By Kristen Wilson, PT, DPT
I found myself amid a revenue conversation over lunch the other day with an outside-PT business owner.
I was explaining how in the world of physical therapy—and medicine, for that matter—unless you are solely a cash-based practice, providers are at the whim of government and non-government (but influenced by government) payers that predetermine the payment for our services. I was explaining this phenomenon, to which he replied, “You mean, if you provide a better product, have better outcomes, and exceptional customer service, you still get paid the same as someone who doesn’t?” I sheepishly said yes, and immediately was embarrassed and infuriated to have such an atrocity associated with the profession I love so dearly.
If you’re like me, conversations like these leave our profession seemingly rendered powerless. However, my time associated with this section has taught me one thing above all else, the private practice physical therapist is anything but powerless. Despite being handcuffed by regulations and rules outside our control, there are many elements of our business that we can control regarding revenue and finance. Eliminating unfavorable contracts, ensuring a steady customer base through excellent service, implementing alternative compensation models, and maintaining air-tight revenue cycle management are a few of the opportunities where we, as business owners, can succeed in optimizing our cashflow in an environment where top line revenue per visit may be relatively fixed. In addition, it is important not to underestimate the significance of diversifying our revenue portfolio to allow enhanced cash options when operating primarily in an insurance-driven practice. Our ingenuity as a profession extends beyond the creativity of our treatment sessions and can wildly enhance how we approach our business strategy.
This month’s issue of Impact highlights tips and tricks to optimize your revenue cycle management and encourages the reader to think outside the box regarding alternative revenue streams. Building off our August marketing issue, September’s content further creates a sense of calm in our relatively paralyzing market. For a better understanding of the revenue cycle, be sure to check out Julianne Brandt’s article titled “The Revenue Cycle and Clinical Excellence – Educate to Connect the Dots for your Team.” Nate Welch highlights how fitness opportunities can diversify your revenue stream in “Maximize the Profit in your Fitness Program,” and Steve Line shares some of his “Money Woes” as a way to quell the anxieties of those feeling the squeeze. Regardless of your current revenue situation, you’re sure to find helpful information in this month’s issue.
We may not have the same control of our revenue like that experienced by other industries that can readily adjust their prices and expected income accordingly. But one thing the private practice physical therapist does have is grit and determination. Through tools like those provided in this issue along with the many resources this section provides to optimize your financial prowess, we will overcome the financial barriers that hinder our growth. And don’t forget that our best avenue for improving the limits placed on our revenue by government and private payers is through advocacy. Continue to fight for our value as a profession by sharing the good work you do with local legislators, businesses, and consumers. While our services may have a fixed dollar amount, our role in society as a profession that lifts others to their highest potential will always be invaluable, and there are creative ways to capture the value we create.