REP 21 - Undercover investigation: healthcare edition
The phrase “I am an undercover investigator” is a fantastic opening line at cocktail parties and networking events.
You will always be met with an “Oh my goodness! Really?” followed by, “You have to share your craziest undercover sting ever!” to which I politely decline and quickly change the subject.
Why? Well, mainly it’s because when most people hear the words undercover investigator, it conjures up images of hiding behind tall bushes, snapping photos of a cheating lover in the arms of his mistress, or of breaking into a building Mission Impossible style, hacking into a computer and hastily downloading hundreds of incriminating files onto a USB.
The fact is, I work in healthcare, not Hollywood, and so while my experiences may not be sound stage worthy, I am happy to share two of my more memorable encounters with you.
I conducted an undercover investigation where the physio performed an extremely short assessment – it was less than five minutes. The assessment consisted of answering a few questions and then setting me up with a 12-week treatment plan.
During the assessment the physiotherapist did not ask me to move or stand up and did not provide any hands-on assessment either. They simply watched me walk into the treatment room and then provided a diagnosis.
Is it personal training or physiotherapy?
A common issue I’m seeing more of is personal training being billed as physiotherapy. I conducted an undercover investigation where I visited a physiotherapist with no injuries, no weaknesses and no pain - I only indicated that I wanted to lose weight.
The physiotherapist performed a short assessment and set me up with 13 weeks of personal training. I received a great workout at my next visit, but the entire encounter was billed as physiotherapy.
So what does it all mean?
Disappointed? Not exactly riveting undercover stories, are they?
I know, but investigations are important.
They’re used to ensure that the standards of practice of the profession are maintained, which in turn is beneficial to patients and the entire profession. I want to stress that there are only a small percentage of cases at the College that require undercover investigation. Undercover work is only one of many tools an investigator uses to answer the question: What happened in this case?
Furthermore, and this is the big one, when I go out on investigations, I am not trying to trick anyone into making errors. There is no “gotcha” moment. I simply want to experience the average patient experience for that member’s practice.
Being an investigator might not be as glamorous or action packed as people imagine, but I’m proud of the crucial role I play in keeping patients safe.
Over to you
- Were you aware that there are such things as “physiotherapist undercover investigators”?
- What else do you want to know about them or the process?
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