On Public Facing Physical Therapy

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This view might not be too popular among some but it is something that I think is worth mentioning.
I wish more people in our profession dedicated their efforts to creating content that targets the public or is public facing. As someone who oversees some of the largest groups for physical therapists (PTs) (here, here and here) it never ceases to disappointment me by how often PTs create new accounts which basically just repackage previously created content or ideas and then share them to other PTs.
While it is important that we discuss and share information among ourselves as PTs, how many accounts do we need that share the same information and content with dissemination strategies that are really limited just to PT groups? Come on man, at least be original or at least share content beyond the confines of the same PT groups! The real battle is educating and motivating the public (and other professions) to address the many problems facing our healthcare system upstream. It is not creating another for-profit or self-serving PT mentoring group etc.
This is not to lambaste people for creating such groups, accounts or content. Instead it is a call to action to use your creative efforts to take on a larger and more pressing challenge. It also might be to your benefit, the most successful pages and personalities in our profession are those that are more public facing (KStarr, Prehab Guys and Rehab Science just to name a few). From a business and marketing standpoint (in most instances) it is better if your content reaches or is more relatable to a broader audience. Think about it, there are only about ~250K PTs in the USA, while there are 325 million people in the USA (and 3.9 billion internet users worldwide). There is a rather smaller carrying capacity for marketing or sharing content just to other PTs.
You would be surprised by how many people are looking for information related to their health and health related problems online and through social media; and how often. And then we wonder why the collective mindset of the public retains outdated, outmoded or incorrect views/beliefs about the human body, health and disease; think of some of the things patients say about their back pain, or “toxins” etc. Those aren’t ideas or beliefs that they came up with on their own, it is likely something they read online or social media (or heard from a clinician). Because the people that most often realize the benefit of being public facing are the nonsense peddlers who prey on the staggering healthcare and scientific illiteracy rates in this country (and around the world). They have been successful because they have gone UNOPPOSED for years.

To quote the Physiological Society who in 2017 made a similar call to action to scientists:
In an era of ‘alternative facts’, it is our responsibility that the true (scientifically-evidenced) message is made public rather than allowing rampant myths to be propagated and not challenged by those with access to the wider public, who are, in the end, our target audience. We are in a privileged position whereby a lot of our research can and does have direct application pipelines and as such should reach the end-user directly from us.”

In summary, not only is this more public facing or direct to consumer approach beneficial for improving the status of our profession and potentially your own finances, it will help our patients by offering a discerning voice to the overwhelming amount of nonsense that exists. A light in a world of darkness. A compass in a chaotic healthcare system!

2 thoughts on “On Public Facing Physical Therapy

  1. Taking into account all the PT twitters I follow, they are certainly targeted inwards towards those in our profession. Cost-effective, preventative, and conservative are concepts I emphasize when talking about PT with other healthcare professionals or law-makers, but what in your mind should be the foundation of our statements to the general public?

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