December 19, 2019 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

Therapy Careers Looking Up for 2020 and Beyond

With both PDPM (Patient-Driven Payment Model) and PDGM (Patient-Driven Groupings Model), there has been much discussion about the reduction of therapy utilization—and related staffing reductions—in both the skilled nursing and home health therapy environments.

These fears have not been entirely unfounded. A Skilled Nursing News poll found that nearly half (43%) of skilled nursing operators and therapy vendors have laid off therapy staff following the implementation of PDPM in October. A survey from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) showed that almost half of 685 home health providers surveyed expect to decrease their therapy utilization under PDGM, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Despite these numbers, therapists have much to look forward to in 2020 and beyond. We took a look at a few of the job forecasters—namely, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other career sites—and therapists consistently rose to the top as a high-growth career.

Here’s a summary of what we found:

— According to a survey from FlexJobs, speech therapists (SLPs) landed at #6 of its list of high-growth jobs to watch for in in 2020 that come with flexible work options, with a 27% growth rate and median salary of $77,510.

— The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed all therapy disciplines to be in high demand. Occupational therapy assistants, SLPs, PT assistants and PT aides all appeared on its list of the fastest-growing occupations based on projected growth rates from 2018-2028. All these professions had growth rates of above 20%, with OT assistants topping out at 33%.

— Business Insider published a list of the 30 best high-paying jobs of the future, which placed PTs at #17, with a median salary of $86,850. The list projected 67,100 new PT positions between 2016-2026.

— Career Profiles also highlighted a general boon for healthcare in 2020, and predicted particularly strong demand for physical therapists.

A few common themes emerged behind the projections—a growing elderly population in need of care, the rise in chronic health conditions and a growing number of people with disabilities or limited functions that could benefit from therapy.

Today, 60% of American’s are living with at least one chronic condition, and around half of people in their mid-40s to mid-60s are living with multiple health conditions, according to a RAND study. More people will need therapy to help them maintain or improve their functional abilities and quality of life.

What does this mean for therapy providers in today’s age of payment reform? Despite the concern over therapy reduction, therapy continues to be important for patient recovery—helping to drive patient outcomes and lower rehospitalization rates—and will play a greater role in determining payment under PDPM and PDGM.

The bottom line: therapy providers have a lot to look forward to in 2020 and in the years ahead. While the payment landscape is challenging providers to rethink how they manage and deliver therapy, the overall picture for therapy services shows that great opportunities lie ahead for those who take advantage.

To learn more about the future of therapy, read Top Five Trends Impacting Therapy Providers in 2020.

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