Our position

Physiotherapy is a core health service that restores function and keeps Albertans productive. Every Albertan, regardless of age, condition or location, should have access to timely and appropriate physiotherapy services to restore or maintain their physical function and mobility. Physiotherapy Alberta supports the principle of ensuring that all Albertans have access to the right treatment at the right time by the right provider, including physiotherapy.

Background

Early physiotherapy intervention positively influences health outcomes, physical function and quality of life. Improving access or removing unnecessary barriers to accessing physiotherapy can benefit all Albertans by facilitating return to a productive lifestyle, preventing long-term disability, improving patient satisfaction and lowering health care costs.

Physiotherapy services in Alberta are available in both the public and private sectors but there exists significant variation across the province in terms of how Albertan’s access physiotherapy, the amount of service available and the location where services are delivered. The complexity of accessing physiotherapy services makes it challenging for Albertans to get access to the right provider at the right time in the right place. Albertans can access service directly without requiring a physician’s referral. Despite this, many existing health care plans require Albertans to obtain a physician referral before they can attend for physiotherapy services or be reimbursed for service. Such policies create unnecessary administrative barriers that impact Albertans ability to access timely care.

Conclusion

Improved access to physiotherapy services is important to the health and well-being of Albertans. Evidence of timely access demonstrates that patient satisfaction is higher, there is less use of prescription drugs, the number of required visits is reduced and overall health care costs are positively impacted. Physiotherapy Alberta supports timely access to physiotherapy service and removal of unnecessary administrative barriers in an effort to ensure that all Albertans have the opportunity to access a range of physiotherapy service options.

View the Access to Physiotherapy Services in Alberta position statement as a PDF.