Purposeful Disruption In Your Practice For The Greater Good
Beyond the usual scope of services that enable practice expansion and increased accessibility
By Jenna Kantor, PT, DPT
Once upon a time, a physical therapist friend of mine, Susan, was at a dance physical therapy meet-and-greet. There were some seasoned dance physical therapists at this event, and Susan approached one of them, Tanya, eager to connect.
Susan told Tanya about how she planned to start her own cash-based physical therapy practice. She was thrilled to share her vision to incorporate injury prevention in her business with a practitioner she admired. Tanya paused to take in the information and responded, “How are you going to be accessible to all dancers as a cash-based physical therapist?” Susan tried to find the correct response. She was eager to make a lasting impression on this person she greatly admired but was now at a loss for words.
The truth was she did not know how she was going to be accessible to all dancers, and how could she? Running her own private practice was completely new to her.
When Susan shared this story with me a week or so later, I was frustrated. Tanya had no personal experience with ever trying to run an out-of-network physical therapy practice, but very likely knew plenty of people who did. Instead of asking this naysaying question that had left Susan frazzled, Tanya could have provided the names and contact information of people who have had success running a cash-based physical therapy clinic. Those would be the people to not only investigate that question with Susan, but to also provide solutions.
Most dancers do not have the luxury of health insurance. Who do they go to when they get hurt? How can they afford it? As a cash-based private practice, Susan could create packages and rates that are affordable to the dancer. By coming up with a variety of offers, Susan could improve health and prevention of injuries amongst the many dancers who normally wouldn’t have access to such care while also learning how to be financially successful.
BOXES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
We cannot limit ourselves by the box created before us. Those boxes are meant to be broken and rebuilt so that new ideas can come to fruition and elevate healthcare and their experience to a whole new level of greatness. This concept applies to all private practices. The thing is — we are not meant to be the same. We are not meant to rinse and repeat the same processes until the end of time. If we did this, physical therapists would be bored and complacent, leaving their patients feeling indifferent. Patient rehabilitation and care would rapidly decline due to their lack of enthusiasm. Fortunately, there is a solution. Do something new, different or new and different, and be enthusiastic about it!
When has this been done? The initial out-of-network private practices went against the grain in concept alone. They had to explore beyond the usual methods implemented to have a successful private physical therapy practice. In addition to business growth, these physical therapy clinics often remain motivated because they are used to regularly explore new methods for keeping the experience fresh and updated for current and future patients.
DISRUPT YOUR USUAL PRACTICE METHODS
So where do you begin with disrupting your usual practice methods to further develop your patient care and business? Here are some ideas to shake the kaleidoscope and provide an improvement in access to potential patients. Not only are they meant to be used, but they are also meant to inspire more ways to evolve beyond normal standard practices.
1. LIVE EVENT PHYSICAL THERAPIST
Being present at a live event such as a performance, sports game, or conference can be a whole other way to provide your services. The organizing committee may compensate you to provide physical therapy to specific people at the event and/or offer 15–20-minute sessions for anyone who needs it. This is not a new concept; however, many practices overlook this opportunity as a way to gain access to individuals who may not necessarily think about seeing a physical therapist due to a lack of knowledge, finances, or other reasons. When present before or after a performance or game, individuals get a sample of the services they would receive while also giving them a feel for the type of physical therapy experience you consistently offer. As an added benefit, they learn about the profession as a whole.
2. COMPANY PHYSICAL THERAPIST
A company like Google or Disney could hire a staff physical therapist to be on-site or as a contracted service. Is there a corporation (profit or nonprofit) that you would like to provide rehab services to? There are endless companies out there that do not have in-house physical therapists, which means there are many opportunities that you can create for yourself. Pro tip: make sure to have the latest research available to easily highlight the benefits of having on-site physical therapy. For example, share how it can reduce healthcare costs and/or decrease sick days; this saves money, improves morale, and will improve the company’s bottom line.
3. IMPLEMENT ERGONOMIC OR WORK DEMAND ASSESSMENTS TO FORMULATE INJURY PREVENTION PROGRAMS
As I said before, businesses like to find ways to save money. If they are not interested in having a permanent employee, you may also offer the option of being a physical thearpy contractor. You can come in for brief periods of employment where you assess workplace set-ups and provide company-wide injury prevention suggestions or tailor a specific program for various job types to help prevent injuries. Not only will this provide a great service, but it will also show that the company values employee health. It’s also a great way to regularly advertise your practice and gain raving fans. Bonus idea: level up by offering a group rate to employees and their families.
4. TELEHEALTH PHYSICAL THERAPIST
Unfortunately, there are many schools and businesses in areas with very little access to healthcare. In these areas, telehealth access has quickly become a hopeful option. Without access to physical therapy services people would be unable to properly rehabilitate and potentially lose the ability to return to doing some of their favorite things. Living in the “middle of nowhere” has them believing their physical limitations may never be solved. As a physical therapist, you can be their knight in shining armor who can be available to them virtually and conveniently. Everyone deserves a chance to change functional limitations and improve their independence and quality of life.
5. WELLNESS PROGRAM FOR TRAVELING BUSINESSPERSONS
Let’s be clear: this is not a passive income idea. There is no such thing as passive income. With any product, it must be regularly promoted and marketed. Otherwise, people will gradually forget the product exists. Disney is a great example. They are always coming up with methods to promote new or past products. This concept is a little more out of the box compared to the others. This is because it requires you to provide a wellness program in front of the camera and edit it to be used by someone who is working on the road. You can have a video for the patient to watch each week for progression of exercise. You can also be present more often for motivation and to encourage consistency of program. The wellness program itself will revolve around a common goal amongst the group. Determine the goals by knowing your audience and discussing their needs with them.
Be cautious of naysayers when sharing new ideas for your practice. Be sure to consult with someone who has the capability of brainstorming beyond the information they already know and/or believe. When you are enthusiastic about exploring new methods to provide physical therapy services, not only will you be growing your practice, but you will also help expand physical therapy rehabilitation to many humans who would otherwise not get it.
1Donovan M, et al. “The Contribution of Onsite Physiotherapy to an Integrated Model for Managing Work Injuries: A Follow up Study.” J Occ Rehab. 2020;31(1):207-218. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09911-0.
2Kwon IH, Won-Seob S. “Effect of an On-Site Physical Therapy on Pain, Posture, Function and Composition, and Work-Related Health Status in Workers in Korea.” Work. 2022;72(1):253-261. https://doi.org/10.3233/wor-205287.
3Lein DH, et al. “A Model to Integrate Health Promotion and Wellness in Physical Therapist Practice: Development and Validation.” Phys Ther. 2017;97(12):1169-1181. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzx090.
4Sen B, et al. “Disparities in Telehealth Utilization in a Population of Publicly Insured Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Pop Heal Manage. 2022;25(2):178-185. https://doi.org/10.1089/pop.2021.0343.
Jenna Kantor, PT, DPT, is an APTA Private Practice member, owner of her performing arts private practice, Jenna Kantor Physical Therapy PLLC in Pittsburgh, PA, and mentor with the Dance PT Program. She can be reached at email@example.com and @dancephysicaltherapists on IG and Facebook.