Finding a good physical therapy clinic to trust with your care is tricky. It can also take a lot of diligent effort. But I’m all about speed and making your lives easier, so I’ll try to give you some key pointers you can easily figure out without too much work. I’ll break it down into 3 stages.
3 stages to selecting an optimal physical therapy clinic:
- Research Test
- Call Test
- Service Test
The research test is where you will start when thinking about finding that perfect physical therapy clinic. It involves mostly online activity and is the most time friendly of the 3 tests. You’re basically seeing how potential clinics represent themselves online. Is it perfect? No. Does it provide a ton of valuable information? Yes!
If you’re not looking online when deciding what to buy and where to go for services – you’re missing out (and shopping blind).
What better way to shop for quality services than from review of your neighbors? So first up, I’d recommend checking online reviews.
To find how a clinic is rating start with a simple google search of your desired city/area for a physical therapy clinic. For example: “Physical therapy in Sterling Heights MI 48314”
That will give you a ton of different physical therapy clinics nearby that location. Now pick a few that have some great google reviews. Type those clinic names into google individually with the word “reviews” following. For example “Borja Physical Therapy reviews”. (Note: You may have to include clinic address if it’s a big chain of physical therapy clinics).
That should give you Google, Facebook and any other relevant reviews of that particular clinic.
Look at the clinic’s website and review the “about”, “services” and “contact us” pages. These are common pages most websites have that will give you vital information about who works at the clinic and what they can do for you.
Look for staff that have experience or the “DPT” behind their name, indicating they are a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Note: Very experienced clinician’s may also have MPT (Masters) behind their name instead and should not be overlooked!)
Look for the companies values, mission, and what they stand for. Your trying to gauge the core beliefs of a clinic – not just how bad they want the money in your wallet!
Ok, now that we have the preliminary research test done, we’ve narrowed down a few potential clinics, it’s time to perform the call test!
The call test is exactly what it sounds like. You’re calling your potential clinics you’ve narrowed down from step 1 to see if they make the cut.
During the call test you are looking to check off as many of the following as possible:
- Tone: Initial friendliness
- Hold: Not put on hold longer than 30 seconds
- Relaxed: Does not make you feel rushed
- Call Back: If you left a voicemail, the clinic calls back promptly
- Genuine: Asks you about your injury, making genuine conversation
- Interested in you, not money: Doesn’t ask right away what insurance you have
- Therapist: Able to verify the therapist you’ll see
- Speedy: Is able to get you in the clinic <48 hrs
- FREE visit: Allows you to take a FREE session before officially signing-up
- Script: Will handle getting the script for you if you don’t already have it in hand
- Requirements: Explains paperwork and other requirements for the 1st day
- Licensed Therapists: Verifies only licensed therapist do exercises with you (not techs or aides)
After making your calls, whoever has the most points checked off, that’s the clinic you’ll move onto step 3: Service Test.
You’ve made it to the last test! You’ve done your research, made the call tests and now you’ve narrowed it down to one clinic. Time to test the actual services! This step is easy: we’re only going to attend the first session. Our back up plan: If we don’t like what we experienced, well go to the second place clinic we got from steps 1 and 2. So keep a copy of your script so you can easily provide that to your next clinic if necessary. Note: Hopefully the clinic you’ve chosen DOES offer a FREE visit to determine if the clinic right for you. In this case you wouldn’t need a script, referral or to do any paperwork prior to seeing the therapist.
Let’s review what you will be testing from the time you open the door until the time you leave:
Entering The Clinic
The clinic should be clean and you should be greeted immediately upon entering the clinic. There should be no offensive odors and everything should appear clean and hygienic.
Upon entering there should be no mistaking the next step. That most likely means the receptionist will be guiding you!
The Waiting Room
You should be promptly seen at your scheduled appointment time. It’s simply unacceptable to be seen a minute late.
Ok, in certain circumstances a 5-10 minute wait may happen but this should be RARE and you should be notified by the therapist it will be a few minutes as they are finishing with a client.
Really – this shouldn’t happen at all one the FIRST visit. I make a big deal about this at my clinic. We try our best to accommodate early or late shows but we always start on time! The therapist should come up, greet you and bring you back to the evaluation area.
Now that you and the therapist are in the evaluation area, they should begin by letting you to tell your story.
You should be given ample time to explain how your injury/pain started up to what led you to the clinic for the evaluation.
A good therapist will listen, acknowledge and be taking plenty of notes while you talk. Next will come the measurements…
They should be taking many measurements using various tools to test your:
- Range of Motion
- And others
At the end of the evaluation, the therapist should provide a clear diagnosis, review of your functional/activity limitations and provide numbers on what they will be able to realistically achieve with your condition.
For example, I have a “Plan of Care” sheet I review with all clients at the end of an evaluation. It includes a diagnosis, functional limitations, functional goals, pain level, outcomes showing expected % improvement, recommended frequency and duration of follow up appointments.
You should be given a copy of this sheet or similar sheet so you know what to expect throughout your physical therapy plan of care.
Before You Go…
At this point the evaluation has been completed and there are a few more things to take care of before you go!
You’ll need to schedule follow up appointments, be given and explained about your home exercise program and given any other pertinent information or paperwork.
Scheduling should be easy, simple and plenty of available hours that are convenient to you. You should be given an appointment card and/or text/email reminders in addition once you’ve scheduled appointments.
After scheduling you should be explained your financial responsibility laid out by visit. In my clinic we have the insurance details and what to expect to pay BEFORE the first visit. I love transparency. We also include what to expect to pay each visit thereafter. It’s better to not have bad surprised later – for both parties!
If you found a real gem of a clinic, they should have some sort of “welcome package” to give you on your first day. Essentially it welcomes you to that clinics culture. For example, in my clinic we give out a high-quality and breathable Borja Physical Therapy T-shirt that people can wear at future appointments, and each time enter to raffle to win the monthly prize! In addition, we provide a folder with information about me, my team and our services (and a few extra goodies!).