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Clinical Solutions Blog

How to Run Your Own Practice and Effectively Treat Patients at the Same Time

Posted by Darryl Yardley on Aug 10, 2015 7:29:00 PM


With owning a physiotherapy, a chiropractic or massage therapy clinic, there are many demands placed upon you from every direction, business and patients alike. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself falling short in both arenas.

If you’re not careful you can see the business functions decline, and you can also find that your attention to patient treatment is not as passionate or thorough as it once was, leading to lack of patient satisfaction and eventual loss of business. As you can imagine, it’s not an ideal position to find yourself in.

In my role as the chair of private practice division at the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, and as a practice advisor for a physical therapy group of 20 clinics, I’ve seen many clinic owners over the years succeed and fail. I understand that it’s a challenge to treat patients and attain a healthy income for your practice. But it is possible. 

From my experience of teaching thousands of others about clinic operations and management, I’ve seen 4 primary things that I’ve learnt you should pay more attention to in order to run your business, and effectively treat patients too. 

Theses 4 things are:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Outcomes and growth
  3. Clinical operations
  4. Financial accountability 

Customer Satisfaction

Your number one top priority as a business owner is customer service. You must always ensure that this is at the top of your mind and all of your business procedures.

Have you thought about strategies you can implement in your practice in order to provide a high level of customer service and create a service-oriented environment that improves satisfaction?

Micah Soloman writes for Forbes for Entrepreneurs and outlines 20 expert customer service tips. Here we’re going to explore 3 of them:

  1. First impressions matter.
  2. Timeliness: Are you considerate of your customer’s time?
  3. Commit to continuous improvement.

1. First Impressions Matter

When new patients visit your practice for their initial consultation, what kind of impression does your clinic and service give off?

Soloman says to: “Walk up to, and into, your establishment with the eye of a customer”.

This is great advice because it’s important to get a feel for the customer experience. As you do this, ask yourself these questions: Does your clinic look professional? Do all the staff wear uniforms? Is there junk lying around that could be tidied up? Take a look through the eyes of the customer.

You can even take it one step back because first impression really begins before the consultation. For example, how easy was it to book an appointment with you?  Was the manner and language used by staff polite? 

All of these things can become part of your standards of customer service.

2. Timeliness

This one is HUGE!

People do not like to wait around, so if you’re always running late then you need to take a look at your schedule and reorganize it. And have you thought about how your staff will deal with angry patients if you are running late? What are your procedures for this?

3. Commit to continuous improvement

Solomon suggests:Ask yourself at the end of the day, ‘What is the thing you are going to do tomorrow to make your team better’ ”.

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How can you improve your clinic operations so that customer loyalty and delivery of treatments is even better than it was today?

See if you can patient satisfaction using the Net Promoter System (NPS) – the loyalty that exists between your patients and your business.

Take out a pen and paper and set aside time to flesh out ways you can put the above points into action in your business.  Don’t just expect it to happen, you have to make a plan. And though it does take a little time to think about, if you provide exceptional customer service, this positions your clinic as the stand out option every time.

With exceptional customer service you will increase patient retention and keep your business growing in the right direction.

Outcomes and Growth

You can’t simply ‘make up’ the successful outcomes of patients, or just have some vague idea that there is growth in your business. You need to have proper clinical outcome data through applying measurement, analysis, and interpretation.

This ensures 2 things:

1. That there truly is an effective outcome of your treatment and management plans with clients, this is frequently is measured by your patients self reported change in function, pain, or status. 

2. With documented clinical outcomes, this can serve another purpose – as a valuable tool for professional development, along with a powerful marketing tool to demonstrate the benefits and ensure ongoing business growth.

You don’t have to track this on paper; there are web-based client assessment systems, such as FOTO Inc. that are designed to help you track outcomes this much easier.

By having a strategy in place that helps ensure quality outcomes, it will keep you accountable so you don’t lose sight of providing excellent patient care over time. 

Clinical Operations

When it comes to every day clinical operations, you need to set a plan of action to access the metrics of your practice.

A few key things to track are the number of assessments you perform each week and the number of visits per week. Then you can work out what your patient visit average (PVA) is.

Essentially your PVA is determined by patient satisfaction. So if you focus on customer service first, then this will automatically improve PVA. If you keep track of the metrics, you can always track business and staff performance, and make adjustments where needed.

Other things to think about are your reschedule rate as a percentage; you’re cost in wages if any, your patient drop-off rate, and so forth.

These are simple practice management strategies that can allow you continually monitor and improve service capacity, productivity, and measure and improve financial outcomes. 

Financial Accountability

At the end of the day, what matters most for most physiotherapy clinic owners is the bottom line. How much money are you making? Or are you running at a loss?

Do you know your profitability? Do you know how much you spend each month on marketing? Do you know how much you pay staff? Are you paying too much for rent for your clinic? What are your liabilities? What are your current assets? What is the net worth of your business?

Keeping track of financials is highly important so you can continue to monitor your business success and make adjustments where needed. The best way to do this is to keep a profit and loss statement. You need to keep a profit and loss statement every month so you can maintain financial accountability. If you don’t know how to keep, or read financial statements and balance sheets, you need to learn.

These key financial records will clearly show you the profitability of your business so you can monitor success – or adjust for failure.

As a business you should have profits, so if you notice this is not the case, then you know there are some serious adjustments that need to be made to the way you are operating your business.

Two areas to think about are revenue generation activities and controlling expenditure.

Generating new revenue streams could include things like:

  • Entering into a new market or setting you haven’t offered your clinic services to yet
  • Offering multi-discipline services to expand patient offerings
  • Adding specialized services for particular markets – expert knee rehabilitation of something of the like.
  • Introducing product sales for after patient care. 

When it comes to controlling expenditure you need to try to do this wherever you can and not be frivolous with your hard earned money. Sure, we all have costs in running a business, but every single hard earned dollar saved, is one more dollar added to your bottom line. So always be thinking about how you can control expenditure and save on costs.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association has built as free program for clinic owners that teaches clinic owners about ways you can make significant savings, and provides resources to enhance operational sustainability so that you can continue to achieve growth in your business.

So how do you run a successful business and treat patients at the same time? 

  1. You focus on customer satisfaction as your overarching goal; with this always at the top of mind it will naturally improve business outcomes and growth.
  2. You track clinical outcomes to ensure patients receive a high level of care and to keep you accountable so you don’t slip and get slack.
  3. You have practice management strategies in place so that clinical operations work with ease and you can continually monitor and improve their performance.
  4. You track your financials so you always know your bottom line and can work on improving revenue streams, while at the same time save on costs.

These 4 things will help you do both things in an effective and efficient way.

So it’s time to go back to step 1, customer satisfaction. Get your pen and paper and start mapping out how you can provide exceptional customer service, so you and your business can stand out above the crowd.

I hope you’re able to use these techniques to take your clinic to the next level. If you liked this post and want to hear more about the proven strategies we use here at Clinic Supplies Canada, go ahead and subscribe to our Clinic Accelerator Blog. Don’t worry: we hate spam just as much as you do. Nothing but useful, interesting information that we know you’re going to love.


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