A Better Way to Treat

I recently finished listening to a Freakonomics podcast titled 'A Better way to Eat' that interviewed Takeru Kobayashi, the Micheal Jordan of competitive eating. In it, they praised 'Kobi' on redefining the problem of competitive eating from "how do I eat more hot dogs" to "how can I eat one hot dog more effectively".  That simple tactic made Kobi one of the most successful competitive eaters ever and allowed him to shatter records (When he first competed in the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest the record was 25. Kobi ate 50, doubling the world record!)

A simple problem worth redefining in the physical therapy (and healthcare!) realm is instead of asking " how can we be more proficient or productive" or " how do we get patients better" maybe we should be asking it slightly different: "how can I treat one patient more effectively".  That simple alteration can be pretty impactful.  So now that I have changed the question slightly, here are my first thoughts:

1. Its not (just) about your new, fancy technique or assessment. It's about how they respond to it.

I'm sure you were just taught a new fancy technique that allows you to reposition the sphenoid or realign a counternutated sacrum.  And even the best, most researched techniques and assessments will be limited without testing than, retesting, another retest, and then one more retest to ensure stickiness (ie effectiveness). When patients see and feel the improvement that's gonna carryover to their confidence with any limitations they are working through.  The more consistent your retest, the better your patient's confidence will be afterwards.  And to build even more confidence make your retest as functional as possible. For example, retesting Shoulder PROM is good but retesting how you can now be more effective with a pull up will be better.
Because whatever technique, all we are hoping to do is reset the nervous or muscular system and give a new input to the brain and muscles to move more effective with the patient's chief complaint. Sometimes you need to work up to a more functional retest.  For example, when you can perform a toe touch (my first retest) without any limits or points of restrictions then we can start training (and retesting) your deadlift. Regardless retesting should be a consistent aspect of care.
2. Time

Spending more time with patients has shown to improve outcomes.  I should stop there (but I'm not)  Spending time with patients allow you to be more emphatic. It allows you to fully assess and treat.  It allows the patient to be more interactive in their care and take more ownership of their condition. It allows additional time for education and reinforcement: If I can effect more of the patients choices outside of the 45-60 minutes I am with them, then the better we can fix postural of movement compensations causing the source of their complaint.  Increasing time with patients also decreases no show rates. Spending Time allows you to calm their concerns and better educate on what their condition is (and more importantly, what their condition is NOT). Oh, it also improves patient (and practitioner) satisfaction.  Boom.

I am sure there's a lot more, but these are just the first two that pop up to me. How would you answer the question "how can I treat one patient more effectively"? And then go apply it.

At direct performance, we are passionate about patient focused, highly effective care of our patients.  I hope you can come check us out.