Practice Management is essential to building a practice that is effective and sustainable.
What is Massage Practice Management?
Most people are familiar with business management and you can find a million resources on a running business. However, the problem is, massage is not a normal business, it’s a medical practice. This requires a different approach than standard business models. It requires Massage Practice Management. Doctors and traditional medical practices have been at this for a while but this is not something taught to massage therapists.
When I got started in my practice I didn’t even know what the phrase was. So a quick summation is, every therapy task you perform will have associated management tasks. The better you are at establishing systems to streamline these management tasks the easier they are to perform yourself or outsource to an employee. So what am I referring to:
Financial Management – establishing and maintaining a budget and tracking revenue; negotiating contracts with corporate clients; creating insurance networks and negotiating/monitoring payments
Business Operations – Developing a business and marketing plan; identifying required outside resources, managing the practice’s physical space; purchasing supplies and equipment
HR management – recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining therapists and staff (no, employees do not come knowing what to do, you have to develop systems before hiring them and teach them how to do it)
Information Management – Acquiring and upgrading telephone, computer, and filing systems (including software/services) for clinical, billing, electronic health record, and financial management; as well as obtaining patient data
Organizational Governance – Establishing the legal structure of the practice; integrating a corporate mission; establishing pay structure; fostering staff and therapist leaders
Patient Care Systems – Maximizing therapist efficiency through effective workflow; establishing systems to keep patients informed, engaged, and satisfied; establishing practice performance standards
Quality Management – establishing and maintaining quality standards; monitoring clinical quality oversight; ensuring all licensing in current
Risk Management – Establishing procedures to ensure patient safety and address emergencies, disasters, and legal challenges; ensuring governmental compliance
The Burnout Story
Let’s get real for a moment, The average lifespan of a Massage Career is 7 years. Seven Years. That’s a painful fact and it has a big impact on our industry. In NC you’re required to renew your license every 2 years with 24 hours of continuing education. 7 years in only 3 renewal cycles. That’s less than 100 hours of specialization that most therapists will achieve. It’s hard to be an expert in anything with less than 100 hours of training on the subject.
So, Burnout is reducing the quality standards of our field, but more directly: it’s reducing our quality of life as therapists.
– You can’t pour from an empty Cup –
How many of us have told our clients that? The problem is, many of us have difficulty establishing boundaries, in the form of policies and procedures that we enforce (the very important and often skipped step). So we end up living a story something like this:
“Emma” is a talented and enthusiastic LMT who launched her business over a year ago. She quickly developed a busy practice and now she finds she works longer hours than she would like. Her appointments are booked out 2 weeks in advance so people with acute pain are fitted in on top of an already heavy schedule. As a result, Emma is worn out by the time she gets home and doesn’t find time for the hobbies she used to enjoy. Emma works as a solo therapist because the options in town were between a chain that paid poorly or being misclassified as an IC. She knows she should spend more time on treatment planning and client consultation but she doesn’t have the time. She doesn’t employ a receptionist and so must answer all calls, texts, and emails in between clients and in the evening. She needs a holiday but can’t afford to take the time away from clients because she has a hard time covering costs, much less putting anything in savings. She is feeling that it is simply too difficult to make it in private practice.
I think we can do better