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Physical therapy is business. You already know this, of course. Hopefully you recognize it as a legitimate service filling a legitimate need. It’s high time for this PT to air out some business things. And to slowly raise his hands, declaring “no mas.”
There are 4 outpatient PT clinics within three miles of mine, nested along Bumblebee Hollow Road in Mechanicsburg. I am not affiliated with a national or local health care network. I don’t pay MDs an exorbitant rate to lease their building. There are no doctors or "systems" in my back pocket.
In other words, if I were to do a crappy job, people don't come. In other other words, it's good for patients when referrals to my clinic depend on the kind of work I do. Medical necessity, proficiency, balancing efficiency with quality of care, and other concerns tend to take care of themselves when PTs are not linked with doctor groups. When PTs and MDs are tied together in business agreements, people show up at the door whether the PT does a stellar job or "okay" job.
Even more than that, it's good for patients when their PT lives and works in the same community, and needs to be able to look his neighbors square in the eye.
I want the public to be aware of the merits of my clinic, but not at any cost, and not by ways that cheapen my profession. I will never hire workers to pass fliers door-to-door. This is not a pizza parlor. I will not give kickbacks for exaggerated testimonials or allocate tens of thousands of “marketing” dollars to billboard campaigns and 4-page inserts in the newspaper. The most sought-after clinicians in other disciplines don’t place ads in the Clipper.
More business...All for what? To become busier to hire more PTs to get more hours in a week to need more rooms in a building to open more clinics to start it all over again. Seriously? There may be financial benefits and personal satisfaction, but it will cost you plenty. I can’t fault the PTs who are called to the business route, to some extent. But it’s not my route. It’s not me.
For seven years I worked toward a DPT degree. DPT. I take risks on a mountain bike, not in business. My employer, First Choice Rehabilitation Specialists, is independently owned and operated by a few local therapists. I don’t hear much from them, I suppose because things are fine and they respect my independence. They keep an eye on the numbers, of course, and we help each other on a number of levels. They tolerate my ways, and I’m thankful for that.
Despite all this, the clinic seems to keep doing just fine. There are slow periods, but never for long. To be honest, I’m left a little empty when things are too busy to get to really know my patients. I listen to their stories, not just because it provides valuable insight into treating the whole person. We laugh. They seem interested in my escapades, and they know me.
Go ahead and ask them.
There’s no substitute for competency, but there’s also no substitute for caring, truth, genuine respect, and other critical things you can’t learn in PT or business school.
Do you really want a PT who's in the clinic from 8 to 8 six days a week? I can’t afford that. But I do work three days late into the evening. Those days, I rush home to spend lunchtime with my family. I often return to the clinic with a bit of bicycle grease/grime, little fingerprints or various stains on my pants, from any combination of my daughter and three young sons.
So refer your aunt with a sore neck or coworker with knee pain to the Booger Pants Therapy Guy. That’s the therapy I’m marketing.
That’s who I am.
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