May 5, 2021 | Jamey Schrier, PT

4 min read

3 Ways Physical Therapists Can Thrive in the Post-Pandemic World

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” -Charles Darwin

A desirable skill set for any successful leader, adaptability is a great tool for fostering a growth-minded workplace and a competitive edge. But as we enter a new era of social distancing and a growing shift to reliance on the digital world, a previously “nice-to-have” character trait has now transformed into an out-right necessity.

Gone are the days of the 100% brick-and-mortar practice–to-survive approach. Practice owners MUST find other ways to deliver care and generate revenue in a virtual way. But how can you do this if you can’t put your hands on people?

Here are three suggestions:

1. Expand Your Mind

As difficult as it might seem, you have a ton more to offer people than just your talented hands. You have a much more talented head. The expertise you have spent most of your adult life accumulating needs to augment slightly. You still want to ask “how can we help heal people”, but rather than think only about brick-and-mortar solutions, you want to also consider online and virtual solutions.

Here are 3 steps to consider:

  1. Identify your ideal patient avatar. You know, the patient who loves your company (and you love them). The patient who fits everything your business is about.
  2. Determine their problems. Identify your avatar’s challenges, struggles or worries. What do they tell you during an evaluation?
  3. Brainstorm. Write down possible solutions that are NOT delivered in-person. Consider virtual treatment sessions like telehealth, remote group training, or online education products. Be open. Be creative.

I found the most difficult part about doing an exercise like this is staying optimistic (and not listening to the critic inside your head). And what you fill your head with and listen to will affect your mindset. It reminds me of something  Seth Godin said about cable news…”it is designed to cause panic”. And as we all know, panic increases viewers and profit margins. He says, “staying up to date on the news is a trap and a scam. Five minutes a day is all you need.”

2. Embrace Technology

There’s an old Native story about the buffalo. When the clouds are darkening and a storm is approaching, the cow begins to move away from the approaching storm. However, the buffalo moves towards the storm. The Natives believe that the buffalo intuitively knows the fastest way to get through the storm is to move towards it.

Physical therapy has been slow to adapt to technology. Now is the time to move towards technology (like the buffalo) and embrace it. One of the ways many practitioners are using technology is via telehealth. This is a great delivery option for people who are unable to attend in-person. 

Consider incorporating technology and EMR software in every aspect of your practice including how you’re generating referrals, scheduling patients, billing, hiring, etc. If done right, technology is a great way to help you grow and scale your practice.

Download the ebook: Top 6 KPIs to Understand and Optimize Your Rehab Therapy Revenue Funnel

3. Be Future-Focused

While it’s easy to fixate on the here and now as you begin to re-open your practice, to be successful, you, the owner, should be planning for the future.

As we teach our students in Practice Freedom U, true practice freedom and the time, money and happiness that comes with it, happens when the owner is able to focus on future opportunities rather than reacting and getting caught up with the fires of today. A well-designed staff with proper systems in place should be able to handle the day-to-day operations of the clinic.

Since there’s now talk of mutation COVID strains….you need to ask your future-focused self:  “What can I do right now to prepare?” I like to refer to this as fixing the foundational cracks.

Chances are your business was not running as effectively or efficiently as you would have liked PRIOR to the COVID crisis. Now is the time to create a plan to fix these problems to ensure you have a stable business able to withstand anything that comes your way.

Here are three areas you must fix to protect your business against the second (or third, or fourth) wave:

  1. Marketing or referral cracks
  2. Financial or profitability cracks
  3. Operational and system cracks

Don’t feel you have to solve everything all at once. Focus on the biggest and most urgent problem and fix that first before moving on to the next foundational crack. Involve your team and have them help you once the plan is in place.

PT practice owners who only focus on the present will continue to unnecessarily suffer financially. The owner who rises up will see what needs to be done and plan for the future they want and not the one they are given.

Be brave. Be courageous. And thrive in the new frontier.

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