Case Study - 51% Increase in New Patients - Breakthrough PT Marketing

Case Study – 51% Increase in New Physical Therapy Patients

When they started their practice, Kristie and Frank did everything right.

They networked with local physicians, produced quarterly newsletters, and even offered community education classes.

And these goodwill efforts combined with superior patient outcomes helped them grow their practice for many years.

But when local competition in their area increased – national companies started moving in, hospitals started buying up POPTs etc. – it became clear that delivering better quality care wasn’t going to be enough if they wanted to scale.

Watch the full case study to see how these private practice owners used marketing automation to produce a 51% increase in their new patient numbers.

Visit for a full training on how to get started with marketing automation in your practice.

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Kristie:            My name is Kristie Kava, I'm from Oakland Physical Therapy in Novi, Michigan. We started in private practice about eight years into our profession. We'd been working eight years and between the two of us, my partner, Frank Kava, who is my husband, we had between us worked in about four different hospitals, and we'd also gone back to school to receive a master's in education. So when we came back from the master's degree work, we decided to do the things the way we wanted to do them, we needed to work for ourselves, to be in private practice.
Kristie:            We started in private practice and physical therapy because we had both worked in four different hospitals between the two of us, and we really wanted to provide patient care the way we wanted to do it, the way we thought it should be done. We both were trained orthopedic manual physical therapist and wanted to use the skill in providing better patient outcomes.
Kristie:            When we started the private practice, we received referrals from physicians because they liked the patient outcomes that they were seeing, but we also kept a lot of communication going about the patients with the physicians. We would send plan of care reviews so that they knew what we were doing, and there was a continual reminder that we were there and who we are. We also did newsletters, and at that point we were doing them probably quarterly and they were pretty much goodwill type newsletters, but they also put the name out there. We also did community education classes, where we offered classes on different points of our expertise and how that would benefit the patient.
Kristie:            When we first started in private practice, there was little competition. There was just Oakland Physical Therapy as a private practice and the hospital in the area, the outpatient physical therapy from the hospital, and that competition was really easy to work with. We provided a more intimate patient care to our clients, to our patients, and also the outcomes were better than what the hospital was able to create. But as time went on, many more private practices came into the area, a lot of national companies, a lot of companies that were being supported with private equity, and the hospital itself was being very demanding of keeping the business within their structure. So we had a lot of competition in our small area that didn't exist when we started.
Kristie:            We bought Product X to increase our numbers of new referrals. And we needed to do that because it became apparent to us that it wasn't enough just to advertise and promote, talking about our quality of care.
Kristie:            Product X helped us see, along with killer marketing, what we didn't know. The piece of marketing and advertising where you really wanted to ask the patient to perform a call to action, was really new to us. We were primarily delivering goodwill, good information, letting the patient know what they would receive when they came to PT with us, but we really didn't take that closing action where we're asking the patient to do something.
Kristie:            We started Product X in September of last year, and I looked at the whole year, and looking at the entire year compared to the previous year, with only four months of Product X, we were up 10% in new patient referrals. Then going on into this year, I looked at the first three months of this year compared to the first three months of last year, and I was up over 40% in new patient referrals this year as compared to last.
Kristie:            We've never had problems obtaining physician or physical therapy referrals. We're in a medical office building, and orthopedic surgeons who are even right next door who have their own PT services refer their patients to us. A lot of private practice physicians in the building who are affiliated with the hospital refer their patients to us, and there's a PT department within my building as well, which is hospital based. From Product X, what I really needed help with was to reach direct access people or patients. From the last three months, from January to March of this year, I've had 28 new patients from direct access from Product X, and 14 of those patients I've turned into physician referral networks, and that absolutely is my biggest win with Product X.
Kristie:            In general terms, quality of care for my practice, I think has three important components. One is a very effective and thorough evaluation so that the therapist really knows what's wrong with the patient. Once they know that, then the second important and necessary piece is that they provide the most effective treatment for that diagnosis. In addition to that is they have to be able to train and educate the patient as to what they need to do to overcome this difficulty, this problem they're coming to me to solve today, and also how to prevent it from happening again, and improve their quality of life.
Kristie:            When I start a new patient, I'm also thinking about how I may turn this patient into a physician referral source. To do that, I'm really looking to do two different things. First of all, within the context of building my relationship with the patient, I educate them along the way, right from the evaluation as to what the problem is, what I see needs to happen, and how we're going to achieve their best outcomes. For example, in orthopedics, usually people come in because they're having pain, and they can't do something that they want to do in their daily activities. So we really look at those things and bring it down to a level where the patient can join in with me and understand why they can't do the things they want to do.
Kristie:            So when I'm working with them, say with manual therapy and mobilizing a joint, which is a somewhat passive movement, I explain to them why I need to do this, why this will improve their range of motion and help them as they begin to progress. Then when we move on, hopefully right away into more active treatment and I'm supporting that passive movement that I was doing with the manual therapy with active movement training and exercise, I also am teaching and explaining and educating them as to why this will help them do the thing that they can't do, say get up off the floor. Also within that context, I'm educating them as to how they need to make changes in their body, in how they perform activities, to help prevent this from occurring again and improve their quality of life.
Kristie:            The other thing that is really important in this whole scenario is that I communicate with the physician directly as well. So I've done all this with the patient, provided the treatment and achieved positive outcomes, but the relationship with the patient is intentional because that helps the outcome. But I know that relationship I'm establishing with the patient then goes on to the physician, and does turn into a physician referral source. And I will actually say as we're getting close to the next return visit from the patient, "You need to go in and tell your physician this, tell them how much better you're doing, that the pain is now much less. I can do the functional things that I need to do in my daily life, I'm stronger, my movement is better." So I really prep the patient to go in and say that, I don't just assume they will, I tell them to tell the physician.
Kristie:            Finally, a third thing that we do with a new patient coming from a new physician that we don't have a relationship with, is we make an effort to reach out to them, introduce ourselves, explain what we do in terms of our patient care, and we send them materials that they can refer back to, referral pads to make it as convenient as we can for them.
Kristie:            My biggest personal win since beginning Product X is feeling really positive about learning something new. This is not an area that I had looked into before, I mostly worked within education within the clinical realm, and I've been really excited about this, I've learned a lot, I feel like I've done a really good job with it, and I find it very rewarding.
Kristie:            I see my future with Product X as being continuous as long as I practice. We have continued to refine this whole process, so I see myself continuing with using Product X as a really important, large component in the workings of my office, and continuing to bring appropriate, great new patients in. And we've had some really wonderful patients that have come in through this avenue, direct access because of Product X.

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