Post 81: altruism and business

“…the new physical therapists may lack the entrepreneurial spirit, skill and knowledge required to build their practice. Despite the size of a practice, time and effort dedicated to educating physical therapists new to the practice on how to develop a following should be implemented.”

I think that this holds true for any company. We should always groom those that work for the company in order to assist them with progressing their career. For instance, when I worked for Sam’s Club, I was consistently put into situations that would allow me to be more and more independent. In private practice, I was consistently left alone in the clinic run the clinic. At the hospital, there has been stagnation. I have no additional responsibilities given to me than I had when I started. This is one of the reasons that I am contemplating starting a new journey. I already have a following, but this does not translate into any more than simply being a practicing clinician. I can offer so much more.

“Send birthday or holiday cards…be active on social media…set reminders to contact patients at certain periods post-discharge…offer gift certificates to local coffee shops as a way to thank past patients who refer friends…offer a 1-year checkup consultation”

All of these are great ways to establish a following. I recently started this blog with the intention of building my brand. I am experimenting with how to reach the largest amount of people with the blog. As I continue through the months, I want to give this a 1-year trial period to see if consistent posts will bring more readers to the blog. I have a feeling that it won’t work, but I am willing to give it a try.

“Volunteer for local nonprofit organizations…provide free screenings, support local sports teams…offer your expertise to vendors.”

Again, all good ways to build a clientele. The best way to build a clientele in my opinion has yet to come up in this article. Provide excellent care that is patient focused. As hard as it is to get a patient in the door in today’s market of super chain PT clinics, hospital-based PT clinics, and Physician Owned PT clinics, it is vital that the private practitioner provide great service that separates him/her from a profit driven corporation. Physical therapy has decreased in profitability over the years (assuming that it is one therapist per one patient), but it continues to make money in the outpatient setting. The only way to make money is to gain the trust of patients by demonstrating that the therapist has the patient’s best interest at heart. I’ve seen all of the above put into action in a small private practice and in the end, it made the patients feel like a dollar sign. The patient’s realized that there was a primary reason for all of the above tactics, and it wasn’t to help the patient get better. This has to be the over riding theme of any marketing tool that we use. When I give community education speeches, I don’t care if the patient comes to me for future treatment. I care that the patient walks out the door with more knowledge than they walked in with. When I take a student, I care that they are better clinicians on the final day that the first day. This is how I have built my reputation in the community and as a clinical instructor.

“Strategically developing relationships with referral sources will lead to patients being directed to specific physical therapists due to their ‘expert’ knowledge and skills”
I question this last statement. I would love to believe that a physician would continue to refer to me when I leave the hospital based setting, but I realize that some people are beholden to others. I can’t blame them, but the system is broken. A patient has the right to go to therapy wherever he/she would like. This has to be the first thing that the patients understand. From here, a recommendation should be made, but the patient needs to know that they have the final say. I have a large patient base and there are many physicians that refer to me, but I tell the patient that they have a choice to see someone closer to home and sometimes I will go so far as to direct them to a therapist closer to home if I don’t feel that I have the special sauce needed for this patient. I have a specialty. I have talents, but if the patient is someone that has the ability to get better with most therapists, then I would rather them not be inconvenienced to drive more than 30 minutes to get to me. This may make for a worse business model, but my primary driver is patient care not the almighty dollar. I have done well for myself financially using this model and hope that it will continue to carry forward in private practice when I choose this model.

If there are any questions, comments, concerns or good jokes, please feel free to post them at my facebook page or comment on this blog.

Excerpts taken from:

Collie M. Innovative Growth: Developing a practice of entrepreneurial physical therapists. IMPACT. Oct 2016:89-90.

Categories Physical therapy

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