About this time last year, my team and I were anxiously awaiting the results of our inaugural State of Rehab Therapy survey. And they did not disappoint. We had such a wonderful turnout from the rehab therapy community—as we always do when we unite behind a worthy cause—that we’re gearing up to do it again this year. After all, the 2017 survey produced tons of awesome data points that have helped rehab therapy practices across the country better market their services, treat their patients, and run their businesses—and we can’t wait to uncover even more insights that are bound to move the entire profession another step (or several) forward. If you missed last year’s findings, here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights (click here to download the full 2017 report, and here to access a webinar in which we discussed the survey results in depth):
1. PTs, OTs, and SLPs don’t think of themselves as businesspeople.
Unsurprisingly, the number-one motivation for therapists and assistants to pursue—and maintain—a career in therapy is the opportunity to help people. On the other hand, survey-takers ranked the prospect of opening a therapy business as their least motivating factor. I love that most of us got into this profession in order to serve people—that’s one of the reasons I’m so proud to be a PT. But, I’d also like to see more rehab professionals excited about entrepreneurship and business, and I believe that the best way to foster that is by incorporating business-focused curriculum into our educational programs. In today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape, it’s especially important for PT students to learn the basic principles of business and understand the opportunity that this type of a foundation represents. It’s about time we prioritized maximizing patient outcomes and career potential.
2. Therapists may not be as competitive with one another as we thought—but there’s still room for collaboration with other providers.
Those in the rehab therapy industry—especially those in private practice—have had the unfortunate reputation of being less than friendly with one another. But, our survey found that “feeling pressure to compete with co-workers and other clinics” was the lowest-ranked frustration among respondents (of course, documentation was the highest-ranked). While we may have made significant strides in getting along with one another, we still have some work to do when it comes to connecting with providers in other disciplines—especially with respect to the lines we’ve drawn in the sand about the modalities that are ours vs. theirs. After all, that attitude certainly hasn’t won us any congeniality awards in the eyes of our peers in other disciplines.
Collaboration is the name of the game.
A little more than 90% of patients who could benefit from the services of a rehab therapist never receive that care—and that’s tragic. To remedy this—and reach more of the patients who need us—we’ve got to work with providers across the healthcare continuum to help them understand the work we do and the value we provide. And that’s not going to happen if we’re overly concerned with protecting our turf. Instead, collaboration has to be the name of the game—for the success of our practices and the health of our patients.
3. Clinics may not be maximizing insurance payments.
About 40% of survey respondents said they claimed around 50 to 70% of what they billed, which is actually a fairly standard industry adjustment rate. However, it’s likely that many practices are failing to maximize their financials, meaning their bottom lines may be lower than they should be. We talked about this in greater detail during the webinar, but all practices should be structuring their fee schedules based on the highest amount that their payers will provide for a specific CPT code. That way, your fee schedule remains consistent and you maximize your reimbursement potential. It’s also incredibly important to account for patient financial responsibility—especially given that due to the proliferation of high deductible health plans and the skyrocketing cost of health care, a larger portion of your revenue pie is probably coming from your patients. Thus, clinics absolutely must make patient collections a priority—with crystal clear payment policies designed to emphasize collection at the point of service.
4. There’s a whole lot of uncertainty in health care.
More than 75% of respondents ranked insurance regulations, declining reimbursements, and government regulations as top threats to the industry—and that’s no surprise considering the sheer amount of uncertainty in health care at the moment. Change is tough no matter what industry you’re in, but it’s especially difficult when it comes in the form of confusing, ever-evolving rules, regulations, and requirements that make it challenging for you to do what you really love: help people. But, that doesn’t mean we should give up—and we certainly shouldn’t roll over. Now, more than ever, we must come together as a profession to advocate for ourselves—and our patients. After all, who knows the value we provide better than we do?
We’ve got to keep the ball rolling.
Even if you’re not ready to campaign for office, you can get involved in other ways, such as using the momentum from our latest success—the full repeal of the therapy cap—to push the ball forward on other pro-PT legislation. You could also serve as an ambassador for the profession and build strong relationships with providers in other disciplines. To achieve the long-term change we want, we must present a united front—and the more support we have from physicians, chiropractors, and other providers, the better. As I alluded to in number three above, we can’t operate in silos anymore—and we can’t hold on to business practices that are no longer effective. If relying on third-party reimbursements simply isn’t a viable strategy any longer, then we must seek alternatives, such as cash-based business models that can serve to stabilize revenue streams and provide a lucrative marketing angle.
These points represent a mere snippet of all the insights we gleaned from last year’s survey, and if you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend downloading the full report and/or watching the webinar recording. Ultimately, it’s my hope that this type of regular data collection will help us take the reins on our profession and steer it in a direction that benefits our practices, our patients, and the healthcare system at large. I believe it’s possible. Do you?
Want to be part of something that’ll help move the entire rehab therapy industry forward? Then please, complete this year’s survey and share your insights, opinions, and knowledge about what’s going on in the therapy world.
It will take you about 10 minutes to complete, but we promise it’ll be worth it. You’ll not only receive a copy of the annual report—which you’ll be able to use to make meaningful improvements within your organization—but you’ll also have the chance to win some great prizes. That’s because we’re entering everyone who completes the survey into a drawing to win one of 50 Amazon gift cards worth $100 apiece or one of four Ascend Business Summit tickets valued at $799 each. So, what are you waiting for? Take the survey now.
And, please share the link with all the forward-thinking rehab therapy professionals in your network. The more responses we get, the more meaningful the results will be. On behalf of my entire team, thanks for doing your part to elevate this amazing profession.
About the Author
Heidi Jannenga PT, DPT, ATC/L is the president and co-founder of WebPT, the leading practice management solution for physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Heidi leads WebPT’s product vision, company culture, and branding efforts, while advocating for the physical therapy profession on a national scale. She co-founded WebPT after recognizing the need for a more sophisticated industry-specific EMR platform and has since guided the company through exponential growth, while garnering national recognition. Heidi brings with her more than 15 years of experience as a physical therapist and multi-clinic site director as well as a passion for healthcare innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
An active member of the sports and private practice sections of the APTA, Heidi advocates for independent rehab therapy businesses, speaks as a subject-matter expert at industry conferences and events, and participates in local and national technology, entrepreneurship, and women-in-leadership seminars. In 2014, Heidi was appointed to the PT-PAC Board of Trustees. She also serves as a mentor to physical therapy students and local entrepreneurs and leverages her platform to promote the importance of diversity, company culture, and overall business acumen for private practice rehab therapy professionals.
Heidi was a collegiate basketball player at the University of California, Davis, and remains a lifelong fan of the Aggies. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and exercise physiology, went on to earn her master’s degree in physical therapy at the Institute of Physical Therapy in St. Augustine, Florida, and obtained her doctorate of physical therapy through Evidence in Motion. When she’s not enjoying time with her daughter Ava, Heidi is perfecting her Spanish, practicing yoga, or hiking one of her favorite Phoenix trails.