The Common Denominator: Billing, Registration, Professional Identity

Jamie_Dockx_Intern_2017

Jamie G. Dockx, PT Student
Clinical placement at the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario

 

I have had the privilege of spending 5 weeks at the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario for my final student placement. After 4 clinical placements, it was time to learn the ins and outs at the College.

Learning about the registration process was of particular interest, as I plan to apply for a provisional practice certificate in the near future. In collaboration with Communications, Registration and Practice Advice, I organized a resource to assist applicants through the process.

In doing this, I realized that billing, registration, and professional identity had a similarity or common denominator: a physiotherapist’s registration number.

Throughout my academics, I have always been told to keep my student number to myself. This gave me some control over how this number could be used by others.
In the case of a registered physiotherapist in Ontario, their registration number can be easily accessed by the general public; it’s part of their professional identity.

What was unsettling to learn was that this registration number is the same number used to bill for physiotherapy services.

Sadly, registration numbers continue to be used inappropriately. For example, the College has received complaints describing how registration numbers continues to be used at previous and/or current sites of employment for physiotherapy services that were not provided.

At the end of the day, a physiotherapist is responsible for any fee, billing, or account that uses their name and registration number.

The Fees, Billing, and Accounts Standard attempts to help physiotherapists with this responsibility by making it mandatory to have a written process of routinely reviewing the accuracy of their fees, billings, and accounts. All employers have a duty to make this information available to you.

Further, the College has experienced practice advisors to assist physiotherapists in reducing the risk of inappropriate billing behaviour. In fact, questions concerning fees, billing, and accounts rank as the 3rd most frequently asked practice advice question.

This ranking is an indication that physiotherapists are taking an active role in protecting the use of their registration number.

As a final piece of advice, be upfront with your employer about how your registration number can be used to bill for physiotherapy services and have written documentation of this discussion.

 

One thought on “The Common Denominator: Billing, Registration, Professional Identity

  1. I have always shared the concern that our billing number is such public knowledge. Former employers can use it and the Physiotherapist is completely unaware and has no way of verifying it is not being used (other than to rely on the word of the former employer). It is clearly in the public interest that Physiotherapy billing numbers are used appropriately. Why does the College not seek to develop a reporting scheme that compels extended health care insurance companies, the WSIB, OHIP and MVA insurers to provide a report of all the billings received under each number (quarterly). A quick review by the therapist would let them know if things are out of whack and someone was using their number inappropriately.

    These institutions all claim they are victims of billing fraud. A step such as this would surely help them in this battle. Will we see the College step up to measures like these?

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