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12 Steps to Starting A Successful Physical Therapy Private Practice (2022)

Physical therapy plantar fasciitis

Are you thinking of starting your own physical therapy private practice? If so, you’re in luck! It is a great time to be in the physical therapy industry. There are many opportunities for growth and expansion.

This blog post will discuss twelve steps to help you get started on the right foot. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right location to hiring the right staff. So, whether you’re just starting or looking to take your business to the next level, read on for tips and advice that will help you succeed!

Opportunity for Growth

Demand for physical therapists starting a practice

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapists will grow by 34% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Why?

  • An aging population and an increased emphasis on fitness and preventive care
  • More insurance companies cover physical therapy, and more people will have access to these services

There are two primary components of a physical therapy private practice:

  1. It is a small business, and all legal, accounting and licensing details must be included.
  2. It is a medical practice and has special considerations such as professional licensure, HIPAA compliance, and billing and scheduling.

Step One: Know your resources – APTA Private Practice Section

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is a private, not-for-profit professional membership association. Its purpose is to advance physical therapist practice, education, and research and to promote the profession of physical therapy to the public.

APTA Private Practice section 3600 members in physical therapy private practice

The private practice section of the APTA includes over 3,600 private practitioners who are passionate about providing high-quality, patient-centered care. The private practice section offers its members’ resources featured and expert guidance that helps private practices succeed:

  • valuable information and networking opportunities
  • resources featured, such as a business starter kit
  • templates for marketing materials,
  • directory of private practice PTs
  • marketing private practices
  • the private practice section hosts an annual conference where members can network and learn from each other

The APTA’s private practice section can be an invaluable resource for new PTs looking to start their private practice.

Step Two: Your Private Practice Is A Business

A strong mentality and an entrepreneurial spirit improve success in today’s competitive business environment. As a physical therapist in your practice, it is critical to have the attitude of a seasoned businessperson when working.

Long term investment for physical therapy business

In addition, consider a long-term strategy such as developing client bases through networking and marketing and increasing the efficiency and profitability of your practice.

Professional Licensing

In the United States, physical therapy licensing is regulated at the state level. Therefore, the exact requirements for licensure will vary depending on the jurisdiction in question. Still, typically they include an extensive educational background, a certain level of clinical experience, and thorough knowledge of ethical best practices.

Many jurisdictions require that practitioners complete continuing education courses regularly to keep their skills up to date and ensure that they comply with all of the latest regulations.

Check with your Department of Health to make sure you are licensed in all applicable jurisdictions.

Banking, bookkeeping, and managing financials

Professional Accounting Services for physical therapy private practice

In any small company, good bookkeeping is critical for ensuring that managers know where their cash is going. In addition, accurate bookkeeping may help you avoid the following problems:

  • Provide critical information about which areas of the business are performing well and which could benefit from improvement through this analysis
  • Keeping track of your expenses in the case of an audit
  • Establish business credit for future investments
  • Manage payroll and employee expenses

Make sure to have a separate business bank account and business credit card to help with bookkeeping and making business deductions come tax time. The business bank account is essential for keeping track of your business income and expenses and will start to establish business credit to expand your private practice physical therapy.

Online services such as Intuit’s Quickbooks provides easy-to-use programs that start at just $12.95/month.  Xendoo focuses specifically on small businesses and will grow with you.

Zarmoney provides cloud-based services for accounting, invoicing, and billing.

Credit card with Cashback for starting a physical therapy private practice

Tip: keeping a separate business credit card is great for business expenses that you may not have the cash on hand to cover, such as travel or office supplies. You can also rack up points to use for future business expenses.

Business funding and expenses

To start a successful private physical therapy practice, you will need to consider the expenses of funding your practice. This may include:

  • office space
  • website and design
  • practice management software
  • computer
  • professional liability and malpractice insurance
  • medical equipment
  • office equipment
  • HIPAA compliant practice management software
  • billing and scheduling software

Simple start up expenses for physical therapy private practice

In order to succeed as a private practice physical therapist, it is important to have the business skills and experience necessary to manage these many different expenses while maintaining the overall health of your practice.

Funding sources and banks

A private physical therapy practice may rely on various funding sources to get off the ground and grow. Funding options include:

  • A small business loan covers start-up costs or purchases of needed equipment and supplies.
  • Government-sponsored programs, such as those offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA), provide small business loans or low-interest loans and other financial assistance.
  • Local credit unions are typically smaller, community-based institutions that can offer competitive interest rates and personalized service for small businesses needing financing.

Business name

business name is much more than just a label. It’s the first step in developing a strong brand identity when marketing private practices. When choosing a name, keep in mind the following aspects:

  • A well-chosen name can convey the style and tone of your business.
  • It can differentiate you in the market.
  • A name provides customers a sense of what they can expect from your products or services.

physical therapy logo for private practice

The good news is, with a little creativity and research, you can come up with a name that perfectly reflects your brand. And once you have a few ideas in mind, be sure to check that the business name isn’t already trademarked and that there’s a domain available for your website. Finally, be sure to register your business with your state agency.

Step Three: Legal Considerations for Physical Therapy Private Practice

If you’re thinking about starting a private practice as a physical therapist, there are a few key legal considerations to keep in mind. The private practice section of the APTA also provides information on legal considerations.

Physical Therapy Small Business Legal Services

First, you’ll need to decide what type of business entity or business structure to establish.

The most common options are sole proprietorships and LLCs. Sole proprietorships are relatively simple and easy to set up, but they offer limited liability protection.  LLCs provide greater protection from personal liability, but they can be more complex and expensive to establish and maintain. There are also several other business entities available:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • LLCs
  • C Corporations
  • S Corporations
  • Nonprofits

Each type of business entity has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for you. In addition, you should consult with an attorney or accountant to get an expert opinion.  LegalZoom is a great place to start for basic information and guidance.  

Step Four: Writing a business plan – it’s not as hard as you think

How to build a business plan for physical therapy private practice 2022

If you plan a new practice, you must create an organizational plan.  Business plans serve several purposes. It is a road map to success. There are resources within the private practice section of the APTA. Online resources such as LivePlan provide affordable and comprehensive templates.

Step Five: Liability and Malpractice Insurance

There is a difference between malpractice insurance and liability insurance for a private practice physical therapist.

Malpractice insurance protects practitioners from claims of professional negligence. Malpractice insurance covers:

  • cost of the legal defense fund in the event of a lawsuit
  • cost of damages that may be awarded if the physical therapist is found to be at fault

Most states require private practice physical therapy to have malpractice insurance if they will be providing treatment and services to patients. This is because there is a potential for harm if the practitioner makes a mistake in their advice.

Do I need Liability Insurance Physical Therapy

On the other hand, professional liability insurance protects against claims of personal injury or property damage. Physical therapists may choose to purchase both types of insurance, depending on their individual needs. Professional liability insurance is not required by law, but it is still good for physical therapists to have this type of coverage.

Bottom line: Get insured.  This is a commercial expenditure that cannot be overlooked.

Step Six: Health Insurance Credentialing or Private pay

You need to decide whether you want to accept insurance or if you want to have a cash-based business.

Health Insurance Credentialing

This process can be time-consuming, but it’s essential if you want to be able to accept insurance payments from your clients. The first step is to contact the insurance companies you’re interested in working with and request an application. Once you’ve completed the application, you’ll need to submit it and supporting documentation, such as your resume, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Health Insurance points for physical therapy private practice

The insurance company will then review your application and decide whether or not to credential you.

Cash-based Practice

In recent years, increasing numbers of physical therapists have begun to establish cash-based practices. There are both pros and cons to this trend. On the one hand, cash-based physical therapy provides therapists with more flexibility and control over their work.

On the other hand, private pay physical therapy can be slower to set up and maintain. In addition, there will be limitations to the people you can serve. However, in an increasingly regulated landscape, without the limitations of health insurance, you will be able to focus solely on your patients.

Step Seven: Choose a perfect office location

Finding office space

Professional office space for your physical therapy practice is key to running a successful business. However, finding the right office space can be a challenge.

Working Space Office Reflects physical therapy private practice branding

Here are some tips for finding office space that will suit your needs: 

  • Consider your budget and what you can afford to spend on rent or mortgage payments.
  • Think about the location of your office and whether you need to be near other businesses or facilities
  • Decide on the size of your office and whether you need additional features like a kitchen or waiting area.
  • Consider purchasing your office as a business asset.

Telehealth

Telehealth has become an increasingly popular way for patients to receive care, particularly in rural and underserved communities. A physical therapist can use telehealth to provide consultation and educational services to clients and expand their reach to new patients. However, there are some limitations to telehealth that a physical therapist should be aware of.

  • Insurance companies may not cover telehealth services or may reimburse at a lower rate than in-person visits.
  • Some states do not allow physical therapists to provide care via telehealth unless they are physically present in the state.
  • Because telehealth services are delivered online, there is a risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.

Telemedicine for physical therapy business

You should work with your state licensure board and insurance company to ensure that you are providing services within the guidelines set forth by these organizations. The private practice section of the APTA has more information.

Step Eight: Marketing your private practice

Marketing private practices are essential to success. By building a brand identity and marketing to your target audience, you can attract potential clients and grow your business.

As the saying goes, you cannot be all things to all people.  Be clear on who you are and what you offer, and new clients will find you. Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.

  • Email marketing is a great way to reach potential customers and stay in touch with existing ones.
  • Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook help new businesses launch every day.
  • If you’re feeling shy, don’t worry – blogging is a great way to provide resources for your target audience and build traffic and interest.
  • By writing informative articles and providing helpful tips, you can attract new readers and build a loyal following.

successful marketing reflects unique services and values in physical therapy private practice

Brand Identity for Private Practice Physical Therapist

In today’s competitive market, branding is everything. Your brand distinguishes you from your competitors and attracts the appropriate patients or clients. Your brand identity should represent your beliefs and principles to draw the right patients or clients for your business.

  • Take some time to think about your goals for your practice.
  • Do you want to build a big brand and have employees?
  • Do you want to start a product line?
  • Do you want to work from home and have more time with your family?

Be clear on your identity.

Building a referral network

One of the best ways to grow your physical therapy practice is by building a referral network and forming relationships with other health care providers in your community. When you have a good relationship with other providers, they’re more likely to refer their patients to you.

You can also grow your referral network by joining professional organizations and participating in community events.

Step Nine: Key elements of a website

Website domain and hosting

To have a website, you need a domain and web hosting. A domain is simply the address people will type into their browser to find your website. A host is where that domain lives. Companies such as Bluehost provide both services and are very affordable.

White And Grey Illustration Online Schedule for physical therapy private practice

Web design

When it comes to web design, there are a lot of factors to consider. But for physical therapists, one of the most important considerations is how to customize their website to meet the unique needs of their practice. Key features of a website include:

  • easy to navigate
  • contains accurate, up-to-date information about the latest research in their field
  • online scheduling
  • instant chat with office staff
  • patient portals to view appointments and billing

Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress are the leaders in website platforms.  They make it simple to create a professional website without prior experience in web design. In addition, they include features such as online bookings, client portals, and e-commerce functionality.

Step Ten: Passive Income for Physical Therapy

As a business owner, it’s important to think about passive income streams. Passive income is money that you earn without putting in active work. It can be a great way to generate additional revenue without having to increase your workload. There are passive income ideas to fit every brand identity. Here are a few examples:

  1. Put together a cookbook using tools such as Canva for your diabetic or specialty diet patients.
  2. Use websites like Teachable to create your own programs for patients.
  3. Create a blog to support your clientele and provide information and resources. 

Multiple Revenue Streams for physical therapists

Passive income streams can be a great way to increase your revenue without increasing your workload. There are passive income ideas to fit every brand identity, so consider what would work best for you and your business. Implementing even one passive income stream can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Step Eleven: Choosing Practice Management Software

Practice management is critical for physical therapists. However, scheduling, time management, and administrative tasks such as insurance billing can be daunting. Therefore, it is important to organize your time and resources and delegate when possible.

Scheduling software

Practice management includes but is not limited to developing systems for patient scheduling, charting, documentation, and insurance billing. Staying HIPAA compliant is necessary for any medical professional. Creating efficient workflows will save you time and energy to focus on what you do best – helping patients achieve their nutritional goals.

Practice management also involves staying up-to-date on the latest HIPAA compliance regulations. Failure to comply with HIPAA could result in costly penalties. The private practice section of the APTA offers many resources to help. Taking advantage of these resources will help ensure that your nutrition practice runs smoothly and efficiently.

Step Twelve: How to maintain work-life balance

Blue Abstract Minimalist work life balance for physical therapy business

One of the biggest challenges of starting a private practice is finding a work-life balance. When you’re your boss, it’s easy to work long hours and neglect your personal life. But it’s important to make time for yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, you’ll quickly burn out. So how do you strike a balance?

  • Set boundaries with your patients. Let them know what your availability is and stick to it.
  • Make time for yourself every day. Whether taking a yoga class or going for a walk, find an activity that helps you relax and recharge.
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate! You can’t do everything on your own, so delegate tasks to your staff or hire a virtual assistant to help with the day-to-day operations of your business.
  • Create a network of other wellness professionals to discuss trends and challenges or just vent!

Success takes time.  

Starting a private practice may be time-consuming, but it can also be gratifying.  Remember that not all labor will pay off right away.  So don’t get frustrated if you don’t see results right away. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to starting a successful physical therapy private practice in 2022.

Do you have any questions for us? Ask us here.

 

This blog may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This does not influence our opinion of the product or service in any way. We only recommend products and services that we believe will benefit our readers.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.

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