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Occupational Therapy in Primary Healthcare Environments

Healthcare is constantly adapting to allow patients to access care while being cost effective. One way the occupational therapy profession is trying to allow patients easier access to care is by being present in the primary care setting.


At Saint Louis University, students are able to take electives and participate in fieldwork that allows them to experience this “Primary Care model.” Sarah Detmer, a recent graduate of Saint Louis University’s OT program states, “O.T. broad training enables the provision of preventive services and ability to intervene sooner to promote wellness.” Ms. Detmer explained that she was able to identify issues patients may have in the future at a basic medical appointment. For example, if a patient needed to refill his medication for Parkinson’s disease, the occupational therapist could be present to address fall risk and issue appropriate durable medical equipment.


In Canada, occupational therapists are now a part of the Family Health Team, which allows for occupational therapists and other allied health providers  access to patients during  primary care appointments .   Currently in the U.S., occupational therapists are not identified as primary care providers; however, as they continue to collaborate with other health care professionals, this may change according to Metzler in a recent Journal of American Occupational Therapy.


Adding Allied Health professionals into the primary care setting would allow patients better access to care with less expense and in a shorter timeframe.  In addition, this could help physicians identify those appropriate for rehabilitative services. The team effort primary care model may just be what the United States healthcare system needs.


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    Posted September 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Massage therapy is being used less and less in PT ciiclns for a number of reasons:1. Poor evidence for it’s efficacy2. For those who do need it, it’s usually incorperated into treatment for only a short amount of time3. Poor reimbursement from insurance companiesAnother consideration for you is that just because the facility sees over 100 patients a day, doesn’t mean you’ll have a full schedule.Although my focus is spinal care, I rarely recommend massage and when I do, I do as an option for the patient and they pay out of pocket for it. In the last year, I’ve recommended massage for about four people. The vast majority of patients do not need massage and in fact, I refrain from using it all cost because it foster’s dependency instead of teaching a patient to take an active role in their recovery. Our clinic sees 120 patients a day. Our MT, only comes in once a week for an afternoon and may have three clients at the most. He spends most of his time functioning as a tech. If you want to get a consistent paycheck, you may want to consider this. Function as a tech and do clerical work when you don’t have clients and see your clients when they are recommended.

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    Posted November 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

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