APTA Federal Government Affairs Leadership Award recipient.
Interview by Kelly Sanders, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC
This year, the APTA Federal Government Affairs Leadership Award was given to PPS member Mark Anderson. Established in 2013, this annual award was created to recognize the efforts and achievements of an APTA member in advancing the association’s federal government affairs objectives. We caught up with Mark to discuss his contributions in this area of advocacy and find out what piqued his interest in this important area of APTA service.
Q: Would you share a bit about your background and the roles you have played in the government affairs arena over the years?
A: My interest in government affairs issues started as Utah chapter president. Multiple state issues were brewing, and I tried to take a proactive approach in dealing with issues before they heated up. Rodney Miyasaki, an earlier chapter president, set a great example [by] getting direct access without any opposition. I began going to Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s and made my first Capitol Hill visits in 1994.
Q: What was the catalyst that got you involved in government affairs? Was it a particular issue, person, etc?
A: I learned quickly that Hill staff “made the world go round.” Establishing relationships and providing Congressional staff with information and assistance went a long way. One day, I got a call from a Representative’s chief of staff saying the member was bringing Newt Gingrich (then Speaker of the House) to town. She asked if I could rally our troops to get some people to attend. I quickly reached out to a local physical therapy school and our chapter, and at the end of the day, we had a sizable crowd present for the event. Time and time again, providing needed data and being consistent in messaging has paid off. Over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to be an APTA key contact for Orrin Hatch. During this time, I have been able to get to know and work with his health policy advisors. We have established friendships and spent time discussing issues in Washington as well as in our state. I have become very comfortable contacting Senator Hatch’s office whenever we are facing time sensitive issues that affect our profession. I am confident that we provide them with accurate information and information that is focused on our patients.
Q: What issues are you particularly passionate about right now? What do you think are the most important issues facing physical therapy right now?
A: Each year our lobbying efforts focus on three primary issues. Trying to work on more issues seems to take away focus. Depending on the year, we have focused on the therapy cap, direct access, referral for profit, and student loan repayment assistance. During the past 10 years, my number one legislative issue has been the therapy cap and associated limitations. Due to the length of time we have spent on this issue at the Hill, it is very unusual for any of our Congressional contacts to not have a solid understanding of the therapy cap. If you were to ask me what issue I am the most passionate about and the one I love to educate and discuss, it would be referral for profit and the in-office ancillary exceptions. In the past two years we have been able to discuss this issue as a potential way to pay for costs associated with fixing the cap. Congress always wants to know how much a particular issue will cost. It is very nice to report a savings with fixing referral for profit and a budget neutral for student loan assistance.
One of the most enjoyable offshoots of my legislative work has been taking students and other therapists to visit Congress. Planning a visit and assigning speaking points is exciting. Having a new attendee’s experience be a positive experience and watching their confidence build as the day unfolds is exhilarating. Over the years, Kim Cohee (Utah’s APTA key contact) and I have been able to share this experience with a significant number of therapists and students.
In the many years I have been walking through the halls of Congress, I have never felt the urgency of our messages more than I do today. Congress is polarized. Blame is plentiful. If we do not maintain a steady effort in reminding policy makers what is at stake, our patients and our profession will lose all that has been gained.
Kelly Sanders, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, is a member of the Impact editorial board. She can be reached at Kelly@movementforlife.com.
What media giants like Amazon can teach the private practice owner.
By Nitin Chhoda, PT, DPT
This is an analysis of an article that appeared in the April 23, 2012 issue of Forbes magazine. www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/04/04/bezos-tips/
Amazon’s business model has evolved significantly since Jeff Bezos founded the company in 1994 while driving cross-country from New York to Seattle. During a fascinating 40-minute interview at a recent annual event called “Invent” in Las Vegas, Bezos revealed some fundamental insights into the way he enabled Amazon to emerge as the biggest retailer in the world.
Here are five ways in which Amazon’s fundamental business practices can help every entrepreneur, young or old.
“We only win when our customers win. We sell our hardware (Kindle) at breakeven. We make money when people use the device, not when they buy the device.”
Lesson for the private practice owner
Focus on a “patient centric” experience. When patients interact with your practice (and your staff), the practice will see more referrals, increased adoption of cash paying programs, higher customer value, and more goodwill in the marketplace. Align with patients as much as possible. Create long-term benefit for patients with new and innovative ways to serve patients.
“The more important question is not ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years, it is ‘What is NOT going to change in the next 10 years.’”
Lesson for the private practice owner
Build a business that endures the test of time by asking, “What do customers really want?” Create a foundation around the things that remain constant over a period of time. A customer will always want better service and more options at a lower price, faster than ever before.
“The big ideas in business are always obvious but it is hard to maintain a firm grasp of the obvious at all times.”
Lesson for the private practice owner
The things that matter are right under your nose. Don not look for that “secret sauce” or “competitive edge.” The biggest changes to your business are based on the fundamental principles of value creation and supply versus demand. If you can dedicate time, energy, and resources toward the things that really matter to patients, you will grow your practice and increase value for your patients.
“The balance of power is shifting from providers to consumers.”
Lesson for the private practice owner
Shift your marketing from traditional advertising to direct-to-consumer advertising with targeted marketing. As a private practice, reach out to other local businesses that cater to your patients. Align your benefits with them, and this action will help you find new ways to reach patients. Think of innovative ways to reach your customers, since they have the decision making power and are becoming increasingly aware of it.
Successful invention involves a high rate of experimentation, and it’s something that customers care about. Build a customer centric, not product centric, company.
Lesson for the private practice
Do not be afraid of trying new things in your practice. If you are right, your patients will give you feedback. If you are wrong, they will not care. The more you experiment, the more likely you are to identify ways to keep and grow your patients.
Offer additional, ancillary services that help patients get better and healthier, and do not “restrict” yourself to traditional models of care.
One physical therapy practice gets creative with its aquatic programming.
Veronica Paquette, PT, ATRIC, PRC
Running a physical therapy practice is similar to running any kind of a business: You need to find (or make) a niche. What that niche consists of is up to you and your team, but it has to stand out among the other options patients and physicians have.
Years ago, our Vermont practice needed to increase not only the number of patients we wanted to see, but also our options for treating those patients. Though we use land-based methods, we realized that being able to offer a complementary type of therapy treatment would be advantageous for both our patients, as well as our business. After careful planning, we determined that adding aquatic programming to our physical therapy techniques was the innovation we needed to round out our abilities and offerings.
It Is Easier Than You Think!
By Claire M Mysliwy, SPT
University of Illinois at Chicago, DPT, Class of 2014
As students, we talk at length about the core values that guide our profession: accountability, altruism, compassion, excellence, integrity, professional duty, and social responsibility. But how exactly can I put these values into action? I am only a student, only one individual. Can I really make a difference? It definitely seems overwhelming at times. However, students, as well as practicing professionals, can find ways to get involved, stay involved, and make a difference in our profession on an individual basis with the APTA.
By Andrew Vertson, PT, DPT, ATC
Executive Summary: Having a specific mission, sharing your specific vision, and monitoring your practice formula work together to build a strong, viable practice.
They say if you know where you are coming from, you know where you are going to go. As a private practice owner and as pillar of your community, there is nothing more important than a powerful, grand vision that excites and motivates others. Here are five guidelines that will help you create a vision that will not only set you apart, but also helps you to define your goals, and create parameters to exceed them and surprise yourself in the process.
1) Make The Vision of Your Practice BIGGER and BETTER Than Everyone Else
Patients can go to any physical therapy practice they choose, and doctors can refer to any physical therapist, so what are you doing to INSTANTLY set yourself apart?
Here’s one example. You can make this a part of your vision:
To help 50,000 people in your community live pain free, healthy lives by 2015.
You should get every single patient; every single doctor involved in your mission right away, and explain to them why they should be a part of it.
The key words here are – RIGHT AWAY.
One of the mistakes a lot of private practice owners make with a mission is to make it a ‘free for all’. Your mission (and its followers) needs to have an air of exclusivity to it, almost like an insiders club. When the human brain perceives a bit of a barrier to entry, it becomes more likely to say “I want this” as opposed to when you think “I can do this anytime, and if I won’t then someone else will. I don’t have to do it RIGHT AWAY”
That’s exactly how most visions start with a bang, and the enthusiasm gradually goes go down the drain.
So, not only do you set it up so that a ‘select few’ can become a part of your mission, you also set up mechanisms for accountability so that the ‘insiders’ have to do something CONSISTENTLY for you to make strides towards the shared vision.
Notice that I said shared vision. Once a vision crosses over the ‘threshold’, it no longer becomes YOUR vision, it becomes OUR vision. It transcends you and gains a life of its own.
2) Explain Your Vision Using Multiple Modes Of Delivery; Printed Booklets, Audio, Video
People have different learning styles. To teach people what your vision is all about, make use of multiple modes of education. Be creative in the way you explain your vision. Examples include videos in your website, audio CD’s, DVD’s, and printed booklets.
For most individuals, video is a preferred medium for information consumption. A video on your website that explains your mission will be more powerful than anything you say or print.
3) Share You Vision With As Many People As Possible And Always Write A Future “Paced” Vision
Here is an example:
The year is 2015, and we just realized that we helped 50,000 people live pain-free and become healthier in the community. We conducted a patient appreciation event, which was attended by over 300 individuals in our community. We had a great time visiting old friends and meeting new ones.
It was an amazing experience, considering that a large number of our patients were suffering from chronic pain and were overweight.
Now they’ve gone on to become pillars of our community and have been able to help their friends and family live pain-free and healthier lives.
For most of our patients, it was like a family reunion, seeing friends they made all the way back in 2011 when they first met in our clinic. Since that first year, our community has grown exponentially and now reaches over 50,000 individuals across 7 counties speaking 5 different languages.
4) Make It Easy For People Explain You Vision To Other Individuals
Make it as easy as possible for people to explain your vision to others. They need to be able to explain “the who”, “the what”, and “the why” of the vision. Most importantly, they need to be able to tie in the vision with some aspect of their personal lives. When an individual has a deep, meaningful connection with your vision, they will become your most ardent supporters.
The reason we go to school and become physical therapists is usually because we want to impact and change people’s lives and be compensated fairly well in the process. We are taught to be excellent clinicians (as we all are), but when it comes to running a business, our expertise can fall short.
The truth is, there is a big difference between being a viable practitioner and a viable practice owner. Getting patients to walk in is one part of the equation. Treating them well (literally) and conditioning them to refer from day one will be a critical component of a successful practice in this new economy.
Post discharge follow up using a combination of email, text messaging on their mobile phones, direct mail, phone call follow ups is the differentiator between a clinic struggling for referrals and one that is overflowing with patients.
This isn’t just about ‘educating patients’ and doctors about the benefits of physical therapy, this is about becoming an important part of the patient’s day to day life.
5) Introducing the “Private Practice Success Formula”
This is called the “Private Practice Success Formula” and it can be summarized as
PS + VP + AF + PM = Private Practice Success
The new economy practice will have the following components in place even before the practice opens its doors for the first time:
PS = Prospect Stimulators
A prospect stimulator is an educational tool (book, audio CD, DVD, online course) that helps educate patients and leads them back to the clinic for more information. For example, an audio program on “7 things you can do to overcome low back pain” which leads to an offer for an appointment in the clinic can function as a ‘prospect stimulator’. Every clinic should have at least 5, preferably 10 or more prospect stimulators that are constantly distributed using various channels in the community
VP = Valuable Prospects
A high school student without insurance and the means to pay for physical therapy may not be a good candidate for your services (from a business point of view) as compared to an executive with the right type of insurance, someone who will not hesitate to pay his copay and even an appointment cancellation fee (which should be mandatory in all practices). Your practice must maintain visibility in front of your most ‘valued prospects’ using a web presence (search engine optimization), social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), print (strategically placed advertisements), direct mail (postcards to a targeted mailing list) and personal phone call follow ups (with selected patients) to drive them, their friends and family back to your clinic. This should not be a ‘once in a while’ thing. It has to be done for 2-3 hours every week, since this activity will sustain your practice during tough times.
AF = Ascension Funnel
The biggest mistake made by most private practice owners is the wrong offer. Patients are completely desensitized at the prospect of a ‘free consultation’. They don’t even care for a ‘complimentary evaluation’ in an ad filled with nice images and pictures of the physical therapist. Every advertisement should have one purpose and one purpose only – to get the contact information of the prospect and introduce them to your marketing funnel. Once the prospects information (name, email, phone number) is obtained, someone from your office, who is very experienced in ‘closing’ the patient so they NOW want to come in, is important. Too many practices waste tens of thousands of dollars trying to ‘close’ the patient right away with an ad. This is a cardinal sin – it’s like proposing on the first date. The chances of success are pretty slim.
The ‘new economy’ practice will patiently get the prospect to know, like and trust the practice and/or practitioners with personal stories and testimonials that elicit emotion and ‘human connection’ as opposed to color pictures, beautiful equipment in an ad that patients will spend 15-30 seconds reading.
PM = Patient Metrics
Every strategic private practice owner must keep an eye on important business metrics that pertain to each patient.
The success of a ‘new economy’ practice is measured by the following ‘patient metrics’
a) The ‘LVP’ or lifetime value of the patient. This can be increased significantly by offering more products and services. It can also be increased by raising your prices for such products and services, which are not price regulated and independent of insurance reimbursements
b) The ‘PL’ or patient longevity – is the patient coming back to you or referring their family and friends? How many of your patients are becoming your ambassadors and coming back to you or driving more people to your door? Increasing patient longevity through patient conditioning is the fastest way to grow a practice. It yields greater results and take less time, money and effort than trying to ‘schmooze’ doctors and build new referral relationships
c) The ‘TS’ or therapist status, with regards to the importance of physical therapy – Are you constantly (yet delicately) reminding patients about your expertise, authority and the benefits of physical therapy? Patients lose enthusiasm for ANY service over a period of time and you need to build systems to keep them constantly engaged, enthused and motivated to come in for treatment and become your ambassadors. You must promote the ‘concept’ of wellness and how physical therapy can help, NOT the ‘brand’ or the ‘company’ that provides it. Patients are interested in the process of treatment, but this interest wanes dramatically after the first few visits, leading to an inevitable decline of therapist status
d) The number of patient visits each week. This is directly related to ‘volume’. Most practices assume that increased volume equals increased profits. While this may be true, it’s possible to increase net profits WITHOUT increasing patient volume by increasing LVP, PL and TS
Andrew Vertson, PT, DPT, ATC, is a PPS member, founder, and CEO of Intecore Physical Therapy in Orange County, CA. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Intecore Physical Therapy
26700 Towne Centre Drive, Suite 120
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610