As a physical therapy private practice owner, increasing revenue is always top of mind. Insurance reimbursements are declining annually, inflation is at a historical high, and therapists are demanding higher salaries. These combined factors make it increasingly difficult to achieve healthy margins.
There are numerous ways to address these financial challenges so you can become more profitable, grow your practice, and hire and retain staff. In this article, we’ll explore six ways to grow profitability by increasing revenue per patient.
Increasing Revenue in Your Practice: An Overview
There are many ways to increase revenue in your practice. One way is to see more patients. For instance, if you treat 100 patients today you can set an achievable goal to grow that number to 120 patients per week. To learn more about how to get more patients, check out this article: How to Get More Physical Therapy Visits.
Some practices, however, have reached full capacity with their caseload. They either don’t have enough staff or enough space to serve more patients. Yet they may still struggle to make ends meet. If this sounds like you, you will likely benefit more from learning how to increase revenue per patient. At a high level, you can increase revenue per patient by:
- Charging more per visit. If your average revenue per visit is $80, you could set a goal to increase your average revenue to $90 per visit.
- Adding more visits per patient. You can increase visits per plan of care. Or, find ways to get past patients to come back into the clinic for additional treatment.
In this article, we’ll explore 6 ways to increase revenue per patient. Some of them enable you to charge more per visit, while others will empower you to increase the number of visits per patient.
Watch Chad Madden answer questions about making up revenue from low reimbursements:
6 Ways to Increase Per Patient Revenue
1. Add cash products and services
Many practice owners today are adding cash services to supplement income from insurance reimbursements. Numerous therapeutic devices and services exist that pair well with physical therapy. These options add value to your patients and can help them get better faster. At the same time, they generate cash income for your practice and increase revenue per patient. Examples of cash-pay products and services that are working today include:
- Therapeutic lasers
- Shockwave therapy
- Traction / Spinal decompression
- Dry needling (covered by insurance in some cases, but not by all providers)
- Fitness classes/gym facilities
- Online coaching or digital courses
- E-commerce offerings such as nutritional supplements
Cash-based products and services like these can help you increase revenue without relying solely on insurance reimbursements.
Some practice owners I’ve talked to express concern about their patients’ willingness to pay for cash services. The answer to this likely depends on the area you live in and the affluence of your local population. Yet dozens of practice owners in the Breakthrough community have found success generating strong ROI from cash-based products such as Lasers and Shockwave.
One practice owner based in Gainesville, Florida recently shared that he generated more than $100,000 in additional annual income by adding LightForce® Lasers to his offering. He marketed those services through Breakthrough’s Patient Demand Platform.
When launching new cash services, it’s a good idea to develop a marketing strategy to get the word out and grow demand for your services. Breakthrough can help you develop a marketing strategy and implement it with pre-built email campaigns and done-for-you online advertising funnels.
“Breakthrough has helped us get the word out about our cash pay services with email campaigns promoting Lightforce Lasers. We’ve had patients coming in just for those cash-pay services that we offer and then they end up becoming physical therapy patients too.” -Tony Cere, Practice Owner
2. Reactivate past patients
Reactivating past patients goes hand-in-hand with adding cash-based services. When you add new services, you can market them to past patients as a way to attract them back into your clinic.
It’s often easier and more cost-effective to reactivate past patients than to acquire new ones. Your patient list is your lowest-cost, easiest-to-use tool to quickly boost patient visits and increase revenue.
I know PTs who have generated a dozen plans of care from a single email to past patients, even with a modest-sized patient list. Who better to focus your limited time and efforts on than those people who already know, like, and trust you? These are the people who are most likely to come back for additional treatment or another condition.
A common mistake practices make when engaging their patient list is to send their patient newsletter via email. Unfortunately, this is typically ineffective at generating replies or inquiries.
What works better is to craft email campaigns that a) provide “goodwill” value to your target patients and b) offer a call-to-action.
Watch: How to Reactivate Patients with Email
Balance “goodwill” emails (such as exercises they can try at home to lower back pain) with “offers” (such as an invitation to come in for a new service). You’ll build trust and credibility with your past patient list while providing them with opportunities to come back for additional treatment when they’re ready.
Running campaigns to reactivate past patients helps to increase the number of visits per patient, which is a more cost-effective way of boosting revenue than acquiring brand-new patients.
Deepak Sharma, Owner of Primus Physiotherapy has been working with Breakthrough since he launched his practice in 2018. He uses Breakthrough’s pre-built email campaigns to reactivate past patients. Today, around 85% of his patient base are either past patients or referred by past patients.
“We know that if your primary base is your past patients, then they will never let you down,” Sharma said. He hit his 7-year growth goal in only 3 years and generates over $1 million in annual revenue from a single location.
“We don’t do any other marketing,” he said. “All our marketing is through Breakthrough.”
3. Reduce no-shows and patient drop-off
No-shows and patient drop-off can be a significant drain on revenue.
Not only is it bad for business, but it’s also just plain discouraging to put effort into helping a patient, only to have them cancel last minute or even disappear altogether. This can leave therapists feeling disrespected and undervalued.
By creating a Plan of Care for each patient, scheduling all appointments in advance, and implementing appointment reminders, you can help prevent no-shows and patient drop-off.
These tactics are key for maximizing visits per patient. Ultimately, this will allow you to increase revenue per patient.
4. Drop low payers or negotiate better rates
If you’re working with payers that reimburse at lower rates, dropping these payers or negotiating better rates can help increase revenue per visit. By focusing on better payers, you can increase revenue without necessarily increasing the number of patients.
If you can generate $120/hour instead of $90/hour, you could create a lot of lot more margin for the business.
Something we see a lot is that practices are seeing patients that are capped at say $60/hr, while they have prospective patients covered by $120/hr payers on their waiting lists.
You can avoid this by implementing a strategy where you cap visits below a certain revenue threshold and focus on attracting patients above your threshold.
5. Expand insurance-based services
We’ve talked about adding cash services to increase revenue, but there are also some insurance-based services that can help to increase revenue per visit.
For example, if you’re a physical therapist, there’s an opportunity to add Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM) services. The RTM codes in the 2023 CMS guidelines offer generous opportunities for practice owners to add new revenue streams while potentially improving the patient experience.
You can check with your payers to discover other services that may be covered under insurance and reimbursing at decent rates. This will vary by provider, but some that may be covered include dry needling and traction.
It’s important to remember that if you rely solely on insurance-based revenue streams, services covered and reimbursement rates are subject to change. This can make revenue difficult to predict. In general, it’s a good idea to diversify your services and payer mix to hedge against changing reimbursements.
6. Build patient demand
It used to be that physical therapists could rely on a steady supply of physician referrals for patients. That’s no longer the case. Today, physicians are primarily sending referrals to hospital-owned and physician-owned clinics.
This transition has been difficult for many practices, but to give up hope would be a disservice to our patients. Instead, practice owners must shift their thinking in terms of how to acquire patients.
You have the power to go out and build patient demand for your services. To get patients for yourself, without relying on doctors to refer. Public demand for physical therapy is growing, largely due to aging baby boomers who are staying active later in life than previous generations. Practice owners need to get strategic about capturing the existing demand in their market.
You can build patient demand through tactics such as online advertising, email marketing, or hosting educational workshops.
Building patient demand enables you to focus on higher-paying patients. When you have a large following of interested and engaged prospects, you can drop lower payers and increase your revenue threshold. Plus, you’ll have an engaged group of followers that you can target when you have new services to offer.
Patient Demand Is Key to Increasing Revenue Per Patient
The more that you focus on building patient demand, the larger of a list you will gain, which you can continue to engage over time. With more people aware and interested in your services, you’ll gain the flexibility to:
- Increase revenue per patient and treat better-paying patients
- Rapidly create interest in new services
- Fill your schedules so you can hire and expand
One important note on hiring: A lot of practices are struggling to hire because they can’t keep up with therapist salaries offered by the competition. Keep in mind that a growing practice with healthy finances and a steady flow of patients will be able to pay better wages and will be more attractive to therapists.
A key part of your role as a practice owner is to identify ways to build patient demand in order to create consistent patient volume, increase revenue per patient, and attract/retain clinicians.