3 Keys to Creating Industry Leading PT Patient Experience | Breakthrough

3 Keys to Creating a Industry Leading PT Patient Experience

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If you want to attract more PT patients to your practice, you can use this 6 Step Patient Experience Funnel:

  1. Lead Magnet
  2. TripWire
  3. Core Service
  4. Upsell and Cash Pay
  5. Repeat Patients
  6. Referrals

And so far, we’ve covered Lead Magnets and TripWire offers… (If you have not read those, you can click them to catch up).

Now we’re on to the Core Service.

If there’s one part of the above 6 steps that we Private Practice PT Owners know inside and out, it’s this: the Core Service.

This is where we’re providing our PT service, our IE’s or 97001, plus the manual therapy, exercises and other modalities to help our patients achieve their goals and complete their plan of care.

And frankly when most of us think about our Private PT Practice business, we envision it, or at least 99% of it consisting of the Core Service.

This is where we try to make all of our Profit…

It’s the way I thought for years…

And the only way I ever heard another PT talk about their business.

“It’s all about New Patients, New Patients, New Patients… If we have more referrals, then our business is bigger and better.”

Contrary to popular belief, this thought process is a colossal mistake.

There’s a lot more to Private Practice than getting referrals, POCs, and Discharges.

That limited tunnel vision can financially cripple a practice…or any business.

But before I rail on about my mistakes and limited vision, and how it nearly cost me my private practice… twice…

Let’s talk about the Core Service and how to make it better.

3 Keys to Creating a World-class, 5 Star, Disney-like Physical Therapy Patient Experience


Did you ever have an amazing experience in another health care professionals office (doctor, dentist, etc)?

Did you ever have a lousy experience?  (all of my lousy experiences seem to involve an Emergency Room)

Have you ever taken your children to an appointment?

Or a parent or other family member?

What was most important to you?  What stood out?  What made you say “Wow”…they’re good, I’m coming back here” OR “I’d never go back to that place again.”

What have you chosen to create in your Private Practice?

I’ve surveyed our patients repeatedly over the years, and we’ve focused in on what  “Mothers and Grandmothers” want and need in a PT practice, and have worked hard to deliver that.

And the following are 3 tools you can implement to make your PT service different from the “run of the mill” place down the street…

1. All Physical Therapists (including you if you’re still treating) can use a systematic approach to your initial evaluation (we call it an IE or 97001).


Why is a standard approach important?

Well, have you ever had a patient go through their IE, and first treatment, seemingly in agreement with all of the treatment and PT knowledge you just shared with them, and go out front to schedule, and they report they forgot their appointment book… never to be seen again?

Raise you hand if you’re guilty of having this happen to you…

Me too.

(If you didn’t raise your hand… there’s a name for your condition, it’s called, “DENIAL.”)

From studying Physical Therapists who have high drop-off (patients NOT completing their Plans of Care) and comparing them with PTs who have amazing patient compliance, super high attendance rates, higher than average frequency of return patients (patients who’ve been discharged and return for a plan of care for the same or different body part) and word-of-mouth referrals from other patients…

What would you guess is the biggest difference between the All-Star and the Discharge Machine?



Years of Experience?

None of those.

At least from what I’ve seen and studied, a PT with a standard script, who is disciplined at touching all bases, easily outperforms the PT who does not have a standard script.

I know… I know…

“But I treat the individual…”

“And provide a super high quality of care…”


If there are key points that you miss in your exam though, it can absolutely kill your practice (kill in a bad way).

So, in our Private Practice, at Madden PT, all of our PTs use something we call “The 7 Step Killer Exam”.  (Killer here is used in a good way).

(As an aside, we train all of our PTs to do this… in their sleep… so they don’t miss steps.  We then record them, to help them see what areas are smooth and what areas need work.  I recommend you do the same.)

And what’s the 7 Step Killer Exam?

I don’t have time for the entire 7 Steps here, but I can give you the MOST Important Step…

And it’s the step that is missed the most often.

By adding this in, you are guaranteed to dramatically improve your Graduation Rate (Patients completing their plan of care divided by total number of New Patients)…

And here it is:

  1. Ask this question, “Have you ever had Physical Therapy before?

If “No…”

Then ask, “What about Chiropractic, Massage therapy, personal training, seen an athletic trainer or DO?”  (This is super important as many people in the general public confuse Physical Therapy with other interventions…including P90X!)

If “Yes…”

Then ask, “OK, Tell me about that…What happened?”

Then just listen.

Many times, the people who drop off have had a past bad experience.

And if you leave it uncovered, they’re done the second they walk out to schedule.

If you uncover it, then just listen.

Acknowledge they had a bad experience through restatement…

“OK, so you went to XYZ Physical Therapy down the street for your back…3 years ago.  They gave you an exercise sheet and told you to come see the PT when you’re done with your exercises.  You did that for 4 weeks…only saw the main PT on the first day…and it didn’t help you at all.”

Acknowledge through restatement.

You don’t have to tell them you’re different…

You don’t have to talk bad about another clinician…

You just restate it.

That’s it… seriously.

(If you’re interested in learning and implementing the full 7 Step Killer Exam… send me an email to [email protected] with Subject line: 7 Step Killer Exam)

2. Give them a unique experience…

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“What’s your receipt?”

I highly recommend you buy and read Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Platinum Book of Cha-ching.

In it, he shares the story of John Patterson, one of the premier sales trainers for National Cash Register (today know as NCR), in the late 1800’s.

There’s no way I could do the story justice in the limited space here, but basically, John Patterson first failed at selling his cash register directly to store owners…

Until he created the demand for a receipt amongst the general public.

Then the store owners came running to him to buy his NCR cash register.

He went from trying and failing to chase sales (being the hunter) to having his ideal customers demand to do business with him (being the hunted).

All by changing the game.

You can do the same.

A few years ago, I challenged our team to do the same.

We wanted to do something unique around the home exercise instructions we were handing out…

We used to hand out this ugly green sheet system with up to 9 exercises per sheet.

And that had to go.

What we ended up creating was an Exercise Card System.

Every patient who comes through gets an Exercise Card carabiner, complete with full color exercise cards and simple instructions.

The sheets were lost constantly, so the Exercise Card System is a keeper.

Women hang it on their purse… and tell others about it.

It’s our John Patterson “receipt”.

3. A System for Your Patient’s Graduation Day


Your patient kept their appointments…

They did their home exercises faithfully every day…

They’re pain is 100% relieved…

Their motion, strength and function goals are met…

And they made you a tray of brownies.

Awesome, right?

What would even make it more “awesome”?

If you could capture the appreciation they have for you and the high quality of care and service you provided.

And make a super good impression on the patient’s referral source (or family doc).

And attract more patients who were compliant, friendly, and respected you for the care you provided.

AND provide killer proof to the insurance company that your care was worthwhile.

How do you do that?

Well, create a system for your Discharge Day (we call it “Graduation Day”… and you’re welcome to do the same).

Here’s what our Graduation Day consists of:

  1. Normal full treatment
  2. Reassessment with full objective measures and discussion of comparison of Initial Evaluation numbers.
  3. Testimonial capture (we call this The Direct Access Marketing Testimonial Machine).
  4. A Graduation Day interview with Tammy, our Internal Marketing Representative.
  5. A goodie bag (we just had a Graduating Patient post this on FB… it’s free press!)
  6. A picture of the patient in their Madden PT T-shirt with the PT team who treated them.
  7. A hand-written note from the PT to the patient…

And it’s the same for everyone who comes through our doors.

Wrapping It Up

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So far, if you’ve been following my blog… we’ve discussed:

  1. Lead Magnets
  2. Trip Wires
  3. And now, the Core Service

Don’t be lulled to sleep thinking that there is no advantage to be gained here within your marketplace…

Put the work in.

Study what others are doing to create an amazing, 5-Star experience for their patients.

And model what they do in your clinic by implementing.

Your patients and banker will both be thankful you did.

Next up on our list is Step #4: Upsells and Cash Pay Services.

What is one thing you want to implement in your practice from this post? Let me know in the comments below.

PS. And if you have any questions on creating a world-class, 5 star, Disney-like patient experience in your private practice, leave a comment below as well. Happy to help.

And please be sure to check out some of our Direct Access Marketing Testimonials!


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