The physical therapy industry has seen more than a few ebbs and flows when it comes to consolidation. However, as WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, pointed out in this predictions post, consolidation is currently on the rise—and more and more independent practices are being absorbed into larger systems. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for the remaining small-to-medium-sized practices to obtain enough physician referrals to compete with big physical therapy companies and large health systems. After all, physicians who are part of a large system are, understandably, referring patients to PTs who also are in that system.

Thus, relying solely on physician referrals is no longer a sustainable business practice—and independent PT practices would be wise to embrace a marketing mindset that’s focused on the patient. And because of direct access laws—and the fact that patients are behaving a lot more like consumers—this type of marketing strategy can be highly effective. With that in mind, here’s what you can do to reach prospective patients before they ever step foot in a physician’s office—and thus, protect yourself if and when your referrals run dry:

The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 Guide - Regular BannerThe State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 Guide - Small Banner

1. Take advantage of direct access laws—regardless of your state.

It’s true; unrestricted direct access laws only apply to a handful of states. But, some form of direct access to physical therapy exists everywhere in the US, and the number of states that provide unrestricted access is growing. That means that most physical therapists—regardless of where they practice—can at least provide an initial evaluation for a patient without a physician referral. From there, you’ll be able to decide whether the patient will benefit from your services and:

  • Provide treatment immediately (if your state practice act allows it and the patient’s insurance covers it);
  • Work with a PT-friendly referring physician who’s already in your network to expedite the referral process before beginning treatment; or
  • Refer the patient to a provider in another discipline that you believe would be better suited to treat that patient (and simultaneously strengthen your network).

Regardless of which option you choose, though, you’ll be in the driver’s seat of that patient’s care as you assume the role of a care coordinator—a role that PTs are uniquely qualified to fill for patients with neuromusculoskeletal issues.

2. Communicate your value—and support it with data.

With the proliferation of high-deductible health plans, patients are shouldering more of the financial responsibility for the cost of their care. Thus, when it comes to making healthcare decisions, patients are acting a lot more like consumers, in that they’re not only doing significantly more research (specifically, online research) about their treatment options, but also evaluating the perceived value of those options. In order to connect with prospective patients—and get them in the door—you must know your value and be able to communicate it in a way that resonates with your patients (via a channel they’re already using).

Given that the majority of patients are performing their healthcare research online, that’s a good place to start: be sure that you optimize your online presence with a professional website that includes organic, relevant keywords and a clear-cut value statement that you can support with patient testimonials and outcomes data. (Hint: A plethora of positive reviews on popular review sites such as Yelp, Google, and Healthgrades is incredibly beneficial, too). Then, ensure that everyone on your staff understands the value your practice provides, too, so whoever is speaking to a prospective patient—or referral source (because you’ll still want to maintain relationships with referrers)—can communicate that value and tailor it according to audience.

Download your 2018 State of Rehab Therapy report now.

Enter your email address below, and we’ll send you a free comprehensive report on the trends shaping the future of the industry.

Please enable JavaScript to submit form.

3. Prioritize the patient experience—and patient engagement.

The Triple Aim of healthcare reform has put the patient—and his or her experience—at the very center of health care. And rightfully so, as a positive experience can improve engagement and, consequently, outcomes. While we all know that the patient experience is important, it can be tricky to quantify—especially with less-than-sensitive satisfaction surveys that don’t provide much in the way of meaningful data. Instead, consider working Net Promoter Score (NPS) tracking into your practice’s operational processes. That way, you’ll be able to easily identify which patients are happy with your services and loyal to your practice—and which aren’t.

From there, you can work to remedy specific issues in real-time, improve the overall patient experience—thereby creating more happy, loyal patients who are more likely to use your services again—and encourage those happy, loyal patients to serve as brand evangelists to sing your praises online. That’s a surefire way to bring in new patients and increase revenue. (Hint: EMR-integrated PRM software such as WebPT Reach can help you automate the entire NPS and patient engagement process, making it super-easy to differentiate your clinic from your competitors and, as a result, boost revenue.)

4. Don’t stop at discharge.

Given that every year, half of adults experience an injury or condition that could benefit from the skilled intervention of a physical therapist, there’s a good chance that your current patients will need your services again—or, at the very least, know someone who does. Thus it’s imperative that you continue to connect with patients in a way that keeps you top-of-mind well after discharge. You can do this by providing highly valuable and uber-relevant content like:

  • well-written articles about preventing a recurring injury,
  • nutritional advice to support functional fitness goals, and
  • regular updates about available cash-pay wellness services and clinic news.

Just be sure to verify the patient’s current email address before he or she leaves your clinic at discharge (and double-check that you have written permission to communicate with him or her via email on file). And only send past patients content that’s valuable and relevant. Sending anything but may lead those patients to unsubscribe from your email list—and turn away from your practice for good. (WebPT Reach can help with this type of patient engagement, too.)


With increasing regulations and decreasing reimbursements, it’s no wonder that many private practice physical therapy practices are merging with larger organizations. While this may change the topography of the healthcare landscape—at least until the tide changes again—there are things you can do right now to ensure your private PT practice not only survives, but also thrives, the most important being connecting directly with your patients.

How are you handling the consolidation trend that’s impacting the industry? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

  • What’s Wrong With Physical Therapy Marketing Today Image

    articleMay 7, 2018 | 7 min. read

    What’s Wrong With Physical Therapy Marketing Today

    There’s a lot at stake when it comes to successfully marketing your physical therapy practice —as well as your profession. But unfortunately, many physical therapists avoid the topic altogether. After all, marketing is closely related to sales—and sales often gets a bad rap. But, we’re not about the hard-ball, cringe-worthy, manipulative sales tactics that make us all uncomfortable; instead, we’re all about positioning your value in such a way that your audience can actually relate to it—and …

  • [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 …

  • 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 …

  • 3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice Image

    articleApr 7, 2016 | 8 min. read

    3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice

    As physical therapists, we’re observant. We closely examine movements, attentively listen to patient complaints, and expertly read between the lines. Unfortunately, though, we don’t always give that level of attention to the non-clinical stuff. Because while we’re expert empathizers, we’re not the strongest scrutinizers. And when it comes to business, you need to scrupulously scrutinize. I worked as a physical therapist for more than 15 years, and I spent a good portion of that time as a …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 4 Creative Ways to Leverage Online Patient Reviews Image

    articleMar 15, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Creative Ways to Leverage Online Patient Reviews

    If you’ve been reading the WebPT Blog for any amount of time, you’ve most likely come across a post or two about the importance of cultivating a plethora of positive online reviews. After all, online reviews provide prospective patients with the social proof they may need to choose your practice over another. They also set a baseline for the patient experience—and help improve your findability online. While you could certainly glean a ton of great benefits from …

  • 6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015 Image

    articleNov 16, 2015 | 10 min. read

    6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015

    Last week, I joined hundreds of amazing physical therapy professionals, students, and vendors (including yours truly, WebPT) at this year's PPS Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Despite the uncomfortable combination of tropical heat and humidity outside—and near-freezing conference rooms inside—everyone was in high spirits. Though I never made it to Disney World, I still felt like I was in the most magical place on Earth, thanks to the inspiring and informative presentations I saw and the thought-provoking …

  • How to Use Online Networking to Boost Your PT Business Image

    articleFeb 28, 2019 | 12 min. read

    How to Use Online Networking to Boost Your PT Business

    The prospect of building a physical therapy business can feel daunting, but the advent of social media has made certain aspects of the process dramatically easier—namely, networking. While online networking can seem a bit unnatural to many of us at first, pushing past the discomfort can be the one of the best things we’ll ever do for our personal and professional growth. Whether the end goal is to attract patients to a traditional or telehealth practice, forge …

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