Why can’t we be friends? Chiropractic and physical therapy may be two different professions, but both play a huge role in maintaining the overall health of athletes. It’s true that there are some definite overlaps in job responsibilities, so it can seem unreasonable or unrealistic to bring both services under one roof. However, many professionals today are beginning to join forces to elevate the value of their practice as well as their patient outcomes. If you’re considering taking your sports chiropractic practice to the next level and integrating with physical therapy, know that you’re not alone in your endeavor.

How Integrated Clinics are Enhancing Sports Medicine

The world of sports medicine is no stranger to the concept of integrated clinics. Dr. Jay Greenstein DC, CEO of Sport and Spine Rehab proudly runs his business in tandem with Dr. Barton Bishop, physical therapist and Chief Clinical Officer. For these clinicians, integrating their practice means serving up the best of both worlds to each patient that walks through their door.

“We really felt that adding a physical therapist would add that much more value to us delivering the best in patient care,” said Greenstein. “There are skillsets that physical therapists have that chiropractors don’t, and there are skillsets that chiropractors have that physical therapists don’t. With the combination of best practices from both professions, we really felt like that was going to add the most value.”

At their core, chiropractors and physical therapists are incredibly like-minded professionals; both focus on pain relief, establishing better movement patterns and fine-tuning key aspects of the body like posture, strength and flexibility. While these professions might have a different approach to these endeavors, combining services of chiropractors and physical therapy will allow both professionals to maintain their philosophies while expanding the services they offer.

“Both professionals really care about their work, they care about getting their patients better; it’s why we do what we do,” said Greenstein. “That may seem trite, but that’s really important because I can’t say the same for the rest of the healthcare community that we interact with. Other skillsets that overlap include soft tissue techniques, kinesiology taping, those kinds of things. Also how we evaluate patients; while there are some things we do differently, there are some basic similarities.”

integrated clinic chiropractic and physical therapy

Not only does this partnership allow each professional to play off of each other’s strengths, but it also leaves opportunities to fill in each other’s gaps. “The chiropractors have way more experience in manipulation and all the different techniques of manipulation, while the physical therapists are just significantly better at exercise prescription, post-surgical care and rehab,” said Greenstein. That being said, chiropractors and physical therapists can also leverage each other in areas outside of the clinic to further develop both of their professions.

“When it comes to the political and/or policy issues, it actually helps to work with the other profession and have access to their network,” said Greenstein. “For example, the physical therapy world has been dealing with a per-diem from a major insurance carrier for a really long time. The same thing just went down in mid-2015 for the chiropractic profession. Now, the professions are working together to address this at the highest national level. This is a great example of how the two professions can be working together at the state and even national level to improve access for patients, to protect our rights to practice the way that we want to and to make sure that we get paid for the value that we deliver.”

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

As is tradition with teams in any setting, differences in priorities, opinions and perspectives can muddy the waters of integrated clinics. The key is to use these differences to your advantage in establishing a holistic approach to patient care.

“Hiring someone from the other discipline is no different than hiring someone from your own,” said Greenstein. “You just need to find someone that aligns with your values. If you find someone who aligns with your values, it doesn’t matter what alphabet soup they have after their name; they’re probably going to be a good fit.”

At the end of the day, well-run integrated clinics have all of the characteristics needed to increase patient outcomes, establish strong protocols and maintain durable levels of retention and reimbursement. Building a team of chiropractors and physical therapists with strong communication, aligned core ethics and quality clinical skills will no doubt allow you to dominate the sports medicine space, while continually growing into the best clinician you can be.  

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