Best Physiotherapist for You in Toronto
Finding the Best Physiotherapist for You in Toronto
How can you find the best physiotherapist for you? Well, that’s a tricky question, because everyone’s needs vary. The best physiotherapist for me may not be the best physiotherapist for you, and for several reasons.
There are lots of fantastic physiotherapists out there – in fact, most are fantastic, and really know their specialty well.
If that’s the case, why can it be so difficult to find a good physiotherapy care? It all boils down to each clinic’s model of care. Each clinic operates a little differently. Sometimes a clinic’s method will work for you, and sometimes their clinic care model will be a hindrance. If you’re working with a fantastic physiotherapist who really knows their stuff, it won’t mean much if the clinic care model doesn’t work for you.
What this means is that while it’s important to look for a good physiotherapist, it’s even more important to look for a clinic that has a good care model.
At this point you may be wondering just what to look for in a good clinic care model? I’ll spell it out for you in six points.
- Face Time With Your Therapist
Clearly, you’re looking for a physiotherapist. When you’re seeking treatment for a problem, it’s nice to be able to spend a decent amount of face-to-face time with the person who is treating you. Depending on the clinic’s care model, you’ll get more face time in some places than you will in others.
Why is this? Physiotherapy is expensive. Clinics oftentimes make an effort to reduce costs for clients by doing several things.
- Physiotherapists may be double-booked, and treat two clients at the same time, going back and forth between them.
- Kinesiologists, athletic trainers, and physiotherapy assistants may also be used during the treatment process
- The clinic may have shorter visits that cost less, but have higher hourly rates
Is it necessarily a bad thing if you get less face time? No. Each individual’s needs vary. The methods listed above that many clinics use also help with cost-effectiveness while receiving treatment. In many cases, it’s simply not necessary for your physiotherapist to be present 100% of the time. Many treatments and therapies may also be performed by kinesiologists or assistants. While there are still some physiotherapists that treat clients while being present 100% of the time, it is less cost-effective, and will likely not deliver better results than a diluted-care model clinic where you receive less face time with a physiotherapist.
Diluted care has also made it possible to have physiotherapy covered by OHIP and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in some cases. Both OHIP and WSIB provide reimbursement for physiotherapy that is less than the industry average. However, a clinic using a diluted-care model is still able to profit from reimbursement. While OHIP and WSIB reimbursement is a good thing, and means that many people will have their physiotherapy care covered, the low rates mean that clinics still feel the pinch, and face time will likely be limited.
Cost-effectiveness is likely a concern for you in seeking physiotherapy (as it is for most). Make sure to talk to your physiotherapist about financial concerns, as adjustments can be made to your care plan to suit your needs. Adjustments may include home exercise therapy regimens, and other therapies that you can carry out and continue on your own.
- The Clinic Owner
Most physiotherapists are highly skilled, professional, and will go above and beyond for their clients. I haven’t met many who wouldn’t. Physiotherapy is a health profession that must conform to standards laid out by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.
So why does it matter who owns the clinic? What does this have to do with finding the best physiotherapist for you?
Who the clinic owner is matters because this person is in control of the care model, practices, and policies. You may have a great physiotherapist who is very limited because of the clinic owner. The physiotherapist bears ultimate responsibility for your care, but clinics often have a care model and practices that a physiotherapist must also adhere to as well that may affect your therapy.
A few types of things to look out for that can affect the care you receive:
- Referral practices and care programs
Sometimes a physiotherapist may refer you to either another internal, or external professional. A good clinic will make sure that you are only provided or recommended care that you actually need.
- Financial practices
Pay attention to the clinic’s billing methods. Any professional clinic will keep accurate billing and treatment records. Some clinics also offer care packages and pre-paid care. It should be your right to opt out of these.
- Patient information management
Patient/client information, including treatments and billing information, should be stored by the clinic for 10 years. This information needs to be available to you upon your request, and the clinic should store patient information in a safe, secure manner to protect your information and privacy.
Pay attention to the ads run by the clinic – the owner is typically in charge of this. Advertising should be honest, and only advertise care and services that physiotherapists are legally allowed to provide. The clinic also cannot run ads calling itself “the number one physiotherapy clinic”, or “the best clinic”, etc.
- Health and safety standards
Make note of the steps the clinic takes to maintain safety. The clinic should have adequate insurance, equipment should be clean and well-maintained, and effective infection-control practices should be used. Equipment should be cleaned between patients.
One more thing to note about the owner – if the owner of the clinic is not a registered physiotherapist, the clinic is NOT legally required to adhere to the College of Physiotherapy of Toronto’s professional standards.
If the owner/owners are all registered physiotherapists whose licenses are in good standing with the College of Physiotherapy, the clinic is considered a Professional Physiotherapy Corporation, and must abide by the College of Physiotherapy of Toronto’s standards. There are numerous ethical and professional standards set out that a Professional Physiotherapy Corporation must follow which put the interest of the patient first.
While a clinic that is not a Professional Physiotherapy corporation is not required to adhere to the same standards as one that holds a certificate of authorization, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t keep your best interests in mind. They likely mean well.
It’s easy to assume that because one is in a regulated health field involving certifications and credentials that they wouldn’t be involved in practices that might bend some rules, or that may not be in your best interest. However, consider the position that the owner of the clinic is in. Does an orthopedic surgeon either own, or refer most of their patients to this particular clinic? What might surprise you is that an American study shows that patients who had total knee replacement surgery and received physical therapy from a clinic owned by their surgeon, or from a clinic in which the surgeon has financial interest, paid twice as many visits for therapy. Patients who went to independent clinics for therapy received more intensive treatment and more individualized exercises and therapy.
In this case, while paying more visits to a clinic for less effective therapy may not harm anyone, it’s certainly not in your best interest. Self-referral by surgeons (meaning the surgeon has financial interests in the clinic they’re referring you to) is a common practice, and one to be aware of. You can afford yourself some peace of mind by seeing a clinic that is 100% physiotherapist owned, and MUST act in the best interest of the patient.
- How much does the clinic emphasize exercise therapy?
While exercise therapy takes time, and may not be viewed as the most effective way to support the clinic’s bottom line, it’s an important – if not the most important – part of rehabilitation. You should receive individualized exercises that you can perform at home on your own, as well as education on how to do them. Exercise therapy is a critically important tool for you to have as a patient, and will boost the effectiveness of your treatment.
- Does the clinic specialize in your condition?
You may want to consider a clinic or physiotherapist that has received extra training or certifications in your specific health condition. For example, if you’re having shoulder issues, you may want to see a clinic that specializes in that area. It’s not absolutely necessary, and you may receive great results from therapy at a more generalized clinic. However, it’s just an extra step you can take for peace of mind.
- Clinic hours and location
This may be a no-brainer, but it’s another thing to consider. Make it easy on yourself, and find a clinic with hours that suit your availability, and a location that will make it easy for you to stick to your treatment plan and make regular visits.
- Check out the clinic’s patient reviews
Sure, many clinics have numerous stellar reviews, and patients raving about how great they’ve been. That’s wonderful, but the thing is, it’s pretty easy to find satisfied patients who will write good reviews. Pay more attention to the outliers when looking at reviews – read through the negative reviews and see if there are persistent problems with the clinic, and the clinic’s response to the complaints.
If reviews are posted on the clinic’s website, be aware that the owner is able to edit reviews on their site as they see fit, so these reviews have low credibility. Reviews posted on unrelated sites should also be taken with a grain of salt.
There isn’t one “best” physiotherapy clinic out there. The best fit for you depends on your own specific needs. However, taking these six criteria into consideration will help your success in finding the best physiotherapy care for YOU!