Creating Practice Success: Lessons Learned From a Long Journey!

Everyone has their own unique journey to opening their private practice. Like most clinicians, I entered the industry simply wanting to deliver great patient care, thinking that my skills were the “difference-maker”. But it didn’t take long to realize that I wanted to make a bigger difference which would eventually lead to practice ownership, consulting, and now onto The Client Experience Company.

I had similar beginnings as everyone else in the industry starting with the same old story: “I can do this better!” 

Yet, in hindsight, I realized the only things that I could “do better” were to deeply connect with patients and “help” them get better. But, what I really couldn’t do well was run a business.  

I had no idea of how to manage and walk a patient throughout their entire Life cycle within my practice. I knew how to tell my team to “just get people scheduled”, and I knew we needed to maximize billing, but that was the limit of my “business skill”.  

The Ease of Starting a Practice Gets in the Way of Creating Practice Success

When starting my practice, there really weren’t any barriers to entry, and to be frank, there still aren’t many.

All you need is an office, a table, and a cellphone to get started. My lack of knowledge and lack of experience around “what a business is” should’ve been a barrier, but PT curriculums simply don’t include business operations as part of their programs.

Ultimately, this lack of barriers to entry gives us all a false sense of security. The ease with starting a business and putting new patients on the schedule is really nothing compared to the systems you need to build to target patients who will arrive, pay, stay, complete a plan of care, and then do your future marketing for you! That is a REAL business that puts the patient first, and honestly, most of us are doing it poorly.

Transforming into a Practice Owner Requires You to Understand How your Team Impacts the Client Experience

When I was a staff PT, I truly believed that the only thing that truly “mattered” was getting people better. I believed that the end result was entirely in my hands, with zero regard for what was going on outside my personal clinical intervention. I had no conception of the importance that the rest of my team had in creating a successful client experience.

Once I moved on to practice ownership over the course of the next 10 years, it was still all about the provider. The rest of our team was simply looked at as “NON-revenue” generating roles. All of my focus was on our providers at every step of the way with ZERO awareness of the leverage that the front desk brings to the client experience equation. I was only concerned about the patients when they were physically in our office and once they had been discharged (or after they self discharged), it was “out of sight, out of mind.”

Once I took our practice out of network, I quickly realized that our back of house operation needed to change and change FAST. 

I knew I needed more focus on our Practice Managers and Front Desk Supervisors because these folks understand the connectedness of all the steps of your business as they live it every day. They know what success looks like, provided that you’ve trained them to the correct target. They just need some strategy and guidance. Sadly though, in most cases, these folks are caught in the middle. They’re not empowered by ownership to “own” the situation and they have to keep the clinicians happy, which isn’t an easy task either.

When my business mindset and entrepreneurial side kicked in, the real “on the job training” started. I found business coaches and mentors, started reading more business books and joined the Entrepreneurs Organization, which was a huge tipping point in my personal business education. 

I met with and learned from dozens of other business owners and some of the very best leadership gurus from outside of healthcare. I very quickly realized that ALL businesses have issues that were basically the same as mine, and all of the solutions to those problems were almost identical. This realization is where my journey of PATIENT FOCUSED and PATIENT FIRST began, and that realization then expanded into understanding the Patient Experience and how that cycle is the key to overall practice success.

Putting Patients First Requires “Completed Plans of Care” to be your #1 Business Metric 

In the beginning, I thought that the secret to business success was simply counting new patients, tracking cancellations, and figuring the cumulative number of visits.  It was only after struggling for years that I realized that the overall health of my business came down to only one very important metric: COMPLETED PLANS OF CARE. The other metrics did nothing to grow a business long term. All of those other metrics are simply short term indicators of internal issues and will never give you a solid, overall view of what your business’s future looks like.

If you really want to know how strong your practice is, measure the ULTIMATE metric: The First Point of Contact to Completed Plan of Care ratio. That one is the killer. It will tell you if every system in your practice is optimized. Sadly, almost no practices measure either metric, much less calculate the ratio. 

You need to be focused on sales and retention because it’s far more impactful than getting a new patient lead. This understanding came from repeatedly working with other business owners who had grown their businesses focused on a complete and total 365/24/7 focus on their customer and orienting service to the customer’s point of view.

Bonus Content:

See the 10 point checklist below to discover what defines a happy client – because a happy client ultimately results in HAPPY employees, a HAPPY business, and a HAPPY bank account.

Client Experience Needs To be Your Main Concern

For those of you considering opening your own practice, success truly comes down to these 6 maxims:

UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHO YOU WILL SERVE
UNDERSTAND HOW YOU WILL SERVE THOSE CLIENTS
UNDERSTAND YOUR SPECIFIC CLIENT CYCLE
GET YOURSELF A BUSINESS MENTOR and COACH
MEASURE THE RIGHT METRICS (CPoC)
Most importantly…LOSE YOUR FUCKING EGO!

If you can follow these maxims, the client experience will always come first and that’s the only thing that matters.

Interested in discussing your own journey into practice ownership?

Contact us at The Client Experience Company today!

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