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....Combine this with the changes in healthcare and the competitor down the street, and you will find that careless casting techniques, generic prescription writing, and using a “run-of-the-mill” orthotic lab will not meet the expectations in today’s environment.
Success in practice is not defined by how many devices you dispense. A successful practice and reputation is built on achieving the best possible clinical outcomes which support continued referrals. The key components for success are continuing your education in modern biomechanics, writing orthotic prescriptions based on each patient’s specific pathology, skilled troubleshooting of the complications of orthotic therapy, and the use of quality orthotic devices.
What tips do you have for building a succesful orthotic practice?
1. Learn as much as you can about anatomy, biomechanics, examination techniques, gait examination, foot orthosis casting, foot orthosis prescribing, foot orthosis manufacture, foot orthosis modification and foot orthosis troubleshooting while you are in podiatry school and in post-graduate courses.
2. Learn as much as you can about the above by reading books, reading journal articles, visiting orthosis laboratories and speaking to or visiting more knowledgeable podiatrists.
3. Ask questions to podiatrists who have more knowledge and experience than you do.
4. Don't settle on only healing one symptom in your patients. Try to heal all their symptoms with foot orthoses.
5. Pay very close attention to detail.
6. Become an expert on shoe design, shoe biomechanics, and shoe fit.
7. Know how to grind, glue, cut and fabricate standard orthosis modifications quickly and efficiently.
8. Be willing to take the time to do trial and error orthosis modifications to see how the patient's symptoms respond and how the patient's gait changes.
9. Know about every mechanically based injury that can occur in the lower extremity of athletes and non-athletes.
10. Know how to examine a foot, ankle, leg, knee, thigh and hip in athletes and non-athletes.
......and last but not least......
11. Listen to the patient's complaints, empathize with their pain and disability, show compassion, and be positive and cheerful every day that you are treating patients.
Kevin A. Kirby, DPM
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Applied Biomechanics
California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt College
There is a big difference between 10 years of experience and 1 year of experience, repeated 10 times. The cornerstone of a successful practice is to learn from mistakes rather than repeat them.
I also recall reading some research ~20 years ago - that found the biggest difference between a "successful" person and a "failed" person was that the "succesful" person had 3.4 times as many failures as the "failed" person .... they learnt from there mistakes. They had 10 yrs of expereince rather than repeat the first yr 10 times...
Can Your Orthotic Therapy Practice be More Successful?
We have identified four key components for success in orthotic therapy:
1. Ongoing education: Research has advanced our understanding of foot biomechanics and itsapplication in orthotic therapy. Are you current on advances in orthotic therapy?
2. Pathology-based prescriptions: Do you write prescriptions based on the patient's primary pathology to improve your clinical outcomes?
3. Quality orthotic devices: Quality can be impacted by your negative cast, the cast work and cast balancing by your lab, construction techniques, and materials used. Are you optimizing each of these variables?
4. Troubleshoot orthotic therapy complications: Even experts in orthotic therapy will have patients return with their orthotics due to some problem. Are you prepared to troubleshoot orthotic problems when they occur?
I also recall reading some research ~20 years ago - that found the biggest difference between a "successful" person and a "failed" person was that the "succesful" person had 3.4 times as many failures as the "failed" person ....
1. Understand your patients and not only treat them, but educate them to see the importance and value of what you do. The practice of effective health care is as much about communication as it is practical treatment
2. Acknowledge that you are both a health practitioner and a small business owner. Each requires its own skills and knowledge.
3. The future of your business depends on:
a) The next five minutes with the patient in front of you and
b) Having a clear picture of the next couple of years in a business plan
4. Know that you cannot know everything and get appropriate help where required, or when someone can do it better.
5. Work as hard ON your practice as you do IN it
6. Become an expert manager of change. No change, no future.
Thanks for these pearls of wisdom. I found it very enlightening especially as dealing with more and more biomechanics these days; oh and a new business owner. I always strive to do the best by my patients and try to learn from each of them to be a better clinician. :-)