Get to Know the Team: Bettina Zellmer
We recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat (via Zoom, of course) with Bettina Zellmer, one of our top physicians relations managers at Luna. Originally from Germany, she now resides in beautiful Huntington Beach, California, with her husband and daughter. Bettina has been with Luna for almost a year-and-a-half now, and she's doing a fantastic job. She can attribute part of her success to the fact that she's a licensed Physical Therapist. Not only does Bettina talk the talk (which, by the way, her English is perfect, with only the slightest German accent), but she walks the walk. What's more, she's an incredibly kind and gracious person but with a work ethic and tenacity that are superior and highly sought-after in our industry. Let's learn more about her role at Luna, what drives her success, and some other unique facts...like her favorite savory snack food.
Q: You've been at Luna for a little over a year now. What attracted you to the organization? Why did you want to work there?
A: I'm originally from Germany and moved to the U.S. in 2016. I was a practicing physical therapist in Germany, and I was most recently a faculty at a PT school in Germany. Unfortunately, my German PT education and license aren't recognized in the same way here in America. If I wanted to practice physical therapy in the U.S., I'd have to go through the educational requirements all over again. Fortunately for me, I had a doctor friend in Los Angeles who introduced me to Luna when the company was expanding into Orange County. After looking into it a bit more, I found I loved Luna's concept and the company. Thankfully, I started to work at Luna in September of 2019 as a Physician Relations Manager. In my position, I introduce Luna to physicians and encourage them to refer their patients, who need physical therapy, to us. I particularly like that I still get to utilize my PT knowledge, but in a new and interesting way with a product I genuinely love. Luna is an impressive company, and we all support each other well. Everyone at the company is amazing, helpful, and hard-working -- it's been an incredible experience so far. I love it.
Q: Tell us more about your role and highlight some of the important work you do.
A: On the most basic level, I'm cultivating and growing relationships with physicians and other influential people at clinics and practices. My goal is to get in touch with the person in charge of referrals. It could be anyone -- from a front-desk person, to a referral coordinator, to a surgery coordinator, to the physician. Once I get to the decision-maker, I'll arrange a short meeting to introduce them and the physicians to Luna. My first objective is to discover their pain points and then show them how Luna can help address those to make their lives easier. Once they begin sending referrals to Luna, I go above and beyond to ensure they have an excellent experience. From there, Luna pretty much sells itself. But everything needs repetition; therefore, I continue to nurture and keep up with every person in my territory, which used to be all of Los Angeles and Orange County. Both regions have grown so much that we now have a separate PRM working in the LA region, and I can fully concentrate on Orange County.
Q: Overall, how are physicians responding to Luna?
A: It's been very positive. In fact, I've never had a meeting where a physician said they weren't interested in what Luna offers. Luna caters to a wide variety of PT patients, from the elderly to business professionals and everything in between. Home physical therapy is an excellent option to have for your patients, and sooner or later, you come across a case that needs those services. Before Luna, the only option to set up home PT was through home health services, which are tied to certain patient requirements. Setting them up means a lot of paperwork for a practice. So, outpatient PT through Luna is a huge timesaver for them. Luna's services are only a fax or an email away. Once the patient is referred, we take care of everything for them - all the authorizations and scheduling happen in our "magical" Rocklin office. Luna's concierge team goes above and beyond to ensure that patients receive timely, excellent treatment. They auto-match therapists to patients based on their diagnosis so that each one has an excellent outcome. Once the physicians try Luna, they love it.
Q: When it comes to working at Luna, how have you helped improve the productivity and effectiveness of others, either for physicians or your team?
A: I think I've been able to improve productivity and effectiveness for both. Home PT is something that has not been available on such a large scale before. Small clinics offer this service locally, but it becomes a problem if the patient must travel to the practice from further away. Luna's services represent a solution for all patients. The referral coordinator/ medical assistant no longer has to think about which company or location they should send their patients to. They simply send them to Luna; then I immediately notify them when their patient is scheduled. I'll keep them apprised of any other issues like if we can't get a hold of the patient, the patient doesn't want to pay, etc. All these little things save them tons of time and headaches.
Internally, here at Luna, our PRM (Physician Relations Management) team works well together. We have frequent team meetings. In those, we all openly share best practices that have worked well for us in hopes they'll help others too. For example, if I discover a new approach that allows me to get through to decision-makers, I'll share it. If I find a new avenue for leads (through insurance companies, for example), I'll share that. It's rewarding to contribute to the team effort.
Q: Luna states that its team is deeply allergic to the "that's the way we've always done it" mentality. Can you tell me a story where you've overcome this type of challenge at work?
A: Everyone knows old habits are hard to break. Luckily, I've figured out how to overcome some of those in my field of work. One typical challenge is when a practice tells the patient to call us and doesn't directly send us the referral. In that case, we might not be able to link that patient to a specific physician. If I can identify a patient, I reach out to the office to thank them for sending their patient. I then explain that by faxing/emailing us the referral, we can do a better job of following and addressing any issues throughout the course of care. It has worked for me, and it certainly helps the growth of the individual account. I've discovered that it's all about building personal relationships with people at these offices. But of course, ensuring accurate numbers help me with attaining my monthly goal.
There's one other challenging but meaningful change I want to mention. It's convincing practices to shift the patients that only require physical therapy away from home health services and referring them to Luna instead. Every situation is different but when it comes to this, setting up outpatient PT through Luna typically results in significant cost savings for the physicians and hospitals. Everyone knows the healthcare system is complex. Luna makes it easier -- a lot easier.
Q: Luna's values are: 1) Care exceptionally 2) Incredibly relentless 3) Make an impact, and 4) 1% better every day. Which of these resonates with you the most? Can you share a story that supports that?
A: They all resonate with me, but if I had to pick, then it's a tie between two. The first is care exceptionally. I am working 25 hours a week, but I'll pick up my phone 24/7. Sure, there are days and times where I'm supposed to be off the clock, but I'll take five minutes of my off-time to check my emails or Slack to see if something urgent came up that I have to address. I care deeply about my relationships with clients and colleagues, and I want to be there for them whenever needed.
The other value? Incredibly relentless. I was actually called "relentless" (in a good way) by a client. It's an interesting story. I was walking out of a doctor's office, and I spotted a potential client simultaneously walking out of another clinic opposite the one I just visited. I recognized her right away. She was an office manager that I'd been trying to reach for a long time, so I took advantage of that serendipitous moment. I quickly struck up a friendly conversation with her, then followed up several times afterward (without being creepy.) I didn't want her to forget about Luna and what it had to offer. Then, when COVID-19 hit, she called me. Suddenly, she needed a way for her patients to safely obtain PT during the pandemic, and she remembered Luna. She thanked me for being "relentless" in keeping up with her because Luna was the perfect solution to her pandemic problem. That office, with two orthopedic surgeons, has been referring clients ever since.
Q: Care to share some fun, interesting facts about yourself?
A: <Bettina laughs> Well, I've already mentioned I'm from Germany, so that's relatively unique. I guess a fun fact is that I know how to drive a manual transmission car. Stick shift is pretty common in my home country but not so much in America. Another fun fact is that I've always dreamed of becoming an actress. In an odd way, I'm doing that now since I morph into different "roles" to do my job well. Oh, and one last one. I'm big into eating healthy, but I have an incredible weakness for one thing -- vinegar chips. They are my kryptonite. I only indulge in them maybe once every two years.
It was fun getting to know Bettina, and we'd love to get to know you too. What brings you to this blog post? Whether you're a physician looking for the perfect, on-demand PT provider, a patient in need of a top-notch physical therapist, or a fantastic PT interested in joining the Luna team, we'd love to hear from you. If you've got questions, we've got answers. Get in touch today.