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As a physical therapy practice owner, limiting the time you spend treating patients is critical for your business. When you can function as a business owner—not just as a clinician—you open up tremendous possibilities for practice growth, sustainability, and personal freedom.
As you begin to cut back treatment hours, you will:
- Experience an increase in profitability
- Serve exponentially more patients
- Add significant, long-term value to your business (because the value you provide will center around the systems you create as a business owner, rather than the treatment you provide as a clinician)
- Have more control of your schedule and have consistently more time away from work
I’ve talked about some of the most common reasons why physical therapy practice owners mistakenly think they CAN’T stop treating.
The truth is, even after practice owners recognize that no longer treating patients is in the best interest of the staff and community they serve, they still face obstacles to making that change a reality.
The biggest fear? How to tell their patients and referral partners they’ll no longer be delivering clinical care (or doing much less of it).
Fear about these conversations can leave practice owners stuck, avoiding the transition out of treating, even when they know it is the right next step for them.
Fear of the unknown is normal—but don’t let it stop you!
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that the transition from clinician to business owner is a big shift, for you, your team and the practice.
- If you’re anything like I was as a physical therapist, a huge part of your identity is tied to the work you do as a clinician. Letting go of that sense of yourself isn’t easy, even when you’re replacing it with a new sense of yourself as a business owner and entrepreneur. It’s exciting, but it takes some getting used to.
It helps to remember your mission—helping people find relief from pain and lack of mobility—hasn’t changed. And your new role will allow you to fulfill that mission on a much larger scale.
- Probably the biggest fear I hear from practice owners? If I stop treating, my patients will go elsewhere, and my referral sources will disappear. That is the scarcity mindset in action. That’s the mindset that says: I can’t change, because if I do, I’ll lose the bit of ground I’ve gained—and nothing will be there to take its place. (I recently wrote in Impact magazine about how this mindset gets in our way, you can read it here.)
After making this transition from clinician to business owner myself and helping hundreds of other physical therapy practice owners do the same, I know that your patients and referral partners will not leave.
In fact, it’s just the opposite.
When you focus your time, energy, intellect and passion on running a highly organized, process-driven business, you won’t just keep seeing the patients already on your schedule—you’ll expand your capacity to see more patients and give them an even more exceptional patient experience. And you’ll be the kind of PT clinic referral partners are clamoring to work with.
(Fear is pretty rampant among business owners, and this Inc. article by leadership expert Gordon Tredgold gives a great rundown of some of the most common fears that hold us back.)
How to Have Conversations with Patients and Referral Partners
There are three fundamental ideas to keep in mind when you’re preparing to talk to your patients and referral partners about your shift away from treating patients.
- Be authentic. Share your excitement—and your passion for your new role—with patients and partners. Make them a part of your new mission.
- Be transparent. Don’t waffle. Don’t make excuses. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling you have to justify your decision with a complicated explanation. Tell the simple truth about how this change will help you achieve your vision of providing better care and services to patients and the community.
- Have your message prepared. These conversations can be understandably nerve-racking, especially the first few. They’re much easier and more successful when you don’t completely improvise. Give yourself a leg up by preparing ahead of time and practicing what you’ll say.
Here’s a sample script for talking to PATIENTS:
I want to let you know, as of [date], I will no longer be treating patients. I want you to know, I am making this change to better serve our patients and our community. My role will be more of a mentor helping our talented therapists become amazing professionals. I think moving forward you will do well seeing [the outstanding clinician on your team]. I think s/he will be a great fit for you. Would it be okay if I introduced you to her/him? I’ll explain exactly what we have been doing and make sure you get exactly what you need to achieve your goals.
Here’s a sample script for talking to REFERRAL PARTNERS:
Hey [Referral Partner], I want to share some big news with you. I’ve made the decision to focus on growing my practice, so we can serve more people in the community. This is a major step forward for me, and I’m excited about it. Although my treatment hours will reduce, we will be adding more operation hours and offering more services to help your patients!
When you address patients and partners with authenticity, transparency, and a clear, simple message, you pave the way for these valuable relationships to become stronger as your practice takes off to whole new level of growth.
Do you like the idea of moving from clinician to business owner—but don’t know where to start?
My 21-Day Jump Start Program is THE fast track to transforming the way you run your practice. For just $49, you can start radically improving how your practice operates, today: https://bit.ly/2KVnxy5