PT Classroom - How to Choose a FCE Software Program ׀ by Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE


Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE is the continuing education director and software developer for OccuPro. OccuPro has provided private practices with industrial rehab software and continuing education for 10 years. Jim has helped thousands of private practice physical therapy clinics implement high level return-to-work industrial rehab programs. OccuPro’s web based software application is a full return to work testing system and all of OccuPro’s courses can be taken Live in Person or through highly interactive Live Webcast technology. For more information feel free to visit, contact OccuPro at 866-470-4440, or e-mail Jim at

How to Choose a FCE Software Program

There are Many Opportunities to Consider

Within the rehabilitation industry there are many hands in the pot of reimbursement, and there is constant talk about reimbursement cuts, cuts, and more cuts. Rehabilitation clinic owners, directors and upper management are always looking for ways to offset the continued cuts and keep their doors open. Workers’ Compensation reimbursement within 95% of the United States continues to hold its own if not increase on a year to year basis. Adding service lines within the realm of workers’ compensation rehabilitation will help you diversify your clinic and provide higher paying revenue streams.


You can decide if the service line you want to start with or enhance is Functional Capacity Evaluations. Maybe you have no idea where you are going to get your referrals from? Maybe a company has contacted you and asked if you perform “Functional Capacity Evaluations”. Maybe a doctor who refers you patients asked if you perform FCEs? Maybe an Attorney has asked if you perform FCEs. Any of these may be viable routes to make the investment in Functional Capacity Evaluation training and software.

There are a few continuing education courses that will teach you how to perform Functional Capacity Evaluations. Some of them require that you use their software. Some of them will train you and send you home with the paper-based testing tools to keep your investment down with the hope that you build your FCE program and come back to them later on to get software. Some of them do not have software to complete the FCE. Some of the questions in regards to the training include: Do I have to travel to a course to get trained? Are they coming to a city near me? Can I get trained right on the internet? Do I really need to be certified?
In the end certification is not a necessity but is asked for by some insurance companies. If your state medical practice act says you can perform Functional Capacity Evaluation then you can. There are a few options in regards to Functional Capacity Evaluation training out on the market. Ninety percent of the courses are live in person hands-on courses where you need to travel to the course to get trained. If you have a group of clinicians requiring training many of the organizations providing FCE training will come directly to you.

You could spend anywhere between $1,000.00 up to $50,000.00 on equipment to perform FCEs. In the end it does not matter what equipment you use to perform your FCEs. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended and the United States Supreme Court you need to perform your FCE as close to how the job is performed as you can. So it does not matter what equipment you use since very few pieces of equipment used in FCEs are even close to the content validity of a job/occupation. In the end it would make the most sense to minimize your equipment expense and use general FCE testing equipment available on the open market and the most reasonably priced equipment.

There are roughly 8 software systems out on the open market that perform FCEs. The things you need to consider when choosing a software system for performing your FCEs is as follows:
1. Does the software system have reliability and validity research to support the testing method?
2. Can I get my FCE post-test documentation done quickly? (The biggest complaint in FCE testing is when it takes hours to write up reports.)
3. Does the software perform all of the calculations I need to
make a gainful employment decision
4. Is the software easy to navigate?
5. Are the reports the software creates clear and concise and
will my referral source/customers find the most pertinent
information easily?
6. Can I customize the reports for various customers? (The
doctor will not want a 30 page report to read.)
7. Can I add libraries of documentation into the software that I
want to use for future FCEs?
8. Will the FCE software pull job descriptions for me?
9. Is the software computer-based, server-based, or in the cloud?
75% of all Functional Capacity Evaluation software systems are exactly the same. Twenty five percent of the testing methods within that software system are where things vary from one system to the next. You need to consider the testing methods but in today’s climate you need to also consider features that help you clinician get an FCE done quickly.

One of the main questions you should ask the software company is when was the last time they updated their software? How often do they fix bugs or enhance their software? As much as upgrades seem to
interrupt your daily work, they are much needed as technology continues to advance. Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and many other company’s products wouldn’t have survived if they did not constantly make their software product better and conform to digital standards. You need to invest in an FCE software system that is always evolving and keeping up to date with the digital trends.
Last revised: August 19, 2013
By Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE

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Please review our terms and conditions carefully before utilization of the Site. The information on this Site is for informational purposes only and should in no way replace a conventional visit to an actual live physical therapist or other healthcare professional. It is recommended that you seek professional and medical advise from your physical therapist or physician prior to any form of self treatment.

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