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Meet Dr. Sean Flannagan of One Accord Physical Therapy in Central

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Sean Flannagan.

With the support of his wife, Lina, Dr. Flannagan founded, what is now known as One Accord Physical Therapy out of a small 1000 ft. clinic in Casa Grande, AZ in 2004. One Accord was immediately successful due to the commitment to creating a great patient experience that allowed the patients to partner with the organization that would help them navigate the medical system. Being frustrated within a broken medical system, which was failing patients with chronic low back and neck pain, sent Dr. Flannagan on a journey to find a better solution for the therapists he employed and the patients they served. This led him to start training in Europe and with other national physical therapy leaders and business influencers that knew the medical system only had two choices for patients, drugs or surgery. In 2012, One Accord partnered with A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ and started providing a post-graduate orthopedic residency program which was a catalyst to the development of a unique solution for clinicians and patients alike. Clinical excellence and patient outcomes immediately began to improve as the most current research and expert mentoring began to impact patient care. The journey resulted in a unique approach to patient care that focuses on patients in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who want to get active, stay active and live pain-free through completely natural, long-lasting solutions. Dr. Flannagan says, patients now have a real choice, they have, “Drugs, surgery or us.” He and a number of his employees now teach other physical therapists across the country and in the UK their approach to patient care and since 2012 One Accord has expanded to 4 specialty clinics, with 10 clinical experts, serving Casa Grande, Central Phoenix, East Mesa and Gilbert, AZ. The high demand for a viable solution to chronic pain sets One Accord up for rapid growth, but the company is committed to growing only when the right expert clinician is trained up and “ready” to serve to the standard the patients of One Accord expect and deserve.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Much of our struggles come from trying to work within a medical system that continues to become more numbers driven and less patient-centered. This results in a cumbersome and costly system for patients and providers. Insurance companies are ever increasing their deductibles and premiums, costing patients more, while paying providers less while simultaneously putting a higher administrative burden on providers. Initially, I started practicing within one of the larger corporate companies that would schedule high volumes of patients that resulted in poor outcomes. These larger corporate companies do not commit to clinical excellence and learning, and patient care suffers because of it. As a young provider, I didn’t know better, and most patients and their doctors don’t know the difference either. Rarely can a family physician tell you what makes one therapist different from another, they just don’t know, and that’s our fault as a profession, not family physicians. I’ve always tried to do the best with what’s in front of me, the problem is, you don’t know what you are missing until you experience it. If you think something is the norm, you live the norm, but once you experience something better you cannot live without it. Once our clinicians and our patients experience what could be, we couldn’t get enough of it and we are continually trying to improve it. We love treating patients that have been to other clinics and specialists, they commonly comment: “I’ve never had this much one on one care in therapy before.” Or “I’ve never had an expert take this much time finding out what was really going on with me.” “Nobody has ever taken the time to answer my questions and educate me on my options.” I’ve also found that traditional medical system doesn’t know how to manage patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions and pain, especially low back and neck pain. They only know drugs or surgery, which has led to the current opioid epidemic, overutilization of imaging and patients get lost in a spiral of bouncing from provider to provider without getting the answers they need. Doctors tell them t “you have arthritis, and pain is normal so just live with it,” However, that’s not what the emerging research says. The current research coming out is proving this type of thinking absolutely wrong, but for most providers within the medical system they don’t know any better, it is what they were taught in medical school. We know differently, so we educate differently and offer alternatives to drugs and surgery. We like to say, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is not.” The other personal struggle was learning to balance family and business. It’s the entrepreneurs’ battle, to build for an amazing future for those you cherish without losing connection to them in the present. I have an amazing wife that keeps me grounded and connected to my kids and constantly reminds me of my “why” so that I do not lose track of what’s important. Not the easiest thing to do when you are a visionary always living in tomorrow and what could be. No level of success is worth it without keeping connecting to your family. My wife and two kids are my why, and without their support, none of it would be worth it.

Please tell us about One Accord Physical Therapy.
At One Accord we’ve specialized and developed an organizational culture that is geared towards becoming the number one solutions for people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who are tired of dealing with pain and taking medication and who want to get active, stay active and live pain-free. We are one of Arizona’s only teaching and learning physiotherapy organizations, which means patients are always treated by an expert that has access and knowledge of the most current research in regards to neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Our solutions are all natural and long-lasting. Our experts practice an integrative manual therapy approach to care, which means we’ve taken the best of multiple disciplines, from both the US and UK and integrated them into a single expert clinician. It is like taking the best of osteopathy, physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, and acupuncture and then filtering those through the latest breakthroughs in research to give patients exactly what they need to get on the road to recovery without surgery or drugs. Can we help everyone, absolutely not, but we can help the masses, and we can normally help those whom are lost and have no hope. Many of our success stories come from patients that were told by their doctor or chiropractor, “this is the worst spine I’ve ever seen.” We specialize and do best where other professionals have given up, and we know when we can help, and when we cannot. We don’t like wasting our time or our client’s money. Even when we realize we cannot help, we will partner with patients to make sure they find a solution to their condition and circumstances, and make sure that they have a plan going forward so that they can make an educated decision. We spend time with patients, we listen, and we make sure their questions are answered. What I’m most proud of is our employees and the culture they’ve created. We all think of each other as family and together we work as a team dedicated to giving back to every patient in a big way. I’m humbled daily by the level of expertise I get to work with, learn from, and lead, and it amazes me how much they give themselves wholeheartedly to the care of their patients and their coworkers.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I grew up in Alaska, and being from Alaska your summers as a child were a daily adventure. We didn’t have the crime like many large cities, so our parents were not as fearful as we seem to be nowadays. Every day my brothers and I would set off hiking mountains, crossing rivers, fishing, building forts, riding bikes etc. It was like our own Tom Sawyer adventure series. I have no idea how we survived without an accident, we would do some pretty crazy things, whether it was from crawling in beaver huts to tracking bears, we did things most kids would never think of doing. Our parents didn’t worry about us, and we knew we just had to be home for dinner, so between breakfast and dinner, we created a pretty amazing experience for ourselves connecting to the outdoors. Something my two boys have been robbed of raising them in Arizona.

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