Physiotherapy is an honourable profession with many social and intangible benefits attached. However, in addition to performing a vital service for people, your private practice must earn a profit to justify its existence. Therefore, regardless of your specialisation, business structure and location, you need to establish a strong price structure that meets your income goals .
You may already have an idea about pricing from part-time private sessions while employed previously. Regardless, it is likely that you will have to charge a greater amount now. For example, if you are opening new premises, overhead like rent, utilities and new furniture and equipment must be covered. For business owners offering mobile services, they need to factor in transportation costs (e.g. vehicle depreciation, fuel, insurance, etc.) over and above the actual service rendered.
You can locate private practices in your general area and telephone them to anonymously inquire about rates. You may also have colleagues who are willing to divulge what they charge for certain services. As a start-up, you may feel obliged to charge a lower price to attract patients. On the other hand, if you have many years of experience in a specialty like geriatrics, you may opt to charge a premium right away. Geography (rural versus metropolitan setting) may also influence your pricing plan.
To improve cash flow, you should encourage immediate payment after single sessions. Undoubtedly, some patients will immediately pay out of pocket. However, others covered by private health insurance or government plans will likely present you with forms to allow you claim your fees. Beware of “red tape”, especially when dealing with long-term patients deemed expensive by insurance companies.
A clear payment policy up front will help you maintain consistent cash flow and ideally avoid problems in collecting future payments. As an early concession to patients, health insurers and GPs in your business, you may wish to consider discounts, especially if it means securing long-term work.
Pricing strategy is part marketing, part art and a little bit of arithmetic. Strike the right balance between profitability and volume to better establish a reputation based on your abilities – not your concessions.