To successfully manage a private practice therapy clinic in any specialty, you’ve got to be committed to both your patients and your employees. It’s all part of an endless pursuit to improve patient outcomes while still being able to make a decent living—and ensuring your employees can do the same. It’s not an endeavor for the weak; succeeding in the current market takes guts, drive, and skill.

The Ascend Practice of the Year Award honors private practice owners who not only demonstrate those qualities to a T, but also work diligently to improve the healthcare landscape for their fellow private practice owners—all while maintaining integrity within their own businesses. These owners dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others, and for that, they deserve recognition. They are leaders, role models, heroes, and—perhaps most importantly—innovators. They are constantly pushing the envelope to improve industry standards, move the profession forward, and enhance best practices for physical, occupational, and speech therapists.

We had tons of amazing candidates for the 2015 Ascend Practice of the Year Award—and that’s a testament to the high caliber of leadership that exists within the rehab therapy space. In the end, WebPT selected Mike and Dave Manzo of Atlantic Physical Therapy as the winners of this year’s award. We presented the award at the The Ascend summit, which we held September 18-19, 2015, in Chicago. Diane Cekada and Kimberly Pisk, the owners of The Center for Hand and Physical Therapy, and Justine Bernard, the owner of Elements Fitness and Wellness, were the runners-up.

Mike and Dave Manzo

We hope this award will inspire more PT, OT, and SLP business leaders to elevate their practices. Looking for some inspiration to do just that? Check out these golden drops of wisdom from the Manzos:

The Profitable PT: 5 Simple Strategies for Private Practice Success - Regular BannerThe Profitable PT: 5 Simple Strategies for Private Practice Success - Small Banner

1. Remember that your patients are everything.

Sure, your company name is on your employees’ paychecks, but you wouldn’t be able to write those checks without your patients. They’re the reason you open your doors every day; so why would you focus on anything but them? As the Manzo brothers have learned, if you focus solely on your patients, your bottom line will grow naturally.

The Manzos not only train their employees to treat their patients “like royalty,” but they also go above and beyond to ensure all of their patients are able to stay compliant with their treatment plans. In fact, the practice employs five dedicated drivers as part of a free transportation program patients can use to get rides to and from their appointments. This program ensures all patients are able to see their physical therapist as frequently as they need—without having to worry about travel barriers.

2. Take care of your employees so they’ll take care of your patients.

In total, Atlantic Physical Therapy boasts 80 employees and 11 locations. To keep everyone motivated, the practice introduced a quarterly employee bonus system that rewards staff members based on overall practice revenue. The way the Manzos see it, when each employee has a personal stake in the business, he or she cares more about the practice’s financial well being. And that leads them to care more about eliminating unnecessary costs, ensuring patient satisfaction, and holding their colleagues accountable.

3. Share your message within your community.

Why is physical therapy important? You know the answer to this question. Your patients know the answer to this question. But if you were to ask the average person on the street, he or she likely wouldn’t have a very good response. That’s why it’s critical that you share your message—and promote your value—within your community. Dave and Mike Manzo have focused their marketing efforts on educating the local sports community about direct access. They have worked closely with high school coaches, little league administrators, and weekend warriors to spread the word that injured athletes who seek primary care at Atlantic Physical Therapy can achieve better results than those who go elsewhere. In fact, the Manzo brothers have done such great job sharing their message that they have local orthopaedic groups knocking on their door asking for referrals. The moral of the story: Tell as many people as possible about the power of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. More importantly, familiarize yourself with the direct access laws for your state so you can share that message, too. (Click one of the links below to review a summary of the direct access laws for your state.)

4. Focus on growth—and measure it.

Where do you see your practice one year from now? How about five years from now? If you ask the Manzo brothers about their vision for the future of Atlantic Physical Therapy, they can provide a detailed description of their plan and—more importantly—how they plan to execute it. It’s nice to say you want your practice to grow to “X” locations or “Y” amount of revenue, but to actually hold yourself accountable to achieving those goals, you have to set specific numbers and track your progress toward them. That way, you can actually see the improvement happening—and adjust your strategies, if necessary. After all, if you don’t track it, you can’t measure it. For example, Atlantic Physical Therapy saw a 21% increase in top-line growth year over year. They also are on track to increase patient visits to more than 12,000 additional visits year over year.

5. Know your value.

Continuing with the metrics theme: Hard data tells a powerful story about your value as a therapy provider. For example, it can demonstrate how many patients you’ve successfully treated in a year or how many referrals you’ve gotten—both of which show the size of your sphere of influence. Even better: You can leverage that data to negotiate higher reimbursement rates. That is exactly what the Manzo brothers did at Atlantic Physical Therapy. Using data to support their case, they successfully negotiated a 23% increase in their per-visit reimbursement rate from Blue Cross Blue Shield. That’s proof-positive that the more data therapists collect and measure, the more negotiating power the entire industry holds.

Throughout our search to find the 2015 Ascend Practice of the Year, we were fascinated by the stories of everyday heroes who constantly strive to build better businesses. It’s an exciting time for rehab therapy private practices, and Atlantic Physical Therapy is leading the charge to capitalize on the vast potential that exists in this industry. Stay tuned to the WebPT Blog for updates on when we’ll begin accepting submissions for the 2016 Ascend Practice of the Year Award. Until then, congratulations to Dave and Mike Manzo!

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