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Clinical Solutions Blog

Clinic Owner Interview Series #11: Jerry Durham — Focusing on Your Patient Experience

Posted by Rick Lau on Jun 27, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Jerry Durham Physical Therapist Interview.jpg

Every single clinic owner in our owner interview series always offers great insights and gold nuggets you can implement in your own clinic. And today's interview takes it up another notch... unlocking some crucially valuable secrets to the whole patient experience.

These secrets will seriously hyperdrive your clinic!

On top of this, our guest will reveal the state of physical therapy in the USA and why Canadian's should be concerned, right now.

Who is our clinic owner?

Meet Jerry Durham — a massive physical therapist influencer in the USA. Jerry owns 3 busy clinics in San Francisco. Not only does he own clinics, if you were to ask any physiotherapist in the US about Jerry, they would know him — he’s a megastar for helping PTs build better businesses.

Jerry works alongside some of the USA's top physios - Paul Gough, Chad Madden and Jeff Moore. And now Jerry and I have partnered together on some projects to help bring more current clinic-building strategies to Canadians.

Jerry is also incredibly tech savvy, with a very active stream on Twitter and over 12,000 followers!

In this clinic owner interview, Jerry will share:

  • The number one thing they focused on to build their clinics from one clinician to 20
  • Killer business resources to help up your game
  • Surprising strategies to get your brand and business noticed
  • What's happening in physio in the USA and why you should care
  • Valuable secrets to unlock the whole patient experience at your clinic
  • And much more

Let's deep dive into Jerry's interview...

 1) Talk about your practice

What inspired you to own your clinic?

My wife was the main driver and force in my decision to open my clinic. Her awareness of my strengths and weaknesses, and her patience, gently pushed me in the direction of opening my first clinic.


What made you decide to have a business partner versus being sole owner?

I had my own clinic solo for about a year. During that year I had read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. He is not a fan of having business partners, yet he had a short chapter on how to choose a business partner.

The two principles were:

  • They had to align ‘vision wise’  
  • They had to balance your weaknesses

All that seems obvious now, yet at that time those were eye-opening principles to me. So, when my current partner, Sturdy McKee, approached me over 15 years ago, those were the two factors that I put into play. After those two lined up I knew we could continue in the conversation to partner, and we did.  

I am still A HUGE believer that no one person can master it all and I love finding folks better at things than me!

What helpful advice would you give other clinic owners who may be considering having partners?

Plain and simple, follow the two principles above. Make them non-negotiable and let all else flow from there.

YOU must be honest with the ‘vision’ question as the other is far easier to measure. Lack of vision alignment is what will kill most partnerships.


Can you share the history of your opening up clinics and your future expansion plans

There’s not enough paper, ink, storage space to go through all this… 

It’s been 15 years of change and learning like I never imagined…

We opened 3 clinics 15 years ago, all IN network with 1 other employee. Here we are 15 years later with 3 clinics around 20 employees all OUT OF NETWORK. 


Everything that benefits an “OUT OF NETWORK” or cash pay clinic can be used with greater leverage in an IN network clinic.

Curiously enough, we still survive today because Sturdy and I adhere to our vision (remember the points above!!) and because of business principles. 

YOU can and must run your healthcare practice as a business first, THEN, and ONLY then, can you do all the great things for your patients! I’ll leave it all at that.


What does your management team look like?

We have an operations manger and internal operations manger. We also have a head of clinical mentoring. They all oversee billing, front desk, the numbers side of the clinicians and the treatment side.


What makes your clinics different compared to your local competitors? Your super power?

Our attention to the overall patient experience is definitely our super power.

From the point of first contact when the phone is answered by a live person and the conversation is ALL about you (the patient); to the total price transparency of knowing your cost before YOU arrive; to the way you’re handled when you arrive in the clinic; to the one-on-one time with your physiotherapists and their focus on YOUR goals. And we take it one step further and stay in contact after you get better.



Can you share what's happening with physical therapy in the USA and why Canadian’s should be concerned?

Basically what’s happening in healthcare is most folks have to spend more money out of pocket. This has lead to some positive changes in healthcare ALL driven by the healthcare consumer.

They are asking more questions like, “what’s MY cost?!”, “What do I get for my money?!”, “How are you different than…?!” 

ALL these are HUGE things that physios can leverage, as my company has.  

The take home is that USA or Canada patients are driven by the same emotions and needs. We need to stop assuming what they want and need to ask them directly.


2) What do you do to build culture at your multiple clinics?

FOCUS on the hiring process!!! 

I have found after 15 years that the hiring process is far greater than any training program. The key is to focus on hiring for a GREAT CULTURE.


3) Can you talk about some of the business management stuff you are working on? And who are the physiotherapist influencers in the USA and what are you guys are doing together?

In terms of physios who are crushing it in the USA that clinic owners should definitely follow…

I’d recommend Jeff Moore and his ice.physio crew and classes. Jeff is training clinicians to be evidence-based in the era of the healthcare consumer. He understands the mindset of “value, expectations and customer service.” I teach a one-of-a-kind course with Jeff that integrates teaching treatment techniques incorporated with the patient experience and journey through your clinic.

The biggest influencers on the business side are the likes of Chad Madden and Paul Gough, who have a real content marketing mindset and systems for physios in the USA. Paul Gough has taken it many steps further with showing how to design and build your business around true business principles so that you can then be successful once you get these patients to call or engage your clinic.

As Rick can appreciate, it is NOT enough to get someone to call your clinic, YOU MUST KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT!! That’s where Paul and I have really connected and what brought Jeff Moore and I together.

WHAT is going on outside the treatment room and how does it make your treatment team stronger?

You need to know this so that not only outcomes improve, but so do patient satisfaction scores, and the ultimately your business metrics as well!  

There’s just as much science regarding how to talk and connect and build trust. Yet, MOST to ALL physio business owners neglect to learn and use communication, connection and trust — and the science behind it.

That’s what I’m bringing to the game and so is Paul. Then, with Jeff we integrate it all and………… #KABOOM — Patient WINS, Physio WINS, the Profession WINS, and the Business WINS.


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4) What is your biggest business accomplishment in the past year?

Finding people smarter than me that in turn have helped me to look at marketing and the patient experience in a new light. I could then:

  • Drive more patients to my clinic
  • Help more clinic owners build out a more thorough patient experience


5) What is your biggest mistake and lessons learned in owning clinics?

What I have found visiting and talking to clinic owners in US and Canada is a poor understanding of the full patient experience. For example, a biz owner trying to solve a “billing problem” 3 months after the patient has left the clinic.

They don’t drill down to understand that this “billing issue” is NOT a billing issue. It’s a communication issue from when the patient arrived in your clinic for their first visit. To solve YOUR “billing issue” you need to change the conversation at patient arrival… KABOOM!!!!


6) What's something you've recently learned that you're really excited to implement?

Well, anybody can personally challenge me on this answer… CALL HERO.

When you learn more about me you will know that I’m all about touch points in the biz, especially the first phone call. That’s why Rick and I became friends and continue to have a relationship. His CALL HERO software solves a problem that is a HUGE value-add in your biz and HEALTHCARE.


7) What advice would you give to a clinic owner on branding?

Branding... it’s REQUIRED for YOUR survival. 

Figure out your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and put it EVERYWHERE.

Then understand that you must BE it when customers arrive, because what your customers say about you when you leave, is YOUR brand.

That is why above I stated that my super power is the “patient experience.”

It’s what folks will talk about to differentiate MY BIZ.


8) If you had $500 to spend to get new patients, how would you spend it?

I’d divide it by 3 and run Facebook ads for 3 months on a monthly budget of $166. 


9) What do go to learn more about business and leadership?

Entrepreneur Organization (EO) has been the SINGLE BIGGEST influence on my biz and leadership education/learning. I joined the San Francisco chapter years ago and it was a group of 100 peers from all industries — thankfully NOT 1 person from healthcare!!

That group taught me that the ONLY way to serve my patients and to grow was to treat my practice as a business. That is where I learned that: the ego and ignorance in healthcare and that we are a UNIQUE industry unto us, was completely FALSE!


10) What is currently your biggest waste of time and how will you fix it?

My self diagnosed ADHD.

Peter Shankman has a great podcast (Faster Than Normal) and blogs on how to harness that power instead of seeing it as a weakness, so basically strategies to manage it.

I’ve put into practice a few ideas on scheduling out projects and daily working — a daily one was to use an egg timer to give your self-scheduled brain breaks while working during the day. Short bursts with short breaks, so that way you don’t get caught on either side too long.


11) What is your strategy do you have for work life balance?

I seriously do not buy into the term 'work life balance' because it implies negatives always have to occur.

Instead, I call it daily priorities. These priorities can change daily, weekly, or monthly.

A great way to keep these ordered is via either PM journaling and/or PM “scheduling” of the next day.

This will make you examine a to-do list so you know what can be put off and what cant. For example, I have to pick up the kids at 3 pm tomorrow after school. That’s not a work life balance, that’s a 3pm priority!

So again, managing YOUR priorities are key, and we know that those can change daily.


12) What is your daily morning ritual that get's you energized to go to work?

I love to get up early, before others. I shoot for the gym in the AM and/or walk my dogs.

Actually the best thing I started doing that unbeknownst to me would energize my AM, is I started writing out my next days schedule in the PM before bedtime (as mentioned above).

I physically write out the next days to-do list with pen and paper. I started doing this in 2016 and the AM effect is HUGE.

I have read about nighttime journaling and I believe that this basically has the same effect. I highly recommend examining your PM routine if you need to rise with more PASSION, excitement and MORE rested, too!


13) What is the book you’ve most often gifted to other people?

Two books:

  1. Simon Sinek, “Start With Why”
  2. Daniel Pink, “To Sell Is Human”


Jerry Durham believes the Magic is in the Relationship you build with your Customer (patient). Whether you are an established practice owner needing help inspiring and empowering employees to create memorable Patient Experiences, or you are just considering opening your own practice and you don’t know where to start, Jerry helps Physical Therapist practice owners engage patients for great results.  Find Jerry at jerrydurhampt.com


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Topics: Owner Interviews

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