November 28, 2023 | Net Health

10 min read

10 Ways to Improve Physical Therapy Management

Impress your patients by building a practice based on simple methods and clear communication

Managing a physical therapy clinic or office is hard work. There’s a laundry list of components that must work in tandem for everything to run properly: hiring staff, leasing an office, marketing, finances, and the list goes on. And those are just general examples as small, unforeseen issues can arise and catch you off-guard. Once you’re up and running, there’s still a lot of work to do — especially if you want to optimize your physical therapy practice and its management.

The secret to this approach is to not complicate it. In fact, you’d be surprised by how many improvements are simple concepts but are still game-changers in the office. Whether it’s a small pivot to shorter meetings or using shortcuts to save precious minutes, there are always simple, practical actions that can be taken to improve your business. To learn how simple adjustments around the office can benefit your business, check out these ten practical tips:

#1: Capture your best physical therapy ideas (and do it immediately)

Inspiration can strike at any moment — before you go to bed, when driving to or from work, or while treating a patient. When your brain gives you a great idea to grow your business, you should be prepared to capture and store that idea for further exploration when the time is right. Consider the following tips to ensure an idea isn’t lost in the day-to-day hustle of physical therapy management:

  • Send yourself an email or text message with the basic details of your idea.
  • Keep a folder to archive and organize your written ideas.
  • If you’re on the road and feel inspired, call yourself and leave a voicemail to capture the basic details of your idea.
  • Invest in a mobile recording device or app for your phone, so you can dictate your ideas anytime and anywhere.

It doesn’t cost you much to capture, organize, and explore ideas that come to mind — but it may cost you if those ideas aren’t captured in the first place. Make sure you’re ready the next time inspiration comes knocking at your door.

#2: Create a management action list (and stick with it)

With so many moving parts surrounding your business, it’s easy to lose sight of the small but important things. One simple trick to use is creating an action list — a list of items that can be entirely completed that day. An action list will help you prioritize and make sure no item is left unaddressed. Consider the following when creating your action list:

  • Commit to using an action list every day. Whether it involves revising an existing list or creating a new one from scratch, the usefulness of your action list will only bear its effectiveness if you’re committed to sticking to it.
  • An item can be as simple as reminding yourself to return a call to a patient or payer or as complex as completing documentation for all daily patients. No task is too small to make the list!
  • If you have a large project that won’t be completed that day, it’s okay; write down only a portion that you will complete by the end of the business day.
  • Prioritize your list based on what’s most important and achievable. By taking a few minutes each day to create an actionable workflow around your important to-do items, you’ll find that these small investments will reap big rewards in the long run.

#3 Use shortcuts to reduce time spent on practice management

Your time is valuable, and every minute needs to be spent wisely. Even when you try to preplan your days down to the minute, chances are you’ll still need another hour or two to check everything off your to-do list. While days are consistently busy, they do typically follow a routine, or at a minimum, certain elements don’t change much.

When appropriate, why not implement shortcuts to add some extra breathing room to your daily routine at the office? Strategically evaluating your daily routines to find shortcuts will help you achieve more efficiency while reducing wasted time and frustration. Consider these shortcuts to seek out a bit more usable time in your day:

  • Reorganize your surroundings by placing items you frequently use closer to your work area. Keeping those items close will save you several minutes throughout the day and multiple back-and-forth trips.
  • Use physical therapy software to help manage your therapy business by simplifying clinical documentation, streamlining administrative tasks, and enhancing patient engagement.
  • Search your staff for someone to delegate your organizational tasks around the office. Your time is better spent with patients and high-level administration. Let a trusted employee help get your office organized.

#4 Move to a paperless physical therapy office

As digital technology improves, reliance on old-school resources like pens, pencils, whiteboards, and paper dwindles. As such, rehab therapy solutions should evolve to meet these needs. These days, computers, smartphones, and tablets are big time-savers, adding much-needed convenience to physical therapy management. Achieving a paperless physical therapy office may help improve efficiency and broaden your ability to leverage data to operate and market your physical therapy practice. Here are a few simple steps to take to move closer to that goal:

  • Invest in a high-speed scanner so your documents can be scanned and converted into electronic format.
  • Create a data storage plan so your electronic files can easily and safely be stored and backed up. Data storage plans are generally inexpensive and include security protocols to protect your sensitive records.
  • Put a process in place so documents are scanned and converted in an electronic format swiftly by your team. While straightforward to implement, this requires process, training, and planning, so a coordinated effort is necessary.

#5: Use huddles to stay connected with physical therapy and office staff

If you’re hesitant to schedule staff meetings, one reason could be that previous meetings weren’t providing enough value to your team. Rather than outright abandoning meetings, a simple change in focus and expectation could be the answer. One solution is to schedule short five- to 10-minute “huddles‚” with your team, rather than the standard, 30- to 60-minute meetings each week or month. This shortened time frame can provide a focused and deliberate tone to your huddle, allowing your physical therapy management agenda to focus more on important items.

The huddle format may result in less resistance and eye-rolling from your team when compared to the standard meeting duration, but it will still provide a venue for sharing and communicating important topics. These huddles shouldn’t completely replace longer meeting sessions, as they still hold value. Instead, add huddles in between your longer meetings to get the most out of your team’s time and focus.

#6: Re-examine clinic telephone best practices

Most people use computers and cell phones for communication but still use landlines in offices. When patients call to make an appointment, they’re calling a landline. Often, this is the first experience they have with your business. Clinics must keep that in mind to offer a smooth and frustration-free experience. Consider the following tips to ensure your patients and referral sources are having a great first experience while calling your practice:

  • Answer in two rings or less. Of course, things get hectic in the office, but when the phone rings, it should be answered immediately. It’ll go a long way in impressing callers by greeting them before they’ve had to wait too long.
  • Script a greeting to ensure messaging consistency. It’s a surefire way to eliminate variance in customer service.
  • Talk with and train your staff regarding ways your office can deliver impeccable service on the phone. Discuss ideas that will reduce hold times and deliver a quality experience for each caller.
  • Add an extra layer of exceptional service by adding a referral hotline for your referral sources. This hotline would be a direct phone line into your clinic and would be quickly routed to providers or management staff.
Improve physical therapy practice management

#7: Outline your management meeting minutes

Meetings require great focus and attentiveness. That’s why it’s imperative to make them count by having your meeting minutes follow a detailed structure. By sticking to an organized meeting minutes format, recording minutes will be more efficient and useful for you and your staff. Consider the following tips for getting the most out of your meeting minutes:

  • Use a template so your meeting minutes follow a consistent structure that’s easy to read and the information is clearly presented. The template will keep structure easily, allowing minute-takers and readers to catch up quickly and navigate meeting records.
  • Include a “parking lot” section for ideas or items that are of importance, but don’t qualify for immediate attention or resources.
  • Assign a minute-taker, whose responsibility is to write the meeting minutes. This person should have the time, organization, and focus for this role, as they will need to dictate and pay close attention. Keep the minutes brief, meaningful, readable, and stored in a consistent location that’s easily accessible to all relevant team members. In addition, it’s a good idea to use a consistent labeling structure because it will allow staff to quickly find stored meeting minute records.

#8: Check your lease (and ask someone to help)

Getting into a lease agreement for your physical therapy office is a long-term commitment with far-reaching implications. Signing the dotted line on a less-than-favorable lease can directly impact your patients, workflow, and bottom line for years. Leases are sometimes evaluated by business owners who may lack the time and energy needed to comb through the dense language to ensure the terms and conditions are favorable and affordable. Properly evaluating leases doesn’t have to be intimidating or take up precious time in determining whether to sign on the dotted line.

Consider the following tips to make sure your next lease serves you well:

  • Always have a second set of eyes look over the lease. This can be a lawyer, business advisor, or a trusted member of your staff. Ask them to look over the lease separately and point out considerations you may have missed.
  • Negotiate your lease using a qualified representative familiar with commercial property, like a commercial realtor or agent, to make sure you negotiate favorable terms.
  • Understand personal guarantees, as you will frequently be required to sign one to lease the property. Personal guarantees mean if your business goes under financially, your personal assets can be sought by the landlord to satisfy the terms of the lease — this is incredibly important to understand.

#9: Wow with email signature lines

Every physical therapy practice needs to advertise and have a brand. Social media has ushered in a new age of self-marketing, offering numerous ways to spread the word about your business and stay connected, and it can all be done with minimal effort and cost. When you’re not communicating with your audience through social media platforms, you can connect with them through email.

One great method of marketing your brand through email is using an email signature line. The signature line can be infinitely customizable and include a professional closing, title, credentials, contact information, or promotional content. The following is an example of a simple, professional email signature; consider using it as a starting point for your practice:

  • Warm Regards,
  • [Name] [Title, Credentials]
  • [Specialty][Role]
  • [Name of Practice]
  • [Toll-Free Number]
  • [Office Number]
  • [Fax Number]
  • [Link to Website]
  • [Company Message/Motto]

#10: Silo your daily focus on physical therapy management

When it comes to physical therapy management, it’s easy to be pulled in many directions. Every department needs your attention, from marketing to finance, to operations and talent recruitment, all as soon as yesterday. And of course, there’s just not enough time to channel your focus on each of these areas daily, on top of maintaining day-to-day operations. You can continue to juggle or take action to organize and make better use of your attention.

Consider taking a bird’s eye view of your seven-day schedule and where your focus is most needed. Dedicate each day of the week to a specific area in which you will commit your focus. Outlining each day to fit a theme will allow a natural cycle of focus throughout the week. Utilizing this practice of outlining your week will give you confidence that no major area of business is ignored that week, and, you’ll be more relaxed. Your weekly schedule instantly becomes more organized and will relieve the daily, constant pressure of having to focus on every department.

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