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Reflections on 20 Years

Sometimes I can hardly believe it’s been this long. Twenty years ago, I founded Idaho Physical Therapy. During that time, I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of wonderful people, watched my kids grow up, endured lots of financial and personal ups and downs, weathered industry changes, and by God’s grace, still always been able to open the clinic doors again the next day. In a very real way, this little independent business has been my life’s dream come true.

Long before I even graduated from physical therapy school, I knew I wanted to go into private practice. Yes, there were risks (people tend to think of business owners as wealthy, but this isn’t always the case; if the business isn’t making money, you are the first one to go without a paycheck, and if the business fails, well…), but the benefits made any danger well worth it.

Going into private practice and becoming my own boss meant a chance for me to get out of the hospital system, to be able to focus on treatment rather than policies and politics. It meant I would never again be “down-sized” (I had been laid off three times in the past four years). It meant stability for my family (no more changing schools because Dad found a job in the next state).

Of course, it meant I had a lot to learn as well. I had to learn how to hire employees, and unfortunately, sometimes how to fire them. I had to learn about things like payroll taxes and SIMPLE IRAs and third quarter projections. Opening my clinic was a crash course in business management and marketing, so it’s a good thing I love to learn!

So much has changed since Idaho Physical Therapy opened. Back then, IPT was the only private physical therapy practice in the Treasure Valley. Now sometimes it seems PT offices are a dime a dozen. Healthcare is always changing, as are government regulations and insurance reimbursement rates, and with universal healthcare on the horizon, the status quo is primed to be turned on its head. We used to get the bulk of our patients via referrals from doctors, but hospitals have taken away a huge chunk of that pie (see more of my thoughts on that here). Fortunately what now keeps the doors open is what has always made IPT great – we don’t just help our patients get better, we create relationships with them.

This is an area that has always been important to me. When you come to Idaho Physical Therapy, you’re not “account number 316055.” You’re not “53 year-old female with osteoarthritis.” You’re Jan, opera enthusiast and mother of three, or Frank, retiree who is teaching his grandson how to fish. We remember your name without having to check your chart. As a small business, we have the flexibility and immediacy of response to send birthday cards or congratulatory flowers or movie tickets as our thanks for referring us your friends and family members. When you call us for treatment, you don’t get put on a waiting list and you don’t have to schedule your appointment a month out. All our new patients are seen within 24 hours. When you’re in pain, why should you have to wait?

Considering that less than half of small businesses make it to their fifth anniversary, let alone survive a decade, I feel beyond blessed that Idaho Physical Therapy is still here 20 years later. I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to my wonderful staff, my supportive family, and of course, the best patients in the world. This 20th anniversary celebration goes out to all of you. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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