I have been a physical therapist now for 16 years. The first year and a half, the company that I worked for offered free continuing education courses within the company. I just have to drive to where the free course for that weekend and I would learn stuff, it was great. I learned a lot of stuff on different body parts and different techniques. It was fantastic. My first 14 months, I completed 180 continuing education hours.
Now, to put things into context. Every two years you are required as a physical therapist to complete 24 hours. I completed 180 in the first 14 months. When I went on after that, year one and a half to year five, I went on to complete another 100 hours. I ended up completing all the course required to get your manual therapy certification through the University of St. Augustine and ended up getting my Orthopedic Certified Specialty. I was working at that time with professional tennis players and I really felt that I need to up my game. But with all those hours that I did, what I have done for over the last 5-6 years of just investing as much or more time into learning marketing and learning how to serve my customers as I do with learning clinical advancements, it is totally exponentially exploded my career.
I learned how to serve my customer, learned where my customers are at, learned what my customer’s pain points are, I understand that most of my customers don’t know what a physical therapist does – they don’t know what things that you really offer. They are told about what we do through another health care provider – usually a primary health care physician or specialist. I understand that there is a lot of people that still need my help but I have to know how to target those people. I have to know what things they are struggling with and then explain to them how I can help them as a physical therapist – that’s marketing. And that in itself is an art. That changes all the time.
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What is interesting about physical therapist is that we learn new things. It doesn’t change every single month – we learn different ways to do different mobilization, different techniques or how to assess things a little bit different. When we deal with marketing, especially Internet marketing, that stuff changes monthly. Every quarter, something new. I just went on my cellphone and saw all these things – insights in Instagram and Instagram just changed two months ago, it’s always changing. Everything is always changing. Now that I actually found value in it and understanding the importance of it, it totally transforms my business. It’s taking my business to a whole new level – things that I never thought I will be able to do in business.
Next thing is innovation. You can have patients coming in all the time and you can be good but there are certain things that is out of control like insurance, reimbursement, patient responsibility. Just because I am better as a PT, I don’t get better to work with better insurance plans. I can choose to work on a cash-based setting but most of us don’t. So, you have to learn and the next thing is innovation. Innovation is leverage. I used to think of innovation as, “I have to create a new technique.” No, that’s not really what it is. Innovation is just making something better. I focused my efforts on making my customer’s journey more complete. I’ve listened to my patients. I asked them what they want and now I offer that to them. That is innovation, that is leverage. That is now taking a patient that maybe if I just went through insurance that patient would maybe bring $500. Now I understand that I can have that same patient and offer them things that they have shown interest in, things that they need and not realize that I and my team can serve them with those things. And now that person gets four times the amount. Did I have to go get four times the amount of patients to now make four times the amount? No, I am just serving my client things better.
The two things that you need to know to separate yourself as a physical therapist from all the rest of your competition is how to market and how to innovate and leverage yourself.