This year’s annual Ascend conference was focused on helping rehab therapy business owners rethink clinic operations and adapt to the industry-wide changes sparked by COVID-19. As such, there was a heavy emphasis on the importance of diversifying service offerings to help rehab therapists not only continue delivering care to their patients, but also generate enough revenue to keep their businesses afloat. For that reason, we were excited to name Denver-based SymFit® Physical Therapy and Fitness as this year’s Ascend Innovator of the Year award recipient.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Todd Ball, PT, the clinical director and co-owner of SymFit® Physical Therapy and Fitness, about his practice’s mission, its core services, and how he and his team quickly innovated their technological offerings to help physical therapy clinics grow their cash-based revenue streams in response to the pandemic. Check out the interview below!
Tell me a bit about SymFit® Physical Therapy and Fitness. What is the culture like? What makes your clinic stand out from the competition?
SymFit® PT and Fitness is all about patient empowerment, because when it comes to thriving as a cash-based outpatient physical therapy organization, our clinic’s success hinges on patient outcomes. So, we have learned how to transfer accountability for care to the patient, and we’ve developed a system of neutral spine conditioning that bridges the gap between rehabilitation and fitness at a cost that is below the out-of-pocket cost for most insurances. We have worked hard to create a culture centered on accountability and results. It’s our responsibility to see that patients get results—and it’s the patients’ responsibility to adhere to the program.
This requires that we accomplish the following with each referral:
- Educate patients on the foundation of their problem and the lifestyle modifications required to create an environment for change;
- Harness technology and create an effective place for them to reproduce the same results at home that they experience in the clinic;
- Have logical and fail-proof systems in place to ensure patients do not progress beyond their demonstrated neutral spine conditioning level; and
- Provide wellness resources that keep patients engaged with the program long after they reach their goals.
Tell me about your clinic’s mission and core values. What do they mean to you and your staff?
Our mission is to empower the world with the physical wellness education and resources necessary to eliminate musculoskeletal pain associated with faulty posture. We are consistently helping each patient reach this wellness milestone. We have developed a technological infrastructure to help other physical therapists add cash-based, post-physical therapy neutral spine conditioning to expand their scope of care and diversify their cash flow.
We are also firm believers that physical therapists are the most logical medical practitioners to lead the healthy aging movement. Pain drains energy and limits hope—and a physical therapy treatment plan focused only on injury management is a lost opportunity to help patients achieve healthy aging and spread more positive energy throughout the world.
What is SymFit®TV? How did this idea come about, and what is your goal with the platform?
SymFit®TV was created out of necessity in 2015 to break through the constraints posed by insurance-based care. It enabled us to practice the way we felt was most impactful. We knew we needed to add cash-based, post-physical therapy services that utilized technology so that we could lower the cost of those services for patients. We knew we needed a digital platform—what soon became SymFit®TV—to transfer responsibility for care to the patients and streamline provider instruction. We began to use SymFit®TV with the Denver Fire Department to create and deliver workout videos that could be accessed by all 39 of the departments’ firehouses.
The goal of SymFit®TV is to streamline movement instruction on an easy-to-access platform housed on our website—available on all mobile platforms—that encourages patients to adhere to their care plans. For patients, SymFit®TV is a safe place where they can prepare for their next physical therapy treatment and have confidence that they are doing prescribed exercises properly. For physical therapists, SymFit®TV can be an extension of their treatment model that offers a state-of-the-art post-physical therapy treatment program. It can help them implement cash-based revenue streams without adding any new staff, equipment, or costs. It only costs $300 for a SymFit®TV landing page and $1,200 to train a physical therapist assistant or physical therapist on how to teach the workouts.
We strive to provide all physical therapists with a neutral spine conditioning program that is easy to integrate into any clinical setting.
Since launching SymFit®TV, your clinic has also created the SymFit® Healthy Fitness System. Can you tell us how the two programs work in tandem to enhance the patient experience and outcomes?
SymFit® Healthy Fitness System is the path we ask patients to follow to reach complete physical wellness—and SymFit®TV is the vehicle that safely gets them there through virtual medical supervision.
Once patients started going to SymFit®TV to complete their prescribed home exercises, they began to ask what movements they should do in the morning or before bed when they don’t have time to work out during the day (so they can avoid waking up stiff). We had to create video and auditory resources to meet these challenges, and as a result, SymFit® Healthy Fitness System was born. This system organizes all the wellness resources needed to transform faulty posture and faulty loading into healthy movement from neutral spine alignment, thus supporting lifelong injury management and prevention. SymFit® Healthy Fitness System includes:
- Movement principle videos to educate patients on how to get into and move from neutral spine alignment;
- Movement screen resources to identify joint misalignments that require self-correction before strengthening;
- Self-correction techniques to restore neutral joint alignment in the joints that have become hypermobile as a result of collapsed posture or trauma;
- Six levels of neutral spine conditioning exercises to ensure healthy load transfer through vertebral bodies of the spine (and symmetrically through the shoulder, hips and knees); and
- Six levels of functional conditioning exercises that challenge the patient to perform functional tasks without faulty loading patterns at the level of neutral spine conditioning demonstrated.
How has the pandemic impacted your business operations, specifically in regard to SymFit®TV and the SymFit® Healthy Fitness System? How have you responded and adapted?
The pandemic spurred us to launch www.symfittv.com—a website specifically designed to safely guide clients who are outside the Denver market and unable to receive direct patient care. By creating this website, we were able to show even more physical therapy practices how they can use the power of the SymFit® Healthy Fitness System—powered by SymFit®TV—in their practices to add cash-based revenue, expand their scope of care, and get the most out of each referral.
The pandemic has also forced us to adjust our scheduling to ensure we don’t have too many clients in the clinic at a time. Currently, new clients at our Denver clinic are seen in-person once a week and virtually once a week. Fortunately, all of our clients are progressing to the SymFit®2 level of care, and our SymFit®3 cardio fitness level classes are finally growing.
What has been one of your biggest lessons learned this past year?
Perhaps the biggest lesson learned is that technology can help you overcome many barriers in transferring your expertise to those who need it most. This enables you to package knowledge in a way that allows patients to consume it more efficiently and affordably compared to direct patient-based care. Our patients need us no matter what is happening in the world. They must continue through their care plans to achieve optimal results, and we are simply there to guide them through the process that works best for them. It takes a system—and one that offers a lot more than just injury management. Physical therapy is an essential bridge to healthy aging and injury risk reduction throughout the lifespan. We want to help every physical therapy practice convert each referral into a lifelong relationship.
What’s next for SymFit® PT and Fitness?
Our current goal at SymFit® PT and Fitness is to add 20 new physical therapy clinics through our resellers program by the end of 2021, and have at least five of them advance to licensee status by the end of 2022. Licensee credentialing allows a physical therapy practice to use the SymFit® Healthy Fitness System at the beginning of the treatment plan.
We also want to continually refine the movement instruction of our existing workouts and add more fitness level workouts to the program to enhance the patient experience and reduce cost.
Want to learn more about Todd Ball and SymFit® PT and Fitness? Check out the practice’s website, or give SymFit® PT and Fitness a follow on Facebook or Instagram. And if you’re a physical therapy practice looking to enhance your scope of care and add post-physical therapy, cash-based services, check out this page.