Why Out-of-Network Physical Therapy Can’t Be Served Like a $1 Cup of Coffee

Starbucks was a powerhouse brand in the new millennium, constantly opening up new locations and expanding their product offerings. But, after the housing bubble burst and the financial sector collapsed in 2008, people suddenly began to question the wisdom of spending $5 for a Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte. After all, you could get a cup of coffee at McDonalds for just a buck.

Starbucks needed to convince people that it was worth the price. So they closed hundreds of stores in order to retrain their baristas and to focus their attention on delivering an exceptional experience that creates an emotional bond between the brand, the staff, and the customer. Starbucks was also an early adopter of Facebook and Twitter, inviting customer feedback and using that input to improve the overall experience.

“Beware of cheaper coffee,” Starbucks said in its advertising. “It comes with a price.”

Furthermore, Starbucks was one of the first companies to fully embrace mobile payments. With millions of users, the Starbucks Rewards application reduced wait times and rewarded the most loyal customers with free products.


There’s one simple lesson here. Starbucks can charge significantly more for a cup of coffee because it delivers both exceptional quality and an exceptional customer experience. If you expect people to go outside of their insurance network and pay more for physical therapy, you have to offer an experience that exceeds their expectations. Essentially, you have to learn how to serve a $5 White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino.

You can’t go out-of-network if you do the same things you did when you were in-network. Well, you can, but you probably won’t be very successful. In other words, your sessions shouldn’t just be a longer version of what you were doing before. They should be a truly unique experience that wows the customer from start to finish.


Out-of-network physical therapists typically spend the whole hour focusing on just one client at a time. They offer a more personalized environment that provides an opportunity to do more with each person individually. But giving more undivided attention doesn’t automatically translate into a better clinical outcome.

It comes down to what you are actually doing with that extra time. Are you on your computer or phone? Or are you actively listening to your customers and applying motivational techniques to connect with them on a deeper, more meaningful level? Are you using that extra time to develop, refine and apply new skills that will set you apart from every other PT in the community? Are you treating each appointment like pure gold?

Time is precious. So do everything you can to get the most out of it.


As an entrepreneur, I spend some of my time looking through online reviews of my competition. I’m always curious to find out why people are happy or unhappy with their physical therapy. In my research, I’ve found that the majority of poor reviews have little to do with the clinical experience and everything to do with the customer experience.

The office didn’t call me back. The front desk was rude. Billing was a nightmare. The check-in process was confusing. I was treated like a number. I had to wait over 30 minutes to see the physical therapist. The facility was old and outdated.

These reviews can significantly lower your Google rating. They can also make people question the value of your service.

Physical therapists should dissect every aspect of their business. From start to finish, the customer experience must be consistent and positive at every touch point. That’s the difference between a Caramelized Honey Latte from Starbucks and a basic cup of coffee from McDonalds.

Check out my next blog post explaining how to create the ultimate physical therapy experience.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Ian Kornbluth, Co-Founder

CEO | President
Ian's entrepreneurial spirit stems from growing up in Arizona around the family business — a small chain of "New York Style" pizzerias. Early on in life, Ian learned how to treat the customer like a person, rather than a number. He observed how the community came together to support an establishment that offered both quality food and an exceptional customer service experience. He also learned to appreciate how much sacrifice, perseverance and integrity that it took to make a positive change in the world around him.
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