Should I Add Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is a powerful application used to accompany other medical professionals and to treat all sorts of conditions and injuries. Imagine adding such a valuable technique to your practice; the benefits of having a skilled therapist as part of your team are numerous and can dramatically improve the effectiveness of both your treatments and your office. You may have been thinking that this sounds like something you want to do but the more you think about it, the more questions you have like:
- How do I find the right therapist?
- What type of therapist is the best fit for my office?
- How should I schedule them?
- How much should they be compensated?
This can be a big decision and these questions are not uncommon. With the information that follows, I hope to shed some light on them to make it easier to incorporate massage therapy into your practice.
Where to Start
The first question you need to ask yourself is what the purpose of adding massage therapy is. Is it solely to create a source of additional revenue? Is it to contribute to the treatment process and benefit your clients or is it a combination of both.
If your purpose is to solely create revenue, it might be a good idea to create a separate division so that there is no confusion for your patients that this is part of their treatment plan. An example of this might be something like a medical spa that is part of a larger medical practice. It is a second source of revenue that is not directly tied to treatments done in the practice.
If a better option for you is to incorporate it as part of the treatment process, massage therapy can benefit your practice in multiple ways. First, your treatments will become more effective because the related soft tissue restrictions have been removed and your adjustments will be easier to perform. In addition, the help your treatments provide will last longer because the tissue is more pliable and has fewer restrictions so it does not revert back to its dysfunctional state as quickly. Another benefit is that you can gain valuable treatment information from the therapist’s findings giving you a different perspective that can help guide what you do. By incorporating soft tissue work into the treatment plan and collaborating with the therapist, not only will you contribute to the patient’s wellness, you can increase revenue at the same time. Because your treatments are more efficient and effective, the length of time needed before you discharge a patient will most likely be reduced. You will have more capacity for new business, be able to shift more patients to a maintenance program, and as a result of your praises being sung, your practice will grow.
Who Do I Hire?
In order to find the right therapist, you have to begin with the right mindset with regards to massage therapy. You should approach it as utilizing a valuable tool and recognize that good massage therapists have a unique skill set that can make a positive impact on your practice. Doing things like including therapists in regular communication as part of the treatment team will convey your trust in the skill and value of the therapist. By approaching massage in this manner, you will be able to recruit and keep high quality therapists who want to work as part of a healthcare team.
The right type of therapist will vary depending on your practice. A very important part is finding someone who wants to work as part of a team and whose skillset is a match for your needs. Having regular communication about treatment decisions will encourage critical thinking and help create a team environment. This will allow you to shape them into the type of therapist that will best meet your patient’s needs.
Scheduling and Pay
Once your find the right fit, which may take some time, you will need to consider how to best utilize them in your scheduling. Considerations such as whether they are employees or contractors, part time or full time and pay rate come into play.
While the day to day hours will vary depending on your practice, there should always be time to have discussions about the treatment plans for the patients coming in. Ideally, this should happen several times throughout the day. By taking the time to incorporate this, you can be as effective as possible in your treatments and take advantage of the therapist’s skillset. Some options for scheduling are to do it in blocks and schedule patients who receive massage during that time. Another is to schedule for the entire day with additional duties when they are not doing massage.
In combination with schedule, compensation plans are also a consideration. This can vary depending on how your practice charges for your services. If you are cash based, then the massage could easily be an additional fee or built in to the overall treatment cost for the patient. If you bill insurance, your reimbursement rates can vary so you may be tempted to compensate the therapist differently depending on what you get paid. It is my experience that creating a consistent compensation scale that recognizes and values the skillset brought to the practice increases loyalty and commitment. If the therapist views themselves as a valued part of a healthcare team, it will also decrease the desire to leave and open their own practice. Too many times, massage therapists are viewed as a quick way to increase revenue to the practice and not a long term part of the overall treatment plan for the patients.
Depending on how you classify the therapist, there are numerous options for pay. You can choose an hourly rate, salary, or a base pay plus increases when doing massage. Regardless of the structure, the compensation needs to be appropriate for the therapist’s experience and education.
Finding the right therapist may be a lengthy process but the time investment on the front end will pay off multiple times over. Once the right fit is found, investing in the development of your staff will allow you to mold them to be as productive as possible and really create an amazing healthcare team.