Cancer Rehab is at a Crossroads – Here’s How We Can Make It Better

Please note: We are proud affiliates for some of these resources & products, meaning that we may earn a commission if you click the link & subsequently make a purchase. All of these recommendations are based on our clinical experience & what we use in our practice – because we believe that they are the best out there. We recommend these resources because they are helpful & useful for OncoPTs & patients. 

The State of the (PT) Union

Per APTA’s most recent issue, more patients than ever understand what physical therapy is.  However, this isn’t exactly the win we were all hoping for. 

Insurance reimbursement is dropping year after year.  PTs are leaving the profession more than ever, despite the “oversaturation” of PT school & new grads (which is totally false, by the way).  Cancer survivors are falling through the cracks, still told they should just be grateful to be alive.  If we continue with the same approach as we’ve always done, we’re on a sinking ship.

Our profession is at a significant crossroads, & cancer rehab is not exempt.  We can continue treating patients exactly how we’ve been doing for the past 30 years & see the same frustrating results.  Or, we can pivot, adapt to current challenges, & stretch ourselves to think bigger in order to truly help our cancer survivors.  

A powerful solution is owning your own physical therapy business

One such solution to better helping cancer survivors is owning your own PT business.  Owning your own physical therapy business can provide unique opportunities to help cancer survivors with their recovery. As a business owner, you have the freedom to design programs that cater specifically to the needs of cancer survivors, such as addressing issues related to lymphedema, neuropathy, and fatigue.  

You can also create a more personalized approach to treatment, building rapport and trust with patients and helping them to regain their physical and emotional strength.  You may even be able to help patients in a shorter time, with less visits & decreased overall costs.  Yep, you read that correctly.  I’ve found I can help my patients get back to what they want to do with less visits because I can spend more quality time with them & they have more ownership in the process.

Additionally, owning your own business can give you the flexibility to work with patients at their convenience and develop long-term relationships with them. Through your business, you can provide an essential service to cancer survivors, helping them to regain their independence and quality of life.

Sales is not inherently icky

Sales is often viewed negatively, with pushy, manipulative tactics to convince people to buy things they don’t need or want. However, this perception is not entirely accurate. 

In reality, sales is an essential component of any business (including physical therapy), as it involves identifying and addressing the needs of potential customers. 

Effective physical therapists prioritize building relationships and establishing trust with patients by listening to their needs and providing solutions that genuinely benefit them. When done ethically and honestly, sales can be a mutually beneficial exchange that benefits both the patient and the physical therapist.

In short, sales is connecting patients’ values to your solutions.  

Cash-Based PT Works in Cancer Rehab.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, cash-based physical therapy is not inherently evil or exclusive. While it may not be covered by insurance, it provides an alternative for patients who prefer to pay out of pocket, who may not have insurance, or who have high-deductible plans. 

Cash-based physical therapy clinics often offer personalized care, longer sessions, and one-on-one attention that may not be possible in traditional insurance-based settings. Additionally, cash-based physical therapy practices may offer payment plans or sliding scales for patients with financial constraints. By catering to patients’ specific needs, cash-based physical therapy can provide a valuable and accessible service that is complementary to the traditional insurance-based model.

While we know that cancer is an immensely financially toxic condition, we also know that PT mills aren’t actually helping cancer survivors in the long-run.  One strategy I’ve implemented is an income-based sliding scale.  While I can’t reach every patient today, I’m actively working towards making care more accessible in my area, especially when other facilities have a 3+ month waiting period for subpar care.

PT Biz Con will change your entire career trajectory

As Aaron said, “success leaves clues.”  When you’re exposed to other people who are working towards their goals & seeing results, you can learn what worked, what didn’t work, & how you can implement strategies into your own practice.

I attended my first PT Biz Con before I even left my corporate PT position.  The skills & strategies I learned helped me to be a better physical therapist, even way before I ever thought about opening my own practice.  The marketing strategies, inspiration, & community that I gained were instrumental in helping patients the skilled rehab services they needed, especially when we had to get creative during the pandemic.

PT Biz Con 2023 is happening March 17-18, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina

Grab your seat at this life-changing event now: (affiliate link)

Can’t make it to PT Biz Con this year?  

Here’s some tools I recommend to help you get started on your business journey:

Email Marketing: ConvertKit

I’ve loved using ConvertKit for the past 3 years & I recommend it to everybody starting their email marketing journey.  It’s easy to use & stay connected with your patients.


The CashPT Blueprint

Aaron’s book The CashPT Blueprint is a game-changing, easy read that will catapult your ability to connect your patient’s values to your plan of care & goals:

Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

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