How to start a mobile Physical Therapy (PT) Practice

Are you thinking about starting a mobile physical therapy practice that offers vestibular therapy as a service? We interviewed the brilliant and brave Amy McMillin, PT, ITPT, Owner and Founder of Custom Care Rehab in Northeast Ohio, to get her insights on what tips and tools she found most useful in starting and growing her mobile practice. Watch this video to learn more, and check out the resources below too!

BUSINESS BASICS

Step 1

Choose a Company Name

One of the most important steps is choosing your name!  It should be be easy to spell, convey what your company is about, and set the expectations of your customers with the experience they can expect.  If you’re stuck with a name, check out this online company name generator for more tips.  Check with your state’s business registration website to make sure it’s not already being actively used!  Companies can have the same name as long as they don’t compete with the same customers or would cause confusion.

Step 2

Design your Logo

Now that you’ve got your name, some of the fun begins!  Creating a visual brand for your company will allow you to connect you with your customers–so make sure you think about what would connect best with your audience.  You might think the cobra is the coolest snake, but that doesn’t mean it’s related to your business (karate dojos aside).

A great way to brainstorm ideas is using sites such as Fiverr where you can engage multiple designers to flesh out your ideas.  Either choose your favorite designer from the group to integrate all of your feedback and design elements or find a local designer to help polish it up.  

Once completed, check out VistaPrint to create some customized products like business cards, signs, and posters with your logo on them.

Step 3

Launch Your Website & Social Media channels

The sooner you launch your company with your visual brand ready, the sooner you will start to build out then network you’ll need to grow.  Stay current with the platforms where your customers are! 

Using services such as Fiverr and Upwork is a great way to connect with independent designers to build your page.  If you want more than just informational pages like e-commerce, patient scheduling, etc.–you’ll want to find a local web design company that you trust to properly build out your website. 

Step 4

Register your company and bank accounts

In most cases you don’t need a lawyer to setup an LLC, but check with your state’s regulations  and get their recommendations.  There are sometimes other requirements like having a business license and putting a notice in local legal journals, so check with your local chamber of commerce for any assistance.

You will need an EIN to start a business bank account.  Do not mix your business and personal expenses. Find a business tax accountant (ideally a CPA) to help you determine the easiest way to manage your financial records like receipts, invoices, etc.  They will be filing your taxes at the end of the year and you can save thousands of dollars if your books are set up correctly.

HEALTHCARE-SPECIFIC STEPS

Step 1

Legal Basics for Healthcare

You will need to familiarize yourself with HIPAA and other healthcare related regulations.  Your insurance company can be a good guide since they will commonly require compliance with standard operating procedures for the best rates. If not provided in your EMR, for example, you will need a separate patient consent form for basic liability mitigation.

Step 2

Choose Liability Insurance

Select coverage for your business (not just yourself) and check on coverage options for employees should you grow/hire more patient care staff. Options include but are not limited to CM&F, HPSO, Liberty Mutual, and Proliability. Also consider other benefits of each insurance. For example, HPSO has a couple of CE courses about risk mitigation. If you take them, HPSO will discount your premiums by 10% for 3 years.

Step 3

Acquire Equipment

Carefully assess your equipment needs based on the services you will provide on the first day. Keep note of products that you’ll be able to grow into, but focus on delivering a great first day to your patients.  Please review the Essential Equipment for a Mobile Vestibular Therapist resource for equipment recommendations.

Step 4

Patient Records System

Select your system of record for all patient-related documentation.  Most clicnics use an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system or use paper forms to keep costs low at first.  Most EMRs include multiple services such as scheduling, billing, and marketing as well. The EMR choices are overwhelming, but a few popular/recommended ones include WebPT, QuickEMR, JaneApp, HelloNote, and Prompt EMR. Make a quick grid listing features and pros/cons of each, and consider getting a live demo if available.

Step 5

Billing

Find a clearinghouse or external billing service for billing. Make sure not to confuse the two, because they aren’t the same thing. A clearinghouse transmits your claims and ensures that each claim is routed to the appropriate insurance company for payment, but they don’t look at the claims in-depth to see what you billed and how you billed it. If you need that kind of support, then you need an external billing service. Again, some EMR services include billing and/or clearinghouse services. Clearinghouses do have a cost just as external billing services do, whether you pay the cost directly or it is buried in your billing software fees. Options include Office Ally, Kareo, Clinicient, Practice Fusion, and BestPT.

The help section of this popular EMR MWTherapy also provides a nice overview of the Basics of Physical Therapy Billing

AMY’S PRO TIPS!

Tip 1

Get Your name out!

Market yourself, create great social media content, and get lots of clients on your schedule! Here are some great ideas for marketing your practice and an excellent video blog example. See the images below as examples of how you can market the use of quality equipment to attract patients to your practice!

Tip 2

Participate in Online Forums

Check out the Facebook group for cash pay providers called Uncaged Clinician. It’s an open forum and includes like-minded clinicians in OT, PT, and SLP.  

Tip 3

Budget for Marketing

Explore resources for creating a Marketing Budget using Brad Cote’s Facebook group.

Tip 4

Join Local Business Groups

Find a local networking business group to help establish yourself in the community where you live and build your reputation. I chose a smaller group called E-Women Network.

Tip 5

APTA Section

Consider joining the Private Practice Section of the APTA. They have many resources for Private Practice owners.