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Community Highlights: Meet Ron Miller of Pursuit Physical Therapy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ron Miller.

Hi Ron, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
The path to Pursuit Physical Therapy started more than thirty-three years ago in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Growing up my mother and father were very athletic and emphasized the importance of my brother, sister, and I playing sports and staying physically active as much as possible. Through the years growing up, my favorite sports included: baseball, football, and basketball, as well as tennis—my mother was an avid, skilled tennis player and almost went onto the professional level. At a young age, I knew to always aspire towards working hard for everything I obtained and to not take the easy path but to face challenges head-on. For instance, I remember being eager to learn the working aspect of my grandfather’s land as well as working as a newspaper delivery boy to save money and learn the real world and it’s responsibilities. Looking back, I know that maturing younger than most certainly instilled a hard work ethic and attitude that has carried me through much of my life and into the present day.

Education and Moving Down South… Despite the long standing tradition throughout my mother’s family of attending Pennsylvania State University, I decided to carve my own path and attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for my undergraduate studies. It was at IUP that I met some of the most influential people and closest friends—to whom I am still grateful to share a friendship with. While attending IUP I was hit with a sudden reality, one which has affected many Americans, my father lost his job, and with it the financial security for both my family, as well as the future of my academic career. Throughout high school and into my first year at college, I had always been perfectly content performing as a straight ‘B’ student, although, once the finality of my father’s job loss became evidentially clear, a flame was lit underneath me and guided me to strive and achieve straight A’s while paying for school myself. It was during my undergraduate that I became conscious of my calling towards medicine; I was completely fascinated with the mechanisms of the human body, and knew I wanted to help care for others. I absolutely enjoyed and valued my time at IUP and in Pennsylvania, however I had a passion and longing for warmer climates, and after graduating, I immediately sought after graduate schools for continued education down South.

By that time, I knew I wanted to study physical therapy and applied to as many schools as possible in an attempt to get into a Physical Therapy program—from the University of Miami to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill—all in the pursuit to follow my dream. Though I worked as hard as I could, I was not accepted into the majority of the programs in which I had applied—I was even given a reply by one university that I did not have what it took to make it in this profession—which added more drive, more inspiration, and more fuel to the fire—thankfully, I was given a chance by the University of South Carolina, whom read my recommendations and accepted me into their physical therapy program. There are a multitude of reasons why I am still so grateful towards USC as well as the state of South Carolina in general—I met amazing people, had wonderful experiences, was able to see beautiful, historic cities like Charleston, but most importantly to me, I found myself and I became a Christian for the first time.

After attending the University of South Carolina, a colleague of mine and I decided to venture out and move to Savannah, Georgia, where we obtained our first jobs at an outpatient practice focusing on orthopedic physical therapy. I learned and experienced a lot during my first year practicing, yet I kept yearning to increase my skill set and my knowledge of physical rehabilitation with the goal of being able to help patients heal and recover with the least amount of delays, setbacks, or lack of expertise—I wanted to give my patients the optimal approaches and greatest techniques available. I sought to not only strive to increase my understanding and knowledge of physical therapy and its abilities to guide the body back to recovery, but also always keeping the patients recovery first and foremost.

Florida (Finally!), Residency, and Match.com. Around this time, a colleague of mine was already practicing in Florida and reached out to me with an inquiry as to whether or not I would be interested in completing a residency in physical therapy in Orlando, Florida. Without hesitation, and only the thought and aspiration of increasing my skills, I moved to Orlando to further my training and abilities and joined an orthopedic physical therapy residency at Florida Hospital. After the completion of my residency, for the first time, I had the confidence and knowledge to undoubtedly characterize and designate myself as an expert in my field, which is supported board specialty certification, with two publications, residency-certification, and accomplishing a respectable as well as reputable—and hard earned—10,000 hours of clinical practice. One thing I was not expecting, but was blessed with and I believe, heaven-sent, was meeting the love of my life—Haley. For the first time in my life, I felt fulfilled—not because I achieved my educational goals, though I was exceptionally proud that I had—I had finally experienced what true love is. Haley and I married two years after our first date, and our love continues to grow and push me to strive and always do my best, regardless of any hardship.

Standard Healthcare… (what is this?) During this same time, I continued to strive for the best patient experience, and gained additional knowledge and aptitudes while utilizing my profession by working in an outpatient orthopedic setting. Even though I was happy and successfully treating patients, I began to sense a substantial defect throughout the health care system, including patient’s insurances and how they dictated and defined the treatment plan for a patient, despite not knowing anything about the individual patient at all. I noticed my patients not returning at times they should either due to too high of a copayment, or the patients’ insurance stated they ran out of sessions. As a whole, I began to realize that I was unable to treat my patients with the optimal care, not for lack of trying, but due to large, corporate entities’ protocols and insurance hurdles. I was getting double and sometimes triple booked with my patients and often times found myself saying to them, “I wish I had more time with you”. As a result of these protocols and practices, I saw my ability to give the patients my all diminish; the patient outcomes were not being based on their abilities and their tailored care, yet by large corporations and insurance companies. I knew that to challenge this normalcy of ‘routine physical therapy’ would be an exhaustive and at times extensive hurdle—but, I couldn’t continue to sit back and allow outside entities prescribe patient treatment plans—that was supposed to be my responsibility! I had to do what was best for my patients.

Pursuit Physical Therapy – A New Way… I thought endlessly about how I can change my impact and the routine in which patients just assume they had to take. Suddenly, I realized—a private pay practice would give my patients the optimal care and individual assessed protocols that they need to get better in the least amount of time possible. With patients being more responsible for the out of pocket cost of healthcare with high deductibles now and the ‘middle-man’ out of the way: I am able to resume excellent, one-on-one patient care with positive, quicker outcomes and better results. The decision was made, and my dream of putting the patient first, always, turned into the reality and mission behind Pursuit Physical Therapy. At Pursuit Physical Therapy, it is my goal and my purpose to continue to expand and provide optimal results in the least amount of time. As Pursuit Physical Therapy continues to grow through the community, it is my underlying objective, responsibility, and driven pursuit towards providing patients with a new gold standard of patient care and health. Pursuit Physical Therapy stands by the fact that patients deserve a completely hassle-free and up-front approach, one-on-one individualized care, faster outcomes and better results!

Being Thankful For The Blessings! I am truly grateful for everyone that has influenced my life, my family, and those who have helped guide me along the way. I look forward to expanding on this story, as I continue to follow God’s path, keeping my priorities God, Family, and then work, to be great husband and father, continuing to work hard to do what is best for the people of Orlando, and strive for a higher standard in healthcare. I am excited for what the future holds for Pursuit Physical Therapy, to help more people in Central Florida with high quality healthcare, to do what is best for the patient at all costs, and get them back to an pain free active lifestyle.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Yes, we’ve had many obstacles along the way. Let’s be honest; we are in the healthcare business and the whole healthcare system needs a reset. But starting out we had the same problems most start-up, new proof of concept businesses had. We are going against the status quo so the main question was; would patients even be open to our new model? Physical therapy has a damaged public stereotype in which most patients don’t know what we really do or just associate physical therapy with post op (after surgery) rehab. Many patients don’t know they have direct access to their physical therapist in Florida nor do they need to have a physician referral. If you have low back pain; who is the first person you think of? Probably a chiropractor or your physician. Not too many people initially think of their physical therapist, meaning we also have a damaged brand to overcome.

There is also a lot of educating for the public we need to do to educate them on the value we bring, the results we can show, and what we can help with. Most patients don’t even know what their out-of-pocket deductible (the amount of money the patient has to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance covers anything) for their insurance is better yet, what copays are, or even what a co-insurance is. Therefore, since we are going against the expected healthcare status quo of insurance guided standard care overcoming these educational barriers is important to help patients make the best choice for their healthcare and treatments. One obstacle that you may not think of is the model of getting patients better, faster, in fewer visits, which is a surprisingly hard business model to grow. Yes, this is best for the patient and what we will stick too as our foundation, but bridging the gap between our business model and patient understanding has proved to be challenging.

For a moment, think like a business: If you see the patient more times and bill more per session, add in some additional testing (that may or may not be needed), and keep them coming back for more and more session, more money is brought into the clinic and is better for the business without the need to even show results! This essentially just builds a revolving door without any real change while focusing on the money opposed to what is truly important – properly treating the patient to ensure they are pain free and back to an active healthy lifestyle in as little as 3 weeks. For example, just think of the average case of low back pain. Most acute cases will spontaneously go away in 4-8 weeks, but subacute and complex cases are a different story. Usually, we can see these acute cases fast, get them in for an evaluation, reduce their pain, and many are pain free in 2-6 sessions and back to their activities and sports in a few weeks. Normally, process for patients interested in treatment is that they consult PCP for eval, get and Xray, told they have LBP (Low Back Pain) and told to go see specialist where they may be given some medications to to help, wait weeks to see specialist, see specialist for another eval for same low back pain, possibly get an MRI. After all this, the patient will need one of three options: surgery vs. injections vs. physical therapy depending on what is best for the patient. Say they get referred to PT: they will then have to wait another week to be seen, and once they get in for another evaluation for the same low back pain, they are forced to come in for 3x a week for 4 weeks.

Just imagine what all of this cost? Clearly, you can see the difference in revenue coming into the business with this type of model. Plus, if we are not getting real results and back to activities before 4-8 weeks: what are we really doing? This is why our model creates lower revenue per cases into the business, faster outcomes, causing less visits per case, thus more turnover. In the end, this is good because the patients are getting results and our schedules open up so we can still get new patients in faster. However, it creates a model that is hard to scale and grow a business. We have to think of new additional programs, services, and products that our patients want beyond physical therapy, that can help grow the business. So, this also highlights a marketing problem in order to scale the business. Can the marketing generate enough new patients and promote enough awareness of our services that more patients come in, to not only keep the business running, but allow our business to grow?

After we grew beyond the proof-of-concept phase I believe that our models can succeed and there is good portion of the population that values the quality of their healthcare, wants great results with an exceptional patient experience, and is willing to pay out-of-pocket. I feel that the team we have now is fantastic to continue thinking of innovative new ways to grow Pursuit Physical Therapy, and possibly scale into multiple locations throughout Orlando and potentially other areas of Florida.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Pursuit Physical Therapy?
Pursuit’s foundation is based on a new healthcare model rooted in doing what is best for the patient: getting faster results in fewer sessions. The patient is always placed first because we believe nothing should dictate the quality of your health care, except what is best for you – the patient. Our board-certified Doctors of Physical Therapy provide individualized one-on-one patient care to help you get out of pain and back to the activities you love. We believe treatment should not be standardized, but customized and tailored specifically to each individual patient. We specialize in everything from headache, neck pain, shoulder, low back, hip, and all the way down the body to plantar fasciitis and foot pain – so any injury that is musculoskeletal and orthopedic. We also see chronic pain and many complex cases that have failed standard care treatments and have specialty programs for those who want to return to sports such as tennis, running, golf, and baseball. We are trying to build a dream team of expert clinicians that have advanced training and are innovative thinkers when it comes to new treatment techniques and getting great outcomes for our patients.

What sets us apart? We created a new model that only delivers one-on-one patient care by DPT that specializes in your area of need and elevates the quality of care given to the patient. During the initial phone call the patient is matched with the specialist that is best fit for the patient case. You never see just the average person, or the person who has the first opening, but you are matched with the expert who specializes in your condition. Our evaluations are 60-90 minutes long giving plenty of time to perform a comprehensive evaluation, answer all of the patients’ questions, and solve the root cause of their pain so we can address the real reason of what is causing the pain – not just covering up symptoms. After the evaluation the patient will have a clear understanding of what is causing their pain, identify underlying risk factors, know what is the best way to treat their pain, and the expected timeline of when to expect results alongside the total cost. We encourage our patients to ask questions so they fully understand what their treatment will entail including the role they play in their treatment. There are no miscellaneous fees or hidden charges with deductibles, co-pays, co-insurances, which most patients don’t have an understanding of, so they blindly go into healthcare not clearly knowing what the procedure costs and how much they have to pay. After the patient clearly understands their suggested treatment plan, they can make a decision on what is best for them. We also offer a money back guarantee for our packages for complex cases, because we believe it’s not right to ask someone to pay out of pocket for treatment if it’s not working. So, in two weeks if the patient feels their course of treatment is not working or they don’t like the results they are getting, we offer a full money back guarantee – no questions asked.

Our patients have direct access to our services in an attempt to offer more convenience and faster service. No one wants to wait weeks to be seen when being in pain which is why we also try to get new patient in within the same week at a time that is most convenient for them. We also take advantage of technology to allow for greater communication between patient and clinician: If you have a question for your therapist, you don’t have to wait for weeks or until your next follow up visit to get an answer. You can even text your PT and ask questions and get instant feedback. Our home programs are video based and customized for each patient allowing patients to provide feedback and get instant changes adjustable from home so they don’t need to come and visit with their PT. We feel that patients care about two main things: results and the patient experience. I feel that the whole healthcare system needs to take an educational course on the customer experience because there is very little customer experience in healthcare, which is why we pride ourselves in elevating our patient experience. From finding us online and seeing our testimonials, to the initial phone call and convenient scheduling, to fast and easy communication, to the high-quality treatment sessions, all the way to the end when we deliver on the promises we made to the patient and celebrating their success. We truly make sure our patients are taken care of and that we exceed patient expectations.

This new model is actually reducing the total cost of healthcare and raises the quality of care for the patient to allow great results in fewer sessions at a lower total cost. For cases that cost $10,000 in standard care we are getting better for $3-5,000. Easy cases that could cost $1,000’s we are getting better in hundreds! Some in as cheap as $330 in 2 visits! We actually published our first 3-year data with UCF and we have a current study that is analyzing our 5-year data. In the first study it showed our average cost per case was $817 when, for example, the average cost of care in the US for low back pain ranges from $2,200-$6,600! Many people don’t understand this but since deductibles are going up to the $5,000+ range the patient is more responsible for the cost of their treatment. So, you the patient, have a question to ask; who can get me the best results for the cheapest? Yes, our costs are out-of-pocket to the patient but everyone is still given a reimbursement form to submit their claim to their insurance company on their own. Not only do we reduce to cost of care but we also reduce the number of treatment sessions needed. Complex cases that would take a year to get better can take months. Some that would take months to get better can see results in weeks. And those that require 3x a week for 4 weeks in standard care can see results in 2-6 sessions and feel great in 2 weeks. We are not a big box factory trying to see as many patients as possible that implements a standard cookie cutter treatment approach. Every session is customized to the patient and tailored just for them to get the best results possible. Our concept of matching the patient with the specialist; the one-on-one treatment sessions with the same clinician, without any limitations, truly creates an opportunity to get faster results in fewer sessions and elevates the quality of care the patient receives.

We also eliminated waiting times, double booking (and even triple booking) patients with other patients, and using techs and assistants. There is no need to wait weeks to be seen for treatment. As stated earlier, every patient is scheduled within the week of their initial phone call, unless a later appointment is necessary. All of our appointments are on time, so if you’re scheduled for 11 am, you will be seen at 11am. How annoying is it when you have a scheduled appointment and you’re still in the waiting room 45 minutes later, and now your doctor’s appointment takes 3 hours out of your day? The model we have built has essentially eliminated waiting periods.

If you were in pain, you would want to be seen by the best clinician that specializes in your injury or pain, not the assistant and not the tech, right? So, you are seen by the expert who specializes in your pain, never an assistant or tech. That same specialist will be with you throughout your journey every step of the way until you achieve the results you want all while achieving the promises we made at the evaluation, ensuring you are never passed to someone else. It is always you and your therapist, one-on-one. It’s a new standard of care for the people of Orlando, that truly puts the patient and what is best for the patient first, period.

We are most proud of our patient results and customer service. Whole heartedly, we try our best to get our patients the best results possible and do what is best for the patient. It is very gratifying to help others get out of pain and get their life back. Our company purpose is To Help, To Serve, To Care: To HELP you live your best life as pain free as possible, no matter your age, so you can continue to do the things you love! Our team is here to SERVE and empower you to reach your goals as we truly CARE about your recovery. Not only does our model allow for better results and outcomes, but it allows us to create meaningful relationships with our patients that last well beyond their time as patients here at Pursuit. This shows with our patient’s willingness to share their story and testimonials! While writing this Pursuit has over 230 five-star reviews online and we are the #1 rated clinic in Orlando. Our patients are willing to tell their story and experience while at Pursuit and share the news with others to help spread the word. We are grateful and truly appreciate all our patients for sharing their stories!

Pricing:

  • Evaluations only cost $165

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