WebPT Blog - PT Best Practices
Jun 18, 2013| Charlotte Bohnett
While rehab therapists continue to make gains in autonomy and direct access, we cannot forget about referrals. Often, referrals serve as the lifeblood of therapy practices, and the best way to ensure referrals—besides providing exceptional care—is to maintain strong relationships with physicians. With that in mind, here are five tips for improving the therapist-physician relationship to garner more referrals.
1.) Simplify the referral process. It’ll save them time and earn you respect. Here are some tips:
- Make sure your contact information (on your website, business cards, and social media accounts) is current. This may seem obvious, but trust us, it’s crucial.
- If you have a website, consider creating a user-friendly patient referral form for physicians to access, fill out, and submit to your practice. Include this form’s page URL on your business cards and marketing materials. Google Docs can assist you with form-making.
- You can also add a dedicated referral phone line for physicians. Create a free account with Google Voice and record a custom greeting. The beauty of Google Voice? It will transcribe your voicemail to text, so your front office staff can take referral information right from your email and place it into your documentation software.
Jun 17, 2013| Erica Cohen
You’ve got all your business plan ducks in a row—you’ve analyzed your staffing needs, nailed down your financing options, and set your business goals—and your partners are on board. Now, it’s time to put pen to paper. Well, hopefully fingers to a keyboard because even though most business plans have gotten much shorter than they used to be, they’re still pretty detailed documents. However, as Palo Alto Software President Tim Berry points out, “don’t confuse your business plan with a doctoral thesis.” He suggests you “rein in your prose” by using:
Simple and to-the-point sentences
Clear, easy-to-understand language (i.e., no jargon, buzzwords, or acronyms)
Bullet points for easy scanning
In addition to keeping text simple, Berry also recommends you do the same with numbers by using business charts. Just be sure to place your source numbers near each chart, reference each chart within the text, and include:
Jun 17, 2013| Erica Cohen
Whether you’re in the process of starting your own business or you’ve been in business for years now but just never got around to writing your business plan, this blog is for you. Here, I've compiled some great information to help you put together this ultra important document. Let’s start with the basics:
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a formal document detailing everything about your business. Venture coach Stever Robbins writes in an article on Entrepreneur.com that a business plan includes “your value proposition, marketing assumptions, operations plan, financial plan, and staffing plan.” He also goes on to point out that your business plan drives the future because it contains goals for all major areas (sales, expenses, hiring, and financing). “Once laid out,” he writes, “the targets become performance goals.” As such, your business plan will act as a baseline for monitoring your progress so you remain accountable as well as a tool for “after-the-fact learning” if you perform better or worse than expected.
Who needs a business plan?
In short, anyone who is running a business should have a business plan—especially when working with investors, partners, or employees. According to another article on Entrepreneur.com, “...anybody beginning or extending a venture that will consume significant resources [money, energy, or time]...and that is expected to return a profit, should take the time to draft some kind of plan.” The article goes on to discuss the times when it would be appropriate—and beneficial—to update an existing plan (for example, if you’ve reached a milestone, brought on a new partner, or are about to enter a new financial period). In other words, an out-of-date business plan won’t do you any good, so be sure to set reminders that trigger you to review it in intervals appropriate to your business.
Jun 12, 2013| Matt Stone
Matt is WebPT’s email marketing specialist. He fights crime on the weekends when he’s not competing in canoe dancing. His monthly column covers all things email marketing and how it can help your clinic.
If you’re ready to start harnessing the power of email to market your clinic, you’ll need to figure out whether you’ll write the content yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. Either way, there’s a big difference between just sending a marketing email and sending a marketing email that works. And while there’s no silver bullet for creating the perfect email, here are a few items to consider before you hit the send button:
The Subject Line
This is the first thing an email recipient sees, which makes it arguably the most important part of your message. Entire blogs can be, have been, and will continue to be, completely devoted to perfecting the subject line only. But because this post isn’t solely about subject lines, I’ll just give you a couple of quick hitters:
- Keep it short (50 characters or fewer)
- Don’t include spam triggers (dollar signs, exclamation points, lots of capitalization, or the word “free”)
- Be direct—let people know what’s in the email instead of dancing around the topic or trying to trick people into opening it
Do: “Complimentary consultation at John Doe Therapy”
Don’t: “Get excited! The best rehab therapy in town can be yours for FREE!”
Jun 11, 2013| Erica Cohen
You’ve whipped your clinic into shape, beefed up your benefits package, gotten your head in the game, and asked the right questions. Now, you’ve got a rockstar team made up of some very top-tier talent. So how do you keep ‘em happy and committed to your clinic? Here are six ways to retain top talent:
Give your employees a purpose.
Gone are the days when all employees cared about was a paycheck. Today’s employees want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, that what they do on a daily basis matters in the world. This especially holds true for individuals who have chosen careers in rehab therapy. Chances are they didn’t get into this profession for the money; they did so to really give back, to help people live their lives to the fullest.
In a smartplanet.com article, author Heather Clancy writes, “It turns out that professionals that are in a position that they feel will make a better world or contribute to society are much more satisfied than their counterparts—by a 2:1 ratio.”
Make sure you’re emphasizing this throughout the day. Don’t make a therapist’s success a numbers game. Sure, you need to make money, and the more patients your therapists see the better, but focusing only on headcount diminishes the impact of your therapists’ work and turns their passion into just a job. And that can quickly lead to discontent—and a stack of resignation letters.
Jun 10, 2013| Erica Cohen
It’s no secret that physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are are in high demand. In fact, between 2010 and 2020, industry experts expect employment rates for physical therapists to increase by 39% (tweet this stat!)—that’s significantly higher than almost all other occupations. In other words, if you’re looking to hire the best in class from the next generation of rehab therapists, you’re bound to have some seriously steep competition. But that doesn’t mean you should just get in line and wait quietly until it’s your turn to recruit; it means you should start taking the necessary steps right now to ensure that your clinic is recruit-worthy and recruit-ready. Here are four steps to attracting top-tier therapy talent:
1. Whip Your Clinic into Shape
Start by taking a really critical—honest—look at the way your clinic is running. Is it streamlined and efficient or bloated and sluggish? Are you operating lean with a team of rockstars, or are you carrying some dead weight? Are your clinicians maximizing their time performing patient care, or is your team burdened by cumbersome administrative tasks—like paper charting and filing?
It’s okay if you see room for improvement because, well, there’s always room for improvement. And there’s no blame there. Look at this as the perfect opportunity to address these issues head-on—whether that means implementing educational programs to make sure your employees are performing at the highest level or adopting EMR so your staff is able to spend less time documenting, scheduling, and billing, and more time treating patients or attracting new business.
Regardless of which solution is best for your clinic, a thorough analysis of your processes and procedures will always lead you to ways you can boost your clinic’s productivity and organization. And the better your clinic runs, the more appealing you’ll be as a new employer.
Jun 6, 2013| Charlotte Bohnett
One of the most frequently discussed topics in the realm of rehab therapy (PT, OT, and SLP) is brand awareness. When the general public thinks “back pain,” they most commonly think “chiropractor” for the solution. How can we achieve such instant associations in the general public for physical therapy? We need to educate the masses on what PT is and how it benefits everyone. Your patients can help with this endeavor. How? Through brand evangelism.
In The Thank You Economy (if you haven’t read it yet, definitely do), author Gary Vaynerchuk explains that the Internet “has given consumers back their voice.” Customers (i.e., patients) now wield tremendous power with their opinions on social media. And as WOMMA demonstrates with this infographic, their opinions matter—big time.
Your practice may have always had brand evangelists—those loyal patients that adore you, recommend you, and sing your high praises, all without being asked. But with the advent of social media, they’re more crucial than ever, because these evangelists do all the high praise singing they’ve always done, but now publicly and instantly online.brand evangelists, marketing, PT best practices, Referral Marketing, referrals, social media, testimonials
Jun 4, 2013| Heidi Jannenga PT
As a small business owner myself, I understand the trials, tribulations, and joys of running a company—and there are certainly many of each. It can be a roller coaster of responsibilities, expectations, and pressure. And that’s a lot for any person to take on. But with all the downs, there are plenty of ups. For me, one of my greatest moments as a business owner was realizing that I was an entrepreneur—a badass, rockstar, risk-taking entrepreneur. After that, I developed a new perspective—a new outlook—on my role in the company, my role as a mom, and my role as a wife.
In my time as a business owner, I’ve learned several big lessons—everything from how to work alongside my husband and balance my professional life with my personal one to juggling so much responsibility and having the confidence to get the job done. And though some may label the whole “life lesson” premise as cliché, it doesn’t make the wisdom any less relevant or relatable. In fact, when I spoke last month at a Women in Leadership event, life lessons were on everyone’s minds. Maybe that’s because “life lessons” often prove to be valuable advice.
So what’s the biggest piece of advice that I can give to any small business owner? Know yourself—and your worth. It took me a long time to see myself as worthy of being in the position that I’m in and even longer to understand why people cared what I had to say. Don’t let that be your mistake. You’re an expert and you bring value to this industry. Have confidence, and be an advocate for yourself and your industry. It’ll prove invaluable on your journey to business success.
Now what other advice can we here at WebPT offer? Well, stay tuned to our blog and this month’s webinar. We’re tackling a slew of small business best practices—everything from hiring and retaining top talent to building and strengthening your relationships with physicians. We’re on a mission to help you be better in business, to help you develop the biz savvy you need to ignite and fuel that (possibly) elusive confidence.
Already got crazy business wherewithal? Great! Share your biggest lesson learned in the comments section below.
Jun 3, 2013| Brooke Andrus
You probably didn’t get into the therapy business to become rich. You did it because you enjoy helping and healing people—and that’s the way it should be. But even if money isn’t your main motivation, it should still be somewhere on your radar. So, here are a few things to keep in mind as you contemplate compensation.
1. Experience matters. As with most professions, salaries for physical therapists vary widely based on a therapist’s number of years in the industry. According to the study cited in this Advance Healthcare article, entry-level physical therapists made an average of $66,545 in 2011, whereas PTs with 16 or more years of experience earned an average salary of $84,656. A therapist who falls somewhere between these two extremes—not fresh out of PT school, but not quite a seasoned vet—should expect to earn a salary somewhere near the national median of $79,860. However, it’s important to take these figures with a grain of salt because additional factors such as geographic location and type of therapy facility also affect salary.
2. Salary doesn't always trump hourly. As the old saying goes, time is money. And if you’re consistently logging extra hours as a salaried employee, then you’re getting less money for your time—that’s just simple math. For this reason, some therapists prefer a clock-in-clock-out pay format. Employers can benefit from this kind of structure too: research shows that hourly wage earners report higher levels of job satisfaction than those working on salary—and happier employees typically are more productive employees.
3. A DPT doesn’t necessarily equal more dough. Are you a practicing PT playing around with the idea of entering a post-professional doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program? If salary is your top motivation for earning a more advanced degree, you might want to think twice. According to the APTA, current figures do not support the assumption that DPT practitioners get better jobs or earn higher salaries than those possessing baccalaureate or master’s degrees. In fact, a therapist’s number of years in clinical practice plays a much larger role in determining salary than does his or her educational level.
May 22, 2013| Charlotte Bohnett
Today's blog post comes from WebPT Senior Writer Charlotte Bohnett, contributing writer Erica Cohen, and WebPT Co-Founder Heidi Jannenga, PT.
Monday and Tuesday we hosted webinars on functional limitation reporting. We got tons of great questions. Here are the most frequently asked ones:
What is functional limitation reporting?
Beginning July 1, 2013, CMS is requiring that you complete functional limitation reporting (FLR) on all Medicare part B patients in order to receive reimbursement for your services. Essentially, FLR is a type of reporting focused on the progress of the patient through measurable goals, and supporting documentation is required for reimbursement.
Who created FLR?
CMS developed functional limitation reporting as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2012, which mandated the collection of the following information regarding the beneficiaries on the claim form: function and condition, therapy services furnished, and outcomes achieved on patient function. CMS is enforcing noncompliance.
Why functional limitation reporting?
CMS created FLR to collect information regarding beneficiaries’ functions and conditions, the services therapists provide, and the functional outcomes patients achieve. CMS will use all of this information to better understand the beneficiary population that uses therapy services and how their functional limitations change as a result of the therapy they complete. Furthermore, CMS will use the data they collect to reform future payment structures.
Does FLR apply to rehab therapists?
According to the APTA, “All practice settings that provide outpatient therapy services must perform FLR. Specifically, FLR applies to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language-pathology (SLP) services furnished in hospitals, critical access hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities (CORFs), rehabilitation agencies, home health agencies (when the beneficiary is not under a home health plan of care), and in private offices of therapists, physicians, and nonphysician practitioners.”
How does FLR work?
Therapists will report functional limitations (current status and projected goal for initial examination and at minimum every tenth visit or progress note, and then discharge status and projected goal at discharge) using G-codes and corresponding severity modifiers for all eligible Medicare patients.
What are G-codes and severity modifiers?
G-codes are quality data codes therapists will use to describe their patients’ functional limitation—that is, the primary reason they’re seeking therapeutic services. Upon identifying the primary functional limitation, the therapist will select the corresponding G-code and then assign a severity modifier, which indicates the extent of the severity of the functional limitation. Therapists select an appropriate severity modifier based on the score of an outcome measurement tool as well as their skilled clinical knowledge. Lastly, therapists must also include a therapy modifier (GO, GP, and GN) to indicate that they’re providing therapy services under an OT, PT, or SLP plan of care, respectively.
For a full list of the FLR G-codes and a severity modifier chart, check out this blog post.
What are the benefits of FLR?
With FLR, rehab therapists finally have an outlet to prove that what they do clinically is relevant and deserves payment. It’s an opportunity for rehab therapy professionals to demonstrate the value of their profession. FLR also allows rehab therapists to incorporate clinical judgement to truly assess the severity of a patient’s functional limitation without relying on patients’ faulty self-assessments, and that leads to better, more effective treatment.