Reading time: 6 minutes

Physiotherapists provide critical care services to patients. If you are considering opening a physiotherapy practice, you will first need to understand which industry standards apply. This article will run you through a legal checklist of your obligations so you can focus on the welfare of your patients.

1. Registering as a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists can apply for a prescribed qualification with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which supports the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. You will need to pay an initial fee as well as an annual registration fee.

The Board also has ongoing professional development standards. This means you must sign a declaration of compliance each time you renew your registration.

2. Applying for Medicare

Before opening your new practice, you should also apply for a Medicare Provider number. This is important because clients can claim healthcare rebates as part of their healthcare plans.

3. Obtaining Industry Membership

Registered physiotherapists have access to the Australian Physiotherapist Association (APA). The APA represents a large portion of Australian physiotherapists. The industry body develops and sets voluntary standards for its members to deliver quality and safe health care. They also provide a national accreditation scheme for private practices.

4. Starting Your Business

When setting up your physiotherapy practice, you will need to choose the most appropriate business structure. We recommend a company structure. A company is a separate legal entity, which reduces your personal liability and protects your personal assets. This structure is also beneficial if you intend to grow your business (for instance, by franchising or through investment). It can also help with succession planning if you plan to sell your business in the future.

5. Registering for an ABN, TFN and GST

Once you have registered your company, you will need to apply for the following registrations on behalf of the company: 

  • Australian Business Number (ABN); and 
  • Tax File Number (TFN). 

If you anticipate your annual turnover to be more than $75,000, you will also need to register for the goods and services tax (GST). You can register for GST at the same time as your ABN and TFN. If you plan to take on employees, you will also need to register for PAYG withholding.

6. Protecting Your Name With a Trade Mark

If you have chosen a unique name for your practice, you may consider registering a trade mark to secure proprietary rights over your business name and branding. A good trade mark should be unique. For instance, Physioworks, Physiomaxx and Lifestyle Physio. Marks that are too descriptive of the goods and services you provide will be difficult to register.

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring & Retaining Employees

Whether it’s your first hire or your fiftieth, this guide will help you understand the moving parts behind building a high-performing team.

Download Now

7. Ensuring Advertising Standards

Certain states and territories monitor advertising standards. For instance, Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) regulates advertising in the health services industry. In particular, your physiotherapy business must not:

  • engage in conduct that is misleading, deceptive or false;
  • offer a gift or discounts to attract clients;
  • use testimonials;
  • create an unreasonable expectation of the benefits of treatment; or
  • encourage the unnecessary use of treatment.

8. Leasing Premises

Unless you intend to purchase a property outright, you will likely enter into a retail or commercial lease. It is important to understand your rights and obligations under the lease. In particular, you should try and negotiate the following key terms before signing: 

9. Purchasing Equipment

You will likely have a range of equipment needs for your physiotherapy practice, such as treatment beds. It is important to factor this in when planning to set up a new business. In particular, consider whether you will purchase the equipment outright or lease it. Likewise, the equipment and its use should be covered in your employment or contractor agreements as well as your insurance, if relevant.

10. Employing Staff

Building a team is a significant step, and you should carefully consider their role in your practice. Will other physiotherapists or employees be helping with administrative tasks? Are they casual, part-time or full-time employees? This classification determines what type of employment agreement you will require and what award (if any) applies. 

If you choose to engage physiotherapists as contractors rather than employees, you will need a contractor’s agreement. This agreement will outline: 

  • fees and pay;
  • the scope of work;
  • confidentiality;
  • use of equipment (if any); and 
  • obligations concerning insurance. 

We also recommend having core employee policies established in every business. These include a policy for IT, Work Health and Safety as well as Anti-Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying. Having a policy in place can act as your first line of defence in the event that a claim is made against your business that relates to any of these areas.

11. Applying for Insurance

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia has guidelines that state that all physiotherapists require professional indemnity insurance. Physiotherapists need to submit a declaration that confirms that they have insurance and a Certificate of Currency provided by their insurer to receive their annual registration from the Board. Further, you also have to obtain work cover insurance in the event one of your employees sustains an injury at work.

12. Setting Terms and Conditions

When engaging clients online or physically in your practice, you should have well-drafted terms and conditions to govern the relationship between your practice and your client. This document should clearly detail your: 

  • responsibilities; 
  • payment terms; 
  • obligations; and 
  • privacy considerations, amongst other key terms.

13. Considering Privacy 

Following on from your terms and conditions, it is essential that you have the correct processes in place to protect client details. You should consider how you store and manage client information through either client relationship management software or otherwise. Correctly collecting and storing private information is essential for both your existing and new patients.

If you correctly organise private information from the start, it will save you a lot of time in the future. Additionally, it adds value in the event you consider selling or expanding your business.

Key Takeaways

Opening a physiotherapy practice can be an immensely rewarding experience. However, before opening your professional practice, you will first need to understand which industry standards apply. Apart from registering as a physiotherapist and obtaining industry membership, you will also need to consider the location of your practice, equipment and staff. 

If you have any questions or need assistance opening up your physiotherapy business, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to apply for Medicare?

Yes. Before opening your new practice, you should also apply for a Medicare Provider number. This is important because clients can claim healthcare rebates as part of their healthcare plans.

Do I need to apply for insurance?

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia has guidelines that state that all physiotherapists require professional indemnity insurance. Physiotherapists need to submit a declaration that confirms that they have insurance and a Certificate of Currency provided by their insurer to receive their annual registration from the Board.

Webinars

Key Considerations When Buying a Business

Thursday 11 November | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn which questions to ask when buying a business to avoid legal and operational pitfalls, so you can hit the ground running. Join our free webinar.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. From just $119 per week, get all your contracts sorted, trade marks registered and questions answered by experienced business lawyers.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer