No business wants to lose a customer, and no healthcare provider wants to lose a patient. It’s bad for business, and it may very well be bad for your patients’ wellbeing. But what does losing a single patient really cost a rehab therapy practice—especially if that patient had gone on to be a loyal one? (Hint: It’s more than you might expect.) Read on to learn how to calculate the cost of losing a patient in your clinic—and what patient retention strategies you can implement to prevent patients from disappearing in the first place.

### Your patients are valuable—but, just how valuable?

One way to assess the dollar value of each patient is to use the patient lifetime value (LTV) metric, which is the product of two variables: price and customer retention. While there are numerous ways to calculate LTV (as demonstrated by this Kissmetrics infographic), to get a rough idea of the projected revenue a customer will generate in his or her lifetime, multiply the amount you charge for a session by the average number of sessions you provide to each customer.

#### Here’s an example:

Let’s say Joe’s Netflix subscription costs \$10 a month and he uses the service for 10 months before canceling it. Joe’s lifetime value as far as Netflix is concerned is \$100. Simple, right? But, instead of waiting until Joe cancels his membership to calculate his LTV, Netflix averages the LTV of all of its customers by factoring in the average cost of its services and the average length of time customers stay on board. Considering how popular Netflix is, it’s likely that the lifetime value of an average Netflix customer is actually higher than Joe’s. In fact, according to this blog post, customers usually stay with Netflix for 25 months (and the monthly price is closer to \$11.65). Once you’ve calculated the average lifetime value of a customer (the average price of your sessions multiplied by the number of sessions you provide each customer), you’ll know exactly how much a lost patient costs your practice.

### There’s also the loyalty factor.

Of course, you must also account for the loyalty factor. While this may not be quantifiable in terms of a dollar amount, losing a patient that you could have turned into a loyal customer costs much more than your LTV calculation may indicate. That’s because you have to factor in the lost value of not only that one patient’s services, but also the services you may have sold based on his or her referrals. If you’re tracking your NPS®—and using patient feedback to increase the number of Promoters in your practice—then you may already be familiar with how easy it is to get your loyal patients to serve as brand evangelists by singing your praises on online review sites and to family and friends. This type of word-of-mouth referral marketing is practically invaluable—especially as more patients are doing their own research prior to making decisions about their care. Plus, loyal patients are significantly more likely to retain your services again in the future or try a new offering, which means letting them go—or not doing the work necessary to turn dissatisfied patients into satisfied ones—could hurt potential future revenue even more.

In order to increase its LTV, Netflix could increase the cost of its services, boost its value proposition to keep customers engaged with its services longer, or do both. If you’re a cash-based or out-of-network rehab therapist, then you have the same options as Netflix does when it comes to increasing your LTV. If you rely on third-party reimbursements, however, then you probably don’t have the option of increasing the cost of your services. Instead, the only way to improve the LTV of your patients is by increasing your value proposition to retain your patients longer—which means you must deliver a service that provides each patient with sustained value.

### Rehab therapists have an LTV cap.

Unlike other healthcare providers who only see patients sporadically—for example, at an annual checkup, in an emergency situation, or to perform surgery—rehab therapists can only stay in business if their patients return on a regular basis. Thus, the biggest difference—in terms of LTV—between a rehab therapy practice and most other subscription-based businesses is that rehab therapy has an LTV cap. While other businesses could theoretically retain a customer forever, rehab therapists have a maximum care duration that is dictated by either the number of insurance-approved visits or the patient's eventual lack of need for additional treatment. That being said, unless all of your patients are completing their course of care in full, there are things you can do to improve retention.

### Patient retention deserves special attention.

According to the same Kissmetrics infographic, “Research has found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%.” In case that wasn’t enough motivation for you to give customer retention some special attention, consider this: “it costs six to seven times more to gain a new customer than keep an existing one.” Before you can improve your retention, though, you should take a baseline measurement by calculating your patient retention rate (PRR), which is simply the percentage of expected sessions your patients actually attend.

PRR = the average number of session your patients attend / the average number of sessions you recommend (or insurance authorizes)

For example, if, on average, you recommend (and/or insurance authorizes) 10 sessions per patient, but your patients leave after, say, seven, then your PRR is 70%—and that’s essentially costing you 30% of your revenue potential.

### Improve the patient experience—and you’ll see your patient retention rate improve.

While there’s no way to prevent every patient from bailing on therapy early, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the patient experience, thereby reducing the number who do—and improving your patient retention rate. For example, you could:

• Set clear expectations at the onset of care about the impact that patient participation and engagement has on patient outcomes.
• Get your entire staff involved in the process.
• Uncover your patients’ real motivation to feel better, and explain how the work that you do together ties into that.
• Send automatic appointment reminders to help patients remember their appointments.
• Collect patient reported outcome measures (PROMs)—and use that data to keep patients excited about their progress.
• Provide access to an interactive patient portal with a comprehensive home exercise program that gets patients excited about completing their homework—and makes it easy for them to do so.
• Collect—and act upon—patient feedback in a consistent and timely manner to help you improve the patient experience.
• Increase the value of your sessions—and the appeal of your clinic environment—by offering something unique.
• Use outcomes data to benchmark the success of your clinical programs and make adjustments as needed.
• Touch base with your patients outside of the clinic at regular intervals to check on their progress and commemorate milestones.
• Provide valuable content and educational resources to empower your patients to take the reins on their health.

### Patient engagement software can help.

While you could certainly work to improve your LTV and your patient retention manually, if you’re running a large practice—or simply looking to scale a growing one—you may want to explore patient engagement software designed specifically to help rehab therapists keep their patients engaged in their care. To that end, WebPT Reach is the complete patient relationship management platform for rehab therapy, enabling providers to design and implement patient engagement, retention, reactivation, and referral campaigns to grow their practices. Still not sure if Reach is for you? Clinics using this platform have been able to decrease early patient dropout by up to 20% and increase patient referrals by more than 5%, all while reducing work for clinical and administrative staff. Click here to schedule your complimentary tour of the software.

Losing a single patient can cost your clinic more than you would expect, and losing lots of them can be hard to recover from. How do you manage patient retention in your clinic? We’d love to hear about the strategies you’ve successfully implemented in the comment section below.

### Subscribe to our blog.

#### Discussion

• articleMar 5, 2019 | 6 min. read

#### 10 Physical Therapy Marketing Metrics that Matter

There’s plenty of information out there on the topic of clinic metrics for physical therapists—a lot of which we’ve already written . But today, we wanted to take a slightly different approach to this incredibly important topic and dive deeper into the metrics you can use to to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. After all, if you’re devoting resources to attracting new patients via digital or traditional marketing, you surely want to know which of …

• 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 …

• 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 …

• 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 …

• articleFeb 8, 2019 | 18 min. read

#### FAQ: The Data-Driven Practice: 10 Stats to Track in Your Therapy Organization

Earlier this week, WebPT President and Co-Founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DT, ATC, teamed up with WebPT Vice President of Innovation and Product Management, Russell Olsen, to discuss the ten trackable metrics that can help you turbo-boost your practice past the competition. They tackled as many audience questions as they could during the post-webinar Q&A, but there just wasn’t enough time to get to all of them. So, we’ve compiled—and answered—the most frequently asked ones and posted …

• 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 …

• 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 …

• 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, …

• 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 …