After Brooke Artesi, CP, LPO, had her son in 2012, she was faced with the decision of returning to her old practice or opening her own.
“I’ve always wanted to own my own practice. So after I had the baby, I had to decide whether I would go back or do my own thing,” Artesi told O&P Business News. “I had a good support system, so I did it.”
Artesi is a transtibial amputee resulting from a train accident when she was 15 years old. After earning a degree in fine arts, Artesi decide to return to school to pursue a career in the O&P industry. She attended Rutgers University and began working as a technician at Garden State Orthopedics before obtaining her orthotic and prosthetic certificates from the Newington Certificate Program and completing her residencies. Artesi opened Sunshine Prosthetics and Orthotics in Wayne, N.J., this spring.
Creating a brand
According to Artesi, when considering a business model for her new practice, creating a brand was the most important aspect for her.
“I wanted a business model that was very streamlined, and I branded the place,” Artesi said.
The office is outfitted in a sleek black and yellow theme with wall-sized images of amputee athletes and the clinic’s logo covering the walls.
“I wanted a modern approach to my facility,” Artesi added.
Outfitted with the latest technology, Sunshine Prosthetics and Orthotics offers prosthetic and orthotic services, as well as post-mastectomy fittings, cranial remolding and diabetic wound care. Artesi also uses a central fabrication facility for all of her devices.
“I am a completely digital office,” Artesi said. “I have the OPIE system and a brand new Omega scanner.”
Artesi also values her involvement with the amputee community and credits that involvement for the current success of her practice. She serves a mentor at Camp No Limits, competes at Extremity Games and is involved with other nonprofit organizations, including the Never Say Never Foundation.
“I like to keep my patients involved in these resources that are out there, because when I was a new amputee, they didn’t have any of this,” Artesi said.
She also tries to stay involved in local community events, which she says is another great way to market her practice. Most recently, Sunshine Prosthetics and Orthotics sponsored a team at a local triathlon.
“I try to be as involved as possible and allow my patients to join me in everything,” she said.
Artesi also has a dedicated social media coordinator, who helps the practice stay connected with patients and boosts its marketing efforts.
Starting a practice
For Artesi, the most difficult part of creating her new practice was securing insurance contracts.
“Medicare was fine, but lots of other contracts don’t want to give them out,” Artesi said. “So I am billing a lot out-of-network.” Consequently, prospective patients may need to be turned away if they do not have out-of-network coverage.
But for Artesi, the benefits of owning her own practice far outweigh the headaches, especially the freedom it provides for the new mom.
“Balance is the hardest part, because I have a lot of patients and the baby, but the freedom has been the best thing,” Artesi said.
When considering creating a practice, Artesi said the most important thing to consider is whether a practitioner is ready to accept the responsibilities of becoming an owner.
“You have to make sure you are ready and have a good support system that can help you,” she said.
Artesi also said her comprehensive background in the O&P industry has aided her success as a business owner.
“I started out as a technician and built [my career] slowly over the years,” Artesi said. “So I can do anything in my business on my own, and I am not reliant on someone else. I am the orthotist and the prosthetist, and I can do everything from start to finish for fabrication.”
Currently, Artesi is the only practitioner in her practice, and she intends to keep the practice small in order to maintain a personal and intimate atmosphere.
“I’m not going crazy with the facility, but it has worked out well so far,” Artesi said. — by Megan Gilbride