Using Alternative Treatment Models to Build Your Ideal Life and Your Clients’ Ideal Business
Could a hybrid model be the secret to your best work/life balance?
By Nicole Woodard, PT, DPT
I felt like there was something wrong with me. I laid in bed with my husband and said, “I just wish I were different. I wish I could make it work like everyone else.”
I consistently wondered why I struggled so much with mental fatigue. You know the kind that everyone talks about: “adulting is hard” and “ugh, another Monday.” I would put on a smile and be happy-go-lucky at work and around friends but at home it was a different story. I was exhausted, frustrated, and felt trapped in traditional physical therapy. When you feel this way, you have two options: put your head down and continue with the crowd or raise your head and look for answers.
When I searched for answers, I realized that my clients/patients were telling me everything I needed to implement in order to live the life I desired and create the physical therapy business that my ideal clients needed.
When I left the Division I University I worked for, I missed my friends, training partners, and clients, so I developed my business to treat them a few times a month on nights or weekends. We had potlucks and created workout plans. I did soft tissue and prescribed exercises while my awaiting clients drank protein shakes and toweled off the sweat after a hard training session. I created an LLC, attained liability insurance, and procured a lawyer. My location was whatever park or gym my athletes were training at that evening.
Your ideal client may be different than mine, but you can start by asking those individuals and yourself the same questions:
- What are your clients’ complaints?
- What are your clients doing during business hours?
- How can you see them more consistently without interrupting their training, your training, and your family life, which can exacerbate pain and stress?
- What frustrates your ideal clients about physical therapy?
A TYPICAL CLIENT SCENARIO FOR A HYBRID PRACTICE: AN EXAMPLE
Doug arrived due to shoulder pain after pull ups at the gym. He reports “I am tight all over.” Doug trains at the local gym during the 4:30-5:30 pm class, and he hates missing it when he is in town. He also travels for work frequently. We performed a movement screen, assessment, and a shoulder evaluation in which he scored poorly and at high risk. We performed manual interventions in the clinic, started Doug on our app for corrective exercises for his whole body that allowed us to communicate daily. We set up in-person appointments twice each month on Saturday mornings before the gym for manual interventions. We also set up telehealth appointments for when he was traveling for work to check movement quality and assist in checking home program and self-manual strategies. After his shoulder is no longer painful and has full movement, Doug continues to work with us three years later by continuing with the app based on his movement screen score, which is performed twice each year. He also receives wellness check-ins every month either in-person or online.
We see this scenario play out every day because people need different things from us at different stages in their journey.
- His issues — tightness and pain — were resolved.
- He was still able to travel to work and the gym.
- The appointment times were convenient for him and for our therapist.
- He was overjoyed when he was able to go to the gym with modifications, not miss any work, and complete his physical therapy.
A hybrid model creates convenience for clients and for clinicians so when they are in significant pain, you can come to them with mobile services (or help them find a local physical therapist who could see them in person). When clients do not require hands-on intervention, you can do telehealth, which may be more convenient for you and your clients. Once they are doing better and are transitioning back to their prior level, you can build an individualized training plan for them. Finally, when clients are looking to continue growing and improving health and performance but do not need as much of a personalized service, they can purchase a monthly membership to get great warm-ups and mobility solutions. Through this hybrid model, you can integrate your clients’ desired wellness solutions into every service you offer.
Hybrid models not only offer the ultimate freedom but also long-term retention rates of clients; set revenue, financial stability, growth, and connections within our field and other rehabilitation fields; and ultimately a business you love that allows you to live with integrity to fulfill your life’s mission.
As you begin your business and everyone finds you, remember this:
- Be niched and serve your audience to the best of your ability.
- Understand the unique goals and frustrations of your niche.
- Know your expertise and create a strong network for referrals and consults.
The businesses that are poised to succeed in the future will be able to meet the unique demands of their clients no matter where those people are in their health or wellness journey. A hybrid model that utilizes several different solutions for your clients is the best way to achieve this result. Success is possible for you, your business, your clients, and our profession but only with a grassroots movement to be servant leaders to our public and truly change the health of our nation!
Nicole Woodard, PT, DPT, , is a PPS Member and owner of Mobility Physical Therapy and Wellness LLC based in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @mobilityathletes on Instagram and Facebook.