Change is never easy, which is something every rehab therapy practice can attest to right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a whirlwind of change at every level of rehab therapy—from doubling down on sanitization practices to implementing telehealth services. Now that things seem to be settling into a new normal, practices must contend with another type of change: adjusting their approach to marketing. However, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and with the right strategy and a little marketing finesse, clinics can take this opportunity to get their message in front of the right patients. To that end, here are some steps rehab therapy practices should take when marketing their services post-COVID:
Communicate with patients and referral sources.
The success of any relationship hinges on communication—and that includes your relationship with potential patients. Despite the fact that many state and local governments have lifted stay-at-home orders, there’s still a high number of active COVID-19 cases nationwide, which means there’s still a chance for infection—particularly among high-risk individuals. It also means many people remain nervous about exposure. For that reason, it’s crucial that you tell patients what you’re doing to keep them safe. In this blog post, we advise that practice leaders “map out a game plan for reopening your practice to the public.” Part of that plan should include updated safety and sanitation guidelines that align with CDC recommendations. Once you have this plan in place, communicate it—as well as any remote care service options (i.e., home visits or telerehab)—to patients on all of your marketing channels, including your clinic’s:
- social media pages,
- website, and
- online and print ads.
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Re-engage past patients.
Next, start contacting your past patients. In an interview with WebPT, Simon Hargus, PT, DPT, OCS, MBA, the owner of First Settlement Physical Therapy (FSPT), stresses the importance of this: “You’re going to need patients in order to ramp your practice back up. I’ve been keeping a running list of folks who want to come back (but aren’t doing telehealth or home PT). We plan on touching base with them—as well as those who were interested in workshops—regularly. We also will reach out to past patients.” Specifically, we suggest sending these patients an email or reaching out via text or telephone and explaining the safety precautions your clinic is taking.
You should also promote any alternative treatment modalities—like telehealth—that can help patients avoid potential exposure. For example, if your practice has implemented telehealth services, you should:
- educate patients on the benefits of telehealth,
- explain how easy it is to use, and
- provide examples of patients using telehealth successfully (if possible).
Telehealth offers patients a safe, hands-off option for receiving rehab therapy services, and it could set you apart from other providers who haven’t made remote therapy part of their practice’s service repertoire.
Update your Google listing.
You’ll also need to update your online listings. As the healthcare marketing experts at Full Meda explain here, “Google My Business is also now offering the ability to add two links to any of your local listings. This includes a special link to COVID-19 information and another link to Telehealth information on your website.” Take advantage of this opportunity to not only educate patients but also boost your online visibility when patients search for telehealth services.
Reach out to your referral sources.
Hargus also suggests connecting with your referral sources to let them know you’re open for business. “It’ll be important once the dust settles to focus on warming up those referral relationships again,” he said. “A lot of the hospital referral staff—even some physicians—have gotten moved or have new preferred ways of being contacted.” Additionally, in areas that have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, hospital rehabilitation centers may be overtaxed by post-COVID patients in need of PT as they come off ventilators, so offering your services to these facilities may come as a welcome relief to them.
Promote unique services.
As life returns to normal and patients begin looking for services to accommodate their needs, practices should promote any unique services that set them apart from their competitors—including gyms and wellness facilities—on their marketing channels (e.g., social media posts, website, print and media advertising, etc.). After all, the fallout from the pandemic has sent shockwaves throughout all areas of the economy, so the competition will be steep as business picks back up. However, as healthcare providers, rehab therapists could have a distinct advantage when it comes to alleviating patient anxieties over safety and sanitization practices. So, this is something practices should take into consideration when promoting any ancillary services such as fitness classes or massage.
Work on your reputation.
Perhaps one of the most important pieces of digital marketing is your clinic’s online reputation. As we’ve mentioned in the past, more and more patients are turning to Google to find their next rehab therapist, and one of the first things they’ll look at when making a decision is your online reviews. So, reach out to patients who received treatment during the pandemic and ask them to leave a review on Yelp, Google, or Facebook. This is easier to do if you track patient satisfaction or, even better, your patients’ Net Promoter Score® (NPS). That way, you can easily pick out who your happiest patients are, and thus, approach patients who are the most likely to leave you a glowing review.
Take advantage of discounted advertising.
Finally, review your clinic’s current marketing budget and look for opportunities to maximize your advertising spend. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting economic impact—many media outlets may be offering discounted pricing options. So, reach out to any publications or media platforms that are likely to reach your target audience (e.g., local TV stations, community newspapers, Spotify, etc.) and inquire about available discounts. We suggest doing this sooner rather than later to capitalize on high availability.
Change is inevitable—and necessary. As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the changes rehab therapists have made—and will make—to their practices will not only ensure the safety of their patients, but also enhance their reputation as essential healthcare providers. Got any burning questions about marketing your practice post-COVID? Let us know in the comment section below!