5 Things to Nail Down Before Starting Your Physical Therapy Practice

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Physical therapist assisting older client during a stretch

Here’s what you need to know.

You’re ready to start your own small physical therapy business! Whether you want to be your own boss or feel like you can better serve your community, it’s an exciting step. But it’s also a huge undertaking. Small businesses are very fragile early on, especially in their first year. At Fusion, we want to help you because supporting practices like yours means making a difference in the lives of people who need you. That’s why we’ll offer a few tips to help you during your journey to own your physical therapy practice.

 

Are You Ready to Start?

First Steps: Planning and Paperwork

  • Start with a solid, long-term business plan, and understand that it might be a while before you start making money.
  • Your plan should span years and be broken down into simple, actionable steps. For example, your first order of business might be to set up a business name and corporation. You could break that down into researching and picking a name, setting up your company, providing the necessary paperwork, and paying the fee.
  • These steps may seem simple, but some can take months or require other, more complicated steps. Ever had to fill out a form at the DMV only to get told you have to fill out a different form first? Business paperwork can be like that at times.

 

Create a Pricing Plan

Make sure you have a transparent pricing plan. Can your client afford these rates? Can your business stay afloat, and can you live off your billable services? Think about how they compare to your competitors. Are you cheaper or more expensive? Why? Having a transparent pricing strategy helps you in two ways.

  • First, it can help you set a foundation for your revenue cycle. Imagine going to a place that raises its price every time you return. You would stop going.
  • Second, having transparent pricing shows prospective clients you’re going to be clear and direct with them, in addition to providing them with information that will help them make their decision. With the increasing complexity of healthcare, transparent pricing is a breath of fresh air for clients.

 

Startup Costs

  • Don’t forget to take your starting costs into account. According to Step-by-Step Business, you could spend anywhere between $12,000 and $30,000 for basics like permits, licenses, rental, insurance, marketing, and website setup.
  • That’s before you even start making money, and some of these costs (like utilities) will be repeated. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s, especially with licensing, credentialing, and regulatory requirements. Your state regulations may differ from other states, so be sure to double-check.

 

Why You?

Marketing 101

This seems like a silly question, but it needs to be answered.

  • Why should people go to your practice and not someone else’s?
  • If you’re looking for staff, why should they work for you and not another physical therapist? This question will help you market yourself to prospective clients.
  • Do you do something no one else does, or do it better? How and why?
  • Are you in a convenient location?
  • Do you work with an underserved population?

You might not have to be unique, but you need to give people a reason to pick you. If 10 other physical therapists focus on sports injuries in the area, it might be worth rethinking your business plan.

 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

  • A good way to establish yourself is by establishing a strong referral network. If doctors and gyms know you and your business, they’ll be more likely to recommend you to their customers.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact other practices if you have a niche specialty they don’t. For example, while many physical therapists treat people with sports injuries, fewer people might treat musicians.
  • It’s easy to view other practices as competition, but you’ll get more opportunities to shine by being part of the community. And, of course, you can reach out to places where your clients would be.

 

Invest in Technology

Work Smarter, Not Harder

When used right, technology can be a wonderful thing. As a busy small business owner, we advise you to focus on finding tools that allow you to work smarter, not harder.

For every tool you need, consider your familiarity and how much time you can invest in learning the software. For example, you might be very tech-savvy, so you could pick a more demanding platform to set up your website. Or maybe you hired a social media coordinator that could benefit from social listening tools. If you find yourself doing a lot of teletherapy, make sure your internet connection can handle it.

 

Pick the Right EMR

No technology will be more important than your Electronic Medical Records (EMR). This will be your primary software, where you spend most of your time outside of caring for patients. For small or solo practitioners, using an all-in-one, fully integrated practice management system like Fusion can make a world of difference. Don’t forget that the goal of using any software should always be to simplify your work. If your EMR is not doing that, it’s time to switch.

Picking the right software is not easy. There are so many options and so little time. If you need help choosing an EMR, why not read our eBook? We highlight some must-haves for physical therapists and a couple of “would be nice to have” as well.

Our recommendations?

  • Look for an EMR that allows you to cut time spent on documentation without compromising on the level of detail. Fusion offers customizable templates with pre-built goal banks and objectives specifically for physical therapy.
  • We also highly recommend using an automated billing tool that automates claim submission, invoice creation and processing, automatically processes ERA, streamlines remittance, and allows you to send batch claims. And, of course, make sure your clients can pay online!

 

Sign up for a free demo of Fusion today!

 

Don’t Stop Learning

Jack of All Trades

As a small business owner, you’ll have to wear many hats. Even if you have staff members, you might dabble in many different specialties, from marketing to administration. You can only become an expert in so many things, but you should make sure to keep an eye on key industry trends to keep growing.

  • Take the time to attend seminars, conferences, fairs, or industry events.
  • Attend webinars, read articles, and sign up for relevant newsletters.
  • If you have staff, make sure they can also attend regular training and tutorials.

 

Keep Up with Competition

Another reason to keep learning? Staying ahead of industry trends can help you differentiate your practice. For example, if you specialize in athletics, you need to know about new trends in the fitness community. Some practitioners add staff or learn to do things like acupuncture to offer more services.

 

Use Resources

Creating all the necessary resources seems daunting if you’re starting your practice from scratch. But you don’t have to do everything yourself. The internet is full of free or cheap resources available for entrepreneurs and clinicians (make sure you have permission). Read blogs, download eBooks, and take advantage of giveaways. Other practices might help you find good deals.

Your partners and vendors may offer more freebies than you think.

 

Lighten Your Load

Manage Time Wisely

You’re finally set up and ready to go! While it might be tempting to accept any and all clients and reach out to even more, make sure your practice can handle it.

  • Are your notes getting done on time?
  • Are you collecting revenue from these appointments?
  • If you have staff, can they provide the right care with the additional workload?

You don’t need new clients if you’re skipping lunch to chase claims. You need to review your operations. Burnout is a real problem; even the hardest-working, most driven among us need some downtime to provide the best care possible.

 

Is It Time to Outsource Billing?

If you struggle to get any free time or see your billable hours steadily decline, it might be time to ask for help. That doesn’t always mean you have to hire staff. Some tasks can be outsourced to companies or freelancers.

We’ve heard from so many practitioners that insurance billing really puts a dent in their free time. Every hour spent arguing with insurance companies or adjusting claims is another hour you could have helped a client or finished notes. If you’re struggling with collections, we highly recommend you look into revenue cycle management services.

With Fusion, that means all the weight of insurance billing is taken off your shoulders. Our team handles everything from A to Z, giving you more time. And since we only get paid when you do, we’re committed to ensuring you get paid well and on time.

 

Conclusion

Even as you prepare to start your own business, don’t forget you’re not alone. You can use resources, communities, and networks to stay on track. Take it slowly and methodically. As frustrating as it may be to fill out form after form and crunch numbers years in advance, it can help you establish the strong foundation your practice needs to flourish. Think of starting your business like growing a tree: it takes a lot of time, planning, and resources, and at first, you might wonder why you’re going through all the trouble just to see a fragile twig. But with hard work and determination as fertilizer, you will eventually build strong roots and start branching out.

 

Sign up for a free demo of Fusion today!

 

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