We write a lot about patient-centered care, which makes sense, because it is the care model of the future. In this paradigm, patients are—as they should be—front and center when it comes to making decisions about their health care. Of course, this type of shift requires providers to change the way they deliver their services—you know, more collaboration, greater transparency, and widespread use of technology that fosters seamless health data exchange. But it also requires a shift in the way providers market their practices. Sure, marketing to referral sources and payers is still a necessary part of the game, but in this new model of health care, marketing to patients is absolutely crucial. To do so successfully, physical therapy clinics must adopt marketing strategies that focus on the things patients care about most—namely, getting better, faster. Here’s everything you need to know to do just that:

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

1. Assess your strengths—and weaknesses.

Getting a baseline understanding of your strengths and weaknesses is a fantastic starting point for any marketing campaign—especially one geared toward patients. After all, you must know what you’re working with before you can sell it. And selling something that you can’t actually deliver could land you in some serious trouble. While payers may not discuss their grievances about a particular provider with one another, patients surely do. So, now’s the time to take an honest look at your performance—and the best way to do that is to collect and track outcomes data. That way, you’ll have objective information that demonstrates not only the quality of your services, but also your patients’ satisfaction levels. And those are key indicators of a successful practice.

Incorporating Outcomes Tracking

As we wrote in this guide to tracking outcomes, there are several necessary steps for implementing a solid outcomes tracking program in your practice, including the following:

  • Adopt an integrated outcomes tracking solution that provides a diverse library of evidence-based, industry-accepted tests that are already familiar to—and respected within—the healthcare community at large, along with risk-adjusted national outcome comparison reports.
  • Be sure everyone in your office—front office staff, billers, assistants, administrators, and therapists—understands why your practice is collecting outcomes data.
  • Educate your patients on the benefits of completing OMTs, and make sure they know how to do so correctly.
  • Establish a process for administering OMTs—including assigning responsibility for specific steps to certain staff members.

2. Tailor your message.

Today’s patients have a choice when it comes to their healthcare providers, which is why one-size-fits-all marketing techniques aren’t going to cut it any longer. Instead, opt for a tailored message that gets to the heart of what patients care about, which, as I wrote above, really comes down to getting better, faster. But even that’s too general, because patients with low back pain are seeking providers who not only specifically treat that condition, but also excel at doing so. And the same goes for patients with any other condition or injury. 

Using Your Data

That’s where your outcomes data comes into play. Once you know the areas in which your practice excels, you’ll be able to craft messages that entice patients to select your services. For example, if your clinic produces exceptional outcomes for patients who are recovering from total knee replacements, then you can—and should—include that in your marketing. (If that’s the case, you may also want to consider participating in the CJR.) On the other hand, if your clinic isn’t performing exceptionally well for patients with shoulder injuries, then you may want to halt shoulder-specific marketing efforts until you’ve had the opportunity to level up in that area, which in this case may mean completing additional training or bringing in a staff member with the necessary skill set. Just remember that, in this case, your marketing materials are meant for patients, so be sure you’re communicating in a way that the patients understand (i.e., don’t use clinical or industry-specific jargon that doesn’t actually address your potential patients’ pain points). Instead, keep it crystal clear and to the point.

3. Target your market.

Once you’ve crafted your data-backed marketing message, you’ll need to determine how to deliver it. While there’s definitely something to be said for ensuring your front-office staff understand how to use your outcomes data to market to patients who call your office—what better way to communicate your value and allay financial fears before a patient’s first visit?—you’ll also want to get your message online. After all, that’s where most of your patients are going to find you. And what do patients value most online? Social proof—which means that in addition to creating a professional website and valuable content, you’ll want to get comfortable using social media and start working on generating an arsenal of positive online reviews.

Networking with Purpose

Earlier this year, Sarah Lyon, OTR/L, published a guide to help OTs use social media to better network with their colleagues. Well, her sage advice not only stands for all rehab therapists, but also applies when marketing to patients:

  • “Set a goal,” she wrote, because “no one has time to throw spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks.” Rather, be clear with your intentions for developing a social media strategy—before you begin.
  • “Find the right network.” There are plenty of networks to choose from—including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest—and each one serves a different purpose.
  • “Be genuine.” In other words, regardless of the platform you choose, “Don’t try to sell something to someone you just met. Don’t ask too much of them.” And my personal favorite: “Don’t be spammy or scammy.”

Looking for even more great strategies to improve your social media marketing efforts? Check out this section of our physical therapy marketing guide. Lyon will also be speaking at this year’s Ascend summit. Check out the full agenda—and register to attend—here.

Soliciting Patient Reviews

As WebPT’s Lauren Mulligan writes in this post, “If you really want to broaden your patient base and increase your revenue, you’ll need a strategy for getting your current and former patients to sing your praises publicly.” And what’s the best way to get your patients to leave you a review? Ask. “At the end of a great appointment—or at discharge, when a patient has successfully completed an entire treatment plan—tell your client how important he or she is to your business, and then ask if he or she would be willing to leave an online review of your clinic,” Mulligan wrote. To make it even easier for your patients to sing your praises, she also recommends including “direct links to all your review profiles—including your own clinic website—in easy-to-see and easy-to-access locations, like your website, business cards, and email signature, especially if you email appointment reminders or post-session thank-you messages.” Just be sure your patient has had a truly positive experience before you request a review, because it can be tough to recover from negative reviews.

It’s been a few years now since some form of direct access became available in all 50 states, which means—hopefully—you’ve already begun marketing your services directly to patients. Now, with the industry-wide shift toward a more patient-centric care model, it’s even more important to market the things patients value.

  • Dialogue after Discharge: The Importance of Post-Treatment Follow-Up Image

    articleAug 23, 2017 | 6 min. read

    Dialogue after Discharge: The Importance of Post-Treatment Follow-Up

    Long-distance relationships are tough. Between juggling the hectic day-to-day and maintaining connections with all the other people in your life, it can be challenging to devote time to someone who resides outside your immediate geographic vicinity. Fortunately, as technology progresses, it’s helping bridge the gap between people and their faraway loved ones. Thanks to technological advances like text messaging, email, video chat, and social media, it’s easier than ever for those separated by land and sea to …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 3 Keys to Establishing Website Confidence Image

    articleNov 11, 2016 | 4 min. read

    3 Keys to Establishing Website Confidence

    In today’s digital landscape, users are less forgiving of poor web construction than ever before – and for good reason. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of false or irrelevant information on the web, and it’s just as accessible and pervasive as the truly beneficial, crucial facts that users want to find. Thus, it’s critical that your physical therapy website begin establishing user confidence from the moment someone lands on one of your pages. Consider, for instance, the structure …

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017 Image

    webinarJan 5, 2017

    Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017

    Predicting the weather is tough—just ask any meteorologist who has called for sun on the day of a major downpour. Well, predicting the fate of the US healthcare system isn’t much easier—there’s a lot up in the air, after all. But, even without a healthcare equivalent of Doppler Radar, there are a few key trends that are sure to have a major impact on PTs, OTs, and SLPs in 2017 and beyond. And to keep your practice …

  • Beyond FFS: Why a Risk-Based Payment Model Could be Your Best Bargaining Chip Image

    articleJun 23, 2017 | 8 min. read

    Beyond FFS: Why a Risk-Based Payment Model Could be Your Best Bargaining Chip

    If you’ve ever negotiated a payer contract , you probably focused on convincing that insurer to simply bump up your rates. However, with healthcare reform moving full steam ahead, this might not be the best—or most lucrative—approach. Rather, therapy practices may want to put risk-based proposals on the table (i.e., those that allow for larger or smaller payments based on outcomes). After all, value-based payment models will soon be the new norm, and it could pay—literally—to be …

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