Tuesday's Tip! Direct Access Physiotherapy, what does that mean?

Hello everyone! I wanted to make a post regarding direct access physiotherapy and what that means. 

Let's start with a definition.

Direct Access Physiotherapy: refers to the ability of a person or patient to refer themselves to physiotherapy without the need of a doctors referral. This basically means that if you have an ache or pain, your first appointment should be with a physiotherapist and not your family physician. 

(the only caveat here is that some insurance companies still require a doctors referral for physiotherapy in order to get your treatment covered, however this is quite rare and becoming less and less common - so check out your coverage!) 

Benefits of direct access: 

  • Wait time to get a physiotherapy appointment is often much shorter than the wait time for a family physician 
  • Physiotherapists often have longer appointment times which allows plenty of opportunity to express your whole story, which can help us figure out the cause of your problem 
  • Physiotherapist are trained to recognize "red flags" which basically means we are educated on signs and symptoms that would require a doctors visit, in which case we can refer you back to your family doc (very rare)
  • With more and more talk about our crowed health system, this is one simple solution to decrease the burden on doctors, hospitals, walk in clinics, etc. 

Fun Facts about the healthcare system: 

  • Mayo clinic published a list of top 10 reasons for doctors visits, interestingly, #2 was Osteoarthritis and Joint Disorders (physiotherapy can help with a large percentage of these individuals!) and #3 was Back Problem (also an condition that physiotherapists can help with!) 
  • The impact of Musculoskeletal injuries and pain (which includes joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons, and structures that support limbs, neck and back) on the Healthcare System (i.e. cost of Physicians, Hospitals and Drugs)  amounts to $2.4 billion a year in Ontario. 

All in all, there are a lot of benefits of Direct Access to all parties involved. 

  • YOU get better and faster service
  • YOU don't have to wait as long to start feeling better 
  • Decreased dependency on drugs for pain relief 
  • The system saves money  

Courtney Postma, PT Resident  


Courtney Postma