I wanted to write a post about the things that excite me about the future of the private practice physio profession in Australia, both now and over the next few years.
Multiple contributing factors are coming together to help us build an era of prosperity for our profession, and help the population of our great country to aspire to optimal health, should they choose to accept the challenge.
At the start of my career the GPs were the gatekeepers. Whatever they said, people would do. If they said don’t go to physio because you needed to rest, take painkillers and get an xray of your sore back, people would do it.
Over the past 15 years I have seen the private practice physio profession overtake General Practice in one main area – spending time with our patients.
We have developed trust, understanding and relationships with our clients at a level that has not been seen in the medical profession, and it’s dwindling consultation time. They are shooting themselves in the foot doing 6 minute consultations, and this has helped our profession to gain the hearts and minds of the community.
It is only a matter of time (5-10 years I believe) until every person in Australia when they suffer pain and injury will see their physio before they see their GP. Why is this? Because they know their physio can help them with their pain, whereas their GP will either give them painkillers, send them for scans, or refer them to (guess who) – the physio anyway!
Our public profile will continue to grow at a rapid rate, and this will further boost our credibility.
Clinically our profession is undergoing rapid change. Tingly buzzy machines and hotpacks are becoming relics seen only in physio museums. Apart from understanding, the quickest way to build trust with a patient is through therapeutic touch, and we are the masters of this. Irrespective of physios on the fringe who not only dismiss but chastise physios who practice manual therapy, the combination of education, manual therapy, exercise and the team approach (which physios are the leaders of, at least in our patients’ eyes) will produce the fastest, best and most lasting results for our clients. This approach will satisfy the challenging middle ground between what our patients want, and what they need.
Physios in private practice are what GPs were 50 years ago. What we recommend to our patients they follow. Our patients use physio, massage, pilates, gym training, psychology services, personal development and more, to take control of their health and achieve their goals and dreams.
We are the leaders of the growing allied health profession, and are seen as the referrers to other allied health services, with whom we work closely in teams to best manage the challenges of our clients. GPs and Medical Specialists understand our role in management of patients with more complex pain and injuries, and have high levels of respect for our roles. They acknowledge that we can spend large amounts of time with patients and they respect our ability to educate our patients like no other health profession can.
From an employment perspective when a student begins their physio career their desired career pathway is into private practice. Hospital services if anything are contracting from a physio intervention, and private practice will employ 80% of our graduates (currently 65%) within 10 years. Our Universities will have the foresight to involve their local private practice leaders to develop cutting edge education aimed at preparing physio graduates for the challenges of a private practice career – from a clinical, communication, business and leadership perspective.
Physio clinic owners are highly valued by your clients, employees, communities and society in general. We are seen as progressive, future based thinkers, and have a collective strength which assists in influencing positive change not only in our communities, but in health policy nationwide. The leadership skills we possess allow us to manage growing and thriving clinics, with high performing teams. We have grown into our roles as owners, we value our time above all, and we no longer feel chained to our clinics. Our mindsets have become those of business owners and leaders, we no longer feel the need to be the busiest clinicians in our practice, as our roles are strategic, leadership, mentoring, teaching and connecting within our communities.
The private practice industry is seen as a valuable industry which solves many of society’s challenges, one of which is optimal early intervention for people in severe and early stage chronic pain, hence reducing significant downstream burden on our health system. With such great value comes premium fees.
Our clinics are highly profitable, and we advocate lives of balance, purpose, significance and positive influence. We practice what we preach – unlike the medical profession, and unlike the hospital industry. We lead by example – not by “do as I say and not as I do”. We are lifelong clinic owners, who live our purpose daily and hence avoid burnout, poor health, and stress related conditions. We spend large amounts of time with our families, and these relationships form the cornerstone of our purpose driven lives.
50 years ago our tools were our hands. Now they are our brains. No longer will people go to their physio for a “rub”. Their physio is the oracle of all things pain, injury and mobility related.
Physio clinic owners in private practice are the influencers of the next generation.
So who’s with me??😉

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