When I was a physical therapy student, I always knew that one day I would open up my own private practice.  My initial perceptions were only about the money, deliriously thinking that in private practice I’d make big bucks while at the same time doing what I love practicing physical therapy.  Selfish, I know.  Well I’ve grown much wiser since then.  I’ve learned that such a reality, while not entirely impossible, is not the way I’d want to live my life.  The focus on only monetary values leads to pretty unsightly results. 

High volume.  Decreased time spent with patients.  Belittling reimbursements and contracts.  Heavy overhead for billing and associated staff.  Bloated operations.

Sad that as a recent graduate I’m already disgusted with how private practices have to operate. 

As a recent graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit, I’m presented with two choices.  I could settle to operate in the status quo, where I could still possibly be  successful or innovate to practice in a better business model, with returns that benefit more than the business itself.  I recently completed a project to create a business plan, which was an excellent lesson in seeing how all the numbers worked out.  I designed the plan exploring the idea of a solely cash-based practice, along with other progressive concepts.  Although I was navigating through unknowns, considering the currently flawed reality as the alternative, I’ll optimistically work in the uncertainty.  The cash-only model would eliminate insurances’ associated heavy overhead of staffing and operations.  One progressive concept is the idea that business must now play a vital role in increasing the wealth of the human experience in the community, instead of the monetary wealth of the business itself.  My business plan sought out to increase the wealth of the community’s health and health knowledge. 

Now I’m still learning and exploring how innovations in technology and business can apply to building a new physical therapy practice.  My to-read list of books seems to constantly grow.  The same applies to reading the blogs that I follow.  I’ll keep reading and increasing my knowledge base, but I do know that I’ll eventually need to put it all into practice.  From my readings, I highly suggest Umair Haque’s publication Betterness:Economics for Humans.  Consider this a primer about the role of business for the future.  This book has motivated me to further my personal/professional development and helped shape my vision of my own private practice for tomorrow’s economy.

So what’s my main motivator now?  Definitely not the money.  Instead I want to go into private practice for one thing - to practice physical therapy, educating my patients and the community, to improve their health.  How would I want to practice?  Smart and sustainable, utilizing technology to better the patient experience.  This is the private practice in the future that I strive to open and grow.

Today's post is contributed by Ryan Balmes DPT. Ryan Balmes graduated in May 2011, currently working as an orthopedic resident at LSU-Shreveport.  You can follow him on Twitter @RyanBalmesPT and read his blog at http://ryanbalmespt.com.

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