4 Ways to Change Your Physical Therapy Practice

If you are a private practice owner and you KNOW that something isn’t working in your physical therapy practice – maybe you don’t have the work-life balance you sought when you opened your practice, or maybe the finances aren’t where they should be for the amount of work you and your staff are doing, whatever it is, you know it isn’t right. 

There are four things you can do that will have an immediate impact on your organization.

Change the Environment

Always start with your physical environment to bring about positive change in your organization. Be sure you are in compliance with Medicare and OSHA within your four walls and ensure everyone has space and the appropriate tools needed to do their job. Make sure your physical office is conducive to your staff providing the ideal patient care experience. Keep your staff’s experience in mind as well.

Recently, I went into a physical therapy practice that had been struggling to attract and hire good therapists and they wanted me to help them with their ads and hiring process. I asked them to give me a tour of their clinic first and I quickly identified that I had been transported back to 1995 with an original Stairmaster and Biodex in their gym that was connected to a dot matrix printer and full-size tubular monitor.

Any new young therapist coming in seeing this is going to feel like the owners are not interested in enhancing their practice and will worry that enhanced clinical education and innovation is not a priority. I made them update their environment into this decade before we went any further.

Develop the Structure

The structure of your organization is the next critical step it defines who is in charge of what areas and provides the appropriate command channels for staff to follow. Without establishing the proper command channels and communication lines to follow, staff will simply turn to their co-workers for answers instead of the person who actually knows the right answer and is there to provide guidance. Without a doubt, there are 7 divisions at work at all times and the better you –  as the owner – know what they are and how to operate them, the more efficient your private practice will run.

Surveys show that today’s generation of employees wants to be autonomous while at the same time feel mentored. The more you can do to lessen the confusion at work, the happier your staff will be.

Think about it, being a physical therapist is really a fun job. But, if you mess with a therapists schedule or get them involved in money matters, they often frown and get upset. Those days will end once you implement an organization board that defines all roles and responsibilities of each member of the organization and where they fit in. Your staff needs to have confidence in you, as their leader to know that you are running the practice under a predesigned structure and as a result, that their inquiries will be handled efficiently.

Personnel Development

This can be a struggle for so many of us in private practice. We tend to think very linear in that we are standing at point A and we want to get to point B. So, we hire people to come in and do things that will help us get to point B.

If you are hiring based off the resume or largely off their work history, you could be placing emphasis on the wrong things. That’s not to say we don’t want to hire experienced people, but what one knows to do and who one is as a person are two totally different things. I have always found that it is far more important to hire people based off who they are as a person, versus solely on what they have done in the past. I can always train someone to be better at what they do but, I cannot necessarily make someone an honest or more ethical person.

So ask yourself: “Do I have the right people on board in my practice right now?”

If you have any doubts at all, listen to that voice inside your head and evaluate the people you have based on genuineness, personal ethics, personal integrity, sincere communication, and their responsibility level. Know that in the hiring process, there is a method of vetting this out so you are 85% all the time. Have confidence that you have systems in place to catch the remaining 15% within the first 90 days. Remember, that if you are not winning, it is not SOMETHING holding you back, it is SOMEONE.

Systems of Operations

This is the area that I get the most questions from physical therapy owners. They all seem to think that if they’re simply shown what to do, everything will run smoother. This is the fourth on the list for a reason. No matter how successful the systems of operations are that you have, if you don’t have the previous three in line first, they will be minimally helpful at best. Without the right environment, structure, and people to work with, you can not employ the best strategies.

Start with hardware and software. This should be easy to figure out based on research. Next, identify what the products are that you want to have as a result of your efforts, and understand the industry metrics so you have realistic expectations to operate by. Such as: “I want to run a clinically efficient office and research tells me that PT’s should be able to achieve clinical efficiency of 85%.” Now, count up your total number of treatment slots in a week that are set up for your physical therapist and take 85% of that number. Make sure they hit that week in and week out.

In order to do that, they need to be a part of the Front Desk Management System and wear a hat in the internal marketing division. Once you start working backward from what you want, it is much easier to identify what you need.

From your needs list, it becomes clear what staff training must be done in order for them to gain the skills necessary to obtain these products. I find that everyone wants to know what it is that they should do when the real question is “What is it you want to be?”  If more owners asked themselves “why” it is they are doing the things they are doing,  the what to do, and how to do it becomes clear and simple. 

If you take these four steps and really evaluate your set up, your people, and your structure the systems that you need will run much more smoothly and effectively.  Follow them in that order and you’ll see greater results. We have so much more to share with you on this topic in our new Four Keys to Business Success program within MEG Academy so please contact us or schedule a free, no-obligation demo if you’re interested in learning more about our virtual training and coaching programs that help PT Private practice owners and their staff members reach their full potential.

This post was originally published in April 2019, but has been updated to include new information about our training programs and links to other materials. 

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