Good Practice: The 411 on Member Registration Information

  •   December 5, 2019

Physiotherapy Alberta gathers a considerable amount of information from regulated members each year. But why is that information needed? And what is done with it after it is collected? This article will address these and related questions.

What are the rules?

Section 33(1) of the Health Professions Act (HPA) requires Physiotherapy Alberta to establish “a regulated members register for one or more categories of members who provide professional services of the regulated profession.” As a result, Physiotherapy Alberta has created three member registers, the General Register, the Provisional Register and the Courtesy Register. For those not familiar with it, the Courtesy Register is available to physiotherapists registered in another jurisdiction who require temporary entry to Alberta for specific purposes:

  • Visiting instructors
  • Visiting learners
  • Visiting clinicians

Click here for more information about the Courtesy Register and circumstances where physiotherapists must apply to the Courtesy Register.

This article will focus on the General and Provisional Registers and the information collected by Physiotherapy Alberta when creating a register of members. According to Section 33(3) of the HPA, the Registrar must enter the following information into the register:

  • The full name of the member
  • The member’s unique registration number
  • Whether the member’s registration is restricted to a period of time and if so, the period of time
  • Any conditions imposed on the member’s practice permit
  • The status of the member’s practice permit, including whether it is suspended or canceled
  • The member’s practice specialization recognized by the college
  • Whether the member is authorized to provide a restricted activity not normally provided by regulated members of the college
  • Whether the member is not authorized to provide a restricted activity that is normally provided by regulated members of the college

Section 33(4) of the HPA states that the registrar must “require regulated members and applicants for registration as regulated members to provide information related to their demographic status, education, training and experience and their practice of the regulated profession.

Finally, if a regulated member’s practice permit is suspended or cancelled, or if conditions are imposed on a regulated member’s practice permit, HPA, Section 119(1) requires the registrar to enter the conditions imposed, if any, on the regulated member’s practice permit.

The information detailed under Section 33(3) must be disclosed if a member of the public requests the information. This includes the name of the member, registration number, any restrictions or conditions on the member’s practice permit, any specializations recognized by the college, and any restricted activities authorized by the college.

Why is Physiotherapy Alberta required to collect and disclose this information?

The answer stems from Physiotherapy Alberta’s mandate of public protection. Physiotherapy is a regulated health profession. When members of the public seek physiotherapy services, they need to be able to confirm that an individual purporting to provide physiotherapy services is authorized to do so. Providing data such as an individual’s name, registration number, and any conditions or authorizations listed on the regulated member’s practice permit facilitates public confidence and trust that the individuals providing physiotherapy services are qualified, competent and authorized to do so.

Physiotherapy Alberta is required to provide member registration information to the Minister (HPA, Section 4(1)) including information about where physiotherapists provide services, and the sectors or patient populations to whom services are delivered “for the purposes of planning and resource allocation, health system management, public health surveillance, and health policy development.” (HPA, Section 122(1)). Physiotherapy Alberta also provides de-identified information to the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) for the purpose of tracking trends in workforce data to inform health workforce planning.

Physiotherapy Alberta also uses this data to track trends in practice and to understand where physiotherapists are practicing, to whom services are delivered, and who is employing physiotherapists. We also use the information to address patient concerns and to connect patients to past providers for the purpose of gaining access to the patient’s physiotherapy records.

Keeping your information up to date

Section 36(2) of the Physical Therapists Profession Regulation (PTPR) states that a regulated member must inform the Registrar of any change to their registration information within 30 days of the change occurring. This legislated requirement exists so that Physiotherapy Alberta can fulfill the reporting requirements of the Minister.

It also works to protect both the patient and the physiotherapist. Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1

Raj is a physiotherapist who worked at a multidisciplinary clinic owned by a chiropractor. The clinic employs a large multidisciplinary team, including several physiotherapists.

When the chiropractor opened the clinic, she asked Raj to be the Most Responsible Physiotherapist. When Raj agreed to be the MRPT, he informed Physiotherapy Alberta in writing that he would be responsible to provide oversight to ensure that Physiotherapy Alberta - College + Association’s Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics and other professional obligations were met.

After some months working at the multidisciplinary clinic, Raj noticed some issues with how the business was being run and decided to end his employment as he felt that he could not adhere to the standards of practice while working there.

Raj did not update Physiotherapy Alberta that he was no longer working at the clinic and was no longer willing to be the MRPT. Today Physiotherapy Alberta received a complaint from a member of the public regarding the clinic’s billing practices.

Should Raj be concerned?

Yes.

When Physiotherapy Alberta approves a clinic owned by someone other than a regulated member of Physiotherapy Alberta as a location where physiotherapy services may be provided, it is on the condition that the clinic identifies an MRPT. As the MRPT, Raj’s duties included ensuring that the clinic’s billing practices adhered to Physiotherapy Alberta’s Fees and Billing Standard of Practice. When Raj left the clinic, they would have needed to find a new MRPT or cease providing physiotherapy services. By not notifying Physiotherapy Alberta of his change in employment and his change in status as an MRPT, Raj has not fulfilled the obligations of the MRPT and he could face some challenging conversations with Physiotherapy Alberta’s Complaints Director.

Scenario 2

Isla is a physiotherapist on the General Register. She signed a supervision agreement to supervise Julie, a Physiotherapist Intern on the Provisional Register, six months ago. In the beginning, Isla and Julie were working at the same location and Isla was able to supervise Julie through daily conversations, chart reviews, and direct observation. Two months ago, Isla decided to quit and move to a new employer. She let Julie know that she would no longer supervise her. Neither Isla nor Julie let Physiotherapy Alberta know of the change in supervision, and Isla did not let Physiotherapy Alberta know of her employment change.

This week, Physiotherapy Alberta received a complaint about Julie’s clinical practice. Physiotherapy Alberta contacted both Julie and Isla to advise them of the complaint. It was at that time that Isla advised Physiotherapy Alberta that she was not supervising Julie.

There was no other Supervision Agreement on Julie’s file.

Is this a problem?

Yes.

Julie is required to have a supervisor as a condition of her practice permit. As a PT intern, if she does not have a supervisor, she is not able to engage in clinical practice. Isla was required to advise Physiotherapy Alberta of her change in employment, and of the fact that she is no longer providing supervision to Julie. Without providing this notification, Isla remained responsible to provide supervision of Julie’s practice and could face consequences from her failure to do so.

What about the restricted activity information Physiotherapy Alberta gathered at registration renewal?

Physiotherapy Alberta grants authorization to perform the restricted activities of dry needling, spinal manipulation and ordering diagnostic imaging, and keeps a record of these authorizations as required by HPA Section 33(3). During registration renewal this fall, Physiotherapy Alberta also gathered information from our registrants regarding the basic restricted activities that they perform. These include the activities of suctioning, wound debridement and care, and performing internal pelvic examinations, among others.  

Physiotherapy Alberta’s purpose in gathering this information was to better understand our members and the nature of their clinical practice. We also gathered this information in response to questions raised by the Minister of Health regarding the performance of these activities by our members. Having accurate information about the groups of physiotherapists who perform these activities helps us to understand where these services are delivered and the context of care. It also enables us to contact members who perform these activities if we need to gather additional information about their practice.

If you perform a basic restricted activity, even if you do so infrequently (for example when providing weekend coverage in an inpatient facility) you need to report this to Physiotherapy Alberta. Reporting this information is easy, go check your member profile to make sure that your information is accurate and up to date.

All changes matter!

While you’re reviewing your member profile, make sure you also check that the contact information on your file are correct and up to date (email address and telephone number). Physiotherapy Alberta uses your email address to send you essential regulatory information, such as registration renewal notices and Continuing Competence Program requirements. We recommend that you use a personal email address and avoid using your work email as your member profile contact information. This helps to make sure that we will be able to reach you even if your employment changes.

It is each member’s responsibility to make sure their member profile information is up to date and accurate, and to notify Physiotherapy Alberta if they end a Supervision or Most Responsible Physiotherapist agreement. Keeping this information up to date helps to protect you and your interests and helps to make sure the information Physiotherapy Alberta reports to the public and to the Minister is accurate and complete.