Spring is here. It’s time for your business to thrive together with the booming flowers. As a physical therapy clinic owner, you must help patients prepare for this challenging season the best way to avoid injuries. You must be their go-to therapist, and for this, you have to ensure they’re aware of the importance of your services. But how do you get more patients?
Physician referrals are one way. Receiving referrals from physicians is essential for your practice. Hence, in this article, we’re bringing a few tips that have worked for other physical therapists and will work for you too.
Read on with your notebook aside.
Physicians send patients to you when they see that the patient needs your help. Meaning, they are in a way taking responsibility for the health of their patients, and want to know you’re reliable and able to provide them with a good service, but, how to achieve a good level of trustworthiness?
Say they refer a patient to you. Besides providing excellent care to the patient, make sure you’re updating the physician on his/her patient state and explaining the improvement made after each session. This way you’ll build trust, and show you’re an expert who takes care of the health of patients for real.
You’ll see the number of referrals increase after you’ve established this kind of relationship with physicians. They will have strong reasons to trust you after showing results. Then, not only do you get more referrals from the physician, but since you’ve built such a relationship, it’s easier to ask them for a testimonial you can use to prove your expertise.
The best ways PTs think exist for getting into a good partnership with a physician involve doing favors, such as having lunches. Unfortunately, this is wrong. You must do more than this, and you don’t have to spend a dime. What do we mean?
Focus on exchanging data regarding patients’ treatment process. Discover whether your clients belong to the same demographic or age range? Learn what matters the most for them. For example, if they’re primary care physicians, they may be interested in the treatment measures you’re going to offer patients. (how they’ll percept of pain or pleasure).
On the other hand, cooperating with orthopedic surgeons requires you to be knowledgeable of more practical and functional data (or PROMs). For example, a spine surgeon would need the estimation of the Oswestry score.(of which primary care physicians might not want to be aware of). Providing them with the right amount of data is your responsibility.
Things are drastically changing in the healthcare industry, and almost every day we see new approaches being taken towards patients care. The role of a physical therapist is not anymore secondary as it used to be. This marks an important point for physical therapists.
Before, physical therapists were at the end of receiving transaction. Meaning, when the patient went through a difficult situation, he headed to the physician. Then, it was the physician who referred him to the physical therapist. Hence, most physical therapist’s business was based on this relationship with the physician.
Now, things no longer work that way. Thanks to direct access therapy, patients come knocking directly at your door. This implies fewer obstacles for you. Moreover, this helps strengthen partnerships with physicians. How? Simple. There will be cases when the patient’s injury is something you cannot heal, and he needs to visit the physician.
So, here we are. Physicians will be in need of your referrals. This leads to a mutual relationship being created. You don’t have to struggle anymore with treats to get their referrals. What you should do, is referring patients to physicians who refer back patients to you, and have the same types of patients as you.
Physical Therapy happens to be regarded not as a separate profession, but rather a commodity, and this happens because physicians used to hold the most important spot, and being a physical therapist wasn’t recognized for its significance.
Before, when you told people that you worked as a physical therapist, they would respond. “Oh, you must be great at giving massages!”. Such a thing came from the lack of knowledge about what a PT does. Now, with confident branding strategies, you not only show the importance of PT as a profession but make a place that’s yours in the market.
Focusing on physical therapy as a profession, rather than an individual practice raises awareness in a higher scale. Practically, we’re talking about examining your competitors and forming partnerships to voice the importance of physical therapy together.
Your potential patients, together with physicians, must be aware of your expertise in most neuromuscular issues. Educating local health providers and patients on this important aspect gives PT clinic owners the place they need to hold in the healthcare industry, as a result directing more physicians towards partnerships that increase referrals.
Do not let your services be undervalued and be known simply as individual services. PTs like you need to emphasize their services beyond what they bill through CPT codes. When physicians recognize the true value of what you really provide, partnerships and referrals become normal.
Statistics show that it takes at least three visits at your clinic for physicians to increase the likelihood of referring patients to you. What should you do without sounding pushy to establish a good relationship that ensures there’s a fair exchange of referrals?
The short answer is to make exceptional offers to them. The long answer includes getting to know more about the services they provide and make an offer they cannot refuse. Show you’re value-oriented and provide educative information on your physical therapist website. Also, there are various ways to structure your offers in order to get their attention.
To exemplify it: say you will see their referrals within two days after the referral is made, prioritize their requests, include discounts or free sessions, invite the physicians for a free evaluation of your clinic etc.
Reassure that you’ve invested time and money in developing all the branding elements, as we show in this checklist. Also, in case you get the chance to have physicians visit your clinic for an evaluation session, your brand must stick into their minds for its exceptional service. Remember to print professional business cards with your contact information.
Branding is as much important as the service you provide as a physical therapist. This starts from the business cards we mentioned earlier to colors used to paint your clinic room, the equipment you use, staff uniform colors and designs.
Getting physicians to visit your clinic is definitely great to create a good impression and trust, enough to become the PT they’ll direct patients to when needed. Anyway, we shouldn’t stay focused only on physicians to get more referrals. Nurturing a good relationship with the patient through meticulous service is essential.
You shouldn’t think that after you get the referral the job is done. That’s when you need to be more attentive because how you treat the patient determines a lot about how your partnership with the physician who referred him/her to you goes.
In case you provide good care to the patient he will be thankful to the physician. Then, the physician trusts you more, bringing more and more patient you way. Not only this, but a satisfied patient will refer friends too, which means more patients for you.
Exchanging contact information with physicians is half of the job. Make sure you’re ready to handle their requests. Have a dedicated phone number where they can call. As healthcare providers, you’re both busy, hence time is a crucial factor.
Let’s say he has a patient that needs to schedule a treatment session immediately for. He calls and waits in line because you might be talking to a patient. Do you think he would wait for you to answer in case of an emergency? He will have to call another physical therapist, and here you lost a patient.
Facilitate communication with physicians. Eliminate obstacles that permit fast communication, and suggest other ways to improve it.
Good communication is essential, and you should put your time into it not only when you’re talking about referrals. Make time to inform the physician on patients’ progress. Sometimes, you might need to consult on adjusting the treatments. Stay open to suggestions, and if possible have these conversations face-to-face rather than on the phone.
Always show that you care about patients, and take the time to provide them with detailed feedback.
So much as in the relationships with your relatives, establishing a good partnership with physicians takes its time and effort. It all starts from good communication and trying to understand their needs regarding the approach towards patients, and the updates they want to receive.
Thanks to the changes in terms that now allow patients to come directly to you, and not necessarily to the physician, puts you in a better position as a therapist, appreciating what you do more. This means you should voice the importance of PT as a profession more, and look for ways to cooperate with other physicial therapists.
Physicians will need referrals from you too now, but this doesn’t mean you should stop caring about nurturing a good relationship through professional care offered to patients and detailed feedback offered to the physician who referred them.
All this said, ensure your content both offline and online vouches for your expertise. See how we can help.