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Connie Ziccarelli, COO and principal

Connie Ziccarelli owns Rehab Management Solutions located in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin, and has been in business since 1995. The business provides practice management solutions and has outpatient physical therapy clinic locations in several states with over 100 employees.

What movie has inspired you professionally/where is your most memorable vacation spot?

I have a real passion for movies, especially those with historical content and how those events shaped where our country is today. But I have a real soft spot for Legally Blonde. My daughter was in her formative years when that movie became popular, and it really spoke to me about the internal fortitude to achieve what you want to achieve, even if there are naysayers all around you. To me it is a true championship-spirit movie.

I have been fortunate to be able to travel quite extensively both professionally and personally. I enjoy learning about all cultures and customs (even just the differences in the regions of the United States). I want to return to the South of France—Monaco and Nice. Not only is it a beautiful area, but also the people were incredibly hospitable and proud to share their communities and gifts.

What do you like most/least about your job/what is the most important lesson you have learned?

I have been fortunate to work with physical therapists who are absolutely ardent about their profession and the patients they serve. The first time I walked into the physical therapy clinic I met two dynamic physical therapists who are experts in their field and passionate about entrepreneurial outpatient clinics. I knew that my business background would bring to life the philosophy that excellent business practices should parallel excellent medicine. The financial foundation I build with patients often lasts longer than the plan of care for therapy. Taking away the financial worry can help therapy treatments work more successfully for the patient, creating a customer for life. This marriage of practice management and clinical management led me on a journey that has exceeded anything I could have imagined. Serving on various committees with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Private Practice Section (PPS) and becoming the chair of the Administrators Council speaks volumes about the recognition and value of what I live each and every day.

One of the most important lessons I have learned through the years is to stay in front of any problem. Identify it, acknowledge it, discuss it, and find solutions to remedy it. If a problem grows legs, it can be a silent killer of morale and ultimately affect the bottom line of the business. Patients come to our clinics to return to a higher level of function and performance. My practice management team strives to take away the stress during their plan of care as it relates to financial worries; if we remember that each and every day we are all here to serve our patients, we will grow as individuals and as a company.

How would you describe your management style/how do you measure success?

My management style tends to be nurturing yet empowering. Keeping up with the latest trends and technology is key in our ever-evolving discipline of physical therapy. I take advantage of continuing education where my entire team can sit alongside me, ask questions, and learn. I feel this is the best way to demonstrate leading by example. In this way, I am fostering a sense of “worthwhileness” and a natural progression of pride in their work. I see success every day as I witness the extra mile my team members are willing to go for patients and the ownership they take of their positions. Transparency and information sharing has also led to a stronger sense of team. When my team is happy . . . I see success!

What have been your best learning experiences throughout your professional journey?

Two examples readily come to mind. One was the creation, early on, of a dedicated, aggressive approach to managed care and credentialing. I placed a lot of emphasis on building relationships with payer representatives including traveling for face-to-face meetings. Growing and maintaining healthy and strong relations has paid off in big dividends as we explain physical therapy to the payer community. Another learning experience that helped me reach way beyond my comfort zone was in 1995, when I became an active member of the APTA/PPS. Membership led me to various positions including member of the Payer Relations Committee, secretary, vice chair, and two terms on the PPS Annual Conference Program Committee. I am honored to currently be serving another three-year term as chairperson of the Administrators Council.

What are you optimistic about for the future of private practice?

PPS is an amazing ready-resource and network of support for like-minded PTs to benefit from the “been there, done that” experiences. I am optimistic in regard to the strengthening of the involvement, especially through PPS, in the legislative arena. No one knows our issues better than we do. It is incumbent on us to make our elected officials aware and educated on our issues and the impact that their decisions inflict on their constituents/our patients. Vigilance is a key word as our marketplace gets tighter and mergers could make us as outdated as the floppy disc. I am also optimistic about our future as we become a nation desiring a fit lifestyle and more sophistication with aging and maintaining performance and movement. More emphasis is being placed on wellness, and we have always been the champions of living well! We continue to be a nation that will always have room for the entrepreneurial spirit.

What are your goals for the next year?

We are looking at ways to meet needs in our communities in the areas of after-school sports/athletic performance, providing services as industrial rehab specialists, developing and implementing postdischarge wellness programs and truly listening to our patients to learn what other voids are out there for us to fill. Combining these cash-based programs with maintaining strong third-party payer relations should set us up for continued success. And of course we will maintain our goal in three areas: to look for low-cost, revenue-producing opportunities, to service our communities better than ever, and to have a little fun along the way!

What is your life motto?

I always tell my team to listen with an intelligence of heart and mind. Also . . . Shoot for the moon! At the very least, you’ll land on a star!

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