Here are a few things you should consider before opening your doors
If you are thinking about opening up your very own private practice, it can be very exciting… but perhaps a bit intimidating too! There are many steps you need to take to start your physical therapy business. By reading this post you will gain some insight into the first steps in the process.
Starting a business takes a lot of skills. Although you are an expert in your craft, a master at healing with your hands, do you also have expertise in marketing? How about accounting? Recruitment? Training? Business management?
You most likely answered no to at least a couple of these aspects. However, you NEED all of these things in order to operate a successful, flourishing business.
This leads us to the first step in starting a physical therapy business:
Solo or Partners
Two heads are better than one, sometimes. According to the APTA, there are proven benefits to bringing in another partner or group. Partners may provide what you may be missing, like money, adjacent thinking/experience, etc.
However, there are also benefits to going at it alone. You will have the freedom to make all the decisions and do things the way YOU want to. You also don’t have to share the profits you generate. Just keep in mind, there is a greater risk when you own a business alone. If you have gaps in your business where your expertise is lacking this will hurt your business. You will also have to deal with any debt and administrative burden.
Cash-Based or Insurance-Based
As reimbursement rates continue to decrease and the cost of staying in business increases, many PT practices are switching to cash-based physical therapy services.
There is a lot of paperwork and hassle associated with insurance reimbursements, so you may think it would be easier for you to go to cash-based. However, there are patients that are not willing or able to pay out of pocket for physical therapy services.
You will need to consider your community demographics and assess their needs. Are there a lot of cash-based healthcare services in your area? How are they performing?
If most of the people in your community have insurance and are looking for practices that accept their providers, you don’t want to only offer cash-based services because you will lose out on a lot of patients that rely on their insurance for physical therapy. In some cases, Medicare patents are not legally allowed to put up their own money for therapy services that Medicare covers.
Determine Your Location
Location can make or break your business. Do your research before you put an offer on a space!
According to WebPT, you need to ask yourself the following questions before determining the location for your PT practice:
- What direct access services can you legally provide in your state? (Find out in our state-by-state lists here: Alabama-Hawaii, Idaho-Mississippi, Missouri-Pennsylvania, Rhode Island-Wyoming.)
- What are the tax implications and fees for small businesses in your state, city, and county?
- How many people live or work in the community? Realistically, how many of them will seek out your care?
- How many referral providers work in the area? How many of them routinely prescribe physical therapy?
- How many other physical therapy providers are there in the community? Is the area already saturated or can you identify a gap in services that you can fill?
- How do you become a preferred provider for payers in your area? Will it be difficult?
- What is the typical reimbursement rate for providers in your area? What should you expect to write off as a result of denied reimbursements or failure to collect?
- Is your building easily accessible by foot, car, or public transportation? Will signage be visible from nearby streets?
Think about the space you want and need. If you want to grow in the future, you may want to start with a bigger space than you need at first so you can grow into it. Also, if you have any specializations that require additional equipment, think about those necessities.
There is so much more to starting a physical therapy business (choosing software, purchasing equipment, hiring, etc.). It is normal to feel nervous or even overwhelmed at the thought of it. But it is also exciting! This is a big deal and something that can change your life and your patients’ lives forever. It is important to put a lot of thought and effort into it before you get started!
Luckily, there are a lot of resources out in the world to help you through the start-up process. Many experts who have been through all the ups and downs of opening a PT practice have compiled all their knowledge so that future private practice owners, like you, have it easy!
If you are thinking about opening up your very own private practice, we’ve assembled 5 resources that make opening a private practice easy!