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Across the country, practice owners are faced with the same challenge: declining reimbursements paired with increased costs of delivering patient care. And in many ways, the growing demand for physical therapy only exacerbates these problems, putting additional pressure on a burnt out workforce, further compounding labor shortages.
To combat these challenges, many clinics are looking for new ways to generate revenue through expanded service offerings and retail programs. Fortunately, today’s patients are looking for a more holistic approach to their health and wellness. They’re not only receptive to new offerings such as recovery services, but are also actively looking for ways to feel good while maintaining an active lifestyle. Meeting this demand within your community can help attract new patients who are looking for you to be a consistent part of their wellness journey, driving the types of longer-term relationships you desire. Simply put—there has never been a better time to introduce recovery services.
Image courtesy of Hyperice
Rehab, Recovery, and Body Maintenance: A Holistic Approach to Wellness
Recovery science has come a long way over the last two decades. In fact, “recovery” has really taken on a new meaning. It’s all about treating and preventing injury, optimizing the body’s performance, and enhancing movement.
As recovery has become more prominent, an increasing number of forward-thinking PT clinics are reaping the benefits of implementing these programs. Dr. Kevin Wilk, PT, DPT, FATPA, who is a leading authority on sports injuries and PT education, has championed the benefits of rehab and recovery programs as a surefire way to grow your practice and better serve your patients.
“Recovery is now a whole science in itself,” Wilk says. “Many of the pro teams and colleges are actually putting in designated space where recovery is occurring as well as hiring additional staff just to do recovery-type modalities and treatments. As clinicians, we need to think about that. I know I have changed in my 35 years in this industry, and now recovery services are a great adjunct for me for rehabilitation.”
Physical therapists can leverage recovery services to help patients of all ages who face a multitude of different injuries and wellness challenges. The ultimate goal is to help patients move better, have less pain, and prevent worse disability in the future. This work has a profound effect on improving patients’ quality of life—helping them achieve fitness goals, heal from injuries, and experience improved mobility. Strategically applied recovery goes hand in hand with rehab treatments and can also improve mobility and reduce pain for those who:
work out regularly,
are training for a competition or race,
experience swollen legs from traveling frequently,
stand for long hours on the job, or
suffer from inflammation, sore muscles, or other circulatory issues.
Ultimately, everybody can benefit from proper recovery and body maintenance protocols.
“Our clinicians use the NormaTec and Hyperice percussive massage technology on post-op and rehab patients, at the appropriate times in their recovery, and the feedback has been incredibly favorable,” says Randy Hite, PT, MPT, SCS, CSCS, Vice President of Gillette Physical Therapy. “One of the populations that really liked this was our total knee patients. Those patients are having a lot of whole lower limb edema, limited ROM, and pain. Subjectively, the reports from our patients were that they felt like they could move better and there was less pain. Objectively, we could measure and see a difference in ROM, girth, and reduction in pitting edema.”
That’s to say, these new “recovery” technologies are also designed to be powerful rehab modalities. So, investing in this technology doesn’t just benefit athletes; therapists can and do use them on traditional rehab patients as well. Compression therapy (e.g., NormaTec) is extremely effective at decreasing swelling, increasing range of motion (ROM) in the joints, and alleviating pain. Similarly, percussion therapy and localized vibration has a number of uses when treating soft tissue. In other words, these tools go far beyond sports medicine applications.
“Physical therapy is uniquely positioned to provide access and have the greatest impact on the overall health and well-being of patients,” Wilk says. “It’s not just that place you go for acute injury, but a place you go for your continued wellness, your monthly regimen, your training schedule, and your overall health therapy.
Benefits to Your Practice
Recovery services increase cash-based billing opportunities and diversify revenue. These services not only add additional income, but also attract new patients and boost retention rates by keeping patients coming back after traditional rehab is no longer necessary. This can also increase patient referrals, which traditionally are the largest new-patient growth source for PT clinics. When clinics successfully implement these new services, they can drive better patient retention rates and a higher average number of visits per patient—both of which impact total revenue.
There are many ways for physical therapy practices to implement and bill for recovery. NormaTec compression massage sessions are typically billed at $1 per minute, or $25 to $30 for a 30-minute session. Many clinics also offer packages—for example, ten 30-minute treatments for $200—to provide a discount on multiple sessions and an incentive for patients to keep coming back.
Some treatments are also eligible for insurance reimbursement. NormaTec treatments, for example, are often billable with CPT code 97016 (vasopneumatic compression therapy) as long as the patient has a diagnosis of edema—even if it is not a primary diagnosis. In many cases, this creates an additional billable code for that patient. Full use of the insurance billing code varies based on carrier and state, but rates are typically $15–$25 per session, and workers’ comp and auto accident claims often yield even higher rates.
Recovery services and tech like Hyperice’s NormaTec and Hypervolt, cupping, and guided stretching not only help patients with recovery and rehab, but also provide a satisfying experience with tangible benefits. The fact that patients are able to enjoy the same technology that professional athletes are using courtside in the NBA, in the UFC performance institute, and in pro training rooms around the globe adds to the excitement and authenticity of these services. Staff and patients alike will savor the opportunity to engage in these forward-thinking methods, setting your practice apart as a dynamic go-to for more than just traditional PT as prescribed after an injury.
Successful Recovery Program Implementation
Implementing a recovery program in your practice can be as simple as starting with a single recliner in the corner of your PT floor. The Hyperice Recovery Center, for example, includes a Normatec Full Body, Hypervolt 2 Pro, and DreamSeat Recliner. Setting up a dedicated space helps staff naturally market the services within your practice, and it also helps you offer recovery options as standalone treatments. If you have unused space in a large lobby or treatment room, setting up a small recovery area is a great starting point.
Dr. Trent Nessler, PT, MPT, DPT, was the National Director of Sports Innovation for Select Medical when the practice introduced Hyperice recovery technology to its clinics as part of a pilot program. The success of this pilot led to new company-wide initiatives for recovery services.
“We created a ‘recovery space’ in the clinic so as to set this apart from everything else we were doing,” Nessler explains. “We wanted patients to know this is something different, and it would draw patients to it. Each space had two Zero Gravity chairs for NormaTec sessions, two to four Hypervolts, and two Vypers. The space was laid out so there was a decal on the wall indicating what the space was, with yoga mats on the floor for doing the Vyper vibrating roller and the Hypervolt.”
Even if you have to utilize existing treatment tables and PT areas, space limitations should not stop you from launching these services. By design, they integrate easily into most physical therapy spaces and are a natural extension of traditional treatments. Many PT clinics start small and then build their recovery areas based on success. Getting creative about utilizing vertical space—by hanging the NormaTec boots and stretching bands on the wall, for example—saves space and helps to advertise your recovery technology offerings to your clients.
Training your front desk team and other PTs on how to use the equipment for self-care is another way to evangelize these services. After all, they spend hours on their feet treating patients, and they’ll not only benefit from recovery sessions, but also serve as great ambassadors for them when interacting with patients. They will help advocate for the benefits of recovery services, answer patient questions, and be able to speak from personal experience about the benefits.
Image courtesy of Hyperice
Letting a sports medicine-minded PT on your team take the lead on developing and running a recovery service program is an excellent strategy. These therapists are likely familiar with the technology and already in tune with the emphasis that professional athletics puts on proper recovery. Their excitement will naturally help them successfully promote the new services to clients, while also allowing them to grow and pursue their passions at your clinic. In that respect, it can also be a great retention tool.
Once you have recovery options in place, focus on getting people to experience these services. Trials easily lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising. Establish your recovery menu, set your rates, and let your patients know about their new choices.
Recovery Program Marketing Strategy
Highlighting that your PT clinic offers the same in-demand technology that professional athletes use is a fun way to market your practice to new patient populations like local triathlon clubs, running groups, and high school and collegiate sports programs. Once these new patients are coming in for standalone recovery sessions, you have the opportunity to expose them to everything your clinic has to offer from a wellness perspective. Additionally, offering complimentary sessions for existing patients is a wonderful way to build rapport and a priceless opportunity for them to experience the benefits of recovery technology firsthand.
“For those that marketed their recovery tech, went out and did events with the equipment, marketed to appropriate clients (runners, bikers, CrossFitters, jiu-Jitsu gyms) and created social media campaigns, it was wildly successful,” says Nessler. “As an organization we started offering recovery services in 20 locations, and in a year had expanded to over 100 sites.”
Reach out to local high school and college teams, CrossFit boxes, and running stores and offer them a free 10-pack of sessions for their network. Most recovery services are very experiential, so the best marketing tactic is just getting people to try them. Even if not everybody comes back for a paid session, they will leave having had a good experience and be more likely to tell a friend or family member.
Image courtesy of Hyperice
Digital marketing, especially via social media, is often challenging for PT practices to implement successfully. Recovery services provide a fun and easy way to let your clients organically market your practice for you—by creating user-generated content for you to engage with, for example. Encourage your patients to tag your clinic in their social posts. Patients love recovery sessions, and because the treatments are dynamic, they will naturally reach for their phones to take a selfie—or even ask you to take a picture. Local influencers like spin, yoga, and Orangetheory instructors, by the nature of their work, need recovery. They also tend to have large, engaged local online communities, as they continuously promote their personal brand—and that can translate into powerful social media marketing opportunities for your clinic.
Recovery services are an extremely valuable tool for today’s physical therapy clinics. They provide a wide range of benefits for both patients and clinics. Adding recovery technology and other services like taping, percussion massages, and guided stretching to your business improves patient outcomes, helps clients with their health and fitness goals, provides a way to market your business and attract new patients, and generates new revenue. Popular with athletes and beyond, recovery services are a brilliant way to increase retention, attract new people to your practice, and keep patients engaged outside of an acute injury.
Want to explore some recovery technology and equipment? Explore the entire Hyperice line and WebPT Member-exclusive recovery service bundles on WebPT Marketplace. Want to chat more about these programs? Reach out to Eric at Efernandez@hyperice.com.