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The Business of Physical Therapy: A Guide for PT Practices





Starting a physical therapy practice of your own requires a significant shift. You are no longer just a healthcare practitioner. You are also a business owner. This provides more freedom – you get to be your own boss – and presents exciting new possibilities.

It also brings new obligations. You are responsible for the well-being of your workers and your patients. You are also responsible for your overall business success. It’s up to you to hustle for patients, drive growth, and boost revenue.

A PT business offers fantastic opportunities. The field is expected to grow at a rate of 18% from 2019 to 2029. You can expect sufficient demand – thanks in part to an aging Baby Boomer generation in need of PT services.

That said, you will have to work extra hard if you want your business to stand out from the crowd in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Read on for general tips on how to establish a thriving physical therapy practice.

A Guide to Setting Up a Successful Physical Therapy Practice

When setting up your own PT practice, you have to be like a medical professional and a business owner.

The below points cover some of the essential issues worth considering.

Choose a Business Model

You can choose to do it alone and open a solo physical therapy practice.

Alternatively, you can opt for a partnership. This allows you to share the business startup costs and risks. Also, pooling your money with another person can make it easier to own your business fully, minimizing the need for a third-party lender.

If you do opt for a partnership, look for someone whose skills and expertise balance your own. For example, maybe you focused your education on PT for people recovering from auto accidents – while your partner is focused on sports injuries. This combination allows you to corner a larger market segment.

If neither the “solopreneur” route nor a partnership sounds right for you, you can opt for a group practice. You can also consider multidisciplinary care teams, subscription-based or concierge services, or even partnerships with area gyms.

Define a Specialty

Defining a specialty can help you stand out from other PT practices. It might seem counterintuitive. After all, if you’re just a general physical therapist, you’ll have more of a market share, right? In fact, patients often seek specialists in distinct fields, like surgical recovery.

Additionally, identifying a specific field will allow you to better liaise with fellow healthcare professionals and establish the network of contacts you need to succeed.

Suppose the orthopedic surgeons in your area hospital know that you are the go-to specialist in helping patients recover from hip and knee replacements, for example. In that case, you can count on plenty of business coming your way via direct referrals.

Figure Out a Financial Model

The healthcare marketplace offers patients diverse payment options. It’s up to you to determine what sector you want to cater to.

Your physical therapy practice may enter into contracts with major insurance companies and work with patients based on specific, previously agreed reimbursement rates. The bulk of the financial burden, in this case, falls on the insurer (although there is usually still a co-pay for the patient).

Alternatively, you may go “out of network” and establish a cash-based practice. This doesn’t mean that you only accept cash payments, of course. It just means that you receive payment directly from patients.

This spares you the added administrative burden of dealing with insurers or Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements. However, it also potentially narrows your patient pool. Not all patients are willing or able to pay out of pocket and then wait for potential reimbursement.

Determine Your Funding Needs and Set Up Your Space

Once you’ve got the above points taken care of, you can start writing a business plan. Determine what you need in terms of physical space, workforce, and tools and equipment. This will help you figure out how much money you need to get your physical therapy practice off the ground.

You have a few ways to get funding. First, you may have a nest egg you’ve been building for precisely this purpose. If you’re going into business with a partner, you may have enough between the two of you to get started. Alternatively, you can also take out a loan from a private lender.

Protect Your Business with Sufficient Insurance Coverage

You’ve invested time, energy, and money into setting up your PT practice. Now, you want to protect that investment. The appropriate insurance can help.

Here are a few types of insurance to research as a PT business owner:

       Professional liability: Professional liability coverage can help protect you from malpractice claims – or sexual misconduct or abuse claims (e.g., from employees or patients). It can also help safeguard your business in case of damage to other people’s property on your practice’s premises, data security breaches, or violent workplace incidents.

       Business Owner’s Policy (BOP): A BOP covers issues that may arise that aren’t explicitly related to your services as a physical therapist. It might include commercial general liability insurance, privacy liability protection, or employee theft.

       Workers’ Compensation: This type of insurance helps to protect you if an employee is hurt while performing job-related duties. Depending on the state you live in, and the number of people you employ, workers’ compensation may be mandatory for your PT practice.

This is just a sampling of some of the insurances you may need. An expert focusing on the healthcare industry can help you determine your needs based on factors like the size of your business and the services provided.

Get Protection for Your Physical Therapy Practice Today

Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) offers insurance for physical therapists, including the types listed above.

Our expert team will assess the risks your physical therapy business faces based on its unique attributes. We will then tailor recommendations to help you get the coverage you need to keep your business safe.

We believe that every physical therapist business is unique and want every policy we write to reflect that fact.

Contact us for a quote.​​​