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What Will You Take Away?

By Allyson Pahmer

By the time you read this, we will be less than a month away from the PPS Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, November 1-4. It’s a busy time for me and your staff at the Private Practice Section (PPS), working with the conference hotel and event manager, speakers and app developers, exhibitors and sponsors, vendors, publishers, the audiovisual guys, catering . . . the list goes on and on. But it’s an exciting time, too. Our registration numbers look great, and the exhibit hall sold out in December, which leads me to believe that we are presenting a conference that is worth your time away from home and businesses to come together for another year.

Branding: “The Last Bastion for Differentiation”

By Allyson Pahmer

As I was ruminating on the theme of “branding and defining physical therapy” for my letter this month, I was reminded of my school days when I started a term paper with a visit to the complete World Book Encyclopedia (proudly occupying a whole shelf of my bedroom bookcase) to define the topic at hand and spark a creative idea. I was struck by a line in today’s equivalent of the World Book (Wikipedia, of course) that read, “Many companies are beginning to understand that there is often little to differentiate between products in the 21st century. Branding remains the last bastion for differentiation.”

PPS: Our Mission Is Your Success

By Allyson Pahmer

It is fitting that this Impact issue about innovative business and entrepreneurialism coincides with the Private Practice Section (PPS) Annual Conference in Las Vegas because that is also what our conference is about. Countless hours of work go into delivering an event that brings together the best minds in business and practice management to expand your thinking about new business models and renew the entrepreneurial spark that led you to private practice in the first place.

In fact, the mission of PPS is to champion the success of the physical therapist in business. I love the verb champion; its many meanings—advance, support, advocate, give a leg up to, defend, bolster, encourage, go to bat for—guide the programs and benefits that the PPS Board, Committees, and staff develop and deliver to you, our members, every day.

Several years went into studying business models under PPS Board-directed Business Model Task Forces. Physical therapist services have grown in response to societal demand and market forces, but uncertainty over health care reform and its consequences for private practice have stimulated conversation about the business models permissible under the PPS tent. To study and address these issues, the PPS Board commissioned a Business Model Task Force in 2011 and a second Board Business Model Task Force in 2014. (Their reports, as well as the results of an extensive survey of PPS members, are available to members on the PPS website.) In 2015, as a result of the Task Force’s work, the Board released a statement endorsing all physical therapists’ business models that improve the experience of care, improve the health of populations, and reduce per capita costs of health care. The Board also included a Business Innovation goal in the 2015-2018 PPS Strategic Plan that directs the section to “provide a safe and engaging place to share best practice and process improvement, and provide an exciting place to grow creative and disruptive business opportunities.”

Valuable benefits and exciting new programs have resulted from that goal. For example, PPS launched the Peer2Peer NetWorks earlier this year from an idea hatched by the Education Committee. The program, which is modeled after the Mastermind principle, brings together groups of individuals who meet on a regular basis to help each other achieve their highest potential by sharing best practices and holding each other accountable for innovation (see page 24 for more information). The “Class of 2016” was such a success, we’re now recruiting the next group of NetWork participants to kick off the Class of 2017.

The Education Committee is also to thank for PPS-presented webinars this year on forming strategic alliances, alternative delivery models, and cash-based wellness programming, to name only a few. This year also saw the launch of a five-part video series on Marketing your Practice and a seven-part video series on Finance.

The Annual Conference Work Group, responsible for planning the education in Las Vegas this month, takes to heart the PPS Strategic Plan objective to provide a forum for discussion to foster innovation in physical therapists’ businesses. I’m eager to hear Ann Rhoades, Keynote Speaker and author of “Built on Values,” share her ideas about building a business culture that outperforms the competition. So many of the sessions at the conference address business innovation. I can’t wait to hear how you’ve been inspired!

You read in the August Impact how the Payment Policy Committee has commissioned Task Forces on vertical integration and joint partnerships, as well as to develop a framework for a participating provider contract that could be held with a third party payer built on a value-based model. The very magazine you’re holding has been an invaluable resource to so many members in introducing new models of practice and informing members about innovating business models.

The examples above paint an incomplete picture of all the resources PPS has developed and launched since last year’s Annual Conference, all in the service of your success, and all just on the topic of business innovation and entrepreneurialism. There are so many more resources—on management, marketing, HR, and more—that we hope you will explore. I look forward to seeing many of you in Las Vegas. Let us know how we’re doing, and thank you—as always—for your membership.


Allyson Pahmer
Executive Director, PPS

Staff Recruitment and Retention

By Allyson Pahmer

In a white paper released in January of this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) investigated the difference in labor market activity—job openings, new hires, and separations—among 20 different industries and found that health care was one of a handful of industries where job availability far exceeded the number of new hires. Not only was that true for the reported, actual data they studied, but BLS also projects 5 million new jobs in health care between 2012 and 2022 and forecasts the compound annual rate of change—that is, the calculation of job openings, hires, churn, and fill rates—at 2.6 percent, the highest of all industries, tied only with construction.1

It is probably not news to any of us that the aging of the U.S. population will result in an increased need for health care workers to care for these seniors, as well as the need to replace those health care workers who are “aging out” of the workplace themselves. Physical therapists will be called on to assist this population with rehabilitation and wellness services in numbers and volumes we have never seen, and today’s physical therapy students are likely looking at a healthy employment future. 

But the availability of health care employment opportunities tells only one side of the story. I have heard from many Private Practice Section (PPS) members how difficult it is to find qualified, dedicated workers for their clinics and businesses. Survey information collected at this year’s PPS Annual Conference only reinforces these anecdotes. When asked, “What problems or issues would you like PPS educational programs to address?”, write-in responses included “recruiting the right staff,” “managing across generations,” and “cultivating a service-oriented workforce.” Nearly half of the 114 submissions the Annual Conference Program Work Group looked at fell into the human resources and practice management categories (although I will admit that this collection of submissions skewed much more to practice management than to HR, about 5 to 1). 

For those of you seeking assistance in this area, you have come to the right issue of Impact. And if you are looking for help from past issues, the Human Resources Compendium of Impact articles is a resource you must have on your shelf. The Compendium offers a concise resource for topics ranging from recruiting and hiring to mentoring, from compensation to equity arrangements, from communication skills to leadership development, and much more. 

Do not overlook the other resources your Section has to offer year round. Programming at past Annual Conferences is archived on the PPS website, as are some of our past webinars like “Independent Contractors vs Employees: What You Need to Know,” “10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review,” “Retaining Key Personnel through Deferred Compensation Strategies,” and “Riding the Waves Without Getting Wet: How to Introduce and Manage Change in Your Practice to Get Better Results.” 

As we look ahead to this year’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas, October 19-22, think about sending your office staff to participate in the Administrator’s Certificate program. This 3-day, 13-hour curriculum is designed for the non–physical therapists on your payroll and is a complete immersion into marketing and customer service, human resources, business operations, legal compliance, financial management, and billing and coding. 

Finally, the granddaddy of PPS guidance, “Private Practice: The How-To Manual,” delivers on its promise to be a concise guide for physical therapists who are considering opening a private practice—and, I would add, for those who already have their own practice and could use a little help with, say, writing a business plan or revenue cycle management. The section on “Managing Human Resources” is an invaluable resource in payroll, credentialing requirements for insurance, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, employment policies and procedures, insurance and other benefits, compensation, and retention.

We hope these and other PPS resources help you build the best, most committed, and loyal staff you can. If we are missing something, please do not hesitate to let us know. 

1. “Which industries need workers? Exploring differences in labor market activity,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2016. www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2016/article/which-industries-need-workers-exploring-differences-in-labor-market-activity.htm. Accessed March 2016.

Allyson Palmer
Executive Director, PPS


A Fresh Start

By Allyson Pahmer

Happy New Year! It is January, the month when thoughts turn to resolutions, setting goals, and fresh starts. I love the idea of a clean slate every 12 months; it always feels like a get out of jail free pass, a way to hit the reset button and try to improve what has not been working, or take a new approach to something that has not gone the way you had planned or hoped.

It is fitting, then, that the theme of this issue is “Best Practice.” I hope the articles that follow provide you with some ideas on how to improve your own performance and set business goals for the coming year—even if you are simply measuring against last year’s performance. I remember a familiar refrain from graduate school: “That which gets measured gets done.” What will you measure this year to track your performance improvement? Have you already identified the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your practice?

The Private Practice Section (PPS) board, volunteers, and staff have been working hard to give you some new tools and build new value for your membership that may help you along that quest. First, we are so excited to unveil the new PPS Mastermind Group program. You can read more about how the program works on page 17, but essentially a mastermind group is “networking on steroids.” It is a small group of PPS members, matched by business type and size, who get together at least twice per year to address common issues—whether it be marketing or management or collections or payment. This past summer, a group of your peers (fellow PPS Members) pilot-tested the program, and they unanimously endorsed it as something they found valuable.

The second project being launched is the “Fit Factor” website, a tool developed by the PPS Marketing and Public Relations Committee that you will be hearing more about in the coming months. The goals of the website are to equip physical therapists (PTs) with something they can use to educate consumers and increase awareness of what private practice physical therapists do. Access to this online marketing tool will increase the value of your PPS membership by driving potential patients to the “’Find a PT” site, as well as offer access to a library of videos for private practice physical therapists—another great member benefit. The beta site was unveiled at November’s PPS Annual Conference to a group of about 75 attendees and it was enthusiastically received and drew terrific feedback about how to enhance the site’s usefulness. We cannot wait to unleash it to the PPS community!

As the new PPS executive director, I, too, am identifying the KPIs for PPS and setting my own goals for ways to improve the Section’s service to and value for our customers: you, our members. New management at the top is the ultimate clean slate, so if you have ideas for new member benefits or would like to see a change in how we serve our members, I am all ears. Please write or call and help me create a Section that you are proud to call your home.

With best wishes for a prosperous and healthy new year,


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