Physical therapy can help people of all ages through all the stages of their healing, from the initial diagnosis to rehabilitation and preventative measures.
But, while it’s main aims are to help manage pain, increase strength, and improve patient function, not all treatments are created equal. In fact, the same patient might receive a different physical therapy treatment plan from each therapist they visit, and approaches vary widely.
Not so for practitioners, because one pressing concern always remains: the need to properly document a PT process. So how can it be made simpler, more efficient, and most of all – less time-consuming? Read on to discover the best PT software on the market today, designed to help you spend more quality time with those you help.
3 Major Benefits of Physical Therapy Notes
While not a treatment by any means, proper PT documentation has a massive role to play in a client’s healing process. While arduous at times, proper documentation is essential, allowing therapists to monitor the effectiveness of their treatment plans and improve them for more personalized, positive client outcomes.
Why Take Physical Therapy Notes?
Because of this, many practitioners find themselves sinking hours into tasks such as:
- Note-taking and documentation
- Reviewing session records, therapy notes and patient history
- Creating progress notes, BIRP, or SOAP notes
- Preparing re-examination reports
- Meeting burden of proof requirements
- Data entry, and more.
With all the paperwork and administrative burden, it’s not unusual for physical therapists to have to sacrifice proper note-taking. Luckily, there might be a solution to this problem: physical therapy electronic documentation.
Before we dive into the best PT software you can use for your practice, let’s try to understand the importance of documentation in physical therapy and how the administrative workload is affecting both patients and therapists.
A PT Essential
Most people associate note-taking with mental health programs – the common stereotype, a therapist scribbling while their patient lies on the couch talking. But in reality, documentation is an essential tool for most doctors and therapists, regardless of their specialty. And physical therapy documentation is no exception.
So what are the three most important benefits of note-taking in PT? Let’s take a look.
Monitoring Treatment Effectiveness
Relying on memory alone can be a tricky decision, and both practitioners and patients often fall prey to recall biases, compromising their quality of care.
Sure, you’ve been working with this patient for months now and you think that you know their condition by heart. But, can you really monitor their progress without the help of notes? While you may have the gist of his recovery trajectory, you might forget or miss out on certain details that you noticed during your session.
Probably not. But creating a detailed treatment plan record, along with its strengths and weaknesses, enables practitioners to make more accurate assessments about what works – and what needs to be tweaked for the better.
Creating a detailed treatment plan record, along with its strengths and weaknesses, enables practitioners to make more accurate assessments about what works – and what needs to be tweaked for the better.
And, there’s more to it than just that.
Recovery can be a slow and painful process for PT patients, whose motivation often suffers when they feel like nothing is changing. Documenting each session helps you provide them with actual proof of their progress.
Providing Proof of Interaction
Documentation can provide legal protection for both you and the patient. If your patient requires physical therapy treatment after a car accident caused by someone else, your notes can help them justify the amount of settlement they are asking for.
At the same time, if a patient claims that your treatment worsens their condition, then the notes can serve as legal proof.
What makes PT notes viable from an official standpoint is the fact that they include extensive information about each session, such as the date and location as well as the methods applied..
Easier Information Sharing
If different therapists are working on a case, physical therapy electronic documentation software facilitates faster, easier, and more accurate information between them.
Digital therapy documentation software takes this a step further, allowing remotely located practitioners to review notes, determine next steps, and more almost instantly.
Documentation can also help improve the physical therapy treatment plan in the long run, by helping practitioners see what therapies work best for certain conditions or injuries, and what they need to focus on.
Documentation Is Vital
According to the 2018 Medical Economics Physician Report, 79% of doctors claim that paperwork and administrative burdens are the top issues that affect patient care and increase burnout.
As important as they may be, administrative duties don’t seem like a good use of a doctor’s time. And, because physicians have to spend more and more time doing paperwork, it’s tempting to try and streamline note-taking as much as possible.
The outcome isn’t always great.
Improving on SOAP Notes
Proper PT notes should document the progress of patients in detail and offer in-depth information about the course of treatment. They should be written following a S.O.A.P format, which stands for Subjective, Objective, Analysis, and Plan.
For example, a SOAP note extract might look as follows.
- S: Less pain
- O: Massage, heat therapy
- A: Progress
- P: Continue
While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this note, it lacks the details needed to make a correct assessment of the physical therapy short term goals as well as the long them ones. It’s too cryptic to convey anything too meaningful.
A more thorough physical therapy note, however, might provide more value with greater detail; for instance:
- S: The patient said that he was able to get out of bed unassisted. He still rates his pain at 7/10, but he feels he’s made significant improvement.
- O: Electrical stimulation and TENS to help relieve muscle tension and pain plus massage therapy.
- A: The patient is responding well to treatment and is diligent about the home exercises recommended.
- P: Continue the treatment plan and experiment with whirlpool. The patient needs constant measurements that he is making progress.
What’s the Difference?
As you can see, certain details must be included in PT notes.
- A self-assessment made by the patient
- Information about the specific methods used so far
- Information about the equipment used
- Any changes in the patient’s condition
- Factors that could interfere with the treatment plan
- The progress the patient has made so far, and
- Communication with family members, other therapists, the patient, and so on.
If you look online, you will find plenty of physical therapy documentation templates that can help you simplify note-taking. Have a careful look at them, and choose the PT template that best fits your style.
Alternatively, practitioners can turn to PT documentation software instead and look for a program that can streamline their work, by make note-taking easier than ever before.
Below, we’ve reviewed some physical therapy computer software that we consider worth your time.
Physical therapy electronic documentation can reduce errors, improve collaboration between therapists, and save time.
6 Top PT Software Options for Practitioners
Physical therapy practice management software, complete with comprehensive PT billing functions, can meet the needs and simplify the work of modern practitioners.
Whether you’re running your business solo or looking for the right e-clinic software, a customizable, scalable solution can reduce errors, improve collaboration between therapists, and save time.
But, with so many options available today, finding the right physical therapy software programs can feel like a hassle.
Below, you can find a list of the best programs on the market right now together with short physical therapy software reviews.
|WebPT is a specialized medical software solution that allows healthcare professionals to document, store, and share patient information. This is not only a physical therapy documentation software but a comprehensive solution that also includes custom evaluation forms, scheduling, practice insight reporting, and so on.|
It’s also a physical therapy practice management solution as it offers patient engagement tools, multiple billing integration, and so on.
More important than its features are the facts that this software is easy to use and has a user-friendly interface. Some users, however, have complained about the fact that it’s too detailed and can slow down workflows.
|Good For||Scheduling, Documentation, Billing, Progress Tracking, Practice Management, Customer Relationship Management|
|MINDBODY is a physical therapy software that can automate most parts of the PT process. Not only that it makes documentation easier than ever before, but it also allows practitioners to handle other aspects of their business too. We’re talking here about scheduling, patient and care management, payment processing and so on. You can even send custom messages and reminders to your patients to help you build engagement and brand loyalty.|
If you are looking for physical therapy software for iPad, then this is the one as it is native. It also works for Android systems as well as desktop computers.
On the other side, some users have complained about its interface and claim that this fitness software has some glitches that can affect their workflow.
|Good For||Scheduling, Staff and Client Management, Marketing, Self-Check In, Reporting, Advertising|
|Exercise Pro Live isn’t only one of the best physiotherapy practice management software, but an educational tool too. Besides simplifying documentation and enhancing patient engagement and communication, this PT software also provides access to videos and a personal patient portal that makes sending and receiving feedback extremely efficient.|
With this PT and fitness software, your patients can download the app and work from the comfort of their home more often than before. That can help them speed up recovery. However, the downside with this physical therapy exercise software is that you can’t upload your own photos and videos.
|Name||Exercise Pro Live|
|Good For||Exercise Program Creation, Coaching Management, Exercise Database, Client Engagement, Patient Portal, Compliance Tracking|
|DrChrono is an excellent physical therapy client billing software compatible with the iOS system. This all will take care of everything, from billing and revenue cycle management to patient engagement. You can get access to custom physical therapy intake forms and evaluation forms, scheduling tools, and e-prescriptions.|
Moreover, you can send any prescription electronically on your iPhone or iPad. You can also send lab orders electronically to over 40,000 labs in the US and send the results to your patients digitally through a portal.
As for the cons, we should mention the fact that some users have complained about poor and slow customer support.
|Price||Varies with solution|
|Good For||Scheduling, e-Prescribing, Reminders, EMR, EHR, Claims Management, Practice Management|
|Here’s a PT software that promises to provide the highest level of data protection possible. And, that’s a powerful argument considering that the health industry is one of the main targets of cyberattacks. Part of it has to do with the immense worth of patient data, but the outdated programs and lack of digital knowledge are prime culprits too. But, with AdvancedMD, you can rest assured that your patients’ sensitive information is in good hands.|
Some of the key features of this app include practice management, telehealth, financial analytics, and so on.
It should be noted, however, that customizing templates can be quite difficult if you haven’t been trained by the AdvancedMD specialists, and that can add to the costs.
|Price||Varies with solution|
|Good For||e-Prescribing, Scheduling, Charting, Patient Portal, Practice Management, EHR|
|If you are looking for a physical therapy billing and documentation software, then this one is for you. Not only that you can create and store patient documents, schedule appointments, and create custom reports, but this software can also take care of the complicated billing process. Moreover, you can enter patient data into the app and verify their insurance claims in a matter of seconds.|
Reviewing data on this app can be a bit difficult, though. If you were to read the physical therapy billing software reviews for this program, you will notice that some users have complained about the inability to scroll through the payments. Instead, they have to enter the date into a calendar to be able to review a specific payment.
|Price||Varies with solution|
|Good For||Billing, Patient Claims, Fee Scheduling, Payment Processing, Patient Statements|
Using PT Electronic Documentation
While there is something almost romantic about writing with a pen on paper, the truth is that paper documents are ineffective. They are difficult to store, retrieve, and share.
Moreover, others might have problems reading them and getting all the details of the treatment plan correctly. And, that’s not all.
The increasing administrative load makes it harder than ever before for physical therapists to properly document each patient interaction. That can affect the monitoring and assessment of the treatment plan and cause costly delays for everyone.
Thankfully, in the digital age, the solution is most likely just one click away.
The physical therapy billing and documentation software we’ve considered are just some of the great solutions available for you as a practitioner today – there is a vast market for PT software programs, and a wider array of features and tools for streamlining core PT processes.
With documentation at just the tip of the iceberg, today’s PT apps is modern, often customizable, and an effective way to take care of patient management, engagement, scheduling, communication, and more.
We encourage you to take your time, read some reviews, and even test the app first if that is a possibility. Then, pick the one that best fits your needs.
Do you have a go-to system for your organization or private practice? How does it help you deliver even more value to your clients? Tell us in a comment below.
- ^ Pincus, T., & Newman, S. (2001). Recall bias, pain, depression and cost in back pain patients. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 40(2), 143.
- ^ APTA. (2014). Guidelines: Physical Therapy Documentation of Patient/Client Management. Retrieved from http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Practice/DocumentationPatientClientManagement.pdf
- ^ Medical Economics. (2018). What's ruining medicine for physicians: Paperwork and administrative burdens. Retrieved from https://www.medicaleconomics.com/business/whats-ruining-medicine-physicians-paperwork-and-administrative-burdens
- ^ Cameron, S., & Turtle‐Song, I. (2002). Learning to write case notes using the SOAP format. Journal of Counseling & Development, 80(3), 286.
- ^ Gossman, W., Lew, V., & Ghassemzadeh, S. (2020). SOAP Notes. In Doyle, D. J., & Garmon, E. H. (Eds.) StatPearls Internet. FL: StatPearls Publishing.