Alliance physical therapy chain creates homelike atmosphere

Alliance physical therapy chain creates homelike atmosphere

October 24th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Caleb Corbin works out at the Alliance Physical Therapy office on Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

Locations

• 4830 Highway 58

• 339 Paul Huff Parkway in Cleveland

• 5035 Hixson Pike in Hixson

• 5572 Little Debbie Parkway in Ooltewah

• 2020 Gunbarrel Road

• 4964 Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

• 2400 McCallie Avenue

• 1425 South Moore Road, East Ridge

Outpatient physical therapy may be what the doctor ordered, but such treatments don't necessarily have to be delivered in a typical medical environment.

Alliance Physical Therapy, one of the region's fastest growing providers of physical therapy, welcomes patients into its suburban storefront locations with gourmet coffee, fireplace settings and the smell of freshly baked cookies. From the wood-paneled floors to pastel paintings and music, the Alliance facilities are designed to create a more welcoming, friendly atmosphere for treatments not always popular with patients.

"We try to create a more homelike environment than a clinical atmosphere," said Alan Valenzuela, the company's co-founder and president. "We go out of our way to make folks feel like they are not in a medical facility."

The goal, Valenzuela says, is for people to leave with a feeling they have just left a resort or spa, rather than a typical doctor's office.

It's a strategy that appears to be paying off for Valenzuela and his partner, Don Howe, two UTC graduates and PT industry veterans who started Alliance Physical Therapy in 2009.

In just three years, the business has grown to include eight locations and more could be in the offing in the Chattanooga market. Long term, the partners may eventually try other markets.

Alliance was created from a business Valenzuela started in 2003 known as Sports Med Physical Therapy. In 2009, Sports Med Physical Therapy become Alliance Physical Therapy.

Howe, who serves as CEO of Alliance, started another physical therapy company in 1994 that was bought out a decade later. He also is a partner in an assisted living company.

With an aging population and greater recognition of the value of physical therapy, Valenzuela thinks the Chattanooga market could probably support a dozen centers, or four more than the number already open.

The typical patient comes for physical therapy 12 times. Physical therapy following surgeries or injuries -- or as a means of addressing chronic back pain or other ailments -- is not always popular or even followed for many patients.

Creating a more inviting atmosphere with staff hired for both their physical and their social skills is key to keeping patients coming back and completing their care, Valenzuela said.

"In my opinion, there are probably 50 to 60 percent of the people who are not getting physical therapy who should," he said. "I believe the service is still underutilized even with the additional centers we've seen in this market."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.