Change Is Still the New Norm
By Terry C. Brown, PT, DPT
As we look out at the landscape of private practice physical therapy, there is so much to take in. I have written before how change is the new norm, and I stick with that premise.
What I contemplate today is whether change is the demise of the small independent private practice as we have known it in the past. Are the days of the young entrepreneur five years out of school, taking a big loan, and hanging out their own shingle gone? Are only large-scale multiclinic operations able to prosper in today’s environment? Are hospitals, positioned to control the postacute health care dollars, going to squeeze the small independent provider out of the market? Is the playing field created by referral for profit so uneven that a locally owned private practice cannot compete? Interesting questions and some would have us believe that in fact the answer to these questions is “yes.” However, I believe the answer is a resounding “no.”
After spending a week in Orlando at the Private Practice Section annual conference, I can assure you the small independent private practice is alive and well. The entire air of the conference was positive with excitement about the future of private practice. I met and talked with many excited young entrepreneurs who are in their first 5 years of practice and who are innovative and doing well. They shared with me their successes and failures and what makes them unique in their marketplace. Each of them shared that the competition of hospitals, Physician-Owned Physical Therapy Practices (POPTS), and corporate-owned clinics is real but has simply pushed them to be more innovative and provide better service. They relate that the consistency of their therapists and their focus on patient relationships gives them the edge in being the public’s choice for outpatient physical therapy. What is more is that they came to this conference because this is where they find the ideas, tools, and relationships to be successful in their practices.
My friends, I heard of no doom and gloom while in Orlando. What I did hear about is an industry that is adapting to the marketplace and finding ways to be successful. I heard no anger over what others were doing, but rather I heard business owners looking for ways to make their private practice the consumer’s first choice. Yes, small independent private practice is alive and well. There has been and always will be a place in the market for these providers. Change is the new norm. The Private Practice Section is the home to provide you with the tools you need to change with the times and remain a vibrant choice in the health care market.