Today we kick off a month-long series for physical therapists about how to start a clinic. We know that many therapists either dream of starting their own practice or want to become even better business owners. Over the next month, we'll share with you interviews, tips, and tricks about being a therapist entrepreneur. Today we're excited to share Part I of our interview with WebPT member, Christine Wood, PT, DPT of Waynesboro, VA. Thanks to Christine for her time and advice.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your practice, location, and years in business.

As of this February I have been in business for one year.  I've known for some time that since Waynesboro, VA had only one physical therapy clinic, there was a definite market need. I originally considered opening a clinic seven years ago but decided to have a child instead. I spent the next five years being a mom and working PRN and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do those things.  Last year though, my little girl started kindergarten, so I decided the time was right to move ahead. I’m very blessed to be here. I’ve been a therapist for20 years and opening my own clinic is a long-time dream come true!

Tell us something we wouldn’t know. This can be an interesting fact, a fun anecdote or even a more formal piece of information about starting a PT clinic.

Something funny? Thinking for a little while early on that I could have a child and start a business at the same time.  That was funny! I'm so glad I did it the way we did though.

What is the number one thing you think PT’s need to know before starting their clinic?

As soon as you have a location picked out—and I mean as soon as possible—start getting accredited with the insurance companies. Medicare, in particular, took a very long time. Some of the delay for me was their change of carriers in the middle of processing my application. This slowed the process more than normal, but even without the headaches I suffered, it still takes months. You can’t apply to Medicare until you have a physical location, so do that first.  A bank account is also needed and before that a business license.   After you reach an agreement with the property owner, ask if you can use the address immediately, even if you won't be occupying the property right away due to build-out or other facility delays. This helped speed things up for me and even then I still opened the doors with no insurance carriers. I was able to treat BC/BS and Medicare patients, since those carriers take the dates and back-pay for those patients. You need to make sure the timing is right though so you don't wind up treating for free. Luckily, for me, it all came through.

What is something that you wish someone had told you before starting your clinic?

Same as above. I wish someone would have told me that insurance accreditation was so difficult and time-consuming. I had been told Medicare was the hardest, so I started with Medicare and put off BC/BS. I wish I would have started all of them at the same time. They all take a long time. 

To continue reading Part II of our interview with Christine, click here. Enjoy!

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