Sunday, 3 January 2016

Opening a Clinic: My Promise to my Clients

When I was in school, learning how to become an Athletic Therapist, we were required to do a project for business class. The assignment was to take an investment of one hundred thousand dollars, and create a sustainable business. The goal was to end up with a business model that would make as much profit as possible, with as little work as possible, in a little time as possible. There was very little emphases put on quality of product (in this case quality of healthcare), or the personal relationship that would be nurtured with each client.

This is when I started to think about what my perfect clinic would be. I started to create a bucket list of requirements that I would meet should I ever own a clinic. At this point it was all very abstract and hypothetical, but one thing stood out as very important:

Every client of any business that I would ever own would be treated as an individual, with individual needs, individual goals, and with individual treatment time. 

Let me explain a little bit about why this is so important to me as an Athletic Therapist. 

In so many clinics, there is a demand to treat several patients at once. A therapist, weather they are a chiropractor, physiotherapist, athletic therapist or kinesiologist is expected by his or her boss to treat three or four patients at the same time. The idea behind this is that each patient is in the clinic for an hour (working independently for most of it) and leaves feeling as though they gained an hour worth of treatment. Meanwhile the business gains 4x the profit, and on paper is 4x as successful.

Now this model has been shown in some circumstances to improve the quality of treatment for some kinds of injuries. For instance, if a patient suffers a major injury, such as an ACL tear or a disk injury, then completing his or her rehab side by side with a similar patient sometimes encourages an environment of competition. Both patients draw from each other and healing may occur more quickly. Humans become social in their times of need. This occurs in very select types of injuries, and in select types of people though. 

In my frank opinion, treatment is more effective during a one on one appointment with your therapist. It's more effective when your therapists attention is undivided. Your therapist is better able to apply their skills when they have the time to truly reassess your condition during every visit, to truly listen to what's working and what's not working. Even if the majority of your treatment is exercise and activity based, your therapist can learn so much by watching how well you're doing, and improve the quality of the exercises with cues and suggestions.

So as I worked in several clinics as a student, and then as a certified therapist, I began to develop a list of promises that I would make to my patients should I ever open my own clinic. So now, as I re-launch my little clinic as Guelph Performance Therapy, these are the promises that I make to you, my client. 

1) I promise to never double book. I will never compromise your treatment time by dividing my attention between you and another client.

2) I promise to give you choice in your treatment. I will guide you to the best course of action, but ultimately the decision to participate in any treatment technique is yours.

3) I promise to recommend visits based on your best chance for healing, not based on my convenience, and definitely not based on business growth.

4) I promise to never give the exact same treatment to any two patients. When you combine an infinite number of body types, with an infinite number of mechanisms of injury, there is no possible way that two individuals will need the same combination of treatment techniques. I will build your treatment and exercise programs specifically for you.

5) I promise to never give any client the same treatment twice. In the same way that no two patients are the same, it is also true that no patient is the same on two different days.

6) I promise to listen, to answer questions, and provide guidance in any way that I am able to do, and never to pretend to have knowledge that I don't.

7) I promise that if you ever have a question that I can't answer, or an injury that I cannot treat, that I will find an answer or send you to someone who can help you more. I understand that no one therapist can be the best treatment option for every injury. 

7) I promise that I won't forget these promises when my business grows. I will ensure that any therapist or support staff that I invite to join Guelph Performance Therapy will share these same values. I promise that I won't forget where I started, and I won't forget how I felt as a patient, a student, or an employee when I am a therapist, a clinic owner and an employer.