The Role of Physical Therapy in Home Health Care

Physical therapy (PT) for many patients is an essential part of an interdisciplinary home health care team that helps individuals resume their daily activities and improve their overall health and wellbeing. It’s for patients that may be unable to leave the house to receive physical therapy, or may be more comfortable receiving PT services at home. Therapists and their assistants work with patients on mobility and lifestyle changes, monitor symptoms and also request interventions to help avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

Physical therapy often helps to decrease the duration and severity of disabilities that arise from chronic diseases such as heart failure and COPD, and helps patients return to their desired daily activities, such as going to church or working in the garden. In addition, at-home physical therapy sessions help patients understand how increased physical activity and better lifestyle choices can lead to weight loss, lower blood pressure and improved mental health. An exercise program may also decrease future cardiac events and improve mortality.  

Conditions that may be a good fit for home-care physical therapy may include:

  • Post-surgical conditions like a total hip or total knee replacement
  • Stroke recovery and rehabilitation once discharged from a facility
  • Parkinson’s disease symptom management
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • After a cardiac event like a heart attack
  • After trauma such as fracture

Physical therapy is covered under Medicare when the services are specific, safe and an effective treatment for the patient’s condition. According to Medicare.gov, the amount, frequency and time period of the services need to be reasonable, or only qualified therapists can perform the services safely and effectively for coverage to apply. To be eligible, either: 1) the condition must be expected to improve in a reasonable and generally predictable period of time, 2) the patient needs a skilled therapist to safely and effectively make a maintenance program for the condition, or 3) the patient needs a skilled therapist to safely and effectively do maintenance therapy for his/her condition. The home health agency caring for the patient must be approved as Medicare-certified to qualify.

From an insurance point of view, it’s important that a home health care provider understand its professional liability exposure in relation to the services physical therapists provide to patients in a home environment. Manchester Specialty Programs offers comprehensive insurance solutions for home health care providers, including Entity Professional Liability insurance to protect a provider firm in the event that a claim should arise. Our policy is available on a claims-made or occurrence basis, offers a zero deductible plan along with flexible retention levels, includes separate limits for Abuse & Molestation coverage, and provides Professional and General Liability for “hands on” care by employees. For more information about how our products and services can help protect your insureds, please contact us at 855.972.9399.