Patients spend the majority of their time in care interacting with their therapist, front office staff, and administrative personnel. These team members craft the patient’s impression of your practice, embody your mission and sell your brand simply by doing their jobs. As a practice owner, you want these moments to be more than routine experiences—they are the foundations of your internal marketing. The time and care spent directly engaging with a patient is worth 1,000 promotional newsletters.
Think about it this way…your marketing staff often wears several hats that include creating programs, building professional relationships and monitoring statistics. They may also double agent as referral managers or practice coordinators. But, how many minutes a day do they spend with patients, helping them to be pain-free? Those minutes are spent with PTs, which means your team needs to be PT marketers actively promoting your practice – and the physical benefits of each treatment to their quality of life to patients.
Physical therapy is not always an easy experience. It can be frustrating, challenging and, sometimes, painful. Patients seek care for a variety of reasons and need emotional support throughout their journey. Every time your staff brings a smile to someone’s face, they are being PT marketers. Those smiles equal positive memories of success, achievement, and healthfulness for patients. Your team has transformed the experience into a moment of personal triumph. Recall some of the best testimonials your team has received—what do they have in common? Patients remember their PT and how that person helped them to overcome a challenge and feel better.
Next step: encourage your team to celebrate the victories and consider programs, such as Patient of the Week, to incentivize success.
One of the top ways to keep people coming back is to set the right expectation of what “recovered” means at the first visit. Then, at each visit, the therapist can encourage them with what they’ve accomplished while previewing the BENEFIT of the next appointment. What muscle groups you’ll be working to strengthen and how that will help their recovery are easy to understand bits of info that increase the perceived value of the visit.
Keeping the personal importance and value of treatment top-of-mind will go a long way towards overcoming the financial pains of copays.
As your team works with a patient, they come to know things about them. Do they have a dog, are they active in rec sports or maybe they belong to the same community pool? Those commonalities transform the care relationship into a personal one that extends beyond the clinic. Train your team to try and find at least one commonality with every patient. This cannot be forced but should be a meaningful result of active communication during care.
Next step: schedule regular trainings to development “soft skills” within your team. These can include sessions on communication, goal setting, conflict resolution, or leadership. By empowering your team with techniques and actively practicing their skills, you build them into even more impactful PT marketers.
Word of mouth referrals are the most effective way to get new PT patients. These referrals often come from a variety of sources. A spouse or family member referral is the most common—followed closely by a friend or co-worker. But think about other word of mouth communications such as a personal trainer to a client, a parent watching a youth sports game or a referral from someone in a workout class. Your team needs to be equipped to grow the practice’s referral program. There are a couple marketing tools that can help:
Remember, it’s best to think of marketing as not one person’s job—but as a core part of everyone’s daily responsibilities. Leverage the power of your fantastic team and have them become your internal PT marketers. With a few simple tips like building positive relationships and encouraging referrals, you can easily attract more new patients to physical therapy. For more marketing and practice management ideas, check out our free PT training resources or follow us on Facebook.