The WebPT team attended and exhibited at the annual APTA PPS 2010 Conference last week in Washington DC. This conference emphasized the business side of PT and how to improve your practice. This year's focus was marketing and tools to build your business. In this time of declining revenues per visit, PT clinic owners are being forced to think outside the box and really go after referrals, improve their billing practices to maximize returns, develop creative staff retention ideas, and come up with alternative cash-based services that can be offered to increase revenues.
Of the classes that I attended, several sessions stood out with information that could be taken right back to the clinic and implemented.
Kevin Basile, PT, OCS, MTC and Roger Nelson, PT, PhD, FAPTA spoke on productivity as a key strategy in practice management. As the decline in therapy procedure reimbursement continues, the logical thought to most is, "well, I guess I have to see more patients." According to Basile and Nelson, this is not necessarily the case. They advocate for change in the professional behavior and practice to be more productive:
- Focus on function and not impairments
- Vary treatment frequency depending on the patient diagnosis, treatment goals and patient condition
- Provide only those services needed and bill appropriately, and limit the use of passive modalities.
Implementing these changes can allow therapists to be more productive without questioning quality of care standards. If an insurance company is not willing to pay for the Cadillac service they why continue to give the time consuming fluff that you are not getting paid for? Provide the patient with what they truly need to make them better. This is where the skill of the therapist becomes of utmost importance.
Marketing Your Practice
The benefits of marketing and implementing new ideas within your clinic were discussed throughout the conference. Highlights included Iris Kimberg MSPT, OTR 's lecture on marketing which included some good insight on why marketing is necessary, the value added to differentiate yourself, and the many tools out there that can me implemented.
Also, an "E-Team" (E = entrepreneur) group presentation led by Janet Bezner, PT, PhD discussed the importance of innovation and the difficulties of change when trying to "renew your practice." They brought out some very interesting points of approach including: creating other entrepreneurs within your practice, creating an environment that supports innovation and encourages change, and re-evaluating your business often to recognize the challenges in your practice so that solutions can be implemented pro-actively. They admitted "Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving it up." Staff involvement and creating "idea champions" were methods given to overcome the "creativity killers."
This conference also allows for attendees to really spend time with vendors in the exhibit hall to see new innovations and implement some of the course ideas into their clinics. The exhibit hall sells out every year due to the overwhelming response of the attendees to see and use their products. It is a valuable resource for clinic owners to see and compare products all in 1 place without having to take more time away from seeing patients in the clinic.
If you are a private practice owner and have not attended a PPS Conference I highly recommend that you make the effort to attend.
After spending a day after the conference was over to debrief, destress, and take in the historic sites of Washington DC, a statement etched on a marble wall of the Korean War Memorial caused goose bumps up my body: "Freedom is not Free." Maybe because it was the week prior to Veteran's Day and there were groups of veterans from many different wars gathered to salute themselves and their fellow soldiers for the jobs done in the name of our country that seemed to make the phrase mean that much more.
Or maybe its just the reality that we take for granted most of the privileges that the USA provides us with including healthcare, entrepreneurship, and freedom to blog about it. It may not be perfect, and we all have our opinions on how it could be better, but that is part of what this country is all about.