In August, I was lucky enough to be sent to Australia for two weeks to teach for MobilityWod. It was a phenomenal experience and I took a lot away from the trip. If you’re more interested in that, please read my previous post on the top 15 things I learned in Australia.
My co-instructor for the Australia courses was Sean McBride. Luckily for me, he has family there and one of his cousins is a pretty phenomenal Physio(same as American Physical Therapists). We got to spend some time with him and pick his brain a bit about private practices there and the roles in which Physios are used. This is what I learned from him:
1. Physios are the preferred provider for all musculoskeletal problems. By this I mean, if you sprained your ankle in Australia, you would go straight to see a Physio. If you went to a family practice physician, they would probably wonder why you were wasting their time and tell you to go see a Physio. Apparently, the government has put a lot of research into finding the most cost effective way to manage musculoskeletal pain. What they found was getting people to Physios directly and as soon as possible saves them the most money. This sounds very similar to another blog post I wrote, please read to learn more.
2. Physios are used in a preventative/wellness role. Over lunch one day in Brisbane I was speaking with a woman that was attending one of the courses I was teaching. She was telling me about her goal of training up for another half marathon and that she hoped to set a personal record on the next race. She then said that she had booked an appointment with her Physio to get checked out before she started putting in more training volume. I curiously asked her why she was planning to go see her Physio since she wasn’t hurt. She laughed and said, that’s exactly why I’m going to see him, so I don’t get hurt.
This is the perfect example of how the Aussies have done a great job of changing the mindset of how Physios should be used. In my mind it’s very similar to the dental prevention model. Do you wait until you have a cavity before you decide to go see your dentist?
I get this question all the time. Who needs physical therapy and when do they need it? The answer is everyone needs it and most people would benefit a hell of a lot more if they did it before they were hurt. I think the Aussies have done a great job of ingraining this mindset in their culture.
3. Physios don’t have to fight for their money. In Australia, the process is very simple. Physios set their own rates and most of it is based on time. The Physio I got to spend time with charged $150 for a 45 min evaluation and $90 for a 30 minute follow up. After the evaluation or follow up was complete the patient would pay with an insurance debit card. The patient’s portion, usually 25% of the fee, would be deducted for their account and the rest would be paid for by the insurance company at the time of service. This is such a simple process it completely surprised me. Most people I talked to were even allowed 30-60 physical therapy visits per year by their insurance company. This depended on their insurance plan but that’s significantly more than most American insurance companies will authorize.
This is not how the system works in the United States. The hardest part of accepting insurance is fighting with insurance companies to pay you. This is the entire reason I decided to focus on quality of care with patients and not be in-network with any insurance company.
We could learn a lot from the simple and effective system in which the Australians use their Physios. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to see how other countries use such a unique medical specialty.
I recently spent two weeks teaching the CrossFit Movement and Mobility Trainer Course in Australia. I’m thrilled that Kelly and Juliet Starrett trust me enough to teach this course internationally. We taught close to 300 attendees. These people ranged from CrossFit coaches and personal trainers to electricians and retired teachers just trying to learn how to take care of their bodies.
I learned some fascinating things about the Australian culture during my time there. They are a very friendly group of people and I felt very welcome everywhere I went. I especially felt very welcome with my adopted Australian family. My co-instructor for this course, Sean McBride, deserves a special thank you for letting me into his wonderful and very fun family. My experience was not the typical tourist experience. Because of this I learned some fascinating things about Australia.
Here are my top 15 things I learned in the land of Oz.
1. They have phenomenal coffee. Even their “bad” coffee is still pretty damn good.
2. They have the greatest breakfast I’ve ever been exposed to. I would either go with the big brekky or the bacon egg roll!
3. They are lazy talkers. I was told this by a very funny man named Lindsey, but everyone just calls him Lins. They will shorten anything they can, i.e breakfast is brekky, a football game is called a footy and vegetables are called veg.
4. People in Brisbane apparently think the people in Sydney are soft. It’s kind of like how people in Texas think people that live in New York City are soft.
5. They have a popular motto “Harden the fuck up!” which as a fan on timely cursing I absolutely loved.
6. If you see a spider in Australia, you just kill it. Apparently they have some pretty legit spiders in Australia.
7. They don’t have as many Kangaroos as I was told I would see before I left. I can thank the Discovery Channel for that bit of poor information.
8. It’s an incredibly safe country. Being a man that lives in a borderline safe area in Atlanta, I keep my head on a swivel when I’m outside. It was nice to walk around at night and not have to be hyper-vigilant.
9. It’s a continent but it has a population that’s only a couple million more than the greater Los Angeles area; approximately 19 million in greater Los Angeles and 23 million in Australia. I found this stat pretty crazy. I have much more respect for their strong Olympic program after learning this.
10. College education is a fraction of the cost that we typically pay. When I told an Australian physical therapist that most American PTs come out of school with $100-150K in loans he almost passed out.
11. They drive on the wrong side of the road. Seriously, I never got used to this and would occasionally get a gut-wrenching feeling when making right turns against traffic.
12. Their meat of choice is lamb. I think I ate lamb once in my life before this trip. I ate a decent amount of lamb during my two weeks and I’m proud to say I’ve found yet another animal that I’m a big fan of eating!
13. Rugby is a game loved by Australians. They have multiple variations of the game is it’s absolutely confusing. It would be like us having 4 variations of American football. I did get the opportunity to go to a footy (rugby match). Those guys are big and hit like a mack truck, much respect to these athletes.
14. They have tiny highways compared to the US. The major highways in Australia are two lanes. Ironically, traffic isn’t that bad. They also have phenomenal public transportation; listen up Atlanta!
15. Last, but not least, they use their Physical Therapists the right way. We could learn a lot from the Australians in this respect. Also, following rule number 3 they just call them Physios. More on this in my next blog post!
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.