Our society is more than full of forms: application forms, loan forms, insurance forms, and the beloved, consent form.  We are so inundated with forms, almost daily, we become somewhat numb, or the level of automaticity raises to the point we do not carefully read what we sign. 

The other facet to a consent form, is the development of a form.  This short blog will refer to consent forms for mainly outpatient physical therapy clinics.  With growing regulations at the state and Federal levels, growing methods to offer, and growing patients, a consent form is a foundational piece to any clinic.

What Should a Consent Form Contain?

Most clinics prefer to keep a consent form as simple as possible, yet, in the wake of our recent and continuing challenges of the invisible beast, outpatient clinics now have additional opportunities to offer patients.  All, in my view, should be explained, disclosed, and signed by each patient, with a copy handed to them for their own records.

Basic Material in a Consent Form

  •  HIPAA Privacy Acknowledgement

o   Includes who and who not to divulge medical history to

o   Some clinics prefer for HIPAA statement to be separate

  • Clinic policies of treatments that maybe used

o   Should always state patient have right to refuse

  • Risks and benefits of treatments
  • Attendance policy
  • Places for date, time, and signature of patient or legal guardian signature

Additional Items in Consent Forms

Therapy clinics are now adding a “release of liability”, “hold harmless”, in the consent forms.  In a search of forms that are online at many physical therapy clinics, the liability waiver is increasing as compared to consent forms 5 years ago.

Also added to consent forms, or are additional consents for electro stimulation, traction, or other modalities.  Some clinics create a completely different form to sign, as not all patients will utilize that modality.

The topic of interest today is the telehealth consent.  This is a new and upcoming form in the utilization of outpatient physical therapy and deserves some small comments.  Such questions as; can you use Apple Iphone Face Time or Duolink as a telehealth method?  As both ends are strongly encrypted, so far these forms of “telehealth” are allowable.  Maybe not so in the future.  The caveat to any telehealth visit, is the consent and understanding that the patient at home allows and understands that if he/she does not live alone, the medical conversation may be overheard and seen.  It the patient wishes for the telehealth conference to be private they must ensure that on their end.  The conversation should be recorded, and consent must be attained in the consent form and at the beginning of the call.  This protects both parties.  As this technology is new, with many many grey areas still to be configured, voice recording important; and, if the clinic is using a telehealth 3rd party company, the entire recording of voice and video can be captured.

Take Home Points?

  • Semi-annually review all types of patient forms.
  • Apply telehealth to the consent form, even if the use of an Iphone would be utilized.
  • Obtain consents for recording conversations, even with just a follow up phone call.
  • Strongly consider the Liability Waiver addition.  Sometimes it is important that patients understand they are the more active person in the therapy duo.  The feedback of the patient in every exercise, modality is important.  If the patient is not successful, neither will your business.
  • Begin to look for that 3rd party telehealth system that fits into your budget.   Many clinics visualize the need, but to actively use it is another.
  • Strongly consider the patient signing a consent and liability waiver each visit.   This is important as patient’s values, ideologies, and expectations changes.  Having them sign the form with each visit again rolls back to the statement that it is the patient who is the more active person in the therapy duo.  This serves as a strong reminder.

Forms are the foundation to a strong business model.  Do NOT throw money away.