How Direct Access To Physical Therapy Works

Direct access means you can see your physical therapist without a physician referral or prescription.  South Carolina allows direct patient access to PT with some provisions:

  • If there is no physician referral and the PT treats the patient beyond 30 days from the initial evaluation, the patient must then obtain a prescription or referral from a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner.

Benefits of Direct Access Physical Therapy

  • Health care is expensive, and more so with each passing year.  A system that allows the patient to directly seek the services of a physical therapist can help save you BIG money by cutting out healthcare provider visits, unnecessary imaging, and referrals to other specialists.

  • Most insurance groups will cover physical therapy under direct access/self-referral. We will verify your benefits/coverage prior to your initial evaluation, so there won’t be any surprises.

  • Treatment can start right away.  There are many conditions that need to be treated without delay in order to optimize your outcome.  Physical therapy is a low-cost, value-packed healthcare service.​

Is Direct Access Safe?

All of our Vertex clinicians are Doctors of Physical Therapy which means they are trained to spot “red flags” that may point to the need for more extensive medical treatment, such as surgery. In those cases, your physical therapist will immediately refer you to your physician or healthcare provider.

To date, there is no research showing that self-referral to physical therapy puts patients at increased risk. Also, there is no evidence that self-referred patients spend more on healthcare during or after their physical therapy care visits.

If you have a musculoskeletal condition that interferes with your ability to move without pain, use your best judgment when deciding which healthcare provider to see. A visit to your local physical therapist is a safe place to start on the road to recovery.

Does My Insurance Plan Cover Direct Access?

YES.  The payers of whom Vertex is in-network with do cover direct access to physical therapy. Cost of service will not differ for you the patient, with or without a prior referral to PT.

How Do I Get Started?

Scheduling a direct access appointment is as simple as calling our office and telling us that you would like to come for direct access. Your first appointment will be just like it would be if you had a physician referral. The therapist will evaluate you and determine if you could benefit from physical therapy services.

For more information, be sure to check out this episode of the Better Faster Podcast or contact us if you have any further questions.

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