019. It automatically adjusts patient payment based on four factors: quality, improvement activities, advancing care information, and cost.

MIPS has the potential to reduce physical therapy costs while simultaneously improving the quality of care. A patient’s MIPS score is applied to Medicare B payment adjustments. Physical therapists should strongly consider enrolling in MIPS in 2019.

Physical therapy is a constantly changing field, and it’s important for practitioners to stay updated on the latest developments in order to stay ahead of the competition and provide high-quality treatment. Being aware of these critical trends will help you be a better physical therapist in 2019.