If you’re in the physical therapy business, I don’t have to tell you that profit margins are slim. As a former clinic director, I know how tight PT practice budgets are. In fact, that’s what led me to create WebPT in the first place: I was spending way too much money on documentation and dictation, and I desperately needed a way to trim that expense. At that time, though, electronic documentation was a fairly novel concept in the PT world. Now, ten years later, more than 80% of PT clinics are using some type of EMR. But even though the last decade has seen massive tech adoption among physical therapy practices, it also has seen massive regulatory change. So, while we’re documenting in a more cost-efficient manner, we’ve simultaneously experienced reform-driven cuts to our payment rates. And budget-wise, that’s put many of us right back where we started. It almost seems as if there’s some kind of vendetta against us—like we just can’t catch a break.

Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue - Regular BannerKnock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue - Small Banner

We’re losing tons of patient visits—and tons of revenue.

The real budget-killer, though, is something many PT practice leaders probably haven’t considered—or, if they have, they assumed there wasn’t much they could do about it. Consider this: approximately 20% of PT patients drop out of treatment within the first three visits, and 70% fail to complete their full course of care. As my friend and colleague Scott Hebert, DPT, explains here, “Over the course of a year, this can cost the average PT practice upwards of $150,000.” Now, to take that a step further, given that—based on our own market research—there’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 to 40,000 physical therapy practices nationwide, that means that overall, this problem is costing this country’s PT industry around $6 billion a year.

We are jeopardizing our patients’ quality of life.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were responsible for P&L in a physical therapy organization—as I was during my tenure as a clinic director—I’d be horrified to discover a $150,000 budget leak. And that’s especially true in this case, considering that the price of patient dropout isn’t only measured in dollars and cents; it also represents a multitude of lost opportunities to bring patients to their full functional potential—to ensure they go on to experience the highest quality of life possible. It is truly heartbreaking to think about.

But, if there’s one thing I know about PTs, it’s that we’re not ones to wallow. We are problem-solvers by nature—which is why, no matter how many curveballs the universe tosses us, we always figure out a way to press on, to overcome. Remember back when everyone was sweating bullets over functional limitation reporting? What about ICD-10? We barely even hear about those things anymore—because we’ve adjusted, adapted, and moved on.

We can’t continue blaming the tumultuous US healthcare environment for our financial woes.

Well, I’d posit that the $6 billion patient dropout problem is even more sweat-worthy than ICD-10 or FLR—or any other challenge we’ve faced as a profession. And really, it’s the culmination of a variety of contributing factors:

  • the overprescription and widespread demand for invasive treatment options like surgery and pharmaceuticals;
  • the proliferation of high-deductible health plans that have placed more out-of-pocket financial burden on patients than ever before; and
  • the ubiquitous, yet enigmatic physical therapy “branding problem.”

Those are some decidedly large-scope issues—ones that require large-scale resolution efforts. But, that doesn’t mean individual practices have to sit back and continue losing business—and bleeding revenue. In fact, there are simple changes you can make within your own organization to not only immediately improve your patient retention and average visit per patient rates, but also generate more new patients than you ever thought possible. And it all starts with asking your patients one simple question: “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

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We must create a culture of patient loyalty.

If you haven’t heard this question—or some variation of this question—before, it is the foundation of the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®), which, as I explained here, is “a simple customer loyalty metric that packs a meaningful punch.” And while I’ve talked at length about the importance of NPS tracking in the past, I’ve never really approached it from the angle of revenue preservation and growth. I’ve always believed in its unique ability to generate the honest, relevant feedback necessary to spark real, positive change in your practice—change that ultimately leads to better patient engagement, experience, and ultimately, outcomes.

What I have come to realize, though, is that the power of NPS doesn’t end with fostering better health outcomes for your patients; it’s also the perfect tool to support a healthier bottom line for your practice. After all, when you know which patients are happy—and which aren’t—you can take swift action to either:

  • prevent dissatisfied patients from dropping out of therapy early, or
  • leverage satisfied patients for the online reviews and testimonials you need to generate new business in an increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace.

And when you have not only more patients, but also more satisfied patients who continue attending therapy for the duration of their care plans, your clinic’s top-line revenue gets a double turbo boost. Plus, you leave yourself less vulnerable to revenue drainers like cancellations, no-shows, and empty appointment slots.

We now have patient-facing technology in our corner.

Now, I know there’s a “yes, but” protest coming from at least a few of you who are reading this; after all, with everything you’re already responsible for, throwing NPS tracking into the mix doesn’t seem all that feasible. That’s a problem—but as I’ve learned after spending a decade in the tech sector, where there is a problem, there is an innovative solution. And after realizing the massive depth and scope of the physical therapy patient retention problem, I—and everyone here at WebPT—knew we couldn’t sit back and allow this colossal, yet largely unrecognized revenue suck to drag down the PT industry any longer.

So, on behalf of our entire team, I’m proud to introduce the newest addition to the WebPT product lineup: WebPT Reach. It’s a first-of-its kind patient engagement tool that allows PT practices to:

  • create a consistent cadence of automated patient outreach,
  • streamline the NPS tracking process, and
  • easily identify—and request reviews from—their most satisfied patients.

This sort of technology—known as patient relationship management (PRM) software—used to only be available to the largest therapy organizations in the market. But now, it’s accessible to virtually any practice, regardless of size. And that’s huge, because if we want to make a difference at scale—if we want to flip the script on the traditional neuromusculoskeletal patient care journey—then we have to do it together.

As history has taught us time and time again, revolutions don’t happen in siloes. And if you’re in the business of physical therapy, this is one revolution you can’t afford not to join. It’s high time we took back not only our bottom lines, but also our position as the most-trusted, most-sought-out care providers for patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions. It’s time for us to rise—to expand. Are you with me? Are you #readytoreach?       

  • Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue Image

    webinarFeb 12, 2018

    Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue

    In one corner, we have a highly skilled rehab therapy provider known for delivering amazing clinical outcomes through noninvasive, movement-based treatment. And in the other corner, we have a discouraged, disengaged patient whose quality of life has taken a major hit due to musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. [video://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/d11isduky2]   If you’re a rehab therapy provider, you’ve probably seen this battle play out more times than you can count—and we’re betting that more often than not, your therapy …

  • Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar

    Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert recently joined WebPT president Heidi Jannenga for an insightful webinar about improving patient retention and reducing early patient drop-out. We know this is a super-relevant topic, especially because the cost of diminishing patient visits represents a $6 billion problem that not many people in the industry are talking about—at least not yet. As a result, we received a slew of great questions that we couldn’t get to live on …

  • Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar Image

    articleMay 16, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar

    Earlier this week, WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and guest host Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, hosted a webinar designed to help physical therapists learn the art of discovering—and selling—their value. While PTs have historically shied away from sales, in today’s evolving healthcare ecosystem, it’s absolutely imperative that all providers—and especially specialists such as rehab therapists—excel at positioning the benefits of their services in such a way that resonates with patients, payers, and referral sources. At …

  • Patient-Focused Revenue Strategy for Outpatient Rehabilitation Image

    articleMar 23, 2018 | 6 min. read

    Patient-Focused Revenue Strategy for Outpatient Rehabilitation

    If you run an outpatient rehabilitation practice, facility, or department, chances are good that you’ve been looking for ways to help boost your organization’s revenue—especially given the fact that third-party reimbursement rates have been steadily declining (or at least remaining stagnant) for a while now. While you could certainly try to renegotiate your contracts —or haggle for more approved visits per patient—these strategies may require more effort than they’re worth. Instead, there are patient-focused strategies you can …

  • Untapped Potential: The Art of Discovering and Selling Your PT Value Image

    webinarApr 3, 2018

    Untapped Potential: The Art of Discovering and Selling Your PT Value

    As the old saying goes, “In the absence of value, price is always an issue.” In other words, people aren’t going to pay for something they don’t consider valuable—whether that’s a car, a software, a new haircut, a piece of art, or even a healthcare service. Unfortunately, healthcare providers in general—and physical therapists in particular—tend to overlook the value issue, instead focusing solely on the price problem. What they may not realize, though, is that price and …

  • Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them) Image

    webinarDec 22, 2017

    Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them)

    If life is a highway, then it’s a wild, bumpy one. And while our patients want to ride it (all night long), with all those twists, turns, and potholes, they’re bound to get banged up. Fortunately, you’re here to help get them back in top form. But, helping patients achieve their goals is hard work—for you and for them—and while everyone strives to be a Ferrari, it’s common to plateau at Pinto. And that’s when the risk …

  • Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar Image

    articleFeb 7, 2018 | 9 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar

    Earlier this week, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, the president and co-founder of WebPT, teamed up with Charlotte Bohnett, WebPT’s director of demand generation, to host a webinar on common barriers to patient progress —and strategies for overcoming them. During the question-and-answer portion of the presentation, we received quite a few audience questions on the nuances of fostering patient engagement and moving patients toward their therapy goals as efficiently as possible. We’ve compiled the most frequently …

  • NPS® in Health Care: Leveraging Loyal Patients to Drive New Business and Improve Revenue Image

    articleApr 6, 2018 | 8 min. read

    NPS® in Health Care: Leveraging Loyal Patients to Drive New Business and Improve Revenue

    Most rehab therapy business owners, executives, and administrators understand the value of happy, loyal patients—especially given that a patient’s attitude toward, and relationship with, his or her provider can majorly impact the outcome of that patient’s treatment. But, did you know that you can use Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) tracking to systematically identify your already-pleased patients and leverage them to drive new business and improve your revenue? This powerful metric can also help you learn about, prioritize, …

  • 4 Things We Must Do to Save PT From Certain Death (as Told at the 2019 Graham Sessions) Image

    articleMar 11, 2019 | 23 min. read

    4 Things We Must Do to Save PT From Certain Death (as Told at the 2019 Graham Sessions)

    In one of the last talks at the 2019 Graham Sessions, a young physical therapist boldly stated that in focusing solely on survival, we are actually killing the PT profession. We are clinging to a reactive—rather than proactive—mode of operation, and in doing so, we are surrendering the millions of patients we could be helping to other, less-skilled professionals. And that means we are failing them. In essence, we are standing idle, content with the status quo …

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