patient centric marketing

Creating Patient Centric Marketing at Your PT Practice in 2021

When talking to potential patients, most Physical Therapy practice owners focus only on their programs and products. They spend all their time talking about the PT services themselves, but by doing so, they’re neglecting a huge piece of their marketing strategy: the takeaway

In other words, what is the audience going to take away or remember about your message? What knowledge will they gain? If there’s nothing adding something worthy to their lives, they’re not going to act on your message, and they’re likely not going to remember it. 

You don’t want to get hung up on the details or start talking in professional terminology that only someone in the industry would understand, but this is the reality for a lot of PT practices when they’re trying to market themselves. It’s hard for them to step outside of the office and look inward from a patient’s perspective to develop messaging that speaks to the patient’s understanding of their own needs.

How can you shift from Physical Therapy Medical talk to delivering tangible, honest value to prospective patients? It starts with creating your unique value proposition and learning how to translate it into every component of your marketing strategy. Let’s dive in.

What is Patient Centric Marketing? What does it mean to be truly Patient focused?

Patient centric marketing flips the script and prioritizes value to the patient. Instead of talking about you, it pulls the patient into what you can do for them. You’re not just sharing content or creating workshops that will help the patient; you’re also trying to put the benefits into a perspective that the patient can understand, digest, and decide if it’s right for them.

Patient Centric gives a nod to fully immersing the patient in the experience, from their first click to the website experience to the way you navigate them through the funnel. It ensures that the view of your brand will be all about healing and helping the Patient recover.

Physical Therapy Medical Talk vs Patient Care

Promoting a Service vs. Promoting Value

Before we get into specifics, let’s visualize a quick example: 

If you’re shopping for a car, and the salesperson is telling you the car has a powder coat paint finish, you might politely nod in agreement. But when they tell you that the powder coating is more resistant to chipping, scratches, and wear and will keep your car looking like new for longer, then you might start tuning in.

It’s a similar story with physical therapy marketing. PT practice owners tend to focus too much on the service side of the business rather than the education.

And it’s through education that your audience will start to connect their own dots, draw their own conclusions, and decide to take action without you having “sold” them anything. 

Physical Therapy clinic owners often invest in self-serving marketing. They try to promote a program, a Physical Therapy workshop, or a new product, and even though these things will benefit the patient, the messaging is ultimately focused on the practice. 

To do this well, PTs need to first identify their value to the patients. You can help them eliminate pain, avoid expensive surgery, live a better quality of life, heal from an injury—there’s a lot of value in working with a Physical Therapist over another type of healthcare professional. 

But first and foremost, you need to translate this value in a way that patients can relate to. 

Finding Your PT Practice's Value Proposition

Finding Your PT Practice’s Unique Value Proposition

By definition, a unique value proposition (UVP) is a clear statement on the benefits of what you offer, how you solve your patients’ needs, and what makes you different from the competitors. These are what make your PT Practice truly patient centric.

In physical therapy, every practice should have two value propositions:

The first is what sets them apart from other healthcare options, such as surgery, a general practitioner, or a chiropractor. In a recent webinar, I asked our attendees (who were all physical therapists) where they thought people would go if they had back pain. Around 90% of them said a chiropractor, and that’s a big indication that we haven’t done a great job in building the value of what we do to become a go-to choice for the conditions we treat.

The second value proposition that PT practices should create is what sets them apart from other PT practices in the area. People have options, and the few that do choose PT as their treatment of choice will need to know why they should select you versus a POPTs or HOPTs practice, or even another private practice nearby. 

Take time to flesh out ideas that not only make you unique but also valuable in the eyes of your patients and prospects. These ideas aren’t necessarily something you’ll show to the public, but you can use them when developing your marketing messages and test your content against them. 

If you find that your Physical Therapy marketing isn’t reflective of your value propositions, then you’ll know you need to do some tweaking.

4 Ways to Promote Your Value in Your Direct Access Marketing

We’ve given value a face and a name, so now, let’s explore some ways you can make your value tangible for your patients. Remember, the typical audience isn’t going to understand PT terms and procedures the same way you do. It’s not their background, so they need an easy way to put your benefits and value into perspective from the outside looking in.

Here are four common Patient Centric PT marketing tools that are ideal for highlighting value:

Physical Therapy Workshops

Physical Therapy Workshops

Seminars, webinars, and workshops are too often synonymous with sales pitches, and that shouldn’t be the case in physical therapy. 

Your overall goal, of course, is to get more people to learn about your practice and the services you provide. But ultimately, the seminar itself is about the patient. You’re sharing information about a problem they’re experiencing, tackling potential causes of that problem, helping them understand ways to prevent the problem from recurring, and most importantly—proposing a clear solution that will solve their problem.

Your seminar should be designed so that no matter how many people sign up for a program of care or call for more information, every person will be able to walk out of your doors with something helpful, insightful, or important and not feel like they’ve wasted their time listening to a sales pitch.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the collective term for blog posts, social media posts, videos, e-books, and all the other content you create and publish to promote your practice. This is by far the easiest and most effective way to promote your value because your content doesn’t have to say anything about your practice or services. 

The main goal of content marketing is to position you as the subject authority in your area. People who read your content will learn from what you’re sharing, and they’ll know who to turn to if they ever have a problem you can help them solve.

Added benefits include increasing brand recognition, improving relationships with your patients and community, building trust, and giving you something to use to start conversations with your prospects. 

Good content isn’t overly salesy in nature but rather focuses primarily on the educational aspect of marketing. Let people draw their own conclusions from it, or include a call-to-action that encourages them to reach out for more information.

Online Reviews and Testimonials

Online reviews are powerful in patient centric marketing. Studies show that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a referral from a friend or family member, while 82% of consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision. 

The interesting part here is that your patients are the ones who are delivering your value proposition; not you. They’re sharing their own experiences with your practice, how you helped them, why they chose you, and why they’ll do business with you again. 

Patient Retention Marketing

Retaining Physical Therapy patients is only possible when you’ve done a thorough job of promoting value throughout their experience. When you start a patient retention or reactivation marketing strategy, you should continue sharing valuable content and education that will remind them of how much you helped them in the past. 

Similar to the influence of online reviews, patients who continue to seek your services after completing a program are living proof of your value. They achieved great results, they’re living a higher quality of life, and they won’t hesitate to visit you if they get injured again or experience a new problem. 

In Closing

The biggest takeaway in pivoting  is that you not only need to show your prospects how you’re different but also why that difference is important. They’ve been sold enough by doctors and other providers, and this is your chance to step up and show them there’s a better way.

For more direct marketing access insights and patient centric marketing strategies, head over to our Physical Therapy Marketing & Business Resource Center to check out our newest online training.

Physical Therapy Marketing Ideas

2021 Physical Therapy Marketing Ideas

If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you’re either a physical therapy private practice owner trying to wear ALL hats or the single marketing person in a practice that’s trying to get new ideas…but you have one burning problem around solving the physical therapy marketing mystery.

You want new and innovative ways to market your PT practice, get net new patients to convert into plans of care, and you want to grow the overall valuation of your practice…

You want

  • more referrals
  • more direct access patients
  • more business from your past customers.

If that’s the case, then you’re in for a treat.

In this article and the video below you’re going to find out some of the best ideas I’ve found over the years in physical therapy marketing for my practice.

Ideas which grew Madden PT 600% in 30 months.

https://youtu.be/fluqE5fYCqw

The 3 Physical Therapy Marketing Target Areas

There are three “target markets” that you can focus your efforts on to get more patients. These are…

PT Marketing To the General Public

This is simple.

You market to members of the general population.

People who’ve never heard of you, who are coming across you “cold”. You could try any DIY marketing channel from SEO, to Google my Business location and reviews, to Google Adwords, to dipping your feet in the water on Facebook…go to where you audience is!

And then become Direct Access patients.

In spite of all the recent trends, we’ve gone from starting out with no Direct Access…to having over 80% of our patients be Direct Access.

This can be a powerful marketing strategy if done right.

PT Marketing to Past Patients

If there’s one axiom in business it’s this:

Your best future customers are your past customers.

And in private practice, your best patients are your past patients.

You’ve already built a relationship with them, they already trust you, and they already know the quality of care they’re going to get.

So why not market to them?

Physical Therapy Marketing to Physicians

Yes, there are industry trends which are pushing referrals down, such as POPTS practices opening up and local hospitals doing all they can to kill referrals.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore marketing to physicians (only that it’s unwise to rely on it)..

Back in 2007 we hit a high of 154 physician referrals a month.

More recently we hit a low of 29.

We went from 154 to 29. Which admittedly is not great.

But guess what?

Even though this is a decrease, that’s still about 350 referrals a year.

350 people who were in pain and got help naturally.

And as you and I both know, those referrals can lead to lifetime customers that will never leave your practice.

The Proven Physical Therapy Marketing Strategies

Okay those are three areas you can target to get more patients. But how do you go about doing this? What can you specifically get started on?

Well here are my #1 strategies for each of those markets.

1. Using Workshops to Get More Direct Access Patients

Workshops are the #1 most powerful tool I’ve found to get Direct Access patients.

Over the years we’ve had patients fly in to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from Montana, California, Lexington, Kentucky, Atlanta and Georgia to name a few.

You can have the same results by throwing your own workshops.

How?

Well I’ll give you an examples.

We ran a Facebook advertising campaign (not easy, but doable) for a live Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

Guess how many signups we got?

35.

Yup. 35 new potential Direct Access patients. All from one workshop.

Fast forwarding to this weekend, we have another one scheduled and we have 43 people registered to attend.

So if you’re looking for a silver bullet to attract new patients from the general public, this is it.

Master the art of throwing workshops and you’ll have a source of new patients for the lifetime of your business.

2. Using Newsletters to Maintain the Relationship with Your Past Patients.

Use Newsletters for Direct Access Patients

Your past patient base is your most valuable asset. These are people who’ve been treated by you, who like and trust you, and who are more likely to come to you again.

But how do you tap into this asset? How can you utilize your past patients for future business?

Well…there are two ways your past patients can help your business.

The first is them returning to you for additional care.

For example, maybe they came in for back pain a year ago, and now they’re coming to you for a total knee replacement.

Now this is not really under your control, however what is under your control is providing quality care, as that’s why they’ll come back.

But you’re probably doing that already.

So what can you do to get more referrals from this asset?

Well…the second way they can help is by referring other people to your practice.

Your past patients know and trust you, they benefited from your help, so when they find out a friend or colleague of theirs is in pain, and it’s the easiest thing for them to recommend you.

But you can’t just sit back and wait for that to happen. What can you do to aid this process?

The best method I’ve found is to use a newsletter. I’ve been doing a newsletter for over 12 years, and have invested over a million dollars in newsletter printing.

This stuff works. When it comes to newsletters I put my money where my mouth is.

Without a newsletter, we’d have never been able to weather the storm of POPTS practices springing up in our area, and 3 local hospitals employing more than 70% of our referral services, making it hard to build a relationship with local physicians.

This would kill most private practices, but because of our newsletter we were able to survive that crisis.

3. “Top 3 Program” for Physicians

Like I mentioned before, physicians are still a great source for referrals. If you’re not tapping into this source, you’re losing hundreds if not thousands of potential patients.

But what if your local hospital won’t let physicians refer patients to you? What can you do then?

There has been times where I’ve not been even let through the door to talk to physicians I’ve treated.

So how can you get referrals from them?

Well this is by using something we call our Top 3 Program. By using this you can fly under the radar of the hospital, add value to the physicians and their patients, and get referrals.

We surveyed some physicians and asked them

“If I came in for back pain, what would you do for me?”

“Well, we’d hand you an exercise sheet.”

And they handed us this exercise sheet, and I was couldn’t believe my eyes.

It was an old ancient pamphlet that was out of date.

Specifically it was a 1977 AMA handout printed on pink paper with 9 lower back exercises on it. Almost every physician in our area had this.

It was out of date, wasn’t visually appealing, and had no form of differential diagnosis.

I know this because I asked the physicians,

“If I had stenosis which exercise would you give me?”

“Uh…well I’d tell you to do all of them.”

Really?

  • Just to clarify, this exercise sheet had 3 William Flexion Exercises, appropriate for stenosis or arthritis.
  • 3 were for SI joint and pelvic instability involving core strengthening exercises.
  • The last 3 were mainly extension exercises, which in particular seemed to be for disc herniation.

And if I was a patient and came in for stenosis I’d have to do all 9 of them?

Talk about overkill.

This was a problem that needed to be solved. The physician didn’t know enough to do a differential diagnosis, and the patient needed specific information that would improve their quality of life.

So we came up with an idea. The conversation with the physicians went like this:

“Hey, what about if I created a brochure that you could hand out to the patient who is older than 50, has pain standing and walking and gets relief from sitting, and they likely have stenosis on an x-ray….would that be beneficial?”

“Of course”

And that’s what we did.

We created 3 different brochures with the top 3 exercises for each problem:

The Top 3 Exercises for Lower Back Pain for Arthritis, Disc Degeneration and Stenosis.

The Top 3 Exercises for Lower Back Pain, Pain Bending Forward, Herniated Disc and Sciatica.

The Top 3 Exercises for Lower Back Pain, Pain with Sitting, Getting In & Out of the Car and Rolling Over in Bed, SI Joint Pain.

But wait…why would we want a physician handing these out? Surely this removes you from the equation?

Well, not really.

First off these physicians aren’t referring us as many patients as they could.

Second we’re looking to build a relationship with these patients. We want them to feel like they stumbled upon us more than the fact the physician referred us.

Why? Because in our area making referrals is not really what the physicians are strong in.

They’re unlikely to make a referral, but they are likely to hand out a brochure.

But how does this brochure drive us business?

Well at the bottom of the brochure we have a clear call to action to learn more about their condition. And that opens a whole other conversation.

This method is amazing, because not only is it a value add for the physician AND the patient. It also flies under the hospital radar.

If for example you’re in an area where hospitals won’t let you in, doctors can still hand these out and won’t get in trouble. It’s not a referral, it’s a brochure to help their patients.

In Summary

These are the top 3 physical therapy marketing methods we’ve used to grow our private practice in the three different sources of business.

There are quite a few other ideas you can use to market your practice, such as writing reports and books, which you can find more about in the video and below.

However if you want the best bang for your buck, the three strategies I mentioned will start boosting your private practice:

  • Hosting workshops to attract the general public and get more Direct Access patients
  • Writing and publishing a newsletter to encourage your past patients to return and send you referrals.
  • Top 3 Program to encourage physicians to discreetly market your practice.

These ideas have helped our private practice weather many storms, and ensure we have a constant source of revenue, despite local market conditions.

If you’re interested in learning more about Direct Access Marketing, be sure to check out this free training:

How To Attract Over 60 Direct Access Patients Each Month With Predictability

This training reveals the full “Patient Attraction Engine” System that I and over 179 other practice owners are using to attract 50+ patients from the internet every single month.

Also be sure to visit our PT Marketing and Business Resources with Courses, Podcasts, Books, Cheat Sheets and More!

Opening a De Novo Clinic

What PTs Need to Know Before Opening a De Novo Clinic

*Updated: Original Publish Date 3/4/2020 / Latest Version changed 7/14/2021

Many owners go into private practice Physical Therapy with the goal of having more than one location. At Breakthrough, we’ve worked with a number of owners who have multiple locations in their home state and are opening up de novo clinics continuously.

At my practice, Madden PT, there’s a process that we follow to help us think through the opening of a de novo clinic location. We just opened our third clinic about a year ago, and we made it to the break-even point by our second full month. And now, we’re operating at about 100% capacity with two full-time PTs and two full-time PTAs.

If you have the time, I actually recorded a video to walk through this subject!

This is a huge difference compared to when we opened our second clinic about ten years ago. We didn’t know how to do it the way we would today, and we struggled for a few years before getting it up to speed.

We’re planning to open two new locations in the next few months, and we plan on using the same process we used a year ago to max out these locations quickly. 

3 Keys to Consider When Opening a De Novo Clinic (New Location)

Before you start to open a new location, there are three core things to think about that will guide your decisions:

  • Location – It’s a tired cliché, but location really is the most important thing when choosing a new location.
  • Pro Forma – Your numbers need to make sense before you decide to open a new location.
  • Next Steps – You need a plan to hit the ground running when you open the doors to your de novo clinic.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail. 

Location

When choosing a location, you’ll want to look at three things:

  • Where people live – This is the location of your target market. Ideally, your target market is a female aged 45-64 who is likely making appointments for herself, her husband, her children, and maybe even her parents (about 70% of all healthcare appointments are made by someone fitting this demographic).
  • Where people work – Most people want service providers that are close to their work or home.
  • Where people shop – The closer and more visible you are to where people shop, the more impressions you generate.

To gain more insight into a location, we use the USPS Every Door Direct Mail map. Enter whatever ZIP code you’re considering for your location and see who lives in that area. This map tells you which areas are residential vs. commercial, the average age of household members, the average household income, and other details. We can also pull a FREE full area assessment for any location using our internal tools that will give you an idea of total addressable market by demographic in that specific area. 

Once you learn about the people in an area, you can figure out where they work and shop and strategically choose your location.

Pro Forma

De Novo location success is also a numbers game. You’ll first want to look at the potential income vs. expenses of the new clinic, including the cost of the space – a Pro Forma for your Physical Therapy Practice. Next, you’ll want to calculate a target six months from your opening that will get you past the break-even point.

Now, step back and think about what you need to do to make those figures a reality.

We surveyed more than 300 private practice PT owners who were considering an expansion and asked them how many months they expected it would take to get an ROI on their de novo space. The first answer we got was from a practice owner who expected to invest anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000. That’s pretty expensive, especially given that we’ve opened new locations for less than $50,000 and done very well. This might make more sense if you’re in a large city instead of a place like Hershey, PA, where we are.

Whatever investment you decide on, the ultimate goal is to go from liability to asset as quickly as possible. As long as you’re still waiting to break even, your new location is a liability. But once it becomes profitable, it becomes an asset. We recommend making six months your target for turning your liability into an asset.

Once you go through the numbers, you’ll start connecting what you need to do to reach your target.

Here’s a sample breakdown:

Pro Forma for your Physical Therapy Practice

Once you’ve calculated your six-month break-even point and potential earnings, you can work backward to connect the dots.

Immediate Next Steps

We run the numbers first so we know exactly how many patients we need to reach our financial goals. In the example above, if we calculate that our potential is 900 patients a month and the average plan of care is about ten visits, then we could say that we need about 90 new patients a month to reach that goal.

Now, your job is to figure out how to get 90 new patients a month. You’ll want to hit the ground running even before your doors open. We do “seeding” workshops before we open the practice to ensure we have patients in our facility on the first day.

We also use the Market Message Media Match Triangle, in particular the Media aspect. If there’s a daily newspaper or other local publication, we want to try it out. EDDM campaigns is another outlet to try. We’re testing different media with bullets (and then cannonballs) to see what gets the best response in that location.

The other thing we do is Facebook Targeting with our automation team. They research specific areas for us and help us figure out more about our location and audience. This helps us decide what might work for that audience, but it also shows us where we might be overlapping with other owners that are part of the Breakthrough family. (By the way, this is something that we do for all of the owners we work with.) 

In Summary

We’re huge proponents of systems and processes here at Breakthrough, and that’s because they give us a better chance of repeating our results once we discover what works. We’ve used the framework outlined here to open additional de novo clinics for Madden PT and help other owners do the same. 

Reach out to chat with our growth team or for more PT practice insights and resources, head over to our free resource center.

direct access marketing

Direct Access Marketing: Why All PT Owners Should Use It

Direct access marketing is opening some pretty big doors for private PT practices. In most places, PT practices can market directly to patients rather than waiting on referrals from physicians, which gives you a whole new customer base to tap into. But new potential also means new codes to crack.

The term “direct access marketing” alone can stir fear because it’s new and different. Doing something different means changing what you’re doing, and change is uncomfortable and scary!

But change is also necessary if you want to get different, better results in your PT practice—namely, increased patient satisfaction and higher revenue.

Let’s take it step by step so you can understand where we are with direct access marketing and recognize the value it can bring to your practice.

The Current State of Direct Access Marketing in Private PT

In the past, private PT practices were dependent on physician referrals. If you failed to build good relationships with doctors and hospitals, you didn’t have a shot at keeping your doors open. That’s not easy work, given how busy doctors are and the overwhelming number of practices and providers to market to.

Direct access marketing is breaking these boundaries and creating a direct path to the patient in the process.

Currently, all 50 states have some form of direct patient access, but many states remain limited.

But despite the headway that’s been made, only about 10% of practices are actively seeking patients directly. Web PT tested this by calling 50 clinics in Arizona, a state that’s had direct access since the mid-1990s, and asking if they could make an appointment or if they needed a physician referral.

Here’s the clincher: 45 out of the 50 clinics they called said they needed a referral, even though they could have taken the patient directly! That’s like saying, “Hey, we’d love to have you as a patient, but first, you need to go spend time and money with a physician.”

This is a huge market that most practices are underutilizing—don’t you think it’s time to stop ignoring it?

Why Shift to Direct Access Marketing?

Direct access marketing isn’t just a way to get more patients through your doors, though that’s enough reason to shift focus. Practices that are already using direct marketing notice changes in the type of patients they treat as well as the impact these patients have on their teams and culture.

Here’s a look at the top success drivers of direct access marketing:

1 – A Better Patient

direct access marketing

You walk into the examining room with a new patient. “What brings you here?”

“My doctor told me to come here.”

That’s a weighty sentence.

This is a standard scripted scenario you’ve heard a hundred times. That patient is saying that the doctor chose this course of action; not the patient.

Now, let’s say you walk into an examining room, and instead of the patient following the doctor’s orders, they say something along the lines of, “I’m having shoulder pain, and I saw your Facebook webinar on rotator cuffs and thought you could help me.”

Which patient do you think you’d rather treat?

There’s a huge difference between “my doctor sent me here” patients and “I’m choosing to be here” patients.

Patients that are following a doctor’s directive aren’t in your office because they want to be treated by you. They didn’t choose to have you solve whatever problem they are facing.

Patients who do choose to be there are typically more invested in their care. They’re confident in your abilities to help them—otherwise, they would go somewhere else. They keep up with their visits and do the home exercise program. And they also know that if their care were to plateau, the accountability would fall on them; not you.

That’s the type of patient that graduates PT—the one who has a better connection to you and your practice as well as an overall better experience.

When patients get that optimal experience, it opens a direct referral source that isn’t dependent on physicians.

2 – A Better Team Culture

Are you hunting in your practice, or are you being hunted?

Before direct access marketing became widespread, most private PT practices were largely hunters. We were chasing referrals by catering to doctors and trying to get just five minutes with them because that was our only lifeblood.

It’s exhausting to operate this way—not only for the PT but also for the team. Acting out of desperation for referrals isn’t healthy for the team culture and ultimately doesn’t allow your players to perform their best.

But being sought out by patients rather than clamoring for doctors’ attention flips the script.

When patients have a choice, they overcome the barriers of time, money, and distance. They want to be in your practice and will do what it takes to get the care they need.

As patients start coming to you on their own, authority and community become natural byproducts. They position you as a valuable service and information provider in your area that they can confidently refer others to.

Think about what that does to your team morale. Imagine the pride your front desk, PTAs, and marketing team feel when patients are actively seeking you out. It’s the makings of a significant culture shift that will ultimately be healthier and more productive for everyone on your team.

Now, if you’re crushing it with physician referrals, there’s no need to stop doing it. It’s working for you, it’s bringing in revenue, and your team members feel confident that the office doors will be open and the lights will be on the next day. You can still add direct access marketing to your mix to grow your practice even more.

But if you’re breathing heavy chasing the time-consuming, brain-draining work that it takes to get referrals, you’ll be glad to know that referrals aren’t your only option to grow a thriving practice.

3 – Marketing and Financial Stability

The most recent IBIS report broke down PT practice expenses and found that, on average, practices spend 1.2% of revenue on marketing and 19% on a category labeled “Other,” which is mostly bad debt.

What would it take for you to switch those numbers?

While I don’t believe that we have to invest 19% of our revenue in marketing, investing more than the current 1.2% would help combat the percentage that’s currently going toward debt.

YOU are your best investment, and putting more money into your opportunity to grow gives you a way to take control of your patient flow.

Tuning up your marketing vehicle crash-proofs you against insurance changes and physician-owned or hospital-owned PT practices. If you need more patients or are adding PTAs, just give it a little more gas to keep going. If you’re booked eight weeks out, ease off the accelerator. Your vehicle is still running in optimal condition, but YOU’RE controlling the speed and direction—not insurance or other practices.

Are There Pitfalls to Direct Access Marketing?

For many practices, direct access marketing is an end-all solution. However, there are a few considerations you need to be aware of.

The first is a low graduation rate, which is usually because of holes in your sales funnel. If you have a large influx of patients coming in but not completing care or meeting their goals, this is a problem.

Direct access marketing focuses on plugging this leaky funnel before you start bringing in direct access patients.

The second pitfall is a misconception on automation. There’s a mentality that you don’t have to do anything with automation, but the reality is that there’s still work to do. For example, Madden PT recently hosted a rotator cuff workshop, and we used print ads, online advertising, and direct mail to fill our seats. We had to call those patients after they registered, which is a ton of work.

Automation brought the leads in. We had to host the workshop, schedule appointments, and handle those leads with care. Hands-off automation is a fallacy that must be remedied quickly if your marketing is to survive.

And finally, the front desk assumes a greater role beyond order taker. In the old model, your front desk person had a script for when they received an order from the physician.

In the direct access marketing model, the front desk needs to have the people skills required to handle calls directly from patients. This requires more thought and action to get people excited about PT and confident they’ve made the right call.

Put Predictability into Practice

Direct access marketing is the future of private PT, especially if all 50 states adopt some allowance of direct patient access. The priorities will be to systematize your marketing as much as possible and ensure your team is prepared to handle not only the big, scary changes but also the valuable financial and cultural results that come with direct access marketing.

Want a closer look at how direct access marketing works? Download our ebook to see how to attract over 60 direct access patients!

2021 Increasing The Value Of Your Practice Virtual Summit Wrap-Up

Each quarter, Breakthrough hosts a live event featuring training sessions focused on private practice growth.

Our most recent event was the “Increasing The Value Of Your Practice Virtual Summit” where we brought together the best from within the Physical Therapy Industry to address how you can find opportunities in the current market.

Here’s a breakdown of the day and key takeaways from each session.

Click here to access all the recordings from the Summit.

The State of Private Practice PT with Chad Madden

Key takeaways:

  • Being “the best” and offering the highest quality is not a sustainable business strategy for private practice owners.
  • Patient-focused marketing is the biggest opportunity for practice growth right now. PTs going directly to the consumer is more important than ever after the pandemic.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of “conversion conversations” to turn more of your direct access leads into paying patients.
Relying on doctor referrals vs going directly to the consumer.

Getting the Most Out of Your Space & Team with Ryan Christoff

Ryan is the president of the Physical Therapy Institute and his session focused on space and personnel utilization.

Key takeaways:

  • Complete a pro forma prior to expanding into a new space and forecast your expected expenses and revenue.
  • EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) is the key metric to look at when trying to determine the value of your practice.

Take the time to watch the replay of this session to see the math Ryan uses for looking at space and personnel utilization.

Practice Value in Today’s Marketplace with Chris Reading

Chris, the president of USPH, shares how practice valuation has changed because of the pandemic.

Key takeaways:

  • Hiring strategically  can help you diversify the services offered at your clinic in an intelligent way that doesn’t distract from your core offer.  It’s better to hire someone who is already passionate about a new service instead of trying to start from scratch yourself.
  • There’s a lot that smaller PT practices can learn from corporate practices. Don’t dismiss good ideas because they come from a corporate setting. Instead, find ways to adapt and adopt them into your smaller company.

3 Things Driving the Value of Your Practice Today with Paul Welk

Paul Welk is a PT and transactional attorney at Tucker Arensberg, P.C. In his session he covers the the top 3  things driving practice value in the current economy.

Key takeaways:

  • While your 2020 financial numbers may not accurately reflect the true value of your practice,  resiliency – the ability to bounce back to pre-COVID numbers – is something that potential buyers will look for.
  • “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Use hard economic times as a forcing function to fix issues in your practice.
  • One of the largest assets in your practice is your staff and company culture.
  • Having systems and process in place at your practice makes your business more attractive to potential buyers.

Grow Your EBITDA with Robert Kowalick

Bob Kowalick built a very successful private practice before transitioning into revenue cycle management at CRS. And in his session he shares some actionable insights on maximizing EBITDA.

Key takeaways:

  • Many private practices are leaving money on the table and not achieving the highest amount of revenue per visit.
  • Data points to pay attention to: revenue per visit, Average Days Outstanding (ADO) score – how long is it taking you to get paid, and billing process efficiency.
  • In general, a good margin for PTs to aim for is 20%.

Opening De Novo Clinics (New Clinics) with Dave Del Vecchio

Dave is the Regional Director of Operations at Professional Physical Therapy and he has a very unique perspective on opening de novo clinics.

Key takeaways:

  • In some cases, sellers can use a projection of EBITDA for a de novo clinic to increasing the value of their practice.
  • On average, Dave expects de novo clinics to become profitable in 3 months.

How Can I Scale My Business In The Next 4 Years With Direct To Consumer Marketing?” with Kathy Borkoski & Carl Mattiola

Kathy Borkoski, the Head of Product at Breakthrough, and Carl Mattiola, Breakthrough’s CEO, share the steps involved in creating an end-to-end direct marketing strategy at your practice.

Key takeaways:

  • Many practices have a solid foundation with physician referrals, past patients, general marketing (website, email, SEO), but have not figured out how to attract people with musculoskeletal issues who don’t know that PT can help them.
  • Free screens and workshops (both virtual and in-person) are the best converting offers to use with cold audiences.
  • Improving the ROI from paid advertising must involve taking steps to properly nurture and convert the leads generated from ads. This process involves following up with the people who engage with your ads, presenting a strong close at the end of workshops, and using standardized conversion techniques during free screens.

There is a right way to grow a practice, especially during a time of crisis like we’re experiencing now. Watch the full session replays from the Virtual Summit for free when you sign up at the link below.

Watch the full replay of the “Increase The Value Of Your Practice Virtual Summit.”

facebook marketing strategies for physical therapists

Facebook Marketing Strategies for Physical Therapy

Physical therapy marketing is more important than ever before.

Between 2003 and 2014, there was a 54.5% decrease in physician referrals to Physical Therapy as reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Any owner who wants to grow their practice needs to look into other marketing channels.

One of the easiest channels to set up are social media profiles and pages for your business. To help you get started, here are several tips for getting your page up and running, increasing your number of followers, and actually generating new patients from social media. 

Just note: these tips can apply to different social networks but were all created with Facebook in mind.

Jump to a section:

Why Facebook?

People may gripe about different aspects of Facebook, but it is still the undisputed leader when it comes to social media. Facebook has 2.45 billion monthly active users and 1.62 billion daily visitors. On top of that, older demographics are the fastest-growing group on Facebook.

So, don’t think you’ll end up marketing physical therapy to teenagers. The number of Facebook users aged 65+ has doubled in recent years.

Bottom line: Your target audience is on Facebook. Everyone is on Facebook. And your brand should be there, too. This will help keep your practice top-of-mind and help you connect with future patients.

1. Keep it Real and Be Human

First and foremost, you want your business page to reflect your personality and the personality of your team. Yes, you always want to keep your social posts professional, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be also be fun and personable. Don’t feel pressured to be or act a certain way. Just be yourself and give people a look of what it’s like to be a patient at your clinic. 

And always remember that you are talking to people who aren’t experts on physical therapy terms and musculoskeletal conditions. So, nix the complicated terms and use simple language when you post.

Another note: Don’t buy fake fans. Yes, there are some less-than-scrupulous companies out there that promise business owners thousands of cheap likes. But services like this aren’t worth the money.

There’s really no benefit to buying fake fans. It won’t make your page look more established or encourage other people to follow you. Better to save your money and focus on creating valuable content.

2. Complete Your About Section

The about section on your page is valuable real estate. Take the time to complete this section and supply all the necessary information. You don’t need to get to 100% completion, but contact information is a must. You should also share a bit about your practice and what makes you different.

You’ll also want to follow Facebook’s guidelines for selecting a cover photo. This is your chance to make a good first impression, so use a high-quality image.

It’s also a good idea to update your cover photo a few times a year. This shows that your page is active, and it can help you show up in your followers’ timeline.

3. Share Your Profiles Online and Offline

Include links to your Facebook and other social media pages on your website (and vice versa).

Create fliers with your social media handles and keep these at your front desk, or even have one hanging on the wall inside your practice. If you publish a newsletter, you should include links to your social media there as well.

4. Post Content Regularly

Social media shouldn’t take over your life, but you also don’t want your Facebook page to become a ghost town.

To start out, pick a posting schedule that works for you and strive to be consistent. Posting at least once a week is a good baseline. After a few weeks, you can go back and see which posts generated the most engagement.

Many social media pros recommend setting aside a block of time to create and schedule all your physical therapy marketing posts for a week. Get some Facebook content ideas and plan out your next 4 posts in advance. There’s software that can help with scheduling, but you can also do this natively on Facebook.

Internet and computer images

5.  Share What Makes You Special

Share exclusive content that followers can’t see from anyone else. Like behind-the-scenes photos and videos of your PTs and staff, patient stories and testimonials.

Other physical therapy marketing content ideas include:

  • Practice Events (Like anniversaries and upcoming physical therapy workshops)
  • Local Events
  • Selfies with Staff and Patients
  • Short Explainer Videos (“Top 3 Exercises for Shoulder Pain”)
  • Practice News

6. Consider Holding a Contest or Survey

Contests and polls are great ways to get followers to engage with your posts. For polls, aim for a mix of fun and physical therapy-related topics.

The Single Question Email template can be adapted and used on your personal and professional Facebook page. This question has generated tons of responses and plans of care in the past.

An example of a fun survey question can be asking your page to share their favorite Halloween candy as a kid. When you’re just starting out on Facebook and still growing your followers, encourage your staff to comment and respond to questions like these.

With contests, don’t think that you always need to offer expensive prizes to get people to participate. Photo caption contests are usually big hits. As are any contests involving cutest pet.  

If you do want to go the prize route, consider offering gift cards to local businesses in your area. This can be a great way to create social media content and to network with potential CAWs partners.

7. Add Context When You Share Links

If you share links on your page, take a moment to add some context and commentary of your own.

For example, say there’s a great link to an article about the effectiveness of physical therapy prior to getting surgery. This is a great piece of content to share, but don’t just copy/paste the link and hit enter. Write out your thoughts on the news and encourage people in pain to stop by your clinic.

This is true even if you’re sharing content that you’ve created such as a blog post from your website. Even a sentence or two is fine, but you just want to add something unique to everything that you share.

8. Engage with Comments and Messages

Engagement on social media is a two-way street. If you want people to like and comment on your posts, you should be sure to like and reply to their comments.

You don’t want to hide the fact that there is a real person (or real people) behind your page. Or make people feel like they are interacting with a brick wall.

This rule is especially true for comments where someone asks a question, but you should like and reply to every comment you get.

This not only encourages people to keep engaging with you and your page, Facebook will also give the user a notification which will bring them back to your post.

What about negative comments? You should reply to those, too. Keep your tone professional and light-hearted if possible.

That being said, there are some comments and commenters that aren’t worth interacting with. If you encounter a troll or someone who is using crude/inflammatory language on your page, feel free to delete their comments and block them.

Use your best judgment to decide what negative comments fall into which category. You don’t want to run from negative comments, but that doesn’t mean you have to let people spam your page either.

 9. Get on Camera

Plan on creating video content for your page and even consider streaming live on Facebook. Facebook itself has said that video content drives higher engagement and interactions from users compared to other types of content on the platform.

When it comes to video, don’t think you have to make big-budget commercials for your practice. A simple video tour of your clinic or staff introductions are great pieces of content.

You can also create valuable exercise videos for people in pain. With any videos that are directly related to physical therapy, just make sure that you extend an invitation for viewers to visit your clinic in-person.

10. Let’s Get Visual

Similar to video, you want to share some purely visual content on your page as well. Facebook prioritizes content that doesn’t try to take users away from the platform, so your content will show up in more timelines.

Plus, sharing photos and images garner 87% more engagement than links and text post.

11. Try to Collect Email Addresses

With any form of marketing, you want to invite people to take the “next step” towards working with you.

This could be a direct invite to schedule an appointment in your clinic or a request to get people to sign up for your email list.

Growing your email list may not seem as impactful as getting someone to visit you in-person, but it’s still advantageous.

Someone who likes your business page won’t see everything you post on their Facebook timeline. Over the years, Facebook has shortened the organic reach of page posts and updates.

But none of that matters once someone is on your email list. At that point, you are no longer bound by Facebook’s algorithm. You can now continue to build a relationship with this person by showing up directly in their inbox.

Here’s a great email marketing resource to help you convert subscribers into patients.

paid physical therapy marketing

12. Use Paid Advertising to Reach a Wider Audience for Physical Therapy Marketing

Our tips so far have focused on organic social media for PT marketing, but paid advertising is a great method if you want more direct control over your results.

With organic, your posts will reach some of the people who like and follow your page. With paid traffic, you can target a completely cold audience. Meaning, people who have never heard of your business before.  With this expanded reach, private practice owners have the ability to control their new patient flow by attracting direct access patients.

At Breakthrough, we’ve found that advertising physical therapy workshops is a very cost-effective way for PTs to advertise on Facebook. Ads for workshops attract people with a need for the services PTs provide and gets them off the computer and into your practice for the presentation.

There are many different moving parts to this process, which is why we created the Growth X system to handle them all. Growth X covers Facebook advertising, landing pages that capture new patient leads, workshop tools to track individual progress toward becoming a patient, and an automated email system that increases workshop attendance​.

Let’s chat about your private practice’s current struggles and see how we can partner up in growth!

growing your practice

3 Tips for Growing Your Practice During Hard Times

From 1929 to 1939, the world endured a severe economic downturn that would later be referred to as the “Great Depression.”

This economic turmoil resulted in a difficult period for most companies…but not all of them.

Some brands where able to make great strides during this time. These successful companies were different sizes and came from different industries. What they had in common was the fact that they kept investing in growth while others cut back.

Right now, the entire world is dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. So we are sharing 3 tips for private practice owners looking for ways to grow their practice during hard times.

Trim the Fat

Now is the time to be brutally honest about the necessities in your business…

And to cut anything that is unnecessary.

This sounds simple, but it’s a task that many business owners struggle with. Particularly when it comes to making hard decisions about personnel. Or past investments that have yet to produce a return.

Now is the time to take a deep dive into your numbers to find areas to cut back.

Marketing expenses are often the first thing put on the chopping block when it comes to trimming the fat. But eliminating marketing will also impact your revenue and may slow your recovery. Keep the big picture in mind before making the call to stop or cut back on marketing.

Realize that Everything is Cheaper Now

Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.

Warren Buffet

Over the past few months, the hiring market for PTs has completely flipped. In the past, some owners struggled for months to fill PT job vacancies. Many private practice owners expressed how hard it was to compete with HOPTs and POPTs practices when it came to hiring new grads.

Now, that situation has flipped. And the same is true for the real estate market. Now is a great time to hire new PTs and/or renegotiate the terms on recurring expenses like rent.

Plan Ahead Now

No one can predict exactly what will happen in the economy. But, it’s a given that there will continue to be cycles of growth punctuated by periods of decline.

In the last two decades, the U.S. experienced recessions in 2001, 2007, and right now in 2020. And there will likely be another recession approximately 10 years from now.

Again, the exact time and circumstances are unknown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead.

One exercise is to develop a “Grey to Black” plan for your practice. This Grey to Black plan is a financial forecast that looks at what would happen if you lost 25%…50%…or even 100% of your revenue.

How much time could your practice remain open? What steps would you take to minimize the damage?

Taking the time to plan ahead now will help you make better decisions during an actual crisis. Don’t let yourself be caught off-guard a second time.

Right now, times are tough for businesses. But growing your practice is still possible.

PTs provide a vital service helping people in pain. It’s important that PT owners do what they can to ensure their practice survives hard economic times so you can continue to provide this service to your community.

We’ll be going more in-depth on the topic of Growing Your Practice During Hard Times during the upcoming Breakthrough Virtual Summit.

Tickets for the Summit are free, and the event will take place 100% online. Click here to reserve your spot.

Breakthrough PT Marketing Makes the Inc. 5000 List for the Second Year in a Row

Each year, Inc. Magazine calculates the fastest-growing private companies in the United States and ranks them on its Inc. 5000 list.

Having achieved a  276% growth rate over the last three years, Breakthrough is excited to announce that we’ve made the list for the second year in a row.

The team at Breakthrough is honored to receive this kind of national recognition and we are grateful to the community of Private Practice owners we get to work with every day. 

Our company’s mission is to help people in pain get back to normal naturally by working with PTs who provide their patients with the highest quality care. 

The fact that this is the second year in a row Breakthrough made the Inc. 5000 list is a testament to our marketing software’s ability to help physical therapists grow their businesses and see real results from their online advertising. Unlike other solutions, practice owners appreciate the ability for Growth X to bring patients in from the community who had never heard of the practice before.

Carl Mattiola, CEO of Breakthrough PT Marketing

Continued Growth in 2020 and Beyond

inc. 5000 list breakthrough pt marketing

There have been many hurdles affecting the private practice industry over the last few years. According to PT in Motion, there was a 54.5% decrease in physical referrals to Physical Therapy between 2003 and 2014.

CMS proposed a 9% cut to physical therapy reimbursements earlier this month.

And on top of everything else, the entire world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many practices being forced to close their clinics during state-wide lockdowns. 

But the tide is shifting and now many owners are bouncing back to their pre-COVID numbers. Some Breakthrough members are even reporting higher patient visits than any other period this year. 

how to get new pt patients

How to Get New PT Patients Right Now

I need to get New PT Patients…NOW.”

This is the #1 problem facing the market right now.

Most of us risk insolvency if we can’t solve this problem.

For those of us who can solve it, we can gain market share at an unprecedented rate – with a flipped PT job market and rock bottom marketing/space costs.

In the past few months, the team at Breakthrough has experimented with new campaigns like Virtual Workshops.

But we’ve largely relied on a few fundamental marketing strategies to solve the problem of ‘how to get new patients’. The strategies themselves may seem simple, but don’t let that stop you. Actually implementing them will produce results and set your practice apart from most business owners (who have reduced and in some cases completely shut down their marketing efforts).

For example, here’s a story from an owner in the Breakthrough community:

Click to view at full size.

This is a pretty remarkable rebound.

But there’s a deeper story which can be easily overlooked:

  1. The people who made it happen: Deepak and his team.  Deepak is in my list of top owners ever in one significant category – Study. 

    He’s an amazing student and is genuinely interested in growing his practice and learning the best marketing methods to help with this.
  2. He and his team take action and implement.  When asked about the secret to his success – Deepak will frequently say, “I just do what I learned here” 

    Sounds simple enough, right? 

    Well unfortunately for most of us, we seem to struggle doing that.  Deepak implements the control first – then will adjust based on his metrics.  He and his team will start with the fundamentals, then progress as they learn, and update the technique to make it their own.
  3. They are successful in a nearly impossible environment.  In the greater Edmonton area, Deepak and his team compete with a free healthcare system (you can get physio for free down the street). 

Yes, Deepak is in Growth X and has access to software that automates his marketing.

But it all starts with taking action.

You can do the same. Here’s how…

How to Get New Patients NOW: 3 Effective Steps

  1. Market to your past patient list ASAP.  At Madden PT, we just ran a our Greatest Promotion Ever at all 5 locations.  The result of that was 50+ Plans of Care. Deepak mentioned calling clients personally, but you can also use email for this.  Your patient list is the most valuable asset in your business, but only when you nurture it and engage with the people on it. 
  2. Market to the general public.  Pick a niche – a specific target market – and make sure it’s someone who your clinic can treat profitably.  Host an in-house workshop that will appeal to this demographic.  One example would be a free event for back pain sufferers.
  3. Send a fax to physicians, NPs, PA-Cs letting them know you’re open.

An easy way to take action is with the Single Question Email. This one strategy can quickly produce multiple plans of care in only a few hours.

Not only that, but it’s a great way to engage with your email list in a way that past patients will appreciate now more than ever.

Click here to download the Single Question Email template for free. It shows you how to put together the initial email and also how to handle the replies you’ll receive.

5 PT Marketing Campaigns for Past and Current Patients

There are three markets you can target to attract patients to your clinic and successfulyl grow your practice:

  • Physician referrals
  • Direct to consumer
  • Past or current patients

When it comes to marketing, most focus is put on external marketing – going direct to the consumer to get  brand new patients. 

However, internal marketing –  marketing to your current and past patient list – is a strategy that should not be overlooked. Here are five internal marketing campaigns you can use to market your practice and re-engage past patients. 

These campaigns are a great first step towards getting your practice  “back to normal” after COVID-19.

1. Green Ink Letters

Green ink letters are powerful marketing tools because they’re personal to the patient or referrer. It’s a one-to-one interaction that’s packed with personalized attention and value. 

At Madden PT, we send out green ink letters when a patient graduates a program. We also send them to physicians who refer patients to us at the beginning of the patient’s plan of care. We include how the initial evaluation went, along with a promise to keep them updated on their care. 

The benefit of using green ink letters is that you can write these any time. Make them personal to the patient using something you’ve discussed with them to strengthen that connection. Also, don’t forget to include a soft call-to-action to encourage engagement. This doesn’t have to be a sales message or asking them to book an appointment, but it should be enough to get them to take the next step.

Extend an open invitation to visit your clinic again if they have any other issues or simply let them know that you and your staff are available to help anyone the patient knows who may also be in pain.

2. Patient Newsletters

Some practices print newsletters to mail or distribute in the office, while others offer a digital newsletter. Our patients respond better to receiving something physical in the mail, but there’s no wrong way to go about creating a patient newsletter.

The important parts of a newsletter are:

Some of your content should have nothing at all to do with PT. This could be a staff member spotlight, a new hire, holiday traditions, or anything else your patients might find interesting. We’ve found our patients love to learn about our PT team and keep up to date with what’s going on in the practice. 

Relevant Content

Relevant content will have something to do with PT and your practice. It could be a patient testimonial, success stories, or an exercise of the month. Skip the scholarly articles on PT-related topics or anything you’d discuss one-on-one with a patient.

Call to Action

Every newsletter should have a call to action. We use a standing insert inside our folded newsletters. It’s an 8 ½”x11” page, front and back, that’s often used to highlight an upcoming workshop, free exams, free reports, or something else of value. We’ve found the freebie is most effective when people are getting information from it.

3. Patient Interviews

This is one of the most important roles of an internal marketer in your practice. Our internal marketer meets with every patient three times during their plan of care: once at the beginning, once in the middle, and once at the end.

The first goal is to establish rapport with the patient. The second goal is to ensure the patient is staying compliant with the plan of care set forth in the initial evaluation.

A lot of times, the conversation has nothing to do with PT. Talk about their interests and get to know them so you have a meaningful connection with each patient.

The second interview is your opportunity to get their feedback on how things are going and whether they’re seeing any progress. This is a great opportunity to educate them on what they can expect next in PT.

During this interview, we like to bring in cash pay services (we also do this during the first interview) to see if they’d like to continue with them. Some patients prefer these services after having gone through most of their plan of care when they know how things are progressing.

In the discharge interview, we get a picture of the patient with their team and celebrate the end of their plan. This is the point where we ask for referrals, online reviews, and testimonials since we’ve already built a great rapport with the patient. 

During the discharge interview, we also book a follow-up appointment for a couple of months later. Our purpose in doing this is to take measurements and make sure nothing has backtracked. But it also helps us keep the lines of communication open and stay top of mind with the patient since they’re not coming into the office as frequently, and we’ve actually reactivated a lot of patients this way.

4. GPE – Greatest Promotion Ever

Choose a day to offer free screenings to friends and family members of patients and past patients. We have five teams, so we try to do ten free screens for each time at a half-hour per screen. You’ll also want to plan for five weeks of marketing after the event with emails, newsletters, Facebook Live videos, and other content. 

5. Killer Testimonial Machine

Last but not least, we love the Killer Testimonial Machine, which is a wall of patient testimonials that new patients see when they walk into the clinic. This shows them how many patients have gotten great results and gives them hope for what they can expect. It also establishes celebrity, authority, and expertise for the PT to boost their credibility.

All of these marketing tips are excellent for bringing past patients back into your practice, and they’re easy to implement when you can hand them off to a marketing person.

Download my Internal Marketing scorecard to see how we utilize this position at Madden PT and how you can add an internal marketer to your team.