Recently, we’ve focused a lot of our content on marketing to acquire new patients, whether that's via physician referral or self-referral à la direct access. But, we'd be remiss not to talk about marketing to the patients who are currently in your care (i.e., retention marketing). After all, it's much more cost-effective to keep the patients you have than it is to continuously bring in new patients to keep your schedule full. And, as WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, pointed out here, early patient dropout is a huge—and costly—industry-wide problem. So, without further ado, here’s how to retain patients (beyond providing exceptional care, of course):

Top of Mind, Top of Search: 4 Ways to Help Patients Find Your PT Practice Online - Regular BannerTop of Mind, Top of Search: 4 Ways to Help Patients Find Your PT Practice Online - Small Banner

1. Build rapport.

Of course, you want to provide the very best care to your patients, and that includes building rapport—you know, getting to know each patient as an individual rather than simply a diagnosis. After all, in order to keep winning a patient’s business, you must foster a personal connection, and that starts at the very first interaction. Before jumping into a discussion about what’s wrong—and how to fix it—consider asking a few personal questions to get to know your patients. And make a note of what you learn; that way, you can reference it during future interactions.

2. Check your culture.

Your clinic's culture and vibe—as well as the way your staff interacts with patients—are part of your retention marketing efforts. After all, it’s a packaged deal. No matter how good your care is, if your patients don’t feel comfortable in your clinic—or well-treated by your staff—then they’ll likely look for another practice that’s better aligned with their needs. Or, they’ll bail on rehab therapy altogether in favor of more traditional—and potentially invasive or addictive—treatments. And that’s bad for your practice and the profession (not to mention that it could also be risky for you patients). Instead, make sure you’re projecting the image you want by establishing core values that are supported by your entire staff.

3. Connect between sessions.

Today’s patients want to connect with their healthcare providers between sessions. But unfortunately, that’s just not something a busy provider is always able to do. That’s where technology can be a big help. Software such as WebPT Reach can automate email sends, so no matter how busy you are, you can be sure you’re providing relevant content to your patients between sessions—and after discharge. After all, you never know when a past patient might need your services again. This type of regular communication can help keep you top of mind and encourage patients to remain compliant with their HEPs. To that end, WebPT’s HEP has built-in patient-provider communication functionality, so patients can reach out with questions as they arise—and you can make modifications immediately instead of waiting until the next appointment. Talk about a great way to stay connected—and keep patients on track with their goals.

Download Retention, Please: Why Patient Dropout is Killing Rehab Therapy Practices— and How to Stop It.

Enter your email address below to receive our guide to boosting patient retention.

Please enable JavaScript to submit form.

4. Track patient data—and act on feedback.

The best way to know how your patients are experiencing your practice is to ask them. But traditional satisfaction surveys have several big drawbacks. That’s why we recommend using Net Promoter Score (NPS) tracking to gauge patient loyalty. With this tool, you simply ask your patients how likely—on a scale of 0 to 10—they would be to recommend your practice to a friend or family member (and provide a free-text box for patients to explain their response). That text box is key, because in addition to being able to calculate your NPS score—which you can use to improve certain aspects of the patient experience and market to potential referrers—you can also identify displeased patients early, before they drop out of your practice, so you can address their concerns and retain their business. Track NPS consistently enough, and you’ll be able to catch issues and fix them in near real-time.

Speaking of important data to track, you’ll also want to keep tabs on your patients’ outcomes data. You can then use it to objectively show patients their progress and encourage them to continue attending their appointments. This can be crucial, especially for patients who may have a long road to recovery.

5. Use technology.

Here’s hoping that by now you’ve adopted a high-quality EMR, because there’s really no way to remain compliant without one. There’s also something to be said for healthcare providers being comfortable with the latest technology, because patients are coming to expect it. As WebPT’s Kylie McKee pointed out here, “research from The Beryl Institute showed that providing interactive technology (like digitized home exercise programs) in hospital settings sparked a 10% increase in patient satisfaction and a more than 40% improvement in satisfaction with educational materials.” And here, she cites research from Nuance Communications (featured in HIT Consultant), stating that “‘58% of patients feel technology improves patient experience’ when providers use technology to educate or explain procedures.”

In other words, beyond an EMR, you may want to consider other technological add-ons that better serve your patients—and keep them coming back to you (including, say, automated appointment reminders and a peer-reviewed, interactive, and mobile HEP platform that can help increase patient compliance with prescribed home exercise programs).

6. Measure your efforts.

As with all marketing endeavors, you’ll want to track your efforts. How else will you know what’s working—and what’s not? That means calculating your baseline churn rate—the percentage of patients who leave therapy before completing their plans of care—and then tracking it over time as you implement your retention marketing strategies. While you can certainly calculate churn on your own—the equation for doing so is here—you can also use the lost patient log within WebPT to do that for you. Plus, the log will show you exactly who’s churned, which means you’ll have the opportunity to try to reconnect and potentially win those patients back before they’re gone for good.

There you have it: six strategies to keep current patients coming back for more. Ultimately, the better experience you provide for your current patients, the more new patients will seek out your services, too—and the more referrals you’ll receive. Trust me: it won’t be long until word gets out!

Have your own strategies for retaining patients? Please share them in the comment section below.

  • Patient Marketing vs. Referral Marketing: Which One Matters More to PT Practices? Image

    articleJun 14, 2019 | 5 min. read

    Patient Marketing vs. Referral Marketing: Which One Matters More to PT Practices?

    PT practices with limited marketing resources are eager to know where they should focus their efforts—and their dollars. Yet, as with so many other marketing-related questions, the answer to whether you should concentrate your energy on patient marketing or referral marketing isn’t cut and dried. That’s why, in this post, we’re exploring the factors practice owners should consider as they create their marketing plan—and budget. Spoiler alert: There’s good reason to dedicate resources to both building a …

  • FAQ: Ditch the Donuts: Referral Marketing Strategies that Actually Work Image

    articleMay 30, 2019 | 18 min. read

    FAQ: Ditch the Donuts: Referral Marketing Strategies that Actually Work

    Earlier this week, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, WebPT President and Co-Founder, and Bruce Watson, PT, MS, CEO and Founder of 48 Consulting Group, joined forces to discuss the modern referral marketing strategies that actually work—and the ones that should get left in the dust. During the hour-long presentation , we received a bundle of questions from viewers—some of which our hosts didn’t have time to answer. So, we compiled a list of the most common …

  • Founder Letter: 3 Ways to Become a Better PT, OT, or SLP in 2019 Image

    articleJan 8, 2019 | 11 min. read

    Founder Letter: 3 Ways to Become a Better PT, OT, or SLP in 2019

    It’s official; we’ve closed out 2018 and are stepping into a brand-new year. While I don’t recommend saving up those important intentions and resolutions for the kick-off of a new year, it does represent a potent time to release the things that no longer serve us—and embrace more of what does. In the past, I’ve used this occasion to put out some predictions for the year to come—and I’ve done that again here —but right now, I’d …

  • The PT's Guide to Building Better Referral Relationships Image

    articleMar 20, 2019 | 9 min. read

    The PT's Guide to Building Better Referral Relationships

    We’re big fans of patient-centered marketing —especially now that all 50 states have direct access laws that allow PTs to, at minimum, evaluate patients without a referral. But that doesn’t mean you should rely entirely on word-of-mouth to bring in new clients. After all, many states have limited direct access laws that prevent PTs from having full control over their patients’ medical journey—and many payers still require some degree of physician involvement in therapy care plans. So, …

  • Think Big, Think Differently: 6 Bits of Inspiration from Ascend 2017 Image

    articleOct 5, 2017 | 11 min. read

    Think Big, Think Differently: 6 Bits of Inspiration from Ascend 2017

    The overarching theme of Ascend 2017 —the fourth-annual installment of rehab therapy’s premier business summit—was, quite simply, “Think big.” But, based on what we learned from our esteemed group of speakers over the course of two inspiration-filled days in Washington, DC, a more accurate tagline for this year’s conference might have been, “Think differently.” After all, in a field as complex as health care, grand aspirations are not enough. To solve the problems plaguing this industry, we …

  • [Quiz] Is Your PT Clinic Marketing to the Right Patients? Image

    articleMar 25, 2019 | 1 min. read

    [Quiz] Is Your PT Clinic Marketing to the Right Patients?

    We’ve been talking about the importance of marketing directly to patients for a while now. After all, patient-consumers are taking an even more active role in their healthcare decisions . But even PT clinics that do market their practices to patients often do so without having a strategy in place. And that’s concerning, because if you’re not thinking strategically about how you’re spending your marketing dollars—not to mention your time—then you’re probably not going to see the …

  • The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing Image

    articleOct 15, 2014 | 8 min. read

    The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing

    It took expensive membership dues, countless lobbying and volunteer hours, and 25 years, but we finally did it: Direct access to physical therapy services is now available in all 50 states in at least one form or another. It wasn’t easy, so it’s important to take a few moments to celebrate our achievements and raise a glass to all of the passionate physical therapists and physical therapy advocates out there who made it happen. Okay, time’s up—and …

  • What Independent PT Practices Can Learn from POPTS Image

    articleJul 12, 2018 | 7 min. read

    What Independent PT Practices Can Learn from POPTS

    Physician-owned physical therapy services (POPTS) get a bad rap in the private practice world. After all, many independent PTs blame them for dwindling referrals and revenues. But, those physicians are doing what every healthcare provider is doing in this challenging healthcare environment: trying to take over the world. Just kidding—trying to remain profitable by adding additional revenue streams that benefit their patients. So, rather than complain about what others are doing—and what is and isn’t fair—PTs might …

  • 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://]   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 …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.