How to Update Your Business Model Post-COVID
This blog article about adopting change and updating your business model was written by Brian Gallagher, PT, Owner of MEG Business Management
When it comes to making significant changes in life, most of us take the time to examine and evaluate our options before we leap. Certainly, when it comes to business, being methodical and strategic about change is critical.
This year shattered conventional wisdom on adopting change. The worldwide pandemic forced significant changes on everyone, regardless of who you are and where you live. Each of us had no choice but to react.
For physical therapy clinics, the COVID-19 pandemic forced several waves of actions and subsequent reactions./b>
The first wave back in March was an initial roadblock. In many cases, clinics were forced to close. They may have even stopped seeing patients altogether. Next, clinics fought to survive, re-engineering access to care to safely treat patients both virtual and in-person.
Now, it’s time to look again for ways to reinvent physical therapy and patient access to care in this new culture of social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitization.
It’s important to note, these are only the immediate implications confronting us each day.
It is impossible to ignore the economic and cultural changes happening in the country right now and to continue with your practice model as if they did not exist.
With all of this in mind, how can you update your business model to be more successful right now and after the pandemic? The most important assets of your business to prioritize are your staff and your patients.
Consider Both Your Staff and Your Patients When Adjusting Your Business Model
To put forth a successful business model, you must cater to the needs and wants of your patients. Don’t underestimate the power of surveying the community when striving to produce the best product and customer service experience.
A successful business starts with a good business model that is effective at finding out what is needed, and satisfying it.
Prioritize the Wants and Needs of the Community
It’s impossible to effectively serve the community without first understanding your patients’ needs and challenges.
Ask your patients to provide feedback about their experience. Create a short survey that gives your patients an opportunity to influence change. Some questions you may ask, include:
- Prior to your first visit back to the office since the start of the pandemic, what were your greatest concerns?
- Since returning to the clinic, what have you observed or experienced that brought you the greatest satisfaction or comfort?
- What changes would you like to see in the clinic to improve your care?
- Where would you like to receive physical therapy – in clinic, at home, virtual?
With an understanding of what’s most important to your community, begin implementing changes that best serve your patients. Confront what’s going on in the community and challenge yourself to lead — not follow — during these tumultuous times.
Be a stabilizing force by speaking with clarity and confidence with your staff on where you are going and how you plan to get there.
Encourage Participation from Your Staff
As you navigate the “new normal,” be sure to consider your staff’s perspectives. The more engaged they are, the more successful your business will be.
Ask them how they feel. Encourage them to share what’s on their mind and what matters most to them. Questions to ask your staff include:
- What worries you most in your day-to-day life?
- What do you fear will happen in the next 12 months?
- Which personal and professional goals to you hope to accomplish in the next year?
- As a group, how can we reassure our patients and referral sources that we are a safe place to visit?
- How prepared are you to make the necessary changes in your professional life to best accommodate the public’s new perception and the profession’s new reality of what is acceptable?
Find ways to give more in value to your staff than expected. This will ultimately benefit your patients.
Adopting a Business Model that Increases Staff Engagement and Retention
The owner’s goal is to improve the lives of both patients and staff. Personnel is the clinic’s greatest asset, so to be successful you want to implement a system that improves staff retention and loyalty.
People respond positively to physical changes. Show your staff you’re invested in the clinic and willing to make positive changes.
New monitors, a fresh coat of paint, or new flooring may be all it takes to lift the spirits of both your staff and patients. If you decide on some new equipment – all the better.
Improve the physical environment in a meaningful way to demonstrate support and investment in your staff.
Look for ways to improve the work environment for the entire team. When you routinely act in the best interests of your team, you inspire greater engagement and ownership of the company culture.
Personnel engagement is essential for high staff retention and satisfaction in the long term. When associates feel valued both professionally and personally, it goes a long way in job satisfaction and loyalty.
Engage Your Staff with a Learning Management System
As you re-evaluate your business model, consider adopting a strategy that allows you to develop standard operating procedures that benefit your patients’ experience. As an owner, you’ll want to automate and enhance your staff on an ongoing basis.
A learning management system (LMS) is a valuable tool that can be used for new employee onboarding, professional development, and personnel compliance. Think of LMS as a vast repository for storing and tracking information.
The right LMS will reduce staff turnover, improve staff proficiency, and most of all, increase individual engagement, leading to greater long term retention.
A business partner like MEG Business Management can help identify your clinic’s needs and recommend a LMS that gives you confidence and certainty.
As an owner, when you are able to consistently on-board new employees and provide full and complete expectations for new and existing staff members alike, you can then divert your time and energy toward scaling and expansion.
Tips for Improving Your Business Model
In the post-COVID era of private practice, think more broadly about the ideal business model.
More than ever, today’s healthcare consumers are seeking services that fit their needs and priorities. People in urban areas are looking for fast, professional, cutting edge, hassle-free care. Suburban and rural patients often seek highly trained caring and relationship-motivated professionals. Practice owners need to cultivate an environment that appeals to patients through engagement and community-based outreach activities.
PT owners have more business model options than ever before. While there are many ways to update your business post-COVID, this article focuses on options that increase patient access, increase operational efficiencies, and require little capital investment.
Incorporate a Cash-Based Model
There’s a lot of perks to cash-based practices, but it’s not ideal for every clinic. It may be particularly challenging if your community is lower-income or your patients rely on Medicare.
Fortunately, you can reap the benefits without diving in headfirst. Consider adding cash-based wellness services, like concierge or subscription services.
Aim for no less than three income streams and cash-based services directed toward approximately 20% of the practice’s yearly income.
Adopt a Collaborative Care Model
Partner with other health and wellness professionals to provide your patients with a complete, holistic approach to care. Some areas to consider include, chiropractors, massage therapists, and nutrition specialists. You might even want to think about offering at-home care to expand and extend your services to patients who are not ready to come back to the clinic.
Collaborative care models are designed to improve patient experience, increase satisfaction with healthcare services and reduce the overall cost of care to the patient.
If your goal is to improve overall patient experience and satisfaction, a collaborative care model might be right for your practice.
Rethink How You Acquire New Patients
The days of knocking on doors for referrals are fading fast. Social media and digital marketing will be the primary resources for connecting with the community. People are most eager to do business with those they know, like, and trust, so personnel training focused on skill development is critical for developing that personal connection.
The top clinics across the country receive more than half of their new patients from return business, which includes patients you’ve treated in the past, their friends, family members, and co-workers.
For the top 10% of clinics across the country, at least 60% of their new patients are referred from patients you treated in the past.
For owners who invest in modern systems of technology, both their staff and patients will notice the difference and feel that they are valued more within a modern, smoothly-run practice versus one functioning as if it’s 2005.
Invest in Technology That Increases Patient Access and Improves Efficiency
Now more than ever it’s vital to implement technology solutions that reduce overhead and improve the clinic’s efficiency. The more automated and intuitive the systems are, the more time and effort you can invest into developing your staff.
With the time your staff saves, they can invest it back into the practice and improve patient experience.
Modern technology to consider includes:
- All-in-one EMR practice management system
- Front desk kiosk check-in system
- A new electrical stimulation system
- An inbound patient management solution
- A HIPAA compliant telehealth platform
Online appointment scheduling is one of the easiest ways to improve patient satisfaction and boost your practice’s bottom line. In addition to keeping schedules full, an online scheduling platform also frees your front desk for more critical activities.
BetterPT offers an inbound patient management solution to physical therapy practices that enables patients to access online scheduling that’s integrated with your EMR. This gives patients the access and convenience they want, while ensuring your therapists’ caseloads are full and providing a more efficient intake process.
Making sure it’s easier than ever for patients to book physical therapy online will help you grow your business.
Why You Should Incorporate Telehealth into Your Practice
Many PTs turned to telehealth when the pandemic forced clinics doors shut. Now that the clinic is open, don’t abandon telehealth — use it to grow your business.
Telehealth services can be used in the following ways to grow your business.
- Increase patient volumes
- Attract new patients who wouldn’t travel for care
- Reduce appointment cancellations
- Offer more in-depth functional analyses
Telehealth should account for 20% of your caseload.
Implementing telehealth services into your practice helps grow your clinic and provide care to previously unreachable patients.
From online scheduling, EMR integration, and the ability to have more than two participants, it matters which telehealth platform you chose. Consider BetterTelealth, the platform designed for both patients and providers to access safe and secure video sessions.
What worked at the height of the pandemic might not be the right choice for long-term use. Now it’s time to choose a telehealth platform that grows with your practice.
What to Consider When Updating Your Business Model
When restructuring your practice to better align with your values and purpose, get creative. Think beyond your traditional insurance model. Consider the various hybrid models or develop a performance-based employee compensation model such as the Shared Risk Model. This program allows for bonus incentives and motivates your staff on a more positive and productive level.
Overwhelmed with all of the decisions at your disposal? Start with a free practice assessment from MEG Business Management. With tools and methodologies focused on helping you reach targeted goals MEG Academy provides PT owners the skills, tools, and resources needed to be successful in private practice management.
For more information on utilizing a network of physical therapy practice owners like yourself, look no further than the BetterPT networks of clinics.
Not a one size fits all scenario, being part of this network connects you with other like-minded practice owners, locations, and opportunities for growth.
Not only is this network great for connecting with business partners, it’s also an improved experience for your patients. The BetterPT clinic location tool allows patients to find your clinic and schedule both in-person and telehealth appointments online, increasing patient access and keeping them in control of their physical therapy plan.
From adopting new technology to incorporating cash-based models, there are many ways to update your business model and grow your business post-pandemic. Focus on increasing patient access and staff efficiencies, while considering the wants and needs of your community.
Remember: Your staff and your community are the most important assets for any practice.
Brian Gallagher is the president and owner of MEG Business Management and has more than 27 years of rehabilitation experience and nearly 20 years in business, Brian’s focus is on helping others. His specialty areas include physical therapy practice management, executive coaching, and restructuring practices to encourage efficient operation. On top of this, Brian also has extensive speaking experience with regard to marketing and public relations.