Guide to Starting Your Own Private Outpatient Practice

  • January 1, 2023
  • blog

Have you been looking into starting your own physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy outpatient practice? If so, then this article will cover all your questions, including:

  • How to create a business plan
  • How to pick your therapy business name, entity, and logo
  • Who will you treat and what services will you provide
  • What equipment you’ll need
  • What software you’ll need
  • How to find your first patients and what will you charge
  • And much more!

Starting a therapy based rehabilitation practice can be a daunting task, but this guide should give you all the pointers you’ll need to get started with confidence! So what’s the first step?

Make Business Plan:

This does not need to be an official document and complicated. Make it simple, one page and to point – think of it just as a place to brainstorm your business creation before you start buying your LLC/PLLC and launching.

What to include or think about in your business plan?

  • Who will you serve? What is your ideal audience? Is it athletes, geriatrics, pediatrics? Certain diagnoses?
  • What location or locations will you serve?
  • Your business hours?
  • How will you find patients?
  • List out what you’ll need in terms of software and equipment
  • What will you charge based on your costs?
  • Will you have help right away or not?
  • What will your business name and colors and slogan be

Pick Your Business Entity, Name, and Logo:

As we talk about these tasks, please know that while things are processing you could be working on other tasks. For example, while you wait for your LLC or PLLC to get completed, you can be working on your logo, website, and setting up your marketing funnel.

But really the first step after you create your basic vision on your business plan is to establish your business – this way you are doing everything properly when you start.

Picking your business name:

This is another step that often can be very stressful! But here are some helpful tips and ideas:

  • You can use your own name
  • You can use a made-up name, your location, or the service you provide within your name

Make sure to check to see if you name is taken under GoDaddy domains, as this may impact your name. You’ll also get some ideas from GoDaddy domain searching.

Make sure in addition to doing a domain search to do a trademark search.

Also do a quick search of your name idea to see what comes up in google to see your competition.

The goal is to try to come up with a name that’s easy to SAY, SPELL, and READ. It helps to be unique and memorable that way your patients will be able to easily recommend you or search for you online.

You need to choose either an LLC or PLLC:

Make sure you look up your state’s rules as some states will require therapy professionals to create a PLLC and NOT a LLC when establishing their business. The taxes and paper is basically the same though.

You’ll also need to figure out if you are going to create an LLC/PLLC on your own or with a business partner. The pros of having a business partner is that you’ll have a 2nd brain to ask questions, a 2nd hand to help with all the set up/marketing/billing/treatment, and just overall a built in support system. However, the cons of having a partner is that you’ll have to share your profits, your relationship may change over time, you may not always agree on goals or trajectory of the way you grow you clinic, and so there is a risk that the partnership may dissolve over time.  It’s important when going into the partnership that you create your business plan together as this will solve a lot of strife in the future – making sure you are on the same path in terms of patient audience, growth plan, equipment, and more.

Once you get your LLC or PLLC, then you can create your business checking account, EIN and any other state required paperwork you’ll need.

Creating your logo and business colors:

Interestingly but often the logo and colors may take quite a while to create! It’s important to note that you can always rebrand your logo and colors, and so this is a step that you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about.

You can create your logo for free using tools like Canva.com or get a very reasonable price quote from Upwork or Fiverr.

There are many websites that talk about how we associate different colors to different attitudes and business, and so we encourage you check out articles like this one https://www.visualcapitalist.com/psychology-of-color-business/ when picking your colors and logo.

Who will you treat? What services will you provide?

The sky is the limit when it comes to who you will treat and what services you may provide. That’s the beauty of rehabilitation, there are so many diagnoses to niche down into and so many creative services you can provide!

Here are a few service examples:

  • General PT, OT and SLP therapy services
  • Courses
  • Memberships
  • Products at a whole sale or affiliate cost
  • Wellness programs
  • Tai Chi, fall prevention, pain prevention, yoga classes
  • Rocksteady and Parkinson’s type based programs
  • Dementia services
  • Caregiver education and services
  • Home modification
  • Ergonomics

Now let’s discuss what different patients you will treat. Here are a few patient population examples:

  • Parkinson’s
  • Post stroke
  • Orthopedics
  • Chronic pain
  • General geriatrics that includes any orthopedic and neurologic diagnosis
  • Amputations
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Pediatrics and all the various diagnoses within that

There are so many people who need your help! The question is often posed, “how niche should I be?” This is a challenging question.  I think you should first think about what you feel the most comfortable treating – for example, do you have years of experience treating a certain diagnosis? Have you had special experience with say high level athletes or a unique population? Do you have extra education and certifications in a particular population? These questions will help you narrow down your expertise.

The next question you should ask yourself is what do you love to treat? Usually when you’ve gained unique skill sets and experience, it’s because you love to help that population but it’s still a good question to ask yourself.

Lastly, ask yourself what’s underserved in your area? Where do you fit in amongst your competitors and other clinics?

Note that you can always add more niches in and that your audience will often choose you. What I mean by that is that often, once you put yourself out there, people will start reaching out and they’ll help you navigate who to treat.  So don’t stress too much! Start with what you know and love, and then continue to grow and pivot from there.

How will you charge? What will you charge?

There’s a wide variety of ways you could charge for your services. You could provide cash or insurance or a hybrid of the 2. You can also have subscription services for wellness or other fitness based classes or accountability programs. Lastly, you can also offer courses or online video memberships on a one off or subscription cash payment.

What you will charge will vary just as how you will decide to charge your patients. Your pricing will vary based on your location and the cost of living in that area. Your pricing could also be based on similar quotes from your competitors. Pricing also usually changes as you grow your practice, starting lower and then slowly raising your rates as you gain more clout and expertise in your area. In addition, increased credentials and amazing reviews will also help change what you  charge.  But a great place to start is to look up what local clinics near you charge, the cost of living in your area, and the average co pay in your area.

What equipment and software will you need?

Luckily when starting an outpatient business, there is very little equipment and software you’ll need!

In terms of equipment, you can have as much or as little equipment as you want but some helpful items include:

  • Pulse oximeter
  • Blood pressure machine
  • Exercise bands
  • Some weights
  • Stretch band
  • Peddler
  • Massager

You can of course have more or less equipment and be as “techy” or not as you want! But when you first start, you can easily get a lot of equipment off of Amazon, at Five Below, or on say Facebook Marketplace or other used sites. You can spend as little or as much as you want, but in reality you’ll really only need to spend about $50 or less on gym equipment to start your practice.

In terms of software, there is also very little you’ll need. Primarily you’ll need:

  • Email
  • EMR software
  • Website

Yep that’s it! It’s important to find a website host that is very comprehensive and that can have a website, host your courses, host your products, collect and respond to emails automatically, and has a blog for SEO.

For your EMR, it’s important to have one that includes telehealth, scheduling, appointment reminders via email and test, HIPAA compliant documentation, HIPAA compliant communication, integrated billing and that is cost effective with ability for team members and contractors.

We encourage you to consider HelloNote if you do need an EMR, as we do have all of the features above, and it’s free to have your virtual assistant or non clinical staff use your account too! You can schedule your free consultation here: https://hellonote.com/.

How will you find your patients?

There are lot of different techniques and strategies you can use to find your patients. Here is a short list of ideas to help:

  1. Make sure you have a Google My Business account (it’s free) and that it’s detailed, just like your website. This will help with local searches.
  2. Make sure your website is easy to find and schedule an appointment from. SEO is a long process but making sure your basic SEO settings are up with your location, name, contact information will help.
  3. Social media can sometimes be a great strategy, especially for certain niches and age groups. We usually recommend you focus on one social media platform as it can be overwhelming to manage multiple and grow your business at the same time – although we do recommend you make accounts on all the platforms just to secure your account name.
  4. Author a book and publish on Amazon to generate Amazon traffic.
  5. Free in services at adult day cares, corporate offices, assisted living centers, independent living facilities, fitness centers, pediatric day cares, pre schools, schools, local fire or police stations etc.
  6. Network and connect with other providers such as chiropractors, other rehab clinics outside of your setting, medical settings, massage settings etc.
  7. These are just a few quick ideas! Think about your personality and how you feel with each of these and pick the ones that you feel the most comfortable with to start with.

What’s next?

Even though you may have all of the above up and running, this is not the end of your thinking and planning. When running a business, there is a constant re-evaluation of how things are going, how you can improve, how can you be more efficient?

You’ll be constantly looking at what you need to add to grow or make your life or your business better and easier. So don’t feel like you have to everything above perfect.  Your business will never be perfect (in my humble opinion) but that’s okay.

Just keep growing, learning, and trying your best!

If you are looking for a EMR to use in your practice, we would love to provide you with a free demonstration of HelloNote and how we can help run and grow your cash, insurance or hybrid pay practice in confidence! You can schedule your free training here: https://hellonote.com/schedule-demo

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