Baylor Medicine Joins Other Health Systems in Shifting Physical Therapy to the Home

This article was originally published November 7, 2023 on MedCity News.

Baylor College of Medicine announced a new program on Tuesday to expand access to in-home physical therapy for patients in the Houston area. The organization is launching the initiative in partnership with Luna, a provider of in-home outpatient physical therapy that serves patients in nearly 30 states.

Using Luna’s technology platform, Baylor Medicine clinicians will match their patients to Luna’s therapists based on factors such as specialty, geography and schedules. Luna employs 3,000 physical therapists, which is more than 1% of the nation’s total physical therapist workforce, said Palak Shah, the company’s co-founder and head of clinical operations.

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Once matched, patients can start having physical therapy sessions like the type administered in a traditional outpatient clinic — but from their home. To ensure consistent and quality care, the same therapist will treat the patient for the entirety of their care plan. Luna’s platform also allows patients to communicate with their physical therapist and discuss their care needs between visits.

“Patients can now get high-quality care delivered to them in the convenience of their home, without having to travel two times per week to receive facility-based care — all for the same copay as a clinic,” Shah explained.

Luna’s services are covered by most major insurers, she added.

The company has similar partnerships with more than two dozen health systems, including Providence, Intermountain Health, Emory Healthcare and MedStar Health.

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“Hospitals are excited to partner with Luna to provide this new innovative service to their patients, particularly because it helps them expand access to care, increase their geographic coverage across their markets and ensure patients stay within the health system rather than seeking care elsewhere,” Shah said.

In her view, health systems that prioritize at-home care models are positioning themselves to be more successful than those that don’t. Up to $265 billion worth of healthcare services — representing up to 25% of the total cost of care — are expected to shift to the home by 2025, according to a McKinsey report from last year.

Baylor Medicine said via email that it did not look at any other physical therapy companies as potential partners for its new at-home physical therapy program because “Luna has a reputation of excellence within multiple markets.” The health system also said that its main goal for this partnership is to expand its patients’ access to high-quality physical therapy, regardless of where they reside or their ability to regularly travel to a clinic. To track the success of this goal, Baylor Medicine will track metrics related to patient access, care quality, patient experience and satisfaction, and the number of completed care plans.

“Patient access is a big concern for us, given our limited number of outpatient physical therapy clinics,” Gayleen Breeding, an administrator of orthopedic surgery at Baylor Medicine, said in a statement. “Working together with Luna allows Baylor to expand patient access to physical therapy and other specialty care without the need for additional brick-and-mortar locations.”

Baylor Medicine has begun integrating with Luna’s platform and plans to give its patients access to at-home physical therapy appointments by early 2024, the health system said.