An Essential Guide to Opening Your Physical Therapy Practice
As a physical therapist, opening your practice is an
exciting step toward self-sufficiency and personal agency over your
professional life. You can operate your PT practice according to your
preferences, controlling everything from treatments offered to payments
That said, starting your practice means taking on added
responsibility. Before your practice commences operations, you
should draft a business plan, find a location, apply for professional permits,
hire and train staff, secure startup funding, and market your practice. That
to-do list only addresses the steps you need to take before your practice even opens.
As a business owner, you will further find yourself running
into hurdles you never faced as an on-staff physical therapist. For example, if
one of your staff members mishandles a treatment and a patient gets hurt as a
result, your business may face a personal injury lawsuit. The average
out-of-court settlement in medical malpractice cases is $425,000 – a sum
that can put you out of business if you haven’t put preventive health care risk management measures in place.
This isn’t meant to scare you. If you want to open your
physical therapy practice, you should. However, you should prepare
appropriately. This guide covers some of the critical challenges you'll face
running your practice and offers tips and resources to conquer them.
5 Challenges to Expect When Running Your Physical Therapy Practice
Read on to find out what you can expect to learn when
running your physical therapy practice.
1. Shifting Your Mindset from Physical Therapist to Entrepreneur
You aren't just a physical therapist anymore. You're a
business owner. Although it sounds straightforward, this is a significant
change. Entrepreneurship presents psychological as well as practical hurdles, and
it's important to acknowledge these. Until you have a support team, you will be
your business's entire C-suite, from the chief operations officer to the chief
As a new business owner, you will do a lot of learning on
the job. Look for resources to help. Clueless about finance? Check out Finance 101 for Private Practice from the
American Physical Therapy Association. You can find more resources like the U.S. Small
Business Administration or your local community college. Get the
knowledge you need to boost your confidence as an entrepreneur.
2. Administrative Burden
Managing a business requires attention to finances, operations,
marketing, advertising, human resources, etc. Plus, you have to manage these
aspects of daily operations while also practicing your core competence –
administering physical therapy.
Turn to technology to help you cut down on the
Accounting and billing software can streamline your
bookkeeping, for example, while digital calendars will make it easy to manage
your team. Meanwhile, digital marketing channels allow you to reach potential
customers online easily – social media is a free, far-reaching platform, for
instance. You can also use technology like HootSuite to manage all platforms in one place.
3. Human Resources
You can further reduce your administrative burden by
delegating tasks to other people. To do this with confidence, you want to build
a trustworthy team.
Human resources management will be a critical challenge. You
have to build a team from the ground up and then sustain and manage that team.
When hiring professionals for your physical therapy
practice, there are necessary professional credentials to consider. Request a
resume and copies of degrees, certifications, and licenses.
Beyond these basics, you want to ensure any individual you
hire is a good fit for your company culture. Conduct in-person interviews and
call references to assess personality traits, like the ability to work in a
4. Getting Business
When you're an on-staff PT, you don't have to worry about
generating business. When you're the boss, however, this becomes a primary
Marketing and advertising are essential to raising awareness
about your PT practice.
First, identify your target group (e.g., individuals injured in car
accidents versus athletes). Then, draft key messages that sell your business –
for example, do you offer special therapies that other PT practices don’t?
Finally, consider how best to get those key messages to your
target groups. Possibilities include search engine advertising, social media,
and partnerships with local healthcare providers.
5. Managing Risk
Owning a physical therapy practice invites legal risks.
You could face lawsuits from patients, for example. You also
face risks related to employees, such as discrimination lawsuits and workers'
compensation claims. On top of that, there are broader crises to consider –
like what happens if you have to pause operations because of COVID-19 restrictions?
The right professional and healthcare provider insurance
coverage can help you survive such unexpected scenarios. Here are some types of
insurance a PT practice may need:
liability coverage: This covers costs
related to patient claims, including everything from damages to lawyer's fees.
protection: Malpractice claims can require
you to protect the right to keep your PT license. This can cost thousands in
legal fees. License protection covers these costs.
compensation: If one of your employees is
hurt on the job, this covers their medical expenses.
property insurance: A robbery or natural
disaster can damage valuable PT equipment, computers, and furniture inside your
business. Commercial property insurance helps you replace these valuable goods.
● Cyber risk
insurance: A cyber-attack against your
business can jeopardize sensitive patient data as well as payment information.
Cyber insurance covers damages and the cost of restoring data security.
Get the Protection You Need for Your Physical Therapy Practice
The above list covers just a few possible protections your
PT practice may benefit from. AON’s insurance professionals can advise on what
coverage you may need depending on your precise circumstances.
Want to ensure your physical therapy practice insurance
meets your needs?
Contact us today for a quote.