If you’ve been told that you have to live with pain, consider talking to Physical Therapist Maria Zanoni. If you’re looking for a more holistic approach or want the benefit of extensive experience, again, talk to Maria. She has, after all, been in her profession for over 30 years (which amounts to approximately 50,000 patient sessions), has two health-related master’s degrees and is an Adjunct Clinical Instructor at Marquette University.
She loves what she does — orthopedic, muscle and joint pain management and education — and every patient who visits Elm Grove Physical Therapy is treated by Maria exclusively. Some of them include babies as young as 2 months (born, perhaps, with a neck or head injury). Other patients are as spry as 92.
When asked what’s one secret to her business success, she answered, “Keeping it simple.” Here she’s referring to that large umbrella called “overhead,” which includes technology and computers. While they make light of many tasks that once took hours, they’ve figuratively teamed up with HIPPA (our federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to place a heavy burden on health-care professionals, Maria included.
Paper documentation is out and everything — from pre-authorization to charting to billing — must be done on-line. Deciding which software systems to use can be daunting. For example, how does one best choose between programs that are unique to PTs (and costlier) vs. those that are bulky with unnecessary options but are less expensive.
For every client, Maria uploads data, fills in the necessary information on-line (to an insurance company, for instance, or a health care network) and then deletes everything from her computer. No client information can be saved on her computer. Maria mentioned that therapists are getting fined if their computer containing patient data is stolen.
She says she, ““Understands the complaint about health care practitioners having a face in the computer when working with a patient.” It’s a double-edged sword. She knows of one physician, for example, who doesn’t enter data when talking with patients. But that means he has to do it at home, which takes him away from his family.
Selecting Bill Hand as her computer consultant was one of Maria’s methods for keeping her IT issues simple. “If my computer doesn’t turn on, that’s all I need to tell him. He doesn’t need to know anything more than that,” she laughs. Many times Bill will take her computer home to do his trouble-shooting and she knows she can call him late into the evening. “He doesn’t have the 9-to-5 mindset,” she adds.
On another matter, Maria stated there are some alarming statistics (and they’re not projected to improve anytime soon) showing the toll that musculoskeletal conditions are taking on patients and the health care system. According to the Bone and Joint Initiative (boneandjointburden.org), for instance, musculoskeletal diseases, disorders and injuries are the leading cause of disabilities and health care costs. That’s twice the rate of chronic heart and lung conditions.
It’s a good thing, then, that there are talented therapists like Maria who have the desire and the skill to provide pain relief. “Especially when getting to a therapist first makes a big difference in prognosis and cost, especially for back pain,” says Maria.
Maria is a member of the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association. To see if she is listed with your insurance company, search for “Maria Zanoni Physical Therapy,” not “Elm Grove Physical Therapy.”
Here’s a tip from Maria to help prevent back injuries:
“In your workout regimen, include exercises like ‘The Plank’ that strengthen your deep core muscles. Start holding that pose for 10-20 seconds. Work up to 90 seconds. You can do it if you’re committed.” (That sounds like a challenge! If you’re up to it, check out this “How To Do a Plank Exercise.”)