Welcome to the “Lessons Learned” edition of PT Business Corner where we provide the most important points we learned in discussion with our guests. Today’s guest is Maggie Bergeron, co-founder of Embodia, owner of The Yellow Room and host of HealthTO. Maggie is a physiotherapist with extensive experience managing patients with chronic pain in private practice. She recognized the need to engage patients in their home exercise programs and co-founded Embodia, an exercise prescription platform available to practitioners. Maggie is also responsible for organizing HealthTO, a health tech event which connects healthcare and startup communities across top business incubators. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with Maggie and discuss healthcare, innovation and entrepreneurial excellence.
With many years of valuable experience working with healthcare, business and technology, Maggie had plenty of information to share about her journey. You can listen to the full entertaining podcast episode HERE while we provide you with a summary of the top 5 lessons we learned from her.
Lesson 1: Technology Advances Will Change Physiotherapy
Maggie stresses that technology and its current role has only scratched the surface in physiotherapy. In physiotherapy clinics and hospitals all around us, EMR (electronic medical records) are replacing the antiquated paper charting, a trend which will persist, according to Maggie. Online platforms, podcasts and even AI (artificial intelligence) will help to spearhead change to physiotherapy practice and even our roles as physiotherapists. However, before you start to worry about sentient robots stealing your job, Maggie states that technology won’t replace us, but rather help improve our roles. With the continually growing demands of consumers, physiotherapists will be able to use technology as a tool to meet clients’ needs and deliver an enhanced experience for them.
Lesson 2: Pay for Value
It’s no secret that technology is expensive and even implementing electronic charting may not be feasible for all clinic owners. Maggie is cognizant of the steep price of incorporating technology. However, over the years she has noted that practitioners, and even the healthcare industry as a whole, can be cheap. Maggie tends to be inundated by emails from individuals inquiring why the Embodia app isn’t free, considering there are cheaper and even free alternatives on the market. Her response is simple, you get what you pay for. If you’re able to increase client retention and improve their experience and engagement by paying a nominal monthly fee for an app, why wouldn’t you? Maggie emphasizes that you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for the newest technology. If there are platforms or apps which help to increase the revenue of your clinic, then you should invest in them.
Lesson 3: How to Effectively Market Your Products
Maggie comments that marketing Embodia was a process, one which flowed more effectively when she hired an individual in marketing. By utilizing a professional, Maggie was able to find solutions to her problems and establish a brand with a clear message. However, Maggie knows that it’s not always feasible for new companies to immediately hire professional help. Initially, she completed marketing exercises to identify values and mission statements and opened up to receiving feedback from users and colleagues. This trial and error method allowed her to find out the differing needs between individuals and cater to them. Maggie advises aspiring entrepreneurs to take a look at other companies and see how they operate to get a feel for the market, but don’t get caught up in the details. Additional tips include figuring out exactly what your vision is, identifying who your products are for and what your end goals are. Answering these questions will help to effectively develop your brand and streamline your marketing.
Lesson 4: Cannabis Legalization and its Implications for Physiotherapy
Maggie highlights that there’s tremendous business opportunities associated with cannabis and many new companies are being founded in the wake of its upcoming legalization. For physiotherapists, the questions arise regarding treating patients who have utilized medicinal cannabis, and how to treat those patients. Maggie questions how knowledgeable physiotherapists need to be regarding cannabis and whether physiotherapists can answer patient’s questions, or a referral source is needed. Maggie believes this is a good opportunity for physiotherapists to become knowledgeable about cannabis and pain control, especially considering physiotherapists deal with pain control all the time. Maggie also envisions increased transparency between patients who have used cannabis and clinicians, as patients may be more inclined to disclose their cannabis usage with its legalization. With regards to treatment of patients under the influence of cannabis, Maggie is unsure of the right answer, or if there even is one. Ultimately, as physiotherapists we have to be aware of the ethical ramifications of cannabis use but we may have to wait for further insight from the College of Physiotherapists regarding this increasingly prevalent topic.
Lesson 5: How to Start
Maggie’s first tip is to start small, but think big. By starting small, Maggie means starting in the first place, which she tends to find is the most difficult aspect of the whole process. However, it’s important to prevent yourself from getting caught up in the finer details of day to day activities. Keep the big picture and your overall goal in your mind. Secondly, Maggie says to use the “Lean Canvas”, a one page business plan template which helps you to identify your key ideas. It’s ongoing and you’re able to update it, which helps you to refine it when your business undergoes changes. Don’t follow in Maggie’s footsteps and develop a 200-page business plan when there are more efficient options available. Finally, connect with others. Maggie mentions that individuals are often afraid to pitch their ideas to others, fearing that their ideas may be stolen. However, this scenario is unlikely and even if someone does steal your idea, Maggie explains that they won’t be able to replicate your idea in its entirety. The way that you create something will invariably be different from others, even if they’re attempting to follow your lead. Find someone you trust to share your ideas with and heed their mentorship to help your ideas blossom.