With payer payment rates continuing to stagnate—or in some cases, decline—more practice owners are seeking avenues to diversify their revenue streams to ward off cash flow issues. To that end, hybrid PT clinic models are an appealing option for providers who don’t want to move entirely out-of-network but do want the ability to offer cash-pay services. In this type of hybrid PT model—not to be confused with hybrid models that mix in-person and remote care—providers operate both insurance-based and cash-pay models to try and get the best of both worlds.
But, how should you sell a new model to patients who don’t know the difference between the two or might not understand why they should pay out-of-pocket for added care? It takes a thoughtful approach and more than a little know-how—which is why we spoke with MEG Business Management Founder and President (and co-host for our upcoming marketing webinar) Brian Gallagher, PT, to get some marketing tips for hybrid physical therapy clinics.
1. Highlight what separates you from the competition.
As a hybrid physical therapy practice, you’re setting yourself apart from others in your area that still operate on a traditional, strictly insurance-based model. But the average prospective patient will not intuitively understand why they should seek you out over those traditional practices—particularly if they’re used to relying on referrals from physicians to find a physical therapist.
Making your case for why patients should choose your hybrid PT clinic (and why they should opt for PT first) requires a bit of education on your unique benefits. As Gallagher notes, a hybrid PT clinic should be trumpeting that, by pairing in-network services and cash-based options, they’re providing greater access to care and offering patients more choices than they would have otherwise.
Also, cash-pay services allow patients and providers to take back control over care from insurance companies. And with more patients growing tired of high deductibles and seeking out concierge services, choosing the care you want is a great selling point.
2. Take advantage of your internal marketing channels.
If you want to get patients and referring physicians on board with your hybrid PT clinic, you have to use what Gallagher refers to as “internal marketing.” Internal marketing strategies are everything you’re doing to keep patients satisfied and coming back for further treatment—and to tell their friends, family, coworkers, and doctors about the excellent care they received. If you’re doing your internal marketing correctly, 60% of your evaluations will be either return business or people sent to your clinic from other patients, Gallagher says.
In this instance, it’s about providing exceptional treatment and highlighting your other services while working with patients. Your face-to-face time with patients is an excellent opportunity to have organic conversations about any aftercare or wellness programs that could benefit them. As Gallagher notes in this blog post, you can use one practice to grow the other—in this case, marketing your traditional model and then using that to funnel patients into other services.
Internal marketing also means leveraging those patients to boost your marketing efforts. In addition to good word-of-mouth campaigns, your patients can help you by leaving positive online reviews or providing a written or video testimonial that you can share on your website. Those positive reviews from actual patients are more influential in attracting new patients than anything you could say in your marketing.
And it’s not just other potential patients; your current patients are your best advocates with referring physicians. As Gallagher notes, referrals rely heavily on patient feedback. Given the choice, physicians are far more likely to send patients to a provider that’s getting rave reviews than one garnering less enthusiasm from patients.
3. Spend your marketing dollars wisely.
In addition to your internal efforts, you can invest time and money into your marketing to highlight your hybrid clinic with potential patients. Advertising on Google or social media is an effective way to stand out from the competition, given that you’re paying for the privilege of appearing at the top of searches or in the feeds of your target audience.
The key to effective advertising is knowing your unique value proposition and setting up your practice to make the most of those dollars. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can get a bit costly, depending on your market and the keywords you’re bidding on; if you’re going to wade into those potentially deep waters, make sure you have a plan—and a budget.
Or, as Gallagher suggests, you can take what you would spend on ads and between 3% to 5% of your overall budget and put that towards hiring an in-house or outsourced marketing specialist. A dedicated marketer can help make the most of your direct-to-consumer marketing by:
- Improving your website with search engine optimization (SEO) to boost your ranking in search results;
- Managing your social media presence to improve engagement;
- Creating content like blogs, videos, and webinars to enhance your visibility; and
- Building email marketing campaigns and newsletters to engage patients;
With the right person and the proper process, a marketer can provide you with a greater return on your investment and generate more leads than you would with paid ads alone.
4. Foster more collaboration with referring physicians.
One novel approach Gallagher recommends for hybrid practices is engaging with your patient’s primary care physician or other referring physician more directly. Specifically, Gallagher recommends penning what he calls a “dear doctor” letter that patients can deliver at their next follow-up appointment. That letter allows you to introduce yourself, outline your findings, insights, and recommendations from your treatment, and open the door to further collaboration on that patient’s care.
Or, if you want to go above and beyond, Gallagher suggests that you set aside time to tag along with your patient to that follow-up appointment. A face-to-face conversation with their other doctor can establish that relationship between healthcare providers that is important to achieving the best possible outcome for a patient.
5. Understand your revenue targets—and measure your performance.
Regardless of your practice model, you need to understand your financial targets to create a marketing plan. At a minimum, Gallagher recommends determining the average reimbursement you expect under this new model. To calculate that number, you can look at the four most common treatments you’re providing and the rates for each to figure out the number you need to reach per patient to be sufficiently profitable.
You also need to understand what Gallagher refers to as your production center formula: how much revenue you need to generate to meet an 80% target for clinical efficiency. You create that formula by determining the number of production facilities for your clinic’s insurance and cash-pay offices and other work areas where you provide treatment or other services. Then, determine how many patients each facility sees over a day, week, or month. If you’re not performing enough services to meet your goals, you can ramp up your marketing to get more patients into your office.
For your marketing campaigns, you need to measure your customer acquisition costs and conversion rate, the return on ad spend for any paid advertising, and the open and click-through rates for emails. Your hard work will go to waste if you’re not tracking the right metrics to make sure you’re getting results.
Your hybrid PT clinic can help you to attract new patients and offer new services that you wouldn’t otherwise under a traditional model—but only if you know how to market it to patients.
If you’d like to hear more hybrid PT clinic marketing insights, sign up for our webinar on May 24th, featuring Brian Gallagher, PT and WebPT Co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC.