Medical massage is a term often heard in the massage profession. Medical massage, as directed by a physician, can include providing massage or bodywork, such as lymphatic drainage, to address medical conditions, such as lymphedema. Swedish massage is sometimes indicated for relaxation and pain relief. For the purposes of this article, we will discuss the benefits to a massage practice of working with physicians.
Medical Massage for Injuries
Massage therapy is commonly prescribed for injuries, but can also be referred for stress, pregnancy or any condition where the physician feels her patient would benefit from massage therapy. With medical massage, the physician develops the treatment plan and discusses it with the patient, who then delivers the massage therapy prescription to the massage therapist. If a massage therapist has questions regarding the treatment plan, she must consult with the physician before beginning massage.
Typically, the medical professionals you work with will be medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, podiatrists and chiropractors. Many massage therapists discover working with physicians in an integrated health care alliance provides them with a practice of reliability, professionalism and respect. It also provides a steady stream of clients, as physicians will typically prescribe massage for their patients for multiple visits per week over multiple weeks, similar to how physical therapy is prescribed. This is particularly true if massage is prescribed for an injury. Under this scenario, one physician referring one of his patients a week can easily fill a massage practice in just a few months’ time.
How Medical Massage Claims Are Paid
One misconception about medical massage is that reimbursement is dependent on billing insurance companies. Medical massage practitioners can run practices that bill insurance exclusively or have a 100-percent cash practice, while others choose a blended practice where they work with insurance customers on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of which method you choose, medical massage practitioners must have knowledge of insurance billing in order to educate clients about what their options are based on their particular case.
Whether billing insurance or not, all medical massage practitioners must have knowledge of the treatment documentation expected when dealing with physician-referred clients. Your physician partners may ask to see your notes to evaluate their patients’ progress. Well-trained medical massage practitioners know what they expect to see.
Training in Medical Massage
Medical massage practitioners must also have advanced training in the treatment of the most commonly referred conditions, and be prepared to work specifically and efficiently. They must also be fluent in assessment techniques that will allow them to evaluate their clients’ progress.
Because the curriculum in massage school usually does not cover these requirements in-depth, continuing education providers have stepped in to provide this education.
Getting started in medical massage may be easier and less costly than you think. Medical massage practitioners can work in a physician’s office or hospital, and can also work in an independent office or outcall practice. Medical massage practitioners report a practice of higher incomes, increased respect and tremendous personal satisfaction.
A Market with Potential
In a market where competing factors or economic uncertainty may affect your business’ bottom line, this type of practice may be just what you are looking for.