Competition is tough in private practice physical therapy, and if you don’t have a physician liaison working for your practice, your competitors...
8 Ways to Generate More Referrals to Your Physical Therapy Business
Scouring the internet searching for ways to increase your physical therapy patient referrals? We know these are the lifeblood of your clinic, so we’ve provided 8 tips on how to increase physical therapy client referrals for your private practice (some you’ve probably never heard of)! Read on if you want to know what you can start doing right now to generate more patient traffic to your practice!
If you are operating a private physical therapy practice in the healthcare field today, you know how invaluable marketing is for generating more referrals in your business. As a physical therapist, you've probably already realized it’s not enough to simply open your doors and put a sign on the building. Marketing takes time, and if you don’t have a dedicated employee to handle marketing, the job of generating referrals falls squarely to you: the practice owner.
Check out these 8 tips that will help you harness your marketing power and create a reliable referral base, you can click the links below to jump to the section you're most interested in!
- Marketing for Your Specialty
- Marketing to Physicians
- Reciprocal Referrals
- Online Reviews
- Combatting No Shows & Cancellations
- Setting Goals & Tracking Progress
- The Physician Liaison
- Inbound Marketing: Digital Strategies
1. Marketing Your Specialty or Practice Focus
We all have specialties we can tackle with absolute certainty! Chances are good that you aren't just a general physical therapist but that you have made a name for yourself in one way or another. This is often the key differentiator for your practice, perhaps you are a pediatric physical therapist, or your focus in on fall prevent and balance rehabilitation or vestibular therapy, TMJ, or pelvic health. No matter your area of specialty, market to your strength. Work to identify the top opportunities to market this and knock it out of the park!
If you don't have a practice speciality or area of focus, now's the time to explore how you we stand out among your competition! Check out our guide to the business of balance, and learn why this differentiator has made an enormous on practice revenues for physical therapists throughout the country!
2. Physician Marketing for More Referrals
Did you know, a physician who has visited your practice is 3 times more likely to refer to you? But how do you communicate with a physician so that you are their top-of-mind physical therapy clinic to refer patients out to? The key is consistency!
You must effectively inform physicians in your community that you exist, and help them understand what services you provide. Your job is to clearly communicate your brand and services to the prescribing physician so they can confidently refer you the patients who need your services. Knowledge is marketing power. Try inviting local physicians in for a free evaluation, this gives you the opportunity to show off your staff and your clinic. Provide business cards, maybe a customized clipboard that outlines the services you offer, you can even make them an offer they can't refuse - the opportunity for their patient referrals to be seen within 48 hours of calling. Of course these are just a few ideas.
3. Referring to Physicians: Generate Reciprocal Referrals
Improving communication can nurture a mutual relationship with doctors who can potentially refer patients back to you. Likewise, make sure you understand which doctors to refer to. Keep a list of doctors, their specialties, and the conditions they treat so you quickly know where to send patients. If you aren't tracking your referrals already, it's time to start. This is key in building great relationships with the physicians who refer out to you.
Keep an open dialogue with local physicians, let them know you are treating their patient. Send a simple, personalized letter to your current patient’s physician, to serve as a professional courtesy to the prescribing physician who can help oversee your patient’s progress. Using their actual patient as a reference puts a face to the condition you treat, allowing you to stand to the physician as a valuable resource for his current client base.
Consider a quick letter of introduction describing the patient’s specific issue and the plan of care you are planning to leverage with that patient. Keep it concise so the physician will have enough time to read through it. Enclose extra business cards so the physician has tangible information to distribute to other patients with similar issues as well.
4. Reviews of Your Practice &
Patient Experience Surveys
Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to keep open communication with your patients. Your patients are capable of providing you with valuable insight into their perspective of your business. Keep surveys short, unbiased, easy to submit, and focused on valuable information in your business. In addition, you'll want to track who their regular physician is and how they found out about you, this way you will be able to identify additional referral sources in the future. The right questions are key to a survey, and may lead to additional product and service sales in your clinic! For example, say you offer massage therapy, a simple question “Would you like massage therapy?” will help you identify potential massage therapy clients in your business.
Do not underestimate the power of customer reviews! Reviews are one of the top ways to validate your physical therapy business and build trust with potential patients, as well as referring physicians. 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, and 71% use these reviews as their first step to find a new doctor. To say your online reputation is critical is a gross understatement! Reviews help you attract new patients, but you have to manage them too! Have you been cultivating online reviews for your clinic already? Do you have something cringe-worthy written about your clinic online and you don't know how to handle it? We can help - check out the free guide below!
5. Combatting No-Shows & Cancellations
Obviously no shows and cancellations can significantly affect your business. But what if you rewarded perfect attendance? Obviously, for patients to get better, they must return, consistently, for a given period of time in order to achieve the desired results. Patients who see results are the most valuable referral base for your clinic because their word of mouth referrals will do wonders for the business you see coming through your doors.
Many restaurants offer a loyalty reward system, consider offering a discount on branded merchandise or maybe a discounted massage, or perhaps something more relative to your specialty if they complete their plan of care with perfect attendance!
6. Setting Goals and Tracking Your Referral Progress
Tracking your numbers gives incredible insight into your business. You should be tracking how many referrals you currently receive and how many evaluations are converting into return visits. If your numbers reveal a low conversion of referrals to actual, repeat customers, you may need to investigate a bit further before exhausting your referral sources. Work on keeping your current evaluations for at least 12 follow-up appointments to get the most from each referral.
You are already seeing patients. Make the most of what you have before seeking additional referrals by increasing your client conversion rate. This may even be as simple as knowing your conversion ratio. Do you? (It shouldn’t be a guess or “about”). There are actually 14 meaningful metrics that you should be tracking within your practice, if you're not sure what they are - check them out here!
7. Your Referral Generation Could Benefit from a Sales Person, or Clinic Liaison
By nature, clinicians are not salespeople. They went to school to learn how to heal patients not sell to them. While we look at ‘sell’ as a bad word, let’s use the phrase ‘get them involved.’ In order to prosper, your therapy clinic has to ‘get patients involved’ with your services to some degree. The patient must be ‘involved’ on the idea that coming to therapy consistently will solve their problem. And, the patient must be ‘involved’ on products and aids that will speed their recovery.
The products and service you offer in your practice are purely for your patient’s health benefit and should be presented as a solution for their direct benefit. Administrative staff with sales backgrounds are great advocates for product sales, especially if you offer your staff incentives, such as a percentage of the sale, corporate discount, or a prize to the top performing sales employee, to sweeten the deal. And remember, you aren’t ‘selling’ anything. You are simply providing a product/service your patients want or need. Do not ‘sell’ anything they do not want or need. Consider adding a physician liaison to your staff, you can read more about what they do to help with referral generation and physician relationships here.
In order for an evaluation to convert into a regular appointment, you must first, ‘sell’ the patient on a plan of care. You may say something like,
“Joan, you came in because of a pain in your right shoulder. Unfortunately, it looks like a tear in your rotator cuff. Some doctors may say this requires surgery but to avoid spending the time and money necessary to go under the knife, I recommend eight weeks of therapy. If you come in twice a week for 6 weeks, I can see you undergoing a full recovery, but you must be consistent. Does this sound reasonable? Would you like to reduce your pain and increase function without undergoing surgery?", the answer will most likely be, yes.
This approach is effective in creating the expectation that your client will return for follow-up appointments. Setting the standard for return visits reduces the amount of new referrals your clinic needs to fully book the schedule. When clients complete their plan of care and reach their goals, they tend to be more satisfied with your service, and more excited to tell others about your brand. This customer is likely to provide a good review and bring in more, similar patients who will continue their plan of care and expect similar results.
8. Inbound Marketing Using Digital Strategies
Your practice website is quite literally your digital doorstep. Did you put as much thought and care into the creation of your online presence as you did the brick and mortar location you provide your services in? If you're like most physical therapy practice owners, the answer to that question is probably a resounding no. This means you have some work to do. Earlier we talked about online reviews being a key driver for new patients, but your digital footprint is really important to your brand awareness. We know that patients are using online search tools to look at their providers, so have something great for them to look at, and optimize it so that it's search engine friendly -- you want to be found by the right people when they are looking for you!
Create a blog. While the website should be easy to navigate and provide information about your business such as address, specialties, and your history. Your physical therapy blog is going to be what sets you apart from other physical therapy practices by giving you a personal voice. A great way to do this is think about your area of specialty and then try to think of a few topics that surround that. Maybe you provide orthotics in your office, but a blog that says you provide them would be boringggg, instead write about how to achieve the perfect fit, or do a comparison of different brands, then make an offer (a call to action) at the end of your blog, "for a free orthotics fitting, call My Physical Therapy Clinic, and mention this blog!" This way you can begin to track where your patients are coming from and measure how effective your marketing can be.
These 8 marketing tips only scratch the surface of how you can increase referrals in your physical therapy private practice.