Those of you who have been in the rehab therapy business for a while have seen first-hand how much the industry has changed over the last few decades. Back when I first started practicing—more than 15 years ago—we were working in a very corporate-dominated environment. Many of the small, independent, “mom and pop” practices had fallen victim to therapy giants like HealthSouth and NovaCare.

However, when the economy tanked in the early 2000s, so did many of the top dogs. It wasn’t pretty. Bankruptcy and dissolution headlines splashed across the business pages of major newspapers as did reports of Medicare fraud and therapists cheating both the system and their patients. It was a PR nightmare and a serious low point for our profession.

But as an industry, we bounced back—and this time, we did things differently. The corporate backlash swung the pendulum back to an emphasis on providing exemplary patient care and gave independent private practices an opportunity to shine. The direct access movement further strengthened the viability of small therapy practices. It was an amazing shift—for us and for our patients. But it didn’t last long.

Today, with the combined pressure of strict documentation standards, ever-increasing regulations, and declining reimbursements, the pendulum is starting to swing back in the other direction. There’s a lot of chatter about consolidation, mergers, and acquisitions. Small therapy practice owners are struggling—struggling to communicate the value of their services, struggling to educate themselves on the changing regulations, struggling to stay afloat. And so, they’re considering giving up. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to throw in the towel—and you shouldn’t. But old ways of thinking and antiquated business practices must change. Rehab therapy isn’t going away; in fact, I believe it will only become more important, and rightly so, as the US continues to reform health care. We’re at a formative time in our industry right now, a time where we can ensure that private practice not only endures, but flourishes. But to do that, we need to be smarter, more agile, and more business savvy.

That’s why we’re focusing this month on clinic management best practices. We have the opportunity to create a competitive advantage for our industry that will outlast any changes that come our way—and it all starts with awareness, education, and dedication. It starts with us as therapists taking on the challenge of change and seeing the potential for great opportunities. Are you with me?

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  • 3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice Image

    articleApr 7, 2016 | 8 min. read

    3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice

    As physical therapists, we’re observant. We closely examine movements, attentively listen to patient complaints, and expertly read between the lines. Unfortunately, though, we don’t always give that level of attention to the non-clinical stuff. Because while we’re expert empathizers, we’re not the strongest scrutinizers. And when it comes to business, you need to scrupulously scrutinize. I worked as a physical therapist for more than 15 years, and I spent a good portion of that time as a …

  • Founder Letter: The Cost-Shifting Conundrum: How to Combat High Patient Copays Image

    articleAug 6, 2019 | 9 min. read

    Founder Letter: The Cost-Shifting Conundrum: How to Combat High Patient Copays

    In our 2019 State of Rehab Therapy survey , 80% of respondents cited payer requirements as the top reason their organizations require physician referrals as a condition of treatment (even in states with unrestricted direct access ). Additionally, high copays and coinsurances were by far the top-ranked regulatory issue in terms of impact to the physical therapy industry and profession. In other words, as it stands, the insurance industry (and its propensity to shift costs onto patients …

  • 6 Things I Wish Anyone Would Have Told Me About Being a PT Image

    articleJul 26, 2017 | 7 min. read

    6 Things I Wish Anyone Would Have Told Me About Being a PT

    I realized I wanted to be a physical therapist after experiencing—and rehabbing—a knee injury while playing collegiate basketball. But until I actually became a PT, I didn’t understand what it really meant to practice physical therapy. A physical therapist not only treats a patient’s injury; he or she treats the whole person. And if that PT is in private practice, he or she also is trying to run a business while staying on top of changing market …

  • Founder Letter: 3 Ways Your Practice is Losing Money Image

    articleMay 5, 2016 | 7 min. read

    Founder Letter: 3 Ways Your Practice is Losing Money

    Much like the patients you treat, your practice can appear healthy on the outside despite significant internal issues. And when those issues are money-related, the consequences can be deadly. If your practice already is in the red, you know you’ve got some pretty serious cash flow problems. But even if you’re in the black every month, you may still be washing dollars down the drain. While there are myriad ways your practice might inadvertently be losing revenue, …

  • 7 Things to Know Before Buying a PT Practice Image

    articleFeb 15, 2019 | 7 min. read

    7 Things to Know Before Buying a PT Practice

    Many physical therapists dream of owning their own practice one day. While some clinicians wait until they’ve been working for years before they take the plunge, more and more new graduates are opting for clinic ownership right out of school. Regardless of when the timing feels right, one of the biggest decisions facing an aspiring clinic owner is whether to buy an existing PT practice or start one from scratch . Many folks wind up purchasing existing …

  • Choosing the Right Location and Specialty Image

    articleMar 19, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Choosing the Right Location and Specialty

    Which came first: the location or the specialty? It’s private practice’s own version of the classic chicken-and-egg conundrum. Your location will absolutely influence who you treat and thus determine the relevancy of your specialty, and your specialty will certainly impact where you set up shop and what market you serve. Luckily, in this toss-up, there is a variable: choice. As the clinician, you have to decide what’s more important: your specialty or where you treat.   Location, …

  • 4 Subtle Ways You're Killing the Patient Experience Image

    articleJun 22, 2018 | 6 min. read

    4 Subtle Ways You're Killing the Patient Experience

    A positive patient experience is essential for instilling confidence and security in your patients—and for sustaining a healthy practice. When patients feel rushed, dismissed, or expendable, they’ll often drop out prematurely —and possibly seek care from a different PT (or move on to a whole other discipline). With that in mind, here are some of the common ways you’re subtly sabotaging the patient experience that you work so hard to create in your practice: 1. Providing a …

  • Founder Letter: Culture, Compensation, and Career: The Elements of a Competitive PT Hiring Package Image

    articleApr 4, 2018 | 11 min. read

    Founder Letter: Culture, Compensation, and Career: The Elements of a Competitive PT Hiring Package

    There’s never been a better time to be a physical therapist: there’s a large population of aging—yet active—baby boomers, direct access is now the law of the land in all 50 states, and the healthcare system at large is moving toward a value-based care paradigm that prioritizes the delivery of safe, cost-effective treatment. At the same time, this year’s class of new PT graduates is on pace to be larger than ever, with as many as 10,600 …

  • Why I Paid $75 Per PT Visit for Two Months Image

    articleAug 24, 2018 | 9 min. read

    Why I Paid $75 Per PT Visit for Two Months

    When I woke up after a night of boot-scootin’ my way down Lower Broadway—Nashville’s famous honky-tonk alley—my head wasn’t the only thing that hurt. In fact, the moment I stepped out of bed, I knew I was in serious trouble, even if I wasn’t quite ready to admit it to myself. Part of me was in denial that I could actually injure myself from swinging through one too many do-si-dos. But, the shooting pain I felt on …

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