Physical Therapist-Owned Clinic with One-on-One Care in Westlake Hills, Texas

Doctor/Physician-owned versus Physical Therapist-owned Physical Therapy Clinic

(SD) It's Stephen Dunn and Dr. Claire Watkins from CORE Therapy and Pilates, and today I just want to go over some really quick information about working at a clinic where you get one-on-one care, like what we do here, versus working at a clinic where you see two, three, or however many patients at a time, where you're kind of scrambling and running around like a chicken with your head cut off working with many patients.

Now any therapist has been there in the outpatient setting; I've been there, but for me, it's just been since 2003. So it's been a long time since I've been in that situation. Claire is new to us but has been in that situation more recently. So a lot of my patients will ask, "What's the difference between going to the clinic that my doctor owns after I have my surgery and going to a clinic like CORE?" So what would you say for that answer because you've been in both of those situations recently?

Dr. Claire Watkins with dogs

One-on-one physical therapy care at CORE Therapy & Pilates

(CW) I'd say the difference is pretty huge. I'll just go through what my day-to-day would look like at a busier clinic than this one. So at busier clinics, you would normally be seen by your therapist in chunks of time when they could get to you with the help of other support staff.

The PT would be nearby to supervise, but I would not be able to be with my patients directly the whole time, which was really difficult because I wanted and felt like I wasn't providing the care that I should be.

A day in the life at a busy PT clinic with multiple patients at once

(SD) When you say support staff, do you mean the physical therapy assistants or technicians/aides?

Dr. Claire Watkins with patient

What is the difference between a physical therapy assistant (PTA) and a technician or aide?

(CW) A technician is someone who has not been to school. A PT assistant has been to school just to clarify that. So a PT assistant or PTA has been to school and does have a license, but a technician or aide is not licensed. Techs or aides are people who have not been to PT or PTA school yet but are interested and want to go there.

Dr. Claire Watkins with patient

Who makes the clinical decisions at a busy PT clinic, the PT or the technician?

(SD) We've started there too. I was a tech once, back in 1994. So we've all been there for both the tech situation and the working in a busy clinic situation. So you would oversee a lot but not necessarily be the person delivering the care?

(CW) Right, and I would still be able to do manual therapy and go over exercises and do cueing with the patients, do some hands-on, but it wasn't for the whole session. It was set up for the patient to see me for a few minutes and the tech for the majority of the time. I would be running around with weights, making sure they were okay. I would make sure to do the best I could in a little time and then run to the next patient.

(SD) You didn't have the time to watch, make the modifications, and give the verbal and tactile cues.

Dr. Claire Watkins with Stephen Dunn

(CW) Not always, for sure.

(SD) That makes a lot of sense. At one point, I was seeing 50 patients a day in a workers compensation clinic. It was insane, and I wouldn't recommend it. I only made it for a few months, but it is what pushed me into opening my own business and why I have this place and Claire can work in this place. I'm thankful for that place in a weird way.

(CW) I'm thankful for all my experiences, for sure.

(SD) When you get that time, you're like, "Wow, that’s really amazing to get to spend time with people and get to know them not only on a personal level but also on a really different level because of how much time you spend with them." Right. I just wanted to share that because one of the things a lot of our patients will ask is, "Hey, I'm going to have surgery; my doctor wants me to see their physical therapist.

Do I have to go there, or can I come to CORE?" The doctors can't force you to see their physical therapist; it's against the law. You can see any physical therapist with a written physical therapy referral. If the doctor writes you a referral that has the name of their clinic or the name of any clinic on it, you can take that referral anywhere; you don't have to take it to the place that it's written to. No one knows this when the doctor says, "Go to my PT."

How much does it cost to see a physical therapist at a doctor-owned clinic called a mill?

One thing I want to ask is: did you ever catch the cost of what a session was in a place where you used to work? I'm just curious if you knew what they were charging to have four or five people running around in the room at the same time.

(CW) I'm not 100 percent sure; it would vary based on insurance, and I know we did have at my last place a self-pay option. They would always have at least some kind of copay, and sometimes those copays were up to $100 or $200.

(SD) We see a lot of our Medicare patients that are working with us, and then they end up having some kind of surgery, whatever that surgery is, and their doctors want them to go work with their physical therapist under the pretense that "You're going to see my therapist. I can communicate directly with them." Let me ask you: did you ever communicate with those doctors who you worked for?

(CW) Sometimes. If I felt like it was necessary, I would reach out, email, or call.

(SD) Got it. I was always wondering if that was really something that happened. All right, so with that said, thanks a lot for helping us with that today. Thanks for watching, and I will see you all at the studio.

Learn more about the cost of physical therapy by reading this blog:

What is the Cost of Physical Therapy?

Read here for more information on physician-owned physical therapy services (POPTS) at Everything You Need to Know About POPTS

Call 512-215-4227 to learn more about CORE Therapy & Pilates and how we can help you. 

Co-Owner / Physical Therapist at CORE Therapy and Pilates
Stephen graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy in 1998 from LSUMC in New Orleans and is a licensed physical therapist in Texas since 2004. Immediately interested in hands-on therapy, he began to study with Brian Mulligan and became certified in the Maitland Australian Approach in 2003. Stephen has since studied the fascial system through John F Barnes Myofascial Release. Stephen completed a comprehensive Pilates training in 2002 and the GYROTONIC Expansion System® in 2009. The combined treatment of manual therapy with mind-body awareness exercises using Pilates and Gyrotonic concepts was the start of his whole-body treatment approach.
Stephen Dunn