It’s been months and months of adapting to the “new normal”. Rehab therapy practices unable to adapt to the change have taken a hit, while those fortunate enough to adapt began using services like telehealth to continue caring for their patients.
This has been just one example of the new normal.
There’s no way to predict when things will go back to the way they were, nor is there a guarantee society will ever fully recover, so all we can do now is try to return to form as safely and responsibly as we can. With restrictions being lifted across the globe, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to shine brighter and rehab therapy practices need to be prepared to face a new set of challenges for reopening.
Here are five tips to help prepare your rehab therapy practice for reopening.
1) Treat it like a start-up
When planning your reopening, treat it as if it were a startup. Consider constructing a pro forma to manage your financial sustainability and map out the first eight to twelve weeks of business, monitoring cash flow and adjusting when necessary. Keep in mind your staffing, days and hours of operation, what revenue is coming in, what expenses are going out, and overall profitability.
Tracking cash flow to ensure your business model has enough cash to support the business is going to be critical.
Remember, this is a short-term plan and can apply to both private practices and hospital-based clinics, so continue to map out eight to twelve-week periods at a time until you get back to your pre-COVID-19 volumes.
2) Seek new programs and services
Part of adapting to the pandemic is the ushering in of new programs and services, with the obvious standouts being telehealth and Part B-in-home health. Many see these services as the future of their business, while others believe it’s a temporary solution. The longevity of telehealth and Part B in-home care is unknown, but it’s encouraged to keep an open mind to new services that can help business continue during this time.
Another innovative opportunity to explore is the relationship between physical therapy and mental health. Isolation and social distancing have taken a toll on all of us, but the opportunity to offer exercises to reduce anxiety, promote positivity, and improve mental health through physical therapy, is a worthwhile program to explore.
When those new services are initiated, it’s important to make sure they have guidelines, policies, and training for staff in place to support them. This will be a major change for a lot of staff members, so make sure they’re able to adapt and willing to learn and understand their new job responsibilities.
3) Reassess the competitive landscape
The competitive landscape has changed due to the pandemic, forcing not only your organization to adapt a new business cycle, but your competitors as well—be mindful and pay attention to how they’ve adapted. Regarding cash flow and pro forma, it’s not wise to operate on a fiscal year cycle, but rather, the next eight to twelve weeks with cash planning. Your reopening deserves its own fresh look, so planning for the next eight to twelve weeks will be critical for cash planning for this business cycle.
Your reopening is also a great opportunity to stand out from your competitors by establishing your rehab therapy practice as a brand innovator. See how Kinetix Advanced PT clinic, located in South California, garnered positive local news coverage with their telehealth services and leveraging media relations.
4) Strengthen relationships with allies
We’re all emerging from this crisis together and share similar pains—use this opportunity to collaborate. Think about your staff, community, customers and business partners and try to strengthen those relationships. Also look to associations, like the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), and ASHA (American Speech–Language–Hearing Association) for support. If you’re not already a member of those associations, explore the benefits of joining and what content and support can be offered to your business.
All these relationships in one way or another should have some resources available to support you during your reopening. It’s the perfect time to lean in together to help each other, as it’ll be a vital part of moving into the next phase of business and ultimately, the success of it.
5) Be empathetic to patient anxieties
We shouldn’t assume patients will be fully comfortable with hands-on care. That’s why it’s important to market and communicate the new processes and safety measures implemented to patients that may be cautious of re-entering your organization. The new normal will be here for a while and patients want to know they’re protected. Ensure their safety is a top priority, so they can focus on the value of the services you’re offering.
For more information and strategies to position your practice for a “better-than-normal” future by taking advantage of the unique opportunities associated with this unprecedented time in our industry, watch this webinar hosted by Net Health experts Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, and Doug Cundiff, MPT, MPH.