I had the great pleasure of participating in the WebPT Ascend Conference in Dallas, Texas, on September 20. Ascend was a one-day educational event focused on helping PTs, OTs, and SLPs succeed in business. The conference offered two learning tracks to choose from—one tailored to starting a PT, OT, or SLP practice and the other geared toward growing an existing one. Ascend was billed as the ultimate rehab therapy business summit, and it did not disappoint.

The presenters included therapists and business professionals who spoke on topics ranging from creating a business plan for your private practice physical therapy clinic (Chuck Felder, PT, SCS, ATC, MBA) to developing an effective exit strategy when the time comes (Joe La Porta, President and CEO of Flexeon Rehabilitation). We gained valuable insight on important topics such as activating your referral network (Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT), making direct access work for you (Dave Manzo and Mike Manzo, MPT), and building a website and promoting your business online (David Straight, PT, DPT, OCS). Additionally, Aaron Le Bauer, PT, DPT, LMBT, discussed building value for patients in a cash-based model, and Steve Allred, PT, MBA, covered managed care contracting.

After a full day of learning and networking, attendees heard from David Browder, PT, DPT, OCS, on the importance of executing on our goals. He drove home the importance of having systems in place to encourage accountability as well as using objective methods to measure progress toward business and clinical goals.

We finished up the day with a panel discussion and a Q&A session with the speakers. I was fortunate enough to participate in the panel, and I provided social media coverage of the entire event with live Tweets using the hashtag #AscendPT2014. You can search that hashtag and read through not only my live Tweets, but also Tweets from other attendees. Here are some of the key take-home messages from the day:

  • Goal setting: If you don't measure it, you don't mean it. @crfelder #AscendPT2014
  • There is an infinite amount of work but a finite amount of time. Pay attention to the priorities: 3 max. @DavidBrowder_PT #AscendPT2014
  • To differentiate yourself, create a culture and a vibe that a patient can't experience anywhere else. @LeBauerPT #AscendPT2014
  • Pay attn to value drivers if preparing to sell us practice: financials, physical space, policies/procedures...clean it all up. #AscendPT2014
  • Selling your practice: Owner ready Business ready Market ready Joe La Porta #AscendPT2014
  • If your state doesn't have unrestricted direct access, YOU are in the position to refer to the physician of your choice. #AscendPT2014
  • Create brand ambassadors; they are your point of entry to leverage your message to new communities. @steffbiz #AscendPT2014
  • Sit w your staff and write down who is in their 8 Circles of Influence: Who they know and where they go. @steffbiz #AscendPT2014
  • With Direct Access, we are in the power seat of referrals. WE can refer to MD'S. We are colleagues. @HeidiJannenga #AscendPT2014
  • With Direct Access, for the first time, we have a direct line to the consumer. Let's maximize that! #AscendPT2014

In addition to providing an amazing lineup of speakers, WebPT encouraged networking by including several breaks throughout the day. Breakfast and lunch were provided for all attendees, which encouraged participants to stay and talk with fellow conference-goers. I had the pleasure of meeting several “Twitter friends” in real life, and as always, I loved being able to make a face-to-face connection with my virtual acquaintances.

WebPT supports our profession in so many ways, and the Ascend Conference is a prime example of the company’s commitment to empowering therapists to be successful in running their practices. I highly recommend checking out future WebPT events and taking full advantage of any opportunity to learn, connect, and grow.

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