Innovative Business Education for an Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Physical Therapy Classroom and Clinic


The purpose of this session is to describe how the case-based analysis of HBS cases from a variety of industries can be implemented to teach business disciplines and promote innovative thinking in DPT students and practicing physical therapy clinicians. Additionally, a HBS case on Starbucks will be summarized, and the business principles of customer service, customer satisfaction, and company profitability will be applied to physical therapy practice.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Health care providers are developing new services, channels, and roles in a response to existing health care challenges.1 One focus of the APTA “Beyond Vision 2020” is the exploration of opportunities and roles for the physical therapy profession as we aim to meet the needs of society in the current health care environment.2 In order to identify opportunities and develop roles, physical therapists can benefit from the understanding of various business concepts. The health care industry can learn innovations across business disciplines including operations, finance, marketing, and customer service from other industries that have successfully navigated similar business challenges.3,4 For example, one promising management approach implemented by some leading health care institutions is Lean, a quality improvement philosophy and set of principles originated by the Toyota Motor Company.5 The analysis of business practice in other industries can be incorporated in entry-level DPT curriculum and physical therapy practice to better prepare physical therapy graduates and employees with the entrepreneurial mindset needed to establish and deliver new roles and services.

We employed the pedagogical tool of using case-based analysis of Harvard Business School (HBS) cases to teach business skills and expose students to business practices in other industries. With each case, students performed a situation analysis, analyzed varied and frequently ambiguous data, and assumed responsibility for an action plan to resolve the case's business challenge.6 Students then applied concepts from the business school case to the physical therapy services industry.


Total of 57 students participated in the elective course over the last 4 academic years. Quantititative analysis of course evaluations showed the course met its stated objectives. Qualitative analysis of anonymous student comments revealed core themes of innovative course format and innovative learning showing that the course instilled an innovation mindset in our students.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education-Instructional Strategies for the Classroom and Clinic

We successfully introduced a novel course in a physical therapist education program to include training in innovation using Harvard Business School cases. To deliver exceptional value to patients receiving physical therapy, we must innovate. Thus, preparation of physical therapist practitioners who can innovate is critical if we have to achieve our vision of optimizing movement to improve human experience and thereby transform society.



R. Bohmer and C. Knoop, “The Challenge Facing the U.S. Healthcare Delivery System”, Harvard Business School Publishing (2007).

American Physical Therapy Association.“Beyond Vision 2020”. (Accessed on February 27, 2013).

Atul Gawande. 2012. (Accessed on February 25, 2013)

Mark D. Smith.Disruptive Innovation: Can Health Care Learn From Other Industries? A Conversation with Clayton M. Christensen. Health Affairs, 26, no.3 (2007):w288-w295 (published online March 13, 2007; 10.1377/hlthaff.26.3.w288). 2007.

Toussaint JS, Berry LL. The promise of Lean in health care. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Jan;88(1):74-82. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2012.07.025. 2013.

Christensen Center for Teaching and Learning.The Case Method at HBS. Harvard Business School. (Accessed on February 25, 2013).

Y. Moon and J.A. Quelch, Case:“Starbucks:Delivering Customer Service”, Harvard Business School Publishing (2006).

Course Objectives

Following this course, the learner will be able to:

Describe challenges and opportunities for physical therapists in the current health care environment.

Describe why the case-based analysis of business cases offers a unique and effective pedagogical tool to teach various business management skills and promote innovative thinking in physical therapy education and practice.

Understand the rationale for looking at other industries to inspire innovative thinking in the physical therapy services industry.

Describe how an example from the Harvard Business School case, “Starbucks:Delivering Customer Service”7 can be used to teach business concepts which can be implemented to improve physical therapy customer service, customer satisfaction and company profitability.

Identify implementation methodology and application of this case-based pedagogical tool in the classroom or clinic setting for the development of entrepreneurial physical therapy clinicians.

Evaluate student and faculty feedback on the implementation of this tool in the classroom.

Instructional Methods

TEACHING METHODS: Lecture, Small Group Discussion, Question and Answer

Tentative Outline/Schedule


Introduction to Speakers, Session Objectives
5 minutes

The US Health Care System: Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation
10 minutes

Learning From Other Industries to Improve Business Management in Health Care
5 minutes

The Business Case-Base Analysis Approach and the use of Harvard Business School Cases in Physical Therapy Education
10 minutes

Development of Course and Implementation of HBS Case-Analysis in the Classroom
10 minutes

Example of Starbucks Case Analysis to Examine Quality Service and the Relationships Between Customer Satisfaction and a Company’s Profitability
(Lecture, Discussion)
20 minutes

Application of Business Concepts to Health Care and Physical Therapy Practice
(Small Group/Large Group Discussion, Lecture)
15 minutes

Evaluate Student and Faculty Feedback on the Implementation of the HBS Case-Based Approach in the Classroom
5 minutes

5 minutes

5 minutes

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2527226
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dr. Beth Davis, Zoher Kapasi
  • Keywords:

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