Sunday, May 19, 2013

Competition vs. Collaboration


Please consider the following tweets:

And now, please consider this most intriguing inspiration
Other versions of the same clip:


Competition in a perfectly competitive market is one where firms would need to "worry" about gaining, maintaining, and fighting for a competitive edge. A perfectly competitive market has two main characteristics:

  • The goods offered for sale are all the same.
  • The buyers and sellers are so numerous that no one buyer or seller can influence the price.

Physical therapy is NOT a perfectly competitive market.... not by ANY means. Therefore, we need a lesson from microeconomics. In this particular case, the Nash Equilibrium. Most commonly portrayed in the Prisoner's Dilemma (as seen below) or popularized by the movie, "A Beautiful Mind" (as was seen above) - the principle states that if all individual parties in a group does whats best for the individual AND the group, THAT point will be the most advantageous for all parties involved.

The Prisoner's Dilemma: Best Choice is staying silent - cooperating.

For the physical rehabilitation & wellness business, we NEED to learn from this economic principle. The level of demand for our service and expertise is far below where it could be. Competing amongst ourselves will only be damaging to our market position in comparison to referral-for-profit models, alternatives to our services, or the very simple choice - NOT GOING to the physical therapist (or allied rehab professional).

In healthcare, related scopes and similar disciplines gain from collaborating, cooperating, strengthening in concert, and marketing in unison. Sure. Not all *insert professional service here* is made equal. But, just as I've been saying since the New Year's posts aka. the Mickey Mouse Moment series - unity is the only thing that will elevate our profession as a whole. When the entire profession is better positioned, all of our individual firms will be that much stronger in the marketplace.

My suggestions are these:
  • See another rehab therapy professional that is doing something similar? Make a business alliance; share ideas; cross-market; and, refer to each other.
  • See another hospital that is doing excellent work? Request for their expertise and wisdom gained from stumbling across the wrong paths of choice so you avoid the same mistakes.
  • Conversely, see a facility that is struggling? Share your success stories. Help them avoid the pitfalls you've already conquered.
  • Notice someone on social media who is positioned in a similar vein of expertise? Make for a combined and expanded presence. One of the earliest expressions of this concept that I've noticed is with Dr. Erson Religioso's Physio Answers and Physio Pics. As you can see, each participant is made better for their collaboration.
  • Are you already involved in a larger group, association, club, or fellowship? How about create a physical therapy marketing combine? Use your strength in numbers and associated financial power to create a marketing campaign to identify, position, and advocate physical therapists as the practitioner of choice for all things related to health, pain, movement, performance, sports, and graceful aging. A health specialist that serves as an ever supportive friend who can give guidance for finding a live-worth-living; one of longevity, fulfillment, and well-being.
Competition? PLEASE... not with one another. We're a team; a unit of professionals. The "enemy" isn't each other. There are far more dangerous foes that we must face. The best thing we can do is to strengthen each other such that we as a whole are then stronger.

Just like this scene from "The Gladiator"

"LOCK YOUR SHIELDS. STAY AS ONE!" - Maximus, The Gladiator.


  1. Excellent post, Ben! IMO, we have more to gain by building bridges than walls! We need to stand together yet also reach out to other professionals to serve as a resource. B/c I'm cash based, for most of my patients, I work as part of a team - my patients have Chiros, massage therapists, acupuncturists, DO's, school ATC's, often a D.O...and sometimes even another PT who is in-network for them. Communication is key...collaboration is vital. We CAN position ourselves as experts without alienating other professionals. We need to keep supporting our profession/each other, as we reach out to others - we have to think Patient First.
    Ann Wendel

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