So You Need More Physical Therapy Visits?
Of course! Patient visits fill your schedule and full schedule means you have the revenue you planned to meet goals and grow.
Let’s Jump Right In:
There are 4 primary ways physical therapy clinics boost patient visits:
- Get More PT Visits Out Of Every Care Plan
- Increase New Patient Visits
- Invite Past Patients To Return
- Boost Referral Visits (Both Patient & Doctor Referrals)
When you spend even just 30 minutes each week improving these areas, you’ll have a clear-cut plan to boost patient visits which greatly reduces marketing stress or confusion.
Of these, “new patients” is probably the most desirable, most highly-discussed area in the industry right now for 2 great reasons: It presents the biggest opportunity, and it takes the most effort. That said, it’s second on the list on purpose. You don’t want to spend time and money marketing directly to consumers only to have them drop out at a rapid rate.
That’s why, for your clinic to get the most physical therapy visits you need to have a plan for each of these areas.
How To Get More PT Visits Out Of Every Care Plan
When you get a new patient, whether or not they stay makes a huge difference in your revenue. A patient who comes for 12 visits is (obviously) 3X more valuable as a patient who comes for just 4.
In fact, it’s significantly cheaper to retain a patient than replace them. Invesp has a great infographic on this. My favorite points are:
- It costs 5X as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% vs 5-20% for new customers.
(The infographic is available here with much more nerdy, marketing data if you’re into that)
All that to say that allocating a portion of your marketing budget to keeping patients longer is a proven, successful action you can use to get more patient visits.
How? The most common tactics include:
- Email Marketing – develop a new patient welcome series that delivers automatically to new patients.
- Social Media – spend the time to post tips regularly and ask patients in the clinic to follow you, especially at discharge.
- Or My Favorite… Mobile Marketing! – We live in an increasingly mobile world, and now PT practices can get their very own app to deliver exercises, health tips, even book appointments or allow patients to send questions to their therapist between visits. It’s like having a marketing assistant in your patients’ pockets!
How To Increase New Patient Visits
This is it. The big one.
It’s big because there are literally thousands of new patient opportunities all around you. Turning those prospects into patients boils down to one thing: Market Directly To Consumers.
NOTE: marketing to consumers isn’t necessarily all about direct access. PT clinics need to market to consumers whether or not you have good direct access laws.
Check out this example from Ellis PT:
“Our Newsletter… also very custom brochures for specific programs. It has really helped us with patient referrals AND patients informing their doctors where they are choosing to go for physical therapy.”
Done correctly, new patient marketing makes people 1) aware of physical therapy as a solution to pain, and 2) aware of you as a trusted source. If you accomplish those two things new patients will find their way to you direct access or not.
To do this though, you need a plan:
Here are the most effective strategies we’ve seen and use for our clients. Budgeting and planning for these areas will start you on the path to more new patients. This is an overview, but if you want to dive deeper into this I recommend hopping over to our free training “The Ultimate PT Marketing Funnel.“
- A Powerful, Updated Website – This is the starting point. All the things I mention below have to point back to your website. Therefore, if your website isn’t good at converting visitors into patients, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money on marketing.
- Local Search (or SEO) – This is the fancy word for Google. Studies have proven that visitors coming from organic Google searches are XX% more likely to become patients! There are 3 important things to keep in mind:
- Your website has to work well and have key features like a blog to have a good rank.
- It takes time. We see the best results between 7-15 months after taking a site live.
- Very few people actually search for “physical therapy.” Most people you need to reach are looking for things like “back pain relief” or “knee pain tips.” Remember most people don’t know the solution you have to market to the problem!
- Paid Search Ads – This is a great way to appear on Google instantly and may not require a huge budget depending on your area ($500/month is a good starting point in most cases). Remember if ads for “physical therapy” are too expensive, try condition-based terms to save money.
- Retargeting Ads – Almost nobody converts the first time they hear about your practice. Most people require 7-20 marketing messages before becoming a patient. Retargeting allows you to deliver ads to people who visit your website to keep them coming back.
- Online Reviews – 93% of local consumers use reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad (Research from BrightLocal). Make sure you appear trustworthy online by getting more reviews using email marketing or specialized print materials like these.
Again, for a more detailed look check out the free training here.
How To Invite Past Patients To Return
Just like keeping current patients, getting patients to return for more physical therapy visits can is generally cheaper than finding new patients.
But this doesn’t happen on accident! Sadly, even patients who had a great experience with you are likely to forget about it unless you intentionally stay on the top of their minds throughout the year.
- Patient Newsletters – Create newsletters every month and direct-mail them to your past patient list. Focus on different conditions as this will connect with different people at various times. If you need to start small, just send them to patients from the past 1-2 years. Print marketing is a long-term action but carries a huge ROI over time.
- Email Marketing – In addition to print, email digital newsletters to your past patients to increase readers. You can also invite them to workshops or other events.
- Social Media – Take the time to stay active on several social channels. Focus on helpful, healthy content that is likely to get shared.
- Year-End Insurance Marketing – Every year, send postcards and other marketing out to remind patients to use their insurance benefits before they renew.
Every physical therapy clinic should allocate a portion of their budget to past patient marketing.
Wouldn’t it make marketing less stressful if 40%-60% of your schedule was filled by past patients or referrals?
How To Boost Referral Visits
The final area to increase PT visits is referrals. This includes both patients referring friends & family as well as doctor referrals.
The good news is patient referrals will generally increase with things like newsletters and social media which we’ve already covered. But, you also want to keep marketing materials on hand because patients don’t want to be your salespeople – you need to make it easy for them to give their friends information.
>> For more on patient referrals check out this article about referral habits with Practice Freedom founder Jamey Schrier.
Lastly, doctor referrals. They aren’t what they used to be, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help you. Just don’t blow your entire budget on gift baskets. Here are some realistic goals for doctor referrals in today’s PT landscape:
- Have a specific referral page on your website. One page with insurance info, conditions, and where to send referrals. You may even want a specific phone number or email for doctor offices.
- Create custom Prescription Pads that make it easy for physicians to remember you and direct patients to you.
- Include local MDs in your newsletter mailing list.
Putting attention on these 4 things will help you increase patient visits:
- Work Hard To Keep Current Patients (and budget for it)
- Have A Clear Plan For New Patient Visits (otherwise this can overwhelm the rest)
- Market To Past Patients Consistently
- Patients & Doctors Need Tools If They’re Going To Refer
Want more? Click Here to Download “The Ultimate PT Marketing Funnel” + Get immediate access to a 10-minute training video with Neil Trickett, PT Marketing Expert.
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