If you read our last article, then you took the first step to building your practice through physician referrals. However, as a cash PT clinic owner, I don’t actually focus my attention on marketing to physicians. While I value the relationships I’ve created with a select group of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the concept of a cash PT practice can sometimes be a road block to gaining referrals from these traditional avenues. Therefore, I rely largely on alternative referrals.
Using Direct Access
As a profession, physical therapists have worked hard at creating direct access, and we continue to fight for less regulations in certain states. It would be a disservice to our profession and our patients to let this underutilized avenue for patients to seek physical therapy services go to waste.
Who are these Alternative Referral Sources?
Since physical therapists have direct access, an alternative referral source can be anyone.
But It’s Not My Responsibility to Keep the Clinic Busy!
Getting new patients is the life blood of any clinic. Whether you are a business owner or new grad just starting out in a huge clinic, it’s important that you help bring in new referrals. As a business owner, this is vital to keeping your doors open and paying your employees. As a new grad, you need to remember if you aren’t seeing patients, then the clinic isn’t making money, which means you may not have a job.
So how do I Get More Patients?
Network, communicate, engage and show the value of your services. By networking with other professionals, you can build relationships that can lead to referrals down the road. Don’t go up to everyone and tell them that you are physical therapist and please send me patients. Instead, get to know the professional, present an idea or way that your services can benefit their clients, and be open to helping other professionals grow their client base. For example, when talking to a yoga instructor, discuss the benefits of mobility in preventing injuries and how you may need a good yoga instructor to refer patients to once they are no longer coming to see you in the clinic (I avoid saying “complete” or “discharged from physical therapy” because this implies the patient should forget everything we’ve been working on). Explain in detail what we do as physical therapists, and physical therapy doesn’t mean just doing a few exercises and getting some modalities. Mention that patients don’t necessarily have to be in pain to see a physical therapist; perhaps they have a mobility deficit that isn’t allowing them to participate fully in yoga which we can correct. By educating potential referral sources, we can expand the market of potential patients that can benefit from our services.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to get new patients is targeting current and former patients for referrals. If you can provide a great service gain a patients trust, they will certainly be more likely send you their friends and family members.
So as you can see, getting new patients is important to the sustainability of any physical therapy practice. As professionals, we shouldn’t solely rely on physician referrals. Think outside the box a little, and connect with people. It may take a little time, but you should be able to grow your caseload if you are willing to put in the effort.
Kevin Prue, PT, DPT, CSCS is the NGPT community cash pay expert!
He has already written about physician referral sources, and don’t forget to check out his article detailing how a cash pay PT practice works.