The Right Combination

physical therapy workflow The Right Combination

Work with patients and office management is like PB&J

How can Shannon get her practice back on track?

“I feel like all I ever talk about nowadays is work,” Shannon sighed. “Am I getting boring?”

“I’m your husband,” Mike pointed out. “You don’t have to entertain me.”

Shannon smiled. “I can’t decide whether that was a romantic thing to say or not,” she teased.

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“I’m serious. We have good times, but I’m here to support you just the way you support me — with the kids, with the restaurant, with everything.”

“In that case, let me tell you about my day.”

“Shoot!” Mike settled back and sipped his coffee.

“First Theresa set up a speaking engagement for me –”

“That sounds good!”

“It’s great; it lets me reach lots of new doctors who might choose me next time they make a referral. But it involves travel time, and she didn’t consider that at all when she scheduled it. To make it work with the rest of the day would require teleportation.”

Mike rolled his eyes.

“Then we got a bunch of unpaid claims back from one of our payers. Lots of different reasons, from coverage that had lapsed to errors in the filing, and the worst thing is that the claims had been sitting around for ages. They all got filed at once, and now they’re all coming back, and that’s money I thought was already in the bank.”

“Sounds like your staff needs to step up their game.”

“Theresa’s great –”

“You always say that,” Mike interrupted her, “but I know how it is with employees. You hire someone and you think that doubles the amount of work that can get done. In reality, you’re adding management time to your own workload, and all the work your people do is still your responsibility. No matter how great they are, employees equal problems.”

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“I can’t agree with you there, Mike,” Shannon protested. “Anyone can make a mistake, including me. And the person who does most of the billing was out of the office with a family emergency, so things got backed up.”

“Nobody else can do that?”

“Not really. Everybody else has work of their own to do. The guy who does the billing is also the guy who calls and reminds people about their bills, too. Nobody else wants to do that, so that also got backed up while he was gone.”

“So everybody has to pitch in and catch things up. That’s how it is at the restaurant. If we get too busy and the service is slowing down, I help the waiters or we pull in the front of house manager to peel potatoes — whatever it takes.”

“That’s how you get mistakes, Mike. Maybe not at the restaurant, but in my physical therapy practice there are compliance issues, complicated billing issues, and patients we have to keep happy. Accuracy suffers when people try to hurry too much or try to fill in on things they don’t really understand.”

“Try switching out salt and sugar in a recipe and see how important accuracy can be in a restaurant,” Mike growled playfully.

Shannon laughed. “Okay, I’ll quit complaining. But I hope you can spot me lunch at the restaurant until I get some of these payments in.”

How can Shannon get her practice back on track?

Want to know how to improve your own practice workflow? Register for our webinar ’4 Steps to Stop Your Staff from Fighting.’

13 replies
  1. Yuval Lirov
    Yuval Lirov says:

    Many of the challenges are related to issues that the practice owner/practitioners don’t have time for. Shannon keeps sweating every small detail instead of focusing on the big picture and quality time spent with patients.

  2. Astrid Bidanec
    Astrid Bidanec says:

    It’s impossible to memory manage the staff and every detail of the practice. I would recommend educating the staff properly as first step and setting up workflow procedures like checklists to keep everyone on track without the need to micro-manage them. Of course, training needs to be on-going since changes in billing requirement occur frequently. But the first step is definitely to get the workflow under control. You can register for upcoming PT webinars here:

  3. Charles Pritchard
    Charles Pritchard says:

    Communication with staff is paramount to the success of a practice. Without communication, how does Shannon know exactly what is being accomplished each day in the office?

  4. Thomas Jorno
    Thomas Jorno says:

    A definable process is important in any organization, but it becomes critical as you begin dealing with more complicated systems.

    This is especially true when you are subject to high employee turn over. That uniform process can reduce the amount of time you spend training employees while also reducing the disruption to your office workflow and revenue stream.

    The right process will have sufficient transparency and accountability so that the practice owner or manager can efficiently supervise the work of their staff.

  5. Candace Coleman
    Candace Coleman says:

    The staff has created their own disjointed process resulting in confusion and a lack of transparency. Implementing workflow will help Shannon regain control of her practice and get her back on track.

  6. Heather Miller
    Heather Miller says:

    You need to have a process in place so that you know everything is being completed and that you can hold your staff accountable.

  7. Robin Kortman
    Robin Kortman says:

    When a practice does not have accountability for staff members responsibilities/job many task are missed resulting in decreased patient retention and practice growth.

  8. Aseer Kailas
    Aseer Kailas says:

    Practice Owner is wearing 2 hats. 1. Business Manager 2. Professional Care Provider. Must delegate business functions and identify bottlenecks and allow business manager to fix business bottlenecks while she can concentrate on providing world class therapy which will increase her patient retention and referrals. Thus build her dream practice.

  9. Jason Barnes
    Jason Barnes says:

    A combination of expertise, teamwork, and genuinely caring for patients is the only winning recipe for practice success. This is not new, rather, it is well known. However, the ability to measure that is a function of identifying what needs to be done vs what has/hasn’t been done. Then, and only then, can you focus on your practice growth.

  10. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Instead of adding additional responsibilities to current staff, why not implement a practice management system that is focused on workflow, alerts the staff to what work needs to be completed and allows Shannon to focus her time on patient care?

  11. Kathleen Casbarro
    Kathleen Casbarro says:

    Running a restaurant and running a PT clinic, you would think are not similar, but they are. Think about this, you have a front desk person (house manager) that checks-in or seats your patient. You have the PTA (waitress) that works with the patient, understands their needs and brings that information back to the PT (chef). The PT (chef) prepares a Care Plan (dish) for the patient.

    The processes are still the same and either way you have to involve several people. Implementing practice management systems allows you, the PT to concentrate on treating your patient. Integrating a workflow so you know that each member of your team is providing excellent service to your patient is the ONLY way to go. Your practice/business wants to grow based on patient-to-patient referrals the same way restaurant owners want to grow their business.

    You would think that this husband and wife team has nothing in common, that’s where you’re wrong. They have everything in common! Compliance, Workflow, Management, Oversight and growing their businesses. Implement a plan now!

  12. Andrew Kropff
    Andrew Kropff says:

    Being a PT shouldn’t be about managing staff. They should be focused on patients and the work of running a practice should be handle by the staff as a team. This would make everyone’s lives easier and that controlled and flowing environment would affect how patients perceive the practice and people working there.

  13. George Konold
    George Konold says:

    Yes, the employees need to step up their game, but how? Shannon needs a way to manage her practice and manage her employees using as little of her patient treatment time as possible. Imagine a task checklist that will automatically generate the tasks needed to be performed by each employee for each patient. There are a lot of tasks involved and software automation is the missing ingredient in Shannon’s practice. Guess which software system has this workflow management system built-in. (Hint: this one.)

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