Averaging 40 New PT Patients Per Month from POPTS?

Averaging 40 New Physical Therapy Patients Per Month from POPTS?

Hold up!

How can a Private Practice PT…

With zero affiliation to any physician…

Get 40 New Patients in one month?

From Physicians who own their own PT practice?



And I’ll share how we do it in a minute…

Plus, the error that most Private Practice PTs make in marketing to physicians.

But first a recap:

In Part 1, I shared how most Private Practice PTs I talk with are waaaaaay too reliant on physician referrals.

In Part 2, I shared the magic formula to stop wasting money on marketing – whether it’s FaceBook, email, print ads, direct mail, postcards, newsletters, radio, TV or some other media.

Here, I’m going to share the #1 Single Biggest Mistake I see most Private Practice Owners make in marketing to physicians.

A Point of Reference

Not sure if you remember what I listed as our ideal mix of sources for New Patients.

I think it was something along the lines of:

75% Past PT Patients, Referrals from Past Patients and Direct Access

25% Physician Referrals

Oddly enough, here are the actual numbers from last month at Madden PT (1 clinic):

111 Total New Patients
56 Past Patients
28 Referrals From Past Patients
27 Physician Referrals

(Most of the Non-physician referrals are Direct Access)

So we came within 1 physician referral of being exactly 75%/25%

Pretty cool.

And stable for business.

And I think you can safely do the same.

The Changing Times

Over the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve had it easy as Private Practice PTs.

In that we had physician referrals.

Now with POPTS, Hospital Employed Physicians and Direct Access changes, the rules have changed.

And in order to survive, Private Practice Owners must change too.

Although we no longer need or want to rely on physician referrals.

It does not mean we should completely abandon physicians.

#1 Single Biggest Mistake in Marketing to Physicians

2+2=5 formula written on a board

Most Physical Therapy Owners have given up on marketing to physicians.

Nothing sucks more than buying lunch for a physician group’s entire staff.

Sitting there for an hour.

Then having the doctor come running in the break room.

Shove two slices of pizza in his face.

Ask some half-assed not-really interested question like,

“What do you like treating the most?”


“Do you have any information?”

Then running out to finish his dictation before he starts the afternoon case load.

It’s pretty depressing and frustrating.

So most PTs throw in the towel.

See, if we can meet with physician over lunch, in a way that they respect us…and in a way they truly understand what we do.

Then forget it.

And most have completely given up.

I say that 25% is worth something though.

And more importantly, every single direct access patient we see at my private practice.

We send the Initial Eval, Progress Notes and Discharge to the physician regardless.

Let Me Explain…


At one time, I had the physician luncheon thing down.

(BIG Secret if you’re still doing this: treat the staff before the doctor gets in. Demonstrate what you do in PT. This works wonders. Guess who really decides where patients go anyhow?

That’s right. It’s most likely the staff – NOT the doc. Most reps or other lunchtime marketers ignore the staff. Don’t do that.)

In fact, we hit an all-time high back in 2008 of 154 New Patients in one month by way of physician referral.



But I haven’t done a physician office luncheon in over 18 months now.

For several reasons.

One is we can’t get in to 70%+ of the offices because those physicians are employed by one of 3 hospital systems.

In the other cases, many physicians own their own PT.

So how do we get referrals from POPTS docs?

First We Need to Understand Where POPTS Owners Are Coming From

Doctor putting money into his pocket - closeup studio shot

The following statement was taken directly from the aaos.org statement on POPTS practices:

“Physician-owned physical therapy services (POPTS) foster a cohesive, team approach to care, which translates to accessible, high-quality treatment centered around the needs and best interests of the patient. Despite the distinct benefits that having the choice to use in-office PT provides to patients, national physical therapist groups continue to spearhead a strategic and aggressive campaign in an effort to prohibit or limit POPTS.”

You can check out the entire statement there. (aaos.org)

I don’t know about you but this statement conflicts directly with my life experiences.

I worked for a POPTS practice for 2 years.

And the deal was, regardless of the care I gave (or the other 3 PTs I worked with)

There was another 30 referrals coming down next week.

Not ideal in terms of incentive of offering good care or anything remotely within the “best interests of the patient”.

(In Private Practice, I better deliver a result for the patient or I would have been out of business fairly quick.)

Anyhow, the main “selling point” used by Physicians to patients regarding their own POPTS practice is not “high quality of care”.

It’s “communication”.

Now Picture This…

physical therapy mary

“Mary” came to see you for PT 2 years ago

For her lower back.

She saw you for 8 visits.

Had nearly 100% relief.

And returned to her yoga class and gardening.

She loves you.

Mary just had a shoulder surgery.

She goes back for her 4 week post op appointment.

The surgeon says, “Mary you’re going to need PT.”

“We have PT right here in the building for your convenience and I communicate well with the PTs here.”

Did You Do Your Homework?


One of two things can happen here:

Mary can just agree and go along with the doctor’s recommendation. You’ll never know it but this is basically “lost revenue.” You could have had a stronger LTCV (Lifetime Customer Value) but you missed it.

Mary could say, “Well, can I go back to the PT I saw for my back? YOU PT?”

So obviously, we want the second scenario to happen as much as possible.

The next step is a bit more subtle and only savvy owners get this.

The surgeon is going to respond.

Now, keep in mind, he’s seeing 6 patients an hour.

And doesn’t have a lot of time to argue with Mary.

He’s under increased financial stressed, just like most of us in healthcare (which is likely the reason he has his own PT practice, MRI and on site DME).

But he’s going to have a rebuttal.

And it’s going to sound like this:

“Oh, where do you want to go?”

What I’ve Been Doing for the Past 10 Years…

Against the grain, I’ve continued to market to POPTS physicians.

No one else in my area does (unless they were the PT company “managing” the POPTS practice).

Regardless, I want to be on the “safe and trusted” list.

Because of this scenario:

When Mary says, “I want to go to Madden PT”

I want the surgeon to say, “Oh sure.I know those guys. They’re good.”

Not, “Oh, I’ve never heard of them.”

And the point is key.

Now You Might Be Wondering.. If I’m Not Doing Doctor Luncheons, then How Am I possibly Marketing to Doctors? Especially Hospital Employed Docs and POPTS Docs?

I’ve been working on a new Webinar called,

“How to become a POPTS Killer” where I share 3 Big Secrets to becoming a POPTS Killer.

You Can Click Here To Register for our Free Physical Therapy Marketing Webinar and Download a PT Patient Cheat Sheet

And I’ll share some of my best stuff on Private Practice Marketing.

To Your Best Year Ever,


PS – So Mistake #3 is “Giving up on Physician Referrals”. I’m thankful for the 27 referrals even though it’s not the bulk of my business.

Next time I’m going to share what I’m most excited about and specifically where I look for killer marketing ideas (and it’s not within the PT industry).

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