PTs Talk PT: Cody Barnett, PT
Cody Barnett, PT
Founder, Bodyworx Physical Therapy, Wichita, KS
Graduate of Wichita State University (1991, Physical Therapy)
CSMi: WHAT LED YOU TO START YOUR OWN PRACTICE? WERE YOU EMPLOYED ELSEWHERE AT THE TIME YOU MADE THE DECISION, OR DID YOU LAUNCH YOUR PRACTICE RIGHT OUT OF SCHOOL?
Cody Barnett: I started Bodyworx Physical Therapy in 2005. I was disenchanted with the large system I was working for because I knew there was a better way to provide healthcare with the patient experience being the most important part of care. When big hospitals, insurance companies, and corporations are calling the shots, the patient’s experience is neglected. I wanted to create an environment where the patient came first, rather than being an afterthought.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES YOU'VE ENCOUNTERED AS SOMEONE RUNNING YOUR OWN PRACTICE?
I learned that small businesses pay a lot in taxes. That was a downer! As any business owner is aware, you have to juggle a lot of balls and keep them in the air.
OBVIOUSLY, YOU KNEW THE PHYSICAL THERAPY SIDE...HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH LEARNING THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THE EQUATION?
I got assistance from the Small Business Development Center at Wichita State University. My advisor there helped a lot. I read books and articles like crazy and had a great accountant and attorney. Being a member of the Private Practice Section of the APTA has helped me tremendously.
ON THE PHYSICAL THERAPY SIDE, WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND DIFFERENT ABOUT THE JOB THAN WHAT YOU EXPECTED WHEN YOU WERE A STUDENT PREPARING FOR THIS CAREER?
It has been interesting to see the multitude of changes in health care since I graduated in 1991. Back then, we used to complain about excessive regulations. Little did I know what was coming. I now know much more about people skills and how connecting with someone is just as important as solving their problem.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A CASH-ONLY PRACTICE?
It all goes back to wanting to provide the best patient experience we can. The insurance industry continued to cut our payments and dictate the care we provided. Medicare was cutting payments and increasing regulations. I was watching other PT clinics around me schedule 4-8 patients per hour and I knew that in order to continue to provide excellent one on one, hands on care that I would have to leave the insurance industry. Doing so allows us to see patients for less visits overall, which means less overall expense for our patients, yet they are receiving a premium service. We also have services and equipment that no other clinics in our area or state utilize.
HOW DID THAT DECISION IMPACT YOUR PRACTICE
We are blessed to have extremely loyal patients who continually refer their family and friends to us. There is no greater compliment than referring your friend or family member to us. On the personal side, I have gained approximately 10 hours per week of family time since I am no longer having to spend as much time at the office dealing with insurance hassles and accounts receivable.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN MAKING THE CONVERSION TO CASH ONLY?
You must have a loyal patient base. I also spent a lot of time with my staff explaining the background and reimbursement issues that led to the decision to convert to private pay. I needed their buy in to make it work. We also provide our patients receipts with the CPT coding, so they can get reimbursed directly from their insurance company.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A PHYSICAL THERAPIST WHO IS CONSIDERING LAUNCHING THEIR OWN PRACTICE?
You won’t learn any business principles in PT school. You must be willing to put in the time to learn on your own. Get a good accountant and attorney. Read a lot of books. Be willing to work your tail off.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A STUDENT WHO IS CONSIDERING A CAREER IN PHYSICAL THERAPY?
Find your niche and work to develop it. Try to improve and develop your strengths.
You can connect with Bodyworx Physical Therapy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BodyWorxPT
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