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.

Author: Dr. Vince Gutierrez, PT, cert. MDT

After having dedicated 8 years to growing my knowledge regarding the profession of physical therapy, it seems only fitting that I join the social media world in order to spread a little of the knowledge that I have gained over the years. This by no means is meant to act in place of a one-one medical consultation, but only to supplement your baseline knowledge in which to choose a practitioner for your problem. Having completed a Master of Physical Therapy degree, the MDT (Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy) certification and currently finishing a post-graduate doctorate degree, I have spent the previous 12 years in some sort of post-baccalalaureate study. Hopefully the reader finds the information insightful and uses the information in order to make more informed healthcare decisions. MISSION STATEMENT: My personal mission statement is as follows: As a professional, I will provide a thorough assessment of your clinical presentation and symptoms in order to determine both the provocative and relieving positions and movements. The assessment process and ensuing treatment will be based on current and relevant evidence. Furthermore, I will educate the patients regarding their symptoms and their likelihood of improving with either skilled therapy, an independent exercise program, spontaneous recovery or if the patient should be referred to a separate specialist to possibly provide a more rapid resolution of symptoms. Respecting the patient’s limited resources is important and I will provide an accurate overview of the prognosis within 7 visits, again based on current research. My goal is to empower the patient in order to take charge of both the symptomatic resolution and return to full function with as little dependence on the therapist as possible. Personally, I strive to be an example for family and friends. My goal is to demonstrate that success is not a byproduct of situations, but a series of choices and actions. I will mentor those, in any way possible, that are having difficulty with the choices and actions for success. I will continue to honor my family’s “blue-collar” roots by working to excel at my chosen career and life situations. I choose to be a leader of example, and not words, all the while reducing negativity in my life. I began working towards the professional aspect of the mission statement while still in physical therapy school. By choosing an internship that emphasized patient care and empowering the patient, instead of the internship that was either closest to home or where I knew that I would have the easiest road to graduation, I took the first step towards learning how to utilize the evidence to teach patients how to reduce their symptoms. I continued this process by completing Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy courses A-D and passing the credentialing exam. I will continue to pursue my clinical education through CEU’s on MDT and my goal is to obtain the status of Diplomat of MDT. Returning back to school for the t-DPT was a major decision for me, as resources (i.e. time and money) are limited. My choice was between saving money for the Dip MDT course (about 15,000 dollars) and continuing on with the Fellowship of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) (about 5,000 dollars), as these courses are paired through the MDT curriculum or returning to school to work towards a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. I initially planned on saving for the Dip MDT and FAAOMPT, but life changes forced me to re-evaluate my situation. The decision then changed to return for the tDPT, as my employer paid for a portion of the DPT program. My goal for applying to and finishing the Dip MDT and FAAOMPT is 10 years. This is how long I anticipate that it will take to finish paying student loans and save for both programs, based on the current rate of payment. I don’t know if I will ever accomplish what I set forth in the mission statement, but I do know that it will be a forever struggle to maintain this standard that I set for myself.

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