In addition to running a myotherapy business, Mat Richardson is passionate about creating a community for practitioners and raising awareness around mental health. We chatted to Mat about his story, plus how he’s used Cliniko to make his practice easier and more efficient to run.
Mat Richardson is a myotherapist practising in the Dandenong Ranges (or “The Hills”, as locals call it), a beautiful region about an hour east of Melbourne, Australia. While Mat loves treating his myotherapy patients, he’s also passionate about creating a community for his fellow practitioners, where they can learn and grow. From taking on students for clinical placement to setting up a networking group for healthcare workers, Mat has done a lot to establish support networks and promote the sharing of knowledge between peers.
Setting up Tecoma Myotherapy
Mat was in his final year of high school when a quadriceps injury on the soccer field led him to see a myotherapist. Soon afterwards, when it came time to head off to university, he enrolled in an Advanced Diploma in Myotherapy from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University himself! He graduated, set up Tecoma Myotherapy (twenty years ago now), and hasn’t looked back.
These days the clinic is so busy that it’s a struggle to keep up with patient demand – it’s a far cry from the early days. “I started off with zero patients,” Mat remembers. “Myotherapy wasn’t well known back then, I had to market myself and the industry to develop a business from scratch – I made connections between all the local doctors and health practitioners, and walked every street in the area dropping off flyers. Back then the internet wasn’t really a thing, so you had to do the hard work.”
This paid off and Tecoma Myotherapy currently employs three other practitioners in addition to Mat (a myotherapist and two massage therapists). Over the years, many different people have started with Tecoma Myotherapy before heading off to launch their own businesses. For Mat, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job. “If people can grow and get a starting point with us – brilliant,’ he says.
Tecoma Myotherapy treats a diverse range of people (with patients currently range from 12 to 96 years of age), but Mat has a passion for helping people that are struggling with persistent pain and feel stuck on their journey – which requires a wide-ranging base of knowledge and skills.
Mat’s community focus
In addition to treating his patients, Mat is a strong advocate for mental health, having faced his own struggles in this area. He speaks openly about his experience with depression. Part of the reason for this is to help normalise the experience, especially for other men going through the same thing – as he notes, “males tend to be the ones who don't open up and don't really share or get help.” With Mat sharing his story, he hopes this will allow others to open up and get help.
Mat’s experiences have also been hugely impactful for his professional life. One of his goals is to give practitioners more tools and support to help patients who are suffering with pain and mental health issues. “We're not trying to be a psychologist, but we need to be psychologically informed because we're working with humans and all the complexities that come with them.” A lot of the work that Mat does is around increasing the knowledge and skills around psychological informed practice, particularly for MSK clinicians, and really connecting with the human that enters your clinic.
The networking group isn’t just for myotherapists – anyone involved in healthcare in the Dandenong Ranges is welcome – and there are regular talks and workshops on a range of different topics. According to Mat, the aim is “to get everyone expanding their knowledge base, but also working together better to help chronic pain.” The group encourages practitioners to keep improving their skills, especially when it comes to communication. Mat says: “a lot of workshops are around how to build better relationships in the clinic: how to become a better clinician, how to connect better with people and to give people the space to grow and thrive.”
The group is also a way for local practitioners to make connections with each other and be part of a supportive community of peers – which can be crucial. Mat says that having this support network made a big difference to him over the past few years: “if we're going through a tough time like COVID, at least you can pick up the phone and chat to people who are going through very similar things as well.”
The global pandemic proved to be the biggest challenge for Tecoma Myotherapy since it opened. By the time Melbourne eased its restrictions in late 2021, the city had endured one of the longest lockdowns in the world. Mat is upfront about how challenging it was to run his practice throughout this time: “It was pretty tough here in Melbourne,” he admits. At one point, the state restrictions didn’t allow myotherapists to see patients, which meant that Mat had to find odd jobs to pay the rent on the clinic – he worked in landscaping, painting, and on construction sites to keep everything afloat. Thanks to these efforts, Tecoma Myotherapy ultimately made it through, and Mat is happy to be back in the clinic.
Why Mat chose Cliniko for his myotherapy practice
Cliniko is Mat’s first cloud-based practice management system. He came across it back in 2013 on Facebook and, nine years later, has used it ever since. “It improved everything dramatically,” he says. “It made you look so much more professional.”
Before that, Tecoma Myotherapy was still paper-based (“the old diary with a pencil and the card system with a huge amount of cards,” as Mat puts it!). When Mat decided to switch to using a software system, he explored a bunch of different options and ultimately decided on Cliniko. His choice was partly due to the cost effectiveness of Cliniko’s pricing, but there were other drawcards that prompted Mat to choose Cliniko and continue to use it for so long:
Mat felt that Cliniko’s user-friendliness was particularly obvious when compared to the complexity of other systems: “A lot of other software packages are not that easy to use. You scratch your head half the time and think ‘this has been designed by a software person not a clinician.’ I think that's a big part of the reason why I've stuck with Cliniko – it just works without you having to do anything.”
An easy teaching tool
Given how often Mat hosts students at his clinic, he appreciates a system that’s also easy to teach to others. Mat says, “when you're teaching new people how to use Cliniko, the advice that I give them is: it works how you think it'll work. If you want to make an appointment, click on the appointment and it's very easy to follow how to do it.” If you don’t have to spend oodles of time taking students through the ins and outs of your practice management software, you’ve got more time for actually mentoring them!
Continual software updates
Mat cites the constant work our development team is doing as another reason he has kept using Cliniko: “Cliniko keeps on evolving – when things need to be changed, you're changing them.” It’s true that behind the scenes, our developers are always updating and improving Cliniko, as well as considering any requests for changes that we get.
How Cliniko makes Mat’s day-to-day practice easier
For Mat, there are four key aspects of Cliniko that he finds especially helpful for running his myotherapy practice:
Mat estimates that 90% of his patients book themselves in online. “Most people find it a very easy way to book and even people that are quite elderly can manage it pretty well,” Mat notes. From a practitioner perspective, the advantages are clear as well. “It takes away the need for a receptionist – my phone might ring once or twice a day now,” he says. When you add in the ability to set up SMS reminders and confirmations, you really don’t have to spend much time on the phone at all, unless you want to!
2Portability across devices
Cliniko works just as well on a phone as on a PC, which Mat has found useful: “I've made appointments for patients when I've been camping at Kakadu, or at Uluru with the family. If people call me up, I'm able to just jump on and make a booking for them.” We’re so happy to hear that – we think work admin should always fit in around your life and the things you love!
3Adding files and body charts
Mat says that being able to add files and body charts to patient records is another helpful feature. This means that everything relevant to each patient can be found neatly stored in one place. Cliniko is the brainchild of Liora (an osteopath) and Joel (a software developer) and Mat observes that this is visible in the final product: “Joel had a good idea of what clinicians needed.”
“Cliniko just makes you clinically better,” Mat says, giving the example of the treatment notes feature. “It makes you better at doing your notes because you've got the layout in Cliniko. When you're handwriting notes, you'll probably become a bit lazy.” But when you’ve got specific sections you can fill out, it can help give your notes more focus.
Would he recommend Cliniko to other myotherapists?
Mat already does! “If anyone is starting out, I really do push them to make their life easier by having this software-based system,” he says. “You might try and save money by doing a lot of calling up yourself and all the other stuff, but you're better off to have a software package that just does it. It makes life much easier, so you can then concentrate on what you actually want to do – and that’s to help people.”
Curious to try Cliniko for yourself?
If you’re looking for new practice management software and curious to see if Cliniko ticks the boxes on your list, sign up for a free 30-day trial! No credit card details are required and it’s the best way to find out if Cliniko is right for you.
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