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In Motion Magazine, April 2008:


Private practice? Are you realising your potential?

Michael Ridgway received the Queensland APA's 2007 Professional Excellence Award for contribution to promotion of the profession. Here are some thought provoking ideas Michael has to share.


Michael Ridgway receives the APA award for Professional Excellence from Qld Branch President Tracey Spencer.


I thank the APA for its recognition with this award, and offer some questions and comments to provoke ideas about current Australian private practices.

  • Are we living up to our potential in private practice in Australia?
  • Are all aspects of private practice thriving?
  • Is it possible for clients to achieve faster results with fewer physiotherapy sessions per episode and for business to thrive as a result?
  • Do physiotherapy practitioners perceive our profession to have such good employment conditions, pay rates, benefits, and future stability that no other job or profession is a more attractive alternative?
  • Does physiotherapy stand out in the community as the musculo-skeletal healthcare profession that no other can match?
  • Does the Australian public receive the full potential of our skills?

If you don't answer each of the above questions with a resounding 'yes', then I wonder why not.

Should we change our professional methods so that 'yes' is the answer to all of the above questions?

Are we in a frame of mind to want to do something about these issues?

I took notice when I realised some of our professional challenges. I calculated approximately only five per cent of those who could do best with physiotherapy musculoskeletal care in Australia seek it. I see other professionals, such as exercise physiologists, musculoskeletal therapists, massage therapists, GPs claiming to 'fix' people's musculoskeletal conditions with less success (understandably) and not utilising physiotherapists for the role our skills suit best. Many of my colleagues have left the profession disillusioned.

  • Are these challenges worth embracing and changing?
  • Do you want to make changes?
  • Do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

I personally found these issues significant enough to make many changes to help become part of the solution. If not for these changes I would have followed many of my colleagues to pursue greater rewards in other industries.

My success has surpassed my wildest dreams. I had little idea of the catapult of progress I was putting myself in when I first implemented the APA National Service Descriptor guidelines in my practice just three and a half years ago.

It doesn't come naturally to me but I find it necessary to remember that it is important for people to pay highly for a valuable service. If people need surgery or dental care they understand the importance of paying high fees for good care. If people are paying high fees for physiotherapy service then they are practically guaranteed to work hard for the best outcome possible. I wouldn't want any less for my clients!

My clients now demonstrate respect for their care to a very high degree. People who choose to pay more for physiotherapy care than any other musculoskeletal practitioner demonstrate that physiotherapy stands above the competition.
My clients also understand it is important to pay in full for time booked even if they cancel with late notice or do not attend (for any reason). All client-care time is paid at the [hourly] consultation rate including letters, reports, phone calls, travel time etc.

My fee for an initial consultation is $250 and $200 for a standard (all half hour consultations).

I have evaluated that clients attending my practice achieve a pain-free and fully functional state in approximately half the number of sessions of our state average. Overall they pay less and save time.

My physiotherapy staff presently experience many ideal employment conditions and earn approximately 50 per cent more than those in similar practices, and this continues to rise. My business returned 70 per cent on investment annually for the second year in a row. For these reasons I now don't find any other industry more attractive.

The methods I implemented to achieve these results are attributed to following the APA National Service Descriptor guidelines. The principles in the guidelines are ideal for every private practice in Australia, to be implemented in ways that suit the individual style of each practice.

My practice is just one example.  Every Australian practice (that is not already following the guidelines) could learn from my implementation.

  • Do you want to be part of the solution badly enough?
  • What other ideas do you have for embracing our professions challenges?

The APA National Service Descriptors can be found on the APA website. For questions or more information contact Michael Ridgway on: michael® baroonaroadphysiotherapy.com.au

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