Paul Hughes, owner of Paul Hughes Physical Therapy of Decatur, Illinois, has been a physical therapist for 27 years, and had already been practicing for 21 years when he decided he needed administrative training.
“Like many therapists, when I graduated I went into hospital practice. I became administrator of my hospital’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I created the department, and then decided to go into private practice. I did fairly well, created and then dissolved a corporation that provided therapists for a tri-state region. I went off for several years and studied orthopedics in England and Norway, then came back to the U.S. As I became more proficient as a clinician, the practice would grow but it would hit a certain level, and I could never get over that level. So when I had the idea that I wanted to build a really large clinic for orthopedic practice, I honestly looked over my history. I came to the inescapable conclusion that I should have some administrative training.
“I looked at getting an MBA, then this and that, and I looked into consulting firms. In fact, I looked for two full years. I listed out about ten criteria that a source for the technology I needed would have to meet. And I would compare the various possibilities with those criteria. And the more people I talked to, the group that I got constantly referred to, which got the highest recommendations, was Sterling. So I met with them, and in my conversations they demonstrated they could meet the ten criteria I had laid out. And I signed up, went to Glendale, and learned the management technology I needed.”
Returning to Decatur, Illinois, Hughes was ready to make his plans a reality. “I took a 3,500 square foot building, and expanded it into a 15,000 square foot facility, with triple the staff and triple the production. When I started on that expansion, I expected that with nine months of construction and all the changes, we would have downtrends. But by applying what I learned from Sterling, we just kept the production going up.
“In fact, for every year I have been with Sterling, I have had rising statistics in every important measure of production. All those stops and barriers I had for 20 years are just no longer there. I am able to handle the day-to-day stuff and set the long-term goals as well.
“I was correct years ago, when I thought it wasn’t my clinical expertise keeping me down, but my shortcomings in the area of administrative skill, and all the practical of running a business!”
With a large and prosperous practice, Hughes has had a chance to think about how the Sterling System especially fits with physical therapy as a profession. “A key concept in both Sterling’s way of doing things and in our particular part of the medical profession is ethics.
“In physical therapy, we’re dealing with a host of parties, third party payers, with litigation, and with the family, as well as the patients themselves. There are many participants who are involved with the care of a single patient, and multiple disciplines. I think one of the things that has to be a spinoff of that is an ethical viewpoint. With Sterling, those ethical concepts are contained within the technology, and permeate the practice.
“The result is that a lot of the stress which is normally in a practice just isn’t there anymore.”
“To elaborate a little, the policies, even the bonus system we use, is based on high ethical standards, by which I mean real contemplation of optimum survival for the individual and for the group as a whole, and doing what is right based on that. From our viewpoint, this has been a keystone. Our system of financial management is also part of this. It is well understood by the staff and comes across to third parties. It has helped us build our reputation as one of the most ethical in the state of Illinois.
“There’s another way that Sterling is especially compatible with physical therapy as a discipline. That is the whole consideration that I start with, that what we are doing deals with function. We’re there to improve human performance and function; that’s in the definition of what we do. In some other sorts of medicine they are always looking at structure, whereas we are into improving function, to measure it and to fit it into the scope of things. Our job is to improve the overall function of the biological unit.
“Now you have Sterling, and conceptually it is very easy for my staff to see that this is very functional too. Physical therapy is one of the professions which most easily aligns with the Hubbard management technology, because they’re both identifying and dealing with dysfunction.
“Sterling does an absolutely super job….”