Empowering Patients with Communication Skills

Physical Therapists Are In A Unique Position To Educate Their Patients To Think Critically

Navigating the healthcare industry these days can be a daunting and overwhelming task for the average consumer. Understanding the details of one’s health insurance policy—premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and the like—is often challenging enough, and that’s before the patient even steps foot in a doctor’s office. Determining which medical professional to see, what questions to ask at the appointment, and how to interpret test results and treatment recommendations can be even more stressful, which leaves many patients rather apprehensive about seeking out care.

But according to Justin Pezick, PT, DPT, co-owner of Applied Continuing Education (ACE), physical therapists are in a unique and privileged position to help patients better navigate this process. Justin believes that because physical therapists have the most touch points with the public, it’s their responsibility to educate patients on how to they can take more control and get the most out of their healthcare experience.

Teaching therapists how to better empower patients

This patient empowerment is at the very core of the continuing education courses offered at ACE. Justin and fellow co-owner Mike Stare, PT, DPT started ACE because they weren’t satisfied with the landscape at the time and felt that a much higher level of education and treatment was necessary to help patients achieve long-term success. That led them to meticulously create two physical therapy continuing education courses (“Weight Management for Rehab Patients” and “Shoulder Pain and Dysfunction”) upon these guiding principles.

“We really want to empower patients to change their lives,” Justin says. “When you’re taught that you have control over your pain, that power is a game changer, but it’s a matter of time before they see it. Patients have to be in the right place to accept the message, so they need to repeat it every day. The takeaway is that I pointed you in the right direction, but you did it.”

Helping patients and PTs get the most out of patient care

Ultimately, what Justin and Mike strive to accomplish through the ACE continuing education courses is to place more responsibility in the hands of both therapists and patients. Patients have a responsibility every time they enter a healthcare provider’s office, but—based on ACE’s school of thought—physical therapists could be the guiding force that explains this responsibility to their patients. That’s why the ACE courses offer ways to teach physical therapists how to help patients prepare for their visits so they can get the most out of it. This means educating patients on how to critically evaluate what they want and what their goals are, and perhaps most importantly of all, asking lots of questions during their visit.

“We want patients to have 20 questions going into their appointment and 20 more questions once the doctor starts talking,” Justin says. “If the patient is satisfied with those answers, they should stick with that doctor. If not, they should go somewhere else.”

Asking questions and not being satisfied when a sole diagnosis is given without context empowers patients to be better advocates for their own health and ensures that they have more control over the decisions that are made. When executed properly, this will also increase the likelihood of a successful outcome and satisfied patient, which should be the goal of every healthcare experience.

But according to Justin, it can go even further than this: “The last dot is that patients can take this level of control and can apply it to any situation they encounter in life, and they have the proof of success from successfully addressing their pain,” he says.

Contact ACE to learn more
If you’re interested in learning more about these courses, review the ACE website to see if the courses align with your needs and values. You can also contact ACE at 781-229-8011 or info@physicaltherapyceus.com, as Mike and Justin are both more than happy to discuss their courses and answer any questions you might have.