Last year’s Cliniko survey asked allied health practitioners about the challenges you’re facing. This post takes you through the top five struggles you shared with us, and gives some tips from top industry business coaches on some steps you can take to make life easier.
You folks in the allied health industry are a diverse and fascinating bunch! This is the second survey that Cliniko has run, and both times we’ve been blown away by your response and the incredible variety of what an allied health practice looks like today. You told us about your daily life at work – including its practicalities and challenges – and the differing ways that your clinics are run. But five main points stood out:
134.5% of the clinics we surveyed don’t take online bookings.
2 48.6% of the practices we surveyed currently don’t offer telehealth.
3 41.4% of larger practices increase their consultation prices every year.
431.3% of practitioners and 30.61% of practice owners struggle with work-life balance.
5Higher profit margins are usually associated with smaller practices and businesses that have been operating for longer.
That’s our summary in a nutshell, but keep reading for a more detailed discussion! Please note, we recommend you view the graphs below on a laptop or desktop computer if you can—there is also a link to a bigger version hosted in Google Sheets below.
Cliniko surveys are motivated by the desire to listen – and give voice – to what allied health professionals have to say about their work. We feel that the perspectives you share with us are important to understanding the allied health industry and the ways it’s changing.
As you might know, we ran the first Cliniko survey in 2021 – and received a fantastic response from 2,654 allied health professionals globally. Participants shared openly and honestly with us about what it’s like to work in the industry, which we published as a two-part summary on the Cliniko blog.
The 2022 survey was intended as a follow-up to see what had changed over the year, but also included some new questions. We approached this survey quite differently to the previous one we ran – although we asked similar questions, many were re-phrased to be clearer and more streamlined. The last survey also made a charitable donation for each person who participated, which we didn’t do this time.
So, what did the 2022 survey look like? All up, 1,811 allied health professionals kindly volunteered the time to answer our questions. You came from across 35 countries, 15 different professions, and represented a mix of business owners, practitioners, practice managers, and administrative staff.
Five key survey insights
34.5% of the clinics we surveyed don’t take online bookings.
This one surprised us! It turns out that 34.5% of practices don’t take online bookings. While there are many advantages to online bookings, this system obviously doesn’t suit everyone.
Whether or not a practice takes online bookings depends a lot on the profession – interestingly, online booking is far more likely to be offered by physical therapies than non-physical ones. For example, 63% of psychology practices and 89% of speech pathologists don’t offer online bookings. It’s not clear from the data why this is the case, but it might indicate a different intake process for these professions, in which some discussion or triaging is required before a booking occurs.
We also noticed a trend that, as a business increases in size, allowing online bookings becomes more common (79% of large practices take online bookings, compared to 59% of solo practitioners). From an administrative perspective this makes sense – an online system that allows patients to book, reschedule, and cancel appointments directly can make things easier to keep track of for a multi-practitioner clinic!
48.6% of the practices we surveyed currently don’t offer telehealth.
Telehealth has been a very hot topic for the past few years. Global lockdowns forced a mass adoption of telehealth software, but has it stuck? While more people are using telehealth than pre-pandemic (as our previous survey revealed), it hasn’t been universally taken up. As of 2022, 51.4% of the allied health practices who answered our questions offer telehealth, while 48.6% do not. Those who do use telehealth acknowledge that it’s good for accessibility, and allowing geographically distant or disabled clients to make appointments much more easily.
Most of you reported that your ideal way to see clients is either entirely in-person (65%), or with some telehealth consults also mixed in (31.8%). While we’ve featured a few entirely online practices in our clinic stories series, it seems that very few practices aspire to solely use telehealth (only 2.6%!).
41.4% of larger practices increase their consultation prices every year.
As you’d expect, consultation fees vary a lot depending on profession (though it’s not possible to make direct comparisons as standard appointment durations also differ greatly). But the average price difference between new and existing clients is 21% across the board. So regardless of what kind of allied health service they’re coming in for, your clients usually have a good incentive to return to your practice for repeat visits!
The survey results also seem to indicate that larger businesses have better organised pricing strategies – bigger businesses are likely to increase their pricing every year (41.4%), while solo practices most frequently admit to raising prices somewhat randomly (34.4%). Raising prices can be a nerve-racking prospect, especially for solo practitioners! If you’re unsure about what to charge for sessions, you might be interested in this guest article by Blake Sergeant on the Cliniko blog.
31.3% of practitioners and 30.61% of practice owners struggle with work-life balance.
Practitioners and business owners report feeling challenged by very similar issues at work in similar numbers. Work-life balance is a problem for 31.3% of practitioners and 30.61% of practice owners, while managing personal burnout affects 26.6% of practitioners and 22.8% of practice owners.
However, the number one problem for practitioners is keeping on top of administrative tasks (such as treatment notes and patient letters), which 45% report as problematic. Yet this issue didn’t even appear in the top ten list of challenges for business owners!
On the other hand, business owners have the added pressure of managing their staff. When it comes to running a team, the top five challenges they reported were hiring new staff (51.4%); managing employee performance (39.2%); keeping staff motivated (21.2%), keeping up to date with employment law (19.5%); and fostering a strong team culture (17.5%). At Cliniko we’re passionate about work culture and have several articles about this on the Cliniko blog, if you’re a business owner feeling stuck, you might want to check them out!
Higher profit margins are usually associated with smaller practices and businesses that have been operating for longer.
Profit margins vary a lot for medium and large businesses, which isn’t too surprising, as profit is obviously influenced by many factors. On the other hand, solo practitioners frequently reported not knowing their profit margin – 46% of solo practitioners told us that they were unsure about this, compared to only 9% of those working in larger businesses who didn’t know. However, the responses show that it’s widespread for people to not know the profit margin of their practice – in most categories, this was the most common answer we received.
But, overall, the data seems to show that there’s generally a higher profit margin for smaller businesses (although this could also be attributed to solo providers classifying their salary as profit margin) and for businesses that have been operating for longer.
We hope you found these survey highlights interesting and informative. Thank you again to everyone who participated.
For a closer look at these graphs and a breakdown of the respondent demographics, we've put together an appendix.
- Practice management tips
- Cliniko news & releases
This is what your survey responses told us about daily life – appointments, referrals, Telehealth, and the day to day challenges of running an allied health clinic.
- Cliniko news & releases
This is what your survey responses told us about money matters — employment, salary, career goals, and your allied health practice as a business.