A Debrief of the Combined Sections Meeting

Hospital Compliance Manager Brenda Kemling, PT and Assistant Director of Operations Bill Mannewitz, PT attended the APTA Combined Sections Meeting last week in New Orleans. The three-day event is an opportunity to gather for the country’s largest conference on physical therapy. Incidentally, Bill ran into Cory Ash, PT, assistant manager for RehabVisions Outpatient Clinic in Dickinson, North Dakota, in one of his sessions, so RV had more representatives than we even realized.

Themed to play on NOLA (New Orleans), pre-conference material told of Networking Opportunity, Learning and Acceleration. Bill and Brenda agreed the yearly conference did not disappoint with record-breaking attendance of over 17,000.

As for the content of the meetings, both said there were a few themes. “There was an overall push to get back to listening to patients, identifying their individual deficits, and quit trying to apply protocols that aren’t appropriate,” Bill said. Brenda agreed and said this also serves as a reminder to use critical-thinking skills while avoiding overreliance on documentation software and outside structures to limit how you treat.

Another theme that related to listening was remembering your patients have a voice. Brenda said she was going to use some of that information for an upcoming presentation to the Iowa Hospital Association Rehab Managers, “Medical necessity starts with your patient’s voice. I think that’s a really smart way to think of it,” she said.

Treating chronic pain in light of the country’s opioid epidemic was also covered in several sessions. “We discussed retraining the brain (neuroplasticity), patient education on appropriate interpretation of pain, and not ignoring the cardio-pulmonary and respiratory systems,” Brenda said. The message there again was looking at the patient as a whole, she said.

Insurance was another big subject. Bill said there was a lot of talk about insurance and becoming advocates for patients regarding number of visits when necessary. “We must be cognizant of insurance limitations while working with patients on what is appropriate for the individual based on length of time for recovery. At the same time, we need to be advocates for them to seek more visits from insurance when it’s necessary.”

The two were obviously excited about what they learned. Hospital and clinic rehab directors can expect some of these themes to be visited at the upcoming managers meeting in April.


Michael Goldsmith

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