When Physical Therapy Practices Should Adopt New Technology (or Not!)

Unsure if new technology in physical therapy is all hype, no ROI? A few important factors can help you adopt new tech with confidence... or hold off.
A Person With Short Blonde Hair And A Pink Blazer Looks Down At A Tablet, Illustrating The Concept Of Introducing New Technology In Physical Therapy.

Do you ever wish you could go back in time and invest in Apple? Facebook? Bitcoin?

Of course you do. We all do!

In the consumer market, revolutionary products are hard to identify before they’re already making waves. The majority of consumers don’t take new products and services seriously—or even become aware of them—until they take the world by storm. Just think about the AI boom that recently sprung into public discourse, after years of sporadic attention.

With healthcare, of course, innovation takes a different pace. For better and worse, the field resists disruption.

For one thing, regulatory and compliance requirements pose an initial hurdle for new products’ viability on the market. That makes sense: Patient care and data security are top priorities! But many organizations and clinics are simply hesitant to move on from “the way it’s always been done”—even at the risk of limiting future growth or revenue.

So, at what point do you admit that old processes no longer serve you? And, on the other hand, how do you know when new products’ hype is too good to be true? We’re here to help you decide when to seek out new tech for your PT practice—and ensure it pays off.

What Kinds of Technology are Used in PT?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word technology as:

  • The practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area;
  • a capability given by the practical application of knowledge;
  • a manner of accomplishing a task, especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge; or
  • the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor.

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In this sense, physical therapy technology includes anything from manual or motorized tools (like balance pads, reflex hammers, or exercise equipment), to electronic diagnostics tools, to clinical documentation and practice management software. In this article, we’ll focus primarily on the latter.

When Should You Invest in New Technology in Physical Therapy?

In an episode of the Therapy Matters podcast, CEO of the American Physical Therapy Association, Justin Moore, listed emerging technologies as one of the three biggest issues facing physical therapy clinics today.

He posed the question:

How will these technologies help practices become more efficient and drive continuous quality improvement practices?

A simple rule of thumb is to only invest in new tech when it solves a real problem. For example, if your PT practice has outgrown its current EMR, you may struggle with manual workarounds and limited configurability. When an inefficient EMR slows down documentation, as well, physical therapists have less time to spend with patients and are more likely to burn out. Switching platforms could help you elevate your practice with greater efficiency and quality features.

Also consider whether the solution provides a greater return on investment (ROI). Budgets are tight, and you don’t have resources to waste. Does your RCM and billing solution help you reduce denied claims, maximize reimbursements, and streamline patient payments? If not, you’re missing out on revenue!

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It may be time to seek out new technology in physical therapy if you:

  • Use more than one platform for practice management, especially if those platforms don’t work well together.
  • Struggle to generate ROI with your current solutions.
  • Can’t scale your current system any further.
  • Waste time on inefficient workflows, including processes that require paper or repetitive manual inputs.
  • Fall behind on billing and RCM goals.
  • Can’t guarantee patients’ data security. This should be a no-brainer!

When the Trend is Just… a Trend

The headlines love to sensationalize technology trends. Don’t get fooled by clickbait.

Some innovative ideas seem exciting initially, but fail to deliver on their promises. Sarah Lyon, OTR/L, has seen this effect firsthand and shared her experiences in a 2023 review of technological advancement in occupational therapy.

I wrote an article about robotic therapy in 2018, and by 2022, the devices I had featured had all been taken off the market.

Don’t just look at the “what,” look for the “how.” When you come across products that say they’ll revolutionize your private practice, look for innovative strategies, supporting data, or social proof to back those claims. A healthy dose of skepticism goes a long way!

Is the brand invested in creating a lasting partnership, or looking for a quick win? Think about more than the surface appeal. When you’re on the market for a vehicle, for example, you don’t just look at the shiny coat of paint. You dive deep into the specs, looking for functionality, power, durability, strong customer support, and brand reputation.

Emerging technology might be "all bark and no bite" if it's:

  • Fresh on the market.
  • Lacking market viability.
  • High price, low ROI.
  • Too good to be true.

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3 Innovations in Physical Therapy Technology with Proven Value

Innovation takes time. Fads come and go. Instead of jumping head-first into the latest trend, take time to find solutions with proven value. When it comes to physical therapy software, you can enhance your practice with powerful tools for patient engagement, clinical documentation, and business intelligence.

1. Patient Engagement Technology

Physical therapy requires patients to stay actively engaged in their plan of care. Otherwise, patients may not see the results they hoped for, and may even fall out of care entirely. With the right patient engagement tools, you can help retain your patients, keep them on track, and reduce lost income due to appointment cancellations. 

Raintree’s physical therapy patient engagement technology suite includes advanced marketing and communications, telehealth, patient portal, and self-service kiosk features.

A "self-service" ideology has a way of keeping patients and providers connected. Providing that convenience to the patient—of getting to participate in treatment on their terms, on their time schedule—is empowering.

2. Electronic Health Records Technology

An efficient practice is a profitable practice. Continuing to use the same ineffective clinical documentation tools wastes money and creates a burden on your team. In fact, a recent survey from the American Physical Therapy Association found that over 80% of facilities added nonclinical staff in 2022 to accommodate the growing administrative burden.

Before hiring more administrative staff, consider seeking out an efficient, all-in-one platform to streamline your clinical workflow. Raintree’s scalable, ONC-Certified EHR for physical therapy is optimized to boost clinical productivity. Our specialized-yet-configurable documentation templates eliminate many time-consuming, error-prone manual processes. 

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3. Business Intelligence Tools

Diminishing reimbursements mean making clear-headed financial decisions is more crucial than ever. On top of that, working with inaccurate or incomplete information can spell disaster for your bottom line.

That’s where Business Intelligence (BI) comes in. Data-driven insights from Raintree’s robust algorithms reveal operational inefficiencies as well as growth opportunities for physical therapy and rehabilitation practices.

The Bottom Line

Is your current EMR ineffective? Are you ready to find the perfect solutions for your PT practice? Be wary of hype—just because something says it’s cutting-edge doesn’t mean it will provide the right tools for your physical therapy practice.  

Here are some tips for when it's time to level-up your tech:

  • Don’t just look for “new.” Look for real solutions to real problems, with real ROI potential.
  • Trends come and go. Look for brands with a reputation to uphold.
  • Technology should drive value for your practice. Look for features that boost your practice’s patient retention, improve clinical efficiency, and enable data-driven decision-making.

Raintree Therapy &Amp; Rehab Emr Ehr Rcm

Looking for New Physical Therapy Software?

You’re in the right place.

Raintree is the preeminent platform for rehabilitation therapy, with award-winning solutions in patient engagement and communications, clinical documentation, revenue cycle management (RCM), and business intelligence. Our specialized platform is tailored to physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and ABA practices across all treatment settings.

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Blogs are created for educational and informational purposes only.  The information provided does not constitute or, is not intended to constitute, legal or medical advice. When you read this information, visit our website, or access our materials, you are not forming an attorney-client, provider-patient, or other relationship with us.

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