Bumps in the Road


By Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS, OCS

The end of the first quarter is nearly upon us, and, as Jerry Connolly discussed last month in “Advocacy in Action,” we should be starting to have a clearer picture of how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects our practices. I remember the trepidation I felt on New Year’s Eve as I toasted my husband and friends. I had spent all of 2013 preparing for every change the ACA could possibly effect on my practice. From my perspective on December 31, 2013, I was enjoying success, with improved numbers across the board.

However, nothing could tell me exactly how my practice and patients would be affected that first week of the year. Would we see a drop in new episodes of care as patients’ deductibles rose? Or would newly insured patients seek out our services for the first time?

As often happens in life, with good, comes bad, and with bad, comes the good! For example, the Chicago winter has been particularly snowy this year. In my opinion, the city’s snow removal process is relatively effective on the major roadways. In fact, elections have been won or lost over snow removal in this town. As a result, I expect the impact of severe winter storms on my clinic numbers to be relatively minor because many of my patients and all my employees will likely make it to the clinic, one way or another.

However, the massive amount of salt on the roads and the low setting of snowplow blades create many potholes in the process! Everyone complains about the axle-busting potholes that develop over the winter and spring in Chicago, and there’s a good chance that many drivers will hit one. However, given the choice, do I wish Chicago would take a more conservative approach to snow removal, possibly paralyzing the city and my practice for two or three days after every snowstorm? Or would I rather be hyper-vigilant on my drive to work to avoid the many bumps in the road?

Of these two unpleasant choices, I would prefer maintaining ease of transportation through today’s storm and watch out for potholes on tomorrow’s drive. The ACA has caused and will continue to cause bumps in the road for our practices. However, perhaps by now we are also seeing patients who were previously unable to access our services, and the emphasis on prevention in the ACA may ultimately provide a silver lining for which we are uniquely positioned to capitalize!

This month, as part of our continual efforts to improve, we are launching the new design of Impact. I look forward to hearing what you think! Thanks to the efforts of the editorial board and the dedication of the PPS board in supporting Impact as a top-rated member benefit. I am optimistic that this will be one change without a downside!