More and more states are passing legislation allowing direct access to PT services. Therefore, practices should start planning and incorporating strategies to market direct access to their patients. Our last blog post on direct access talked through how to market this opportunity in a way that is favorable for both patient and doctor relationships. This post is tailored for rural practices, which are ideal candidates to benefit from direct access marketing.
Rural PT practices can either be located in communities with low populations or those with widespread residents, common in farming and ranching regions. These communities tend to have high rates of self-employment, such as family farmers or ranchers, or other residents with varying degrees of health care and insurance. For these populations, direct access can mean the difference between seeking physical therapy services or trying to manage pain with OTC treatments. Especially for persons with jobs that are physically intensive, proper physical therapy treatments are essential to mediating and recovering from pain or injury.
Your practice’s direct access marketing should be informative and transparent to be effective for both your business goals and patients’ needs. Direct access can be a confusing concept for patients to grasp. Also, it may involve careful coordination of insurance and billing to avoid unexpected charges.
The APTA provides, “Direct access means the removal of the physician referral mandated by state law to access physical therapists’ services for evaluation and treatment.” But most patients will benefit from a contextual definition. Try saying, “Direct access laws allow patients to seek physical therapy services without requiring a physician’s referral.”
Most patients will not understand the advantages of direct access from the definition alone. Use a list of bullets to help illustrate why direct access matters, such as “Direct access benefits include:”
Some patients may not be fully aware of what PT is and how it achieves results. Your direct access marketing should include a short paragraph about physical therapy. Explain how it works and what benefits it can provide.
While many states allow direct access, not all insurance plans are as accepting. Make sure to reference that your practice will verify that the patient’s plan allows or reimburses PT without a physician referral. And that you can answer any questions about payment and financing options. This shows the patient that you really care about them both physically and financially. And avoids confusion and upset from unexpected bills or expenses.
Physical therapy marketing often uses from a mix of pain and success images. Direct access marketing needs to be benefit or achievement focused. Add pictures of people being active, smiling, returning to work etc.
Direct access marketing is more than just getting new patients. It is about expanding your service network to populations that may not have been able to receive care before now. These individuals will be more likely to take advantage of direct access if they understand physical therapy and its outcomes. This is also a great opportunity to build loyalty as direct access allows patients to really see anyone for PT with being influenced by their physician and referral. By providing an easy, pleasant experience and high-quality care, you can turn these new populations into repeat patients who see you for all their physical therapy needs.