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Solo Physiotherapy Practice grows into a Large Multidisciplinary Clinic

Partners, Tessa and Sarah say that having a solid practice management system has provided a good foundation for growth.

Tessa Hinds,
Bayside Sports Medicine Group

Tessa Hinds started her own physiotherapy practice in 2011 – in a tiny corner within a bike shop! Her inspiration was actually a result of a negative experience working for another private practice that didn’t value their staff and subsequently, had a very high turnover. Tessa knew that it didn’t have to be this way and set about to build a practice she could be proud of.

It wasn’t long before she brought Sarah Golding into the practice as a partner and together they built their client base before moving to much larger premises. The practice was originally called Physio@Sandringham and it has more recently changed to be Bayside Sports Medicine Group. They now have six physiotherapists, three massage therapists, and a dietician. They also have a separate pilates studio where they also run osteoarthritis (GLA-D) programs as well as an anti-gravity (Alter G) treadmill. In addition, they share space and work closely with a podiatrist and a sports physician. The clinic now occupies a large and very prominent space on a busy street in their local area and Tessa says she’s “amazed and never could have imagined getting to this size – especially when I think of how we started!”

Due to the space restrictions in the original clinic, Tessa realised they needed an online practice management system right from the start – there simply wasn’t room for physical filing cabinets for storing client notes! A colleague recommended Power Diary, and they have been using this system ever since. They use SOAP notes templates for treatment notes and find that this is a fast way to record all the information they need.

Tessa and Sarah say that having a solid practice management system has provided a good foundation for growth. As they’ve added more practitioners and more disciplines, they’ve already had most of the processes they needed – it was just a matter of adding another calendar to the diary. “Without this in place, our admin would be overwhelming.” They use the calendar for appointments, Medicare integration to bulk bill clients directly, and of course, client files.

Tessa explained that they use the appointment reminders system all the time:

“We rely heavily on SMS reminders. In fact, our patients rely on them too!”

Plus, they have recently updated their website and have now incorporated a ‘book now’ button using the Power Diary portal. “Online bookings are brand new for us – I don’t know why we waited so long to do it! Clients love that they can make their own bookings without needing to pick up the phone.”

Having a practice management system that works well from a phone was also important for Tessa. She regularly uses this to check in on the clinic from home and says:

“My kids think I’m on Facebook but I’m using Power Diary on my phone!”

During the recent slowdown, Tessa says her clinic has been busier than ever, even when other clinics seem to be doing it tough. She attributes this to a few things, one being the strength of the community they have built over the years. At the start of the pandemic, she and Sarah used the email feature in Power Diary to let everyone know what was happening in relation to the clinic and what they could expect, and they were amazed at how understanding clients were, but also at how busy they’ve continued to be. She believes many people have more time on their hands and are using it to get on top of niggling injuries and self-care – which is leading to more bookings.

So how did they create this kind of reputation and loyalty? Without hesitating, Tessa says; “Hard work! I sweat blood! I spend more time with people, book for 45-minute sessions and really do whatever it takes to help clients get good outcomes.”

That work ethic and customer focus has rubbed off on the rest of the team too. Tessa says she and Sarah only hire really passionate people that truly care about getting to the bottom of what’s happening with each client. They have to be hands-on, have a strong work ethic, and really connect with people.

In relation to marketing efforts for the clinic, Tessa says they don’t do much promotion at all. “We have active Facebook and Instagram pages and regularly write blog articles, but that is really all. Our ethos is to do the best job possible and go over-and-above for each person. That way, they will always come back or at least remember us if pain or niggles arise.’

Tessa uses the Power Diary’s integration with Physitrack to prescribe specific exercises for their clients. She was nervous about it at first but says: “I’m not tech-savvy but I managed to set everyone up. We’ve even been using the Telehealth feature for lots of clients too – either through Physitrack or directly with Power Diary. It’s really impressive how easy this is to use.”

Bayside Sports Medicine Group is clearly a very successful practice and an inspiration to physios wanting to set up their own practice. We asked Tessa for the advice she would give to practitioners just starting out on their own. She said: “I’m glad that I brought my partner Sarah in early. We both had small children at the time, so sharing the load was really important. I would have been overwhelmed by having to run it on my own.”

“I’d also suggest that it’s best to start small and let the practice grow organically. And really focus on looking after people. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping people – many of which are vulnerable or might have other things going on.”

“Finally, I think it’s really important to pay your staff well. Look after your team and make everyone feel valued. In our industry, there are a lot of clinics that don’t pay physios and other practitioners well. This is often due to narrow margins in healthcare and this is something we all work with. As a boss, if there’s a way to reward your team a bigger percentage of the fees, that will pay off in the long run. The importance of having a loyal team and minimising staff turnover can’t be under-estimated, as staff changes make patients feel uncomfortable. I view it all as part of our contribution to the community – we’re building something of value to other people.”

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