How a “Star” PT Owner Can Hand Off Patients Without Being Impersonal
Has this happened to you?
When a PT starts their own practice their personal passion, level of expertise and even their name often become the cornerstone of their reputation. When that PT owner starts to become successful that name can become a powerful marketing tool! And why not? He or she should absolutely be proud of having grown a practice from scratch! That said, it carries a certain growth limit – you can only treat so many patients while running a practice.
If you’re in that situation it’s because you’re driven, passionate, and your practice goals are bigger than a one PT operation – as they should be! So what happens when it’s time to start handing off patients but your name is what prospects trust? This issue can put a “star” therapist in an awkward situation. After all, you care about our patients and want them to remain loyal but your time is extremely valuable.
The good news? You aren’t alone. This transition can be done in a very personal, careful way. When it’s time to start strategizing for expansion, here’s our advice for keeping your patient trust high. Whether it is with new or returning patients these simple tips will help put them at ease.
1. Tag-Team Evaluations with Your Staff
And talk them up!
You only hire rock stars, right? Bringing in a team member during the evaluation gives you a chance to show your confidence in your practice not just yourself. “Overseeing” the initial consultation and showing agreement between the two of you will work to set the patient at ease with a new PT.
Now, you also don’t want to spend ALL your time doing double evaluations. It’s important to know that not every patient will mind seeing another therapist, so you won’t have to do this with every patient. Start out by having your staff help identify those that ask for you specifically. Then, choose who you will treat and who you will hand off. Lastly, if you start the eval strong, let the staff member guide it, and really talk up their value know that you likely won’t need to stay for the entire evaluation. There’s room for some discretion here depending on the patient.
2. Ask the staff member questions
Validate their opinions as they take over the conversation
Almost a sub-point to the first, you want to start the evaluation with leading questions to your staff member. They likely know the questions coming but it sets the expectation for the patient. Make sure these questions are more guided towards letting them give advice. Some examples might be:
- “So [Patient A] is dealing with [condition] and we want to find the source, where do think we should start?”
- “I’ve seen you do good work with this condition before, how was their recovery process?”
These questions, though between you and the other PT, are meant inform the patient. Don’t take for granted their lack of knowledge in the areas you’re an expert on. Lead them along with simple yet precise conversation.
3. Ensure the Patient You’ll Be Following Their Progress
“We” are looking forward to your recovery.
As you start to step away or even as you’re introducing the staff member, a little assurance goes a long way. Assure them your staff will be updating you personally on their progress and you’ll be keeping an eye out. Then as you see them, continue to be friendly and use words like “we” and “us” vs. “I” or “me.” Owning a patients well-being as an organization is what gives your patients a next-level, WOW experience.
Our friends over at WebPT have a great article about good patient experience for growing practices. Make sure your practice creates a welcoming, unified environment no matter your size.
IT STARTS WITH TRAINING
The “We” mentality is a great point to build into your staff training. Every interaction a patient has reflects on the entire practice. So as you train, make sure you are taking steps to rally your staff behind the overall mission of helping each patient feel better and doing so as a practice. We talk more about rallying your staff in this post about patient referrals.
Put the “We” in Welcoming!
4. Be Friendly – Be Confident
Basically, don’t be awkward.
If you’re confident they’ll be in good hands they’ll feed on that confidence and most patients won’t second guess you. A lot of potential awkwardness comes from assuming people will react a certain way. Instead, still greet them, even give them a hug if that’s your thing! But if you believe something is the best course of action, act like it and be excited about your staff members in front of patients. Live out the team spirit and your patients will catch on!
5. Start Marketing Your Practice Instead of Yourself
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today”
I admit, if I could have given you this advice when you started your practice, I would have. But as you begin to plan for the next level of practice growth, there is no better time to start good habits than today.
Faces connected to a business are good. But to brand your practice, start including more of your staff in your marketing WITH you. Try to avoid using just your name, and instead make sure your practice has an effective, well-designed Brand. PT branding goes beyond a simple logo, it means a set of visuals, a message, and core values that are consistent throughout all of your marketing.
- PT PRO TIP: If you are producing blog posts or other written content, start including your other PTs and cite them as the author to build more credibility.
A Good Problem to Have?
If this article applies to you, Congratulations! You are in a great place. You started out as a small operation and have worked hard to grow to your capacity. Few business owners in any industry make it as far as you have! Now it’s time to take your experience, your hard-earned wisdom, and prepare for the next step in patient growth. All you need is a good plan and good PT marketing tools. And maybe, just maybe it’s time to reduce the amount you’re treating? That’s a question mark for a reason. It can be a hard thing to consider, but it’s important to keep in mind as a leader of a growing practice.
Whatever the case, start optimizing your time for expansion today – and here’s to your success!