By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA
Vice President of Therapy Sales, Net Health
Wearing your rehab therapist hat, think of something you’re dissatisfied with right now.
It can be something wide-ranging like the way your current reimbursement model works or how your clinic or department communicates throughout the day. Or, it can be highly specific – say, you don’t like your schedule, the money you’re making or the amount of student debt you have left to pay off.
Whatever it is, consider an issue that’s important to you, then ask yourself this: What if nothing changes?
Will these situations work themselves out? Do your problems get solved? Will the issues take care of themselves?
If you truly want change – personally, professionally, and throughout the physical, occupational and speech therapy professions – inaction is not an option. You must strive to do something differently, perhaps in a new or novel way.
This is the essence of entrepreneurship.
And regardless of your station in rehab therapy – whether you work the front desk, treat patients or manage billing – you have the ability to tap into your inner entrepreneur to contribute toward a brighter future for yourself as well as your rehab therapy team.
What is an Entrepreneur?
It’s all too common in the healthcare world that we generally accept the status quo. Things are as they are, and changing course is often too complicated or requires you to jump through too many hoops, especially if you feel you have limited influence.
Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, however, is likely to challenge this notion.
While you may think of an entrepreneur as a savvy visionary who raises funds, gathers investors and starts a new business, the reality is much simpler than that. At its most basic, an entrepreneur is someone who has an idea, then acts on that idea.
Yes, the idea can be for a new business or clinic. But, it can also involve starting a new program at your rehab therapy practice, challenging the growth and productivity measures your department uses to track output, or simply leading the way to ensure practitioners have the equipment they need to excel at their jobs.
Entrepreneurship is a willingness to ask “why,” to envision a new “how,” and then take a few risks to bring your vision to life. And succeed or fail, it’s a contagious mindset that can lead to innovation, inspiration and growth throughout any department.
Who Can Be an Entrepreneur in Rehab Therapy?
Within rehab therapy, entrepreneurship is probably most associated with outpatient private practice clinics. These operate most like traditional businesses, after all, with fewer restrictions and minimal red tape to slow down change and progress.
But, what about other areas of rehab therapy – segments like hospital acute therapy, home health, skilled nursing (SNF), assisted living (ALF), and so on?
While you may rarely hear the words “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” uttered in these environments, it is absolutely possible to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset when working in these settings.
Do you have ideas for improving access to the tools you need to do your jobs better? What about more efficient ways to schedule, communicate, store equipment or access inventory? Have you uncovered a new way to stimulate and measure productivity throughout your department?
Remember, all it takes is an idea and a willingness to act. In fact, it can be empowering to think of yourself as an entrepreneur, whether you’re a therapist, a therapist assistant or in scheduling/billing.
Can anyone innovate? Can anyone inspire? Can any role grow, improve and take on new challenges?
Then anyone can be an entrepreneur.
Adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset
While adopting an entrepreneurial mindset involves a willingness to take occasional risks, I don’t advise being reactive and throwing caution to the wind. In fact, taking thoughtful, measured steps when striving to effect positive change can improve your chances of success.
Have an idea for improving things within your rehab therapy department or clinic? Here are some steps to help you move forward in an entrepreneurial way:
There’s a lot of fear that can accompany entrepreneurship, especially when you’ve never taken on this mindset before. So when you take action on a new idea or approach, start by taking a single, small, incremental step – one where your personal or professional risk is limited. The idea is to slowly build confidence and momentum toward something larger.
Recruit an Accountability Partner
Don’t just be accountable to yourself. Early in the process, confide your plans with someone you respect and trust to hold you accountable for seeing your vision through. Such a partner can be a sounding board for thoughts and ideas while serving as a motivator if/when the process gets sticky.
Find a Mentor
Unlike an accountability partner, a mentor is someone who’s “been there, done that” and can offer guidance and advice as you pursue your idea. Latch onto a mentor early in the process. It could be someone who’s started a business, launched a new program, or simply challenged the status quo. Learn what made them succeed (or fail), what they learned along the way, and so on.
Yes, failure is part of the game, and a willingness to identify and accept failure is a necessary part of the process. Vow that when things don’t work, you will get out of the way early so you can more easily course-correct, putting you back on a track toward progress and success.
Be a Consumer of Knowledge
There’s no shortage of books, websites, podcasts and other content about entrepreneurship. As you game plan to make your move, make use of these resources to deepen your understanding of proceeding and succeeding in your venture.
Setting Performance Goals for Your Rehab Therapy Practice
We know that having performance goals is important, but where do we start?