Networking, Innovation & Best Practices



By E. Curtiss Young, PT, MPT, and Angela J. Christopher, AZ Spine Disc & Sport*

MOST OF US RELY ON OUR COMMUNITIES TO SUSTAIN our practices. It’s simply a reality: If people don’t know about you and trust your expertise, they can’t become referrers, influencers, or loyal patrons. Yet being visible is more than putting up signage, having a robust website, sponsoring a few soccer leagues, and focusing on advertisements. It takes an investment in time, human capital, and exceptional results to form the strategic partnerships necessary for success. Without that investment, it’s tough to get the leverage we all need to maximize our potential and truly serve the populations that need us.

Through the years, we’ve put networking, innovation, and best practices to use creatively and purposefully. Our outcomes–a packed calendar that includes an appropriate mix of new and current patients—indicate that it just takes creativity and discipline to become an essential member of any community, no matter how sprawling or intimate.


Networking opportunities abound in most areas, but too many people are hesitant to do a deep dive to make the most of the social possibilities. If you aren’t willing to jump in, you’ll miss the chance to make serious, long-term inroads.


Case in point: Our practice is located in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a bustling place, it’s huge and overwhelming— until you take neighborhoods into consideration. Our neighborhood is in Ahwatukee; it’s a tight-knit suburb and has its own nuances and groups, including a Women in Business society. Our practice—which includes MDs, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and an exercise physiologist— became a household name, at least in Ahwatukee, which has allowed us to form substantial relationships with key business owners. Of course, they know other business owners, and the cycle keeps revolving as we refer one another. We’ve also networked on the internet, joining social media groups where we get to know others, not just sell our services.

To showcase our commitment to our populations, we’ve established an ongoing partnership with Project Humanities. This organization collects items like water, hats, and sunscreen. By joining forces with them, we expose ourselves to new companies and individuals. It’s not meant to have an instant impact on the bottom line, but to honestly make the area a better place for people to live and work in the best health possible.

If you’re sitting in your clinic behind a computer screen, you’re never going to be noticed. Make a point of getting out and doing good together with like-minded businesses. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it starts to pay dividends.


While networking is essential, so is having the proof to back up your claims. That means ensuring that you have the internal resources to “wow” everyone who visits or becomes a client.

As a multifaceted office that combines chiropractic and physical therapy care, we have already set ourselves apart simply by structure. It’s highly unusual for alternative and Western medicine disciplines to be housed under the same roof. Many in our profession see chiropractic and physical therapy as being at odds; we do not as long as both parties are outstanding and professional. By offering one place for patients to get all types of care, we greatly reduce miscommunication between facilities and providers. At the same time, we offer much more than great people; we offer exceptional modalities, too.

One of our latest investments has been an aquatic modality that offers the benefits of a pool without the construction requirements. This modality is a standalone piece of equipment that can be filled with water, giving patients the advantages of buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, sensory stimulation, and naturally soothing properties. Additionally, it’s equipped with an underwater treadmill floor, resistance jets, deep tissue massage, and real-time video camera capabilities.


Having this type of state-of-the-art equipment that attracts everyone from the Ironman athlete to postsurgery individuals and aging adults, demonstrates a true commitment to being multidisciplinary and leading edge. There’s no mistaking our fully integrated clinic for one that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. In other words, the inside matches the outside, which is imperative in any competitive industry. If patients and referrers, such as knee specialists, surgeons, or podiatrists, aren’t trusting of our competencies, they can’t in good conscience continue to support us.


Although you can advertise patient success stories, it’s more effective if they tell their own encouraging tales as well. This multiplies the impact and provides anecdotal support to back up clinical results.

One of our patients sustained a tibial plateau fracture after being sideswiped while crossing the road. She was non-weight-bearing for around six weeks, which meant the only beneficial movement she could do was in water. For several months, she was in the pool up to three visits a week and then moved on to ground-based exercises. The pool enhanced her ability to walk sooner; without it, she would have been in a walker, doing crutches or walker training, hobbling with a cane, and ruining her gait. As it turned out, her gait pattern and range of motion are now normal, without any deviations that may cause later dysfunctions.

Does she talk about her experiences? Absolutely. She knows that her healing was sped up from what it could have been, and she’s grateful for the opportunity to have high-end training in her community, provided by a onestop shop that offers pain management, acupuncture, nutrition, rehabilitation, massage therapy, chiropractic, aquatics, and physical therapy.

Curtiss Young, PT, MPT, and Angela J. Christopher are Private Practice Section members and owners of AZ Spine Disc & Sport in Phoenix, Arizona. They can be reached at

*The authors have a vested interest in the subject of this article.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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