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During the Foundation for Physical Therapy’s Annual Gala held at APTA’s Conference in Salt Lake City, the Foundation announced a major fundraising campaign to establish a new Health Services and Health Policy Research Initiative. The press release announcement from the Foundation can be found below (and linked from FPT site here). I had the pleasure to speak with the Foundation’s President, Bill Boissonnault, concerning the mission of the Center of Excellence and how this project will impact the profession of physical therapy. The interview is not verbatim, but an overview paraphrasing our conversation.

Harrison: For those who do not know much about the Foundation, what is it and it’s purpose?
Bill: The Foundation for Physical Therapy was established in 1979, an organization with 30 plus year history. It is a non-profit, charitable organization designed to improve the quality and delivery of physical therapy services. It is not a political entity, but has the role of raising money for research and researchers. So in short, it’s mission is two-fold:
1. Raise money for researchers within PT
2: Increase number of researchers in profession.

Harrison: How is this initiative different than ones in the past?
Bill: The Foundation was initially established for two reasons:
1. The profession did not have nearly enough evidence for what we did
clinically and
2. The profession did not have enough therapists with
clinical research skills

This was the need in 1979 and over the past 30 years we have funded over 500 PT researchers and provided $13-14 million to these researchers, but we are now learning that success within the clinical research arena doesn’t necessarily translate to the health services and policy arena, the arena that drives patient access, effectiveness, resource utilization and reimbursement issues. We need more data on patient access to rehabilitative services and its cost effectiveness. We need more data and results in the health services and policy realm. And again, just as in 1979, we do not have a sufficient number of PTs that have the skills to do health services and policy research. We need more data in the role of rehabilitation in health services, as well as more researchers in this field too.

Harrison: Other than the mission for this campaign, why is this announcement such a big deal?
Bill: By far, this will be the largest single grant the Foundation’s ever awarded. We raised $1.4-1.5 million to fund a clinical network a few years ago, and as stated we have funded over 500 PT researchers over the years, but this will be the largest single award the history of the Foundation! >

Harrison: It seems as if you are well on your way to meeting your goal of raising $3 million, how is this possible so quickly?
Bill: This is an urgent matter. High quality health services and policy data is needed for us to present a strong case for the role of physical therapy in the health care delivery landscape. The goal is to raise 3 million (already have 1.9 million) by the end of 2013. APTA spear headed this campaign with a $1 million pledge that has advanced this timeline. We are right on schedule . There is urgency behind this and the Foundation is working hard to make up for lost time. This should have been started years ago.

Harrison: What are you looking for from readers of this blog and physical therapists all over the country?
Bill: There are several stages of raising money. The initiative so far has been behind-the-scenes until it was publicly announced at APTA Exhibition in Salt Lake City. We need to continue to raise money before we begin accepting applications for the most qualified institutions and researchers to lead the training program. We are expecting to raise the remaining money by the end of 2013. Donors can visit our website foudation4pt.org to learn more.

I can understand the urgency by Dr. Boissonnault here! If anyone has to deal with the Medicare (G-Codes especially) changes over the past few months, then you know our profession is, for some reason, under the radar. It doesn’t seem to be leading in the right direction but I do believe an initiative such as this will propel us down the right path.

I want to thank the Foundation and Dr. Boissonnault for the time to speak to me. Please share via social media to assist in getting the word out to all.

Here is the Press Release for you to read as well:

The Foundation for Physical Therapy Announces Fundraising Campaign for a Major New Health Services Initiative

ALEXANDRIA, VA (June 13, 2013) – The Foundation for Physical Therapy announced today that it will launch the public phase of a campaign to establish the nation’s first center dedicated to expanding the number of physical therapy scientists in the field of health services and health policy. The announcement will take place at the Foundation’s annual gala at this year’s APTA Conference and Exposition on June 27-29.

The mission of the Center of Excellence (COE) is to train the next generation of physical therapist investigators who will gain skills necessary to examine effective delivery, organization, financing, and analysis of outcomes.

The campaign for this 5-year initiative has surpassed the half-way mark, with $1.7 million raised toward the goal of $3 million. Its progress so far is due in large part to a generous leadership pledge of $1 million from APTA and through 100% participation in the campaign from the Foundation’s board members.

Other significant contributors include the Magistro Family Foundation, APTA’s Tennessee Chapter, Wisconsin Chapter, Section on Geriatrics, Home Health Section, Neurology Section, Orthopedic Section, Private Practice Section, Section on Research and the Sports Physical Therapy Section.

“This fundraising campaign will support the largest grant in the Foundation’s history,” said Foundation President William G. Boissonnault, PT, DPT, DHSc, FAPTA, FAAOMPT. “We are extremely pleased that APTA has made this generous pledge to help the Foundation launch the COE. And we are grateful to its chapters and sections that have committed to helping us move forward with this initiative. We will soon be reaching out to additional APTA components, individual members and organizations outside the profession in order to make the center a reality.”

High-quality health services data is more essential than ever to the profession for 2 reasons: (1) to investigate evolving practice models that focus on the prediction and achievement of optimal patient outcomes, appropriate resource utilization, and cost effectiveness related to physical therapy practice, and (2) to help the profession make a strong case for the role of physical therapy in health services delivery as health care reform is implemented in legislative and regulatory settings.

“The physical therapy profession is in great need of scientific data defining and supporting physical therapists’ role related to health services delivery,” said Boissonnault. “While we have made strides in this area, there is a tremendous call for outcomes data associated with the most effective ways to deliver, organize, and finance health care delivery.”

The Foundation will award a $2.5 million grant to the most qualified institution or health systems network to set up and manage the training program, which will expand the number of physical therapy investigators conducting health services and health policy research. The request for applications for this opportunity is currently under development.

This new cadre of physical therapists will specialize in studies focusing on the many areas of health services and health policy research, which could include resource utilization, costs, and quality, and will work to identify the most effective ways to deliver, organize, finance, and assess outcomes. The training these scientists will receive will allow them to:

● Answer key questions related to best physical therapy practice principles and models

● Assess information from electronic health records and other large scale databases and registries

● Build capacity for creation, dissemination, and application of health policy knowledge among practitioners, policymakers, payors, and other stakeholders

“We fully expect this initiative to change the face of physical therapy and its role in health care delivery. Through the generosity of our contributors so far, we now have great momentum, and we look forward to working with more of our supporters to reach our $3 million goal,” said Boissonnault.

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