• Avoid Agony When Successfully Starting a Physical Therapy Clinic

    November 27, 2020 | Ed Hershman
  • Anyone associated with medicine, whether a physician, therapist, administrator, or businessperson, knows that physical therapy clinics have a shining, strong future. Unlike other areas of medicine, it’s a field where the patients consistently get well. It is attractive to Workers Comp, Medicare, private insurance, and even Medicaid as a high-quality option for treatment of patients with musculoskeletal disorders as well as specialty needs like women’s health and respiratory issues like Cystic Fibrosis.

    Great! Let’s start a PT clinic!

    Are you considering starting a physical therapy clinic? It’s easy! All you have to do is:

    • get an attorney
    • incorporate your clinic
    • find a location
    • recruit and hire staff
    • do a build-out
    • find and purchase the right equipment
    • find the right IT solution
    • contract and credential yourself and your employees
    • learn the correct and profitable way to bill
    • get referral sources
    • put in place all the right tools to manage your business
    • AND learn and do every other thing in between

    … all while holding down a job!

    Does that seem like a comprehensive list?

    Okay, you can check items off a list, right? But what don’t you know that you don’t know? Consider an example. The Medicare application to obtain a provider number is 47 pages long. One mistake with an incorrectly chosen checked box, and you start all over with credentialing.

    Here’s an analogy for what it’s like to create a physical therapy clinic start up. Imagine an arduous task like rehabbing an old Victorian house. It looks great from the outside, but once you get inside, the nightmare begins. It’s a money pit!

    And don’t forget your day job!

    Physical therapy referral sources

    Before you go any further, the number one concern you should have is absolute certainty you’ll have patient referral sources. You must make sure that those sources will refer at least 15 new patients per month with a diagnosis that requires an average of 12 to 14 visits per new patient. Do not start your business assuming that you will find those referral sources if you do not have them before you open your doors. You don’t have the time or money to find those referral sources while opening your physical therapy practice, treating patients, doing billing, and collecting revenue to run the practice.

    Getting help

    Let’s assume that you already have patient referrals in your back pocket. Next, you must have a plan for putting all of this together into a comprehensive package that is a clinic. Whether you are a physician, clinician, or other, and your decision is to utilize an outside resource to do all of the above, you must find that company and vet them on:

    • expertise
    • experience
    • cost/benefit of their service offerings

    Be cautious, as the cost “savings” of using a physical therapy management company may backfire if your chosen company performs poorly. For instance, a percent of savings in the billing and collection rate may be offset, or worse, by a mediocre billing and collection process. Few companies provide a comprehensive solution to the physical therapy clinic start up, or the ongoing management of it.

    What does a comprehensive solution entail?

    In order to be successful starting a physical therapy clinic and managing it ongoing, the physical therapy management company you hire should have a multi-faceted solution. Not only does this ensure they are working from a big-picture perspective on your behalf, but it enables you to get help with the numerous moving parts, and in a way that is multi-tasked for efficiency. The latter reduces your start up phase dramatically, and gets you treating and billing patients much sooner. This early cash flow might literally be a business-saver.

    The most valuable thing you can do right now for your start up is to research the physical therapy management market for a company that provides all aspects that fit your specific needs. Evaluate them based on their deliverables, as well as their experience and longevity. Consider them as a partner that will assist you for many years, rather than just to kick things off. The right company will ensure you achieve success from day one, and build and manage your future practice. In addition, you’ll get your clinic open much more quickly, with less delays, unknowns, and frustrations (the worst of which are monetary).

    Hopefully, this article sends you with confidence to research the crucial decision of who will provide you everything you need to start up, manage the business ongoing, and conduct billing & collections. Wishing you a productive and profitable physical therapy business for years to come!

    “paper” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0