The Business of Physiotherapy with Jason Bellefleur
Describe your area of practice and tell us a bit more about the honor of receiving multiple awards for your work as a physiotherapist in Ottawa.
I own a private orthopaedic practice in Ottawa. My brother is also a PT and my business partner; as well, my wife is our HR operations manager. We see a range of patients, including pediatric and geriatric populations. We also provide physiotherapy in long-term care facilities and we offer in-home visits.
The awards are a reflection of the service that we offer. We listen to people and we help them as best as we can while providing a great experience. We are proud to be apart of our community so we like to give back as much as possible.
What's something you've recently learned that you're really excited to implement into your practice?
Going to Chicago and meeting Jerry Durham was a great learning experience. He suggested taking a global approach to our clinic so that we can have a greater impact on the population that we serve.
Jerry talked about the customer lifecycle and all the big touchpoints in that cycle. For example, when someone comes to the clinic and wants PT, at what point can you influence whether or not they're going to get PT and whether or not they will get PT at your clinic. Over the next couple of months, my wife and I will change the flow of the clinic and work towards improving the customer experience.
I recently also learned about a systematic review that examined what makes patients satisfied with their physiotherapy experience. They found that the number one determinant of patient satisfaction and a patients' evaluation of the quality of their care is not necessarily about the outcomes. It is about the interpersonal skills of the therapist - skill and knowledge were much further down on the list.
"Satisfied patients are more likely to adhere to treatment, benefit from their healthcare, and have a higher quality of life." (Hush et al., 2011)
What does the next year of your professional life look like?
I'm going to be working a lot on developing my business and I have just been elected as chair of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce so I will have a role in raising the profile of business in our community.
What's one course or event that you're planning to attend in the next year that you're really looking forward to?
The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Private Practice Division Conference - being in that environment is great for working on my business skills and engaging in a larger network.
I hosted Erson Religioso this past year in Ottawa and I would like to have him to run another course. Erson teaches The Eclectic Approach which combines many different schools of thought. It takes the best and most effective methods of education, assessment and treatment, and finishes it off with more education to lock the improvements in.
What's one book that you think other practitioners should read?
I just finished reading Simon Sinek's "Start with Why". Even if you're not thinking about going into business it's helpful to determine the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.
If you are going into business, the book that woke me up was Michael Gerber "E-Myth". It helped me start to think like a business owner and shifted my frame of mind from a physiotherapist who operates a business to be a business owner who offers physiotherapy services. Until you can make that distinction, you're going to have a hard time as a business owner.
What has been one big "Aha" moment for you in your professional life?
Michael Gerber's book made me think differently. He defined three roles for a business owner which you must either fill or delegate:
- Business owner
It can be challenging to wear 3 hats and, depending on the framework from which you run your business, you may not think of the different daily tasks from different perspectives. I had to figure out how to go between wearing the 3 hats and now I'm learning how to delegate. For example. I've handed off the management role to my wife and in the next couple of years, I will decrease the amount of the technician role that I'll play by seeing fewer patients. I want to primarily wear the business owner hat.
I've also learned how important it is to systematize my business so that it's scalable. For example, the hiring process is systematized so that it is an easily repeatable process - my business will be able to continue to hire quality PTs and office staff.
What's something that you learned the hard way that you would like to share with others?
I thought too small when I started my practice. I have 4 private rooms but at this point, I could easily have 6 rooms. In order to expand at this point, I would need to get a whole new space. I was confident when I started my practice that I would do ok and be able to create a job for myself but I didn't expect that I would get so busy so quickly. We are about to celebrate our 2nd anniversary in November as a clinic and we will be 4 PTs at that time.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received?
"Listen to your clients."
If you could tell your patients 5 things, what would it be?
- Things do improve.
- If I can't do anything for you then I will send you to someone who can help you.
- I'm here to listen.
- I can only provide one part of the work in your rehabilitation process.
- You have to do the majority of the work and a large part of the physiotherapy/rehabilitation process is up to you.
Are there any blogs, podcasts or websites that you regularly follow?
I love listening and reading about the business of physiotherapy. The Therapy Insiders podcast is my go-to right now, which is now a part of UpDoc Media. I'm really excited to start listening to Jerry Durham's podcast (Business, Baseball & Bourbon) which is also a part of UpDoc Media.
- I also find a lot of great resources on Twitter that is beneficial for my business. I follow Entrepreneur magazine and the Harvard Business Review, as well as other PTs such as @Jerry_DurhamPT, @UpDocMedia, and @DrBenFung. Twitter is really beneficial and more PTs should start getting on board! You can follow me at @JasonBPT.
What role do you believe technology can play in rehabilitation for practitioners and patients?
- People are doing so much research online when they're looking for a healthcare practitioner and I think that's the best thing ever. I'm confident in what I provide - I know it's just a matter of advertising and marketing my clinic so that the right people can find me.
- People are being more vigilant with where they go. They are not just blindly following what their doctor is telling them or where they should go. They are making the decision themselves based largely on online research.
- Data is really important so that we can see where we are performing well and where we can improve as both practitioners and patients.
- Online booking systems allow for easier, convenient, flexible booking. There are limitations but it also provides a great service for customers.
- The home exercise program software is going to have a larger role to play because almost everyone, with the exception of some seniors, has a computer, if not a tablet or smartphone.
- Technology is a tool that can be used to market your practice and to complement the customer experience that you provide. At the same time, human interaction and the in-clinic experience will always be crucial.
- Having a website is important and it should be designed to reflect your business mission, values, and vision.
- Technology costs money but it has to be looked at as an investment, not an expenditure. This is a mind-shift that comes back to being a PT with a business vs running a business that provides PT services.
- "We've always done it that way" is the worst quote of all time, we can't continue doing things the 'old' way.
What makes a good mentor?
- Someone who isn't afraid to share their knowledge. We often hold back when we are sharing and try to protect what we know. We seem to be afraid that our secrets will be revealed and that someone else will take them.
- Being a good mentor is being there to answer questions and sharing genuine, valuable information.
- Being enthusiastic and having experience.
- Being prepared and having consistent meetings with your mentee.
- For new grads, it is important that you make a stressful part of their career less stressful in a supportive environment.
- For someone that you hire, they are a reflection of your business so you want to ensure that they understand what you believe in as a business as well as the day to day processes at the clinic.
Jason Bellefleur, PT
Jason is a multiple award-winning physiotherapist, receiving the 2011 Young Business Person of the Year award, the 2012 Healthcare Professional of the Year and the 2014 Business Person of the Year awards from the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. He is a big supporter of his local business community and is the Chair of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Jason strongly believes in high-quality one-on-one physiotherapy interventions. His treatment approach emphasizes hands-on intervention, continued client education, and active involvement by the individual to help them reach their full potential. He opened a clinic that offers "Higher Standards of Care" almost 2 years ago.