Do you take your patients for granted?
When I think about the absolute essentials of a thriving therapy practice. Three essentials come to mind:
- A remarkable patient experience
- Remarkable provider-patient relationships
- A remarkable profit margin
In all of these factors, relationships play a vital role. You might say its all about relationships.
Unfortunately in the hurried pace of healthcare sometimes therapists take patients for granted. Some therapists have allowed the minutiae of insurance demands and government regulations to crowd the most important predictor of practice success–positive patient relationships.
Therapists tend to focus their resources on getting new referrals rather than retaining current patients for life. Choosing where to invest your energy and time can be challenging, especially when it comes to marketing. It’s tempting to look beyond investing in the patient relationship right in front of you to a referral stream that’s “out there someplace”. In reality, every one of your patients has the potential to become a referral source.
Some of you may believe you already know what your patients want and that you deliver exceptional service. But have you ever asked them what they think of your scheduling process, your payment policies or their satisfaction with the care they received from your assistants?
A loyal patient is not made just through great therapy, though obviously, results do matter. It’s paying attention to the essential details that make patients’ entire experience at your clinic exceptional. In order for your clinic to stand out, you’ll need to strive to execute the practice essentials with every patient.
A loyal patient is not made just through great therapy outcomes, though obviously, results do matter. It’s paying attention to the essential details that make patients’ entire experience at your clinic exceptional. In order for your clinic to stand out from the competition, you’ll need to strive to execute the practice essentials with every patient.
The question is how do I do this with so many demands on my time?
Don’t you wish you could read your patients’ minds?
At times it would be helpful to know what people are thinking and feeling when we interact with them. We do our best to motivate them to check out our services or follow through with their plan of care. Too often they just don’t seem to get it and we have no clue why.
Here’s what a prospective patient with back pain might be saying to themselves…
“Severe back pain just hit me again, and I’m anxious that I’ll have to take time off from work.
I can’t decide if I want to see a therapist or a chiropractor, I’ve heard good and bad things about both. Next, if I go with a therapist, I must decide which one.
I do a quick Google search and see there are two clinics the same distance from my work so I base my decision on which clinic has the easiest way to schedule an appointment; I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the phone.(which my boss hates)
An important factor for people like me when deciding where to get healthcare, is can I trust them. What’s their bedside manner like? How much time will it take? How much will cost? What will they do to me?
The problem for us is we don’t know what the experience will be like until we’re already there. That makes me a little anxious but this pain is killing me.
While I definitely prefer physical therapy to chiropractors, I also value my time, and I’m not going to spend a half a day just to get some help. I want the total experience to be something I can live with and afford.”
If a therapist created a patient journey map for this acute back pain patient they could quickly see an opportunity to capitalize on prospects who want to take the hassle out of healthcare. Creating a patient journey map can be a challenge but is well worth the effort.
We often think of first impressions of being when we come face-to-face with our clients for the first time. It usually goes something like this…a new evaluation appears on our schedules, we glance at the chart before we open the door, we greet the new patient by name and introduce ourselves. Perhaps we smile and shake their hand before we sit down on a stool to take their medical history.
The first impression right?
All of us want to create a good first impression with our patients. The rest of the treatment experience goes better if we get off to a good start. Unfortunately, we don’t know where first impressions come from nor do we know exactly when they happen. Somewhere in the patient experience, an impression is made about your practice that sticks with your patient long after they leave your clinic.
Influencing patients’ first impressions will go a long way in determining outcomes, loyalty and what they share with others. To probe a little deeper into creating positive first impressions and simple ways we might influence them I’ve invited someone that I admire that does this very well. He naturally and consistently forms good impressions on most of the people he encounters.
I’d like to introduce you to a guest author and good friend, Tom Kruse. Not the movie star but a physical therapist who is a rock star to those who know him well. I thought you all would benefit from hearing from therapists who are making an impact like yourself in your own quiet way. I’m blessed to interact with change makers on a weekly basis. Periodically I will provide them this platform to share their stories.
Probably like you, Tom is a therapy entrepreneur who wants to make a difference in the world. He successfully launched his practice in 2015 which has been growing steadily ever since.
Tom felt called to leave corporate therapy after 15 years to start his own practice. Even though highly successful at his previous employer, he found the pace difficult to sustain and less rewarding. He was getting home late for family dinners, shouldering more administrative responsibilities and had a gnawing feeling he wasn’t providing the best care he could.
Did you have several patients not show up for their appointments this week?
Join the club. I had my fair share.
Patient no-shows can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a therapist’s job, with good reason.
We put all time and effort into the initial evaluation, entering information into the EMR, calculating functional limitations, outlining the plan of care, designing a home exercise program(with handouts no less) only to have the patient be a no-show for their next appointment.
You’re confident they need your services and you’re more than capable of helping them reach their goals.
Despite how sincere and convincing you are, for one reason or another, you seem to have more no-shows than you’d expect.
Not only are no-shows exasperating they are a real time and money suck. No one gets paid for a no-show. Unfortunately, all the expenses related to missed appointments–staff salaries, rent, utilities, etc still must be paid.
While you can’t eliminate no-shows totally from your practice, busting common no-show myths can go a long way in reducing their prevalence. By slightly shifting your mindset and making a couple of changes you can create a patient experience patients will hate to miss.
How Are You Going To Stand Out?
Healthcare in the U.S. is going berzerk right now. Fierce competition has created a situation where therapists need to be recognized as the best–period. There will always be “therapy jobs” but there is less room for average performers to find a promising career path.
With therapy schools are pumping out more graduates year after year, how are you to find and keep a primo therapy job?
I believe the most important skill for therapists to develop will not be clinical, it will not be technological, it’s not economical/business acumen. It will be the ability to manage their own careers.
There has been an unprecedented change in the physical therapy profession. For the first time, a substantial and increasing number of therapists can choose what they want to do with their careers.
Therapists have an almost unlimited number of options of what they want to do with their lives. In addition, the average work life span is now close to sixty years and most therapists will have more than one career during that time.
For many of you, choosing a job will not be solely based upon salary and benefits. You might want a job where you can contribute to the good of not just society but the world.
The good news it’s now up to therapists to choose employment that is meaningful to them.
The bad news is it’s now up to therapists to choose employment that is meaningful to them.
Many therapists are unprepared for the responsibility and uncertainty that self-determination brings.
I recently caught up with Aaron LeBauer, PT to get the scoop on the launch of his new podcast, The CashPT Lunch Hour Podcast. I’ve been a big fan of Aaron’s and I wanted to get the inside story on his new adventure for my tribe.
Aaron is really excited about The CashPT Lunch Hour Podcast and the potential it has to show other therapists what’s possible in the cash-based practice model. Aaron has been treating patients in a cash practice since 1999 so he knows what he’s talking about. He started his career by owning a massage therapy private practice. He soon figured out that clients are willing to part with their hard-earned cash for what they value.
His entrepreneurial mindset and free spirit allowed him to challenge the naysayers in his life, by starting a cash practice right after PT school. Aaron never looked back and has become a trusted guide for therapists who desire to launch their own cash PT practice.
The CashPT Lunch Hour Podcast is dedicated to empowering and inspiring passionate physical therapists to create, grow and market successful cash-based physical therapy practices. Aaron intends to feature interviews with therapists who have successfully managed a cash-based practice loaded with practical advice and business strategies.
You can learn more about Aaron and his podcast at the podcast page on his website. Below is the summary of our conversation about the podcast and what Aaron is up to now.
Warren Buffet, the ‘Oracle of Omaha”, is a mega celebrity in my home state of Nebraska. His reputation for value investing has reached mythical proportions.
Investopedia stated in a 2015 article that $8,175 invested in Berkshire Hathaway in 1990 was worth more the $165,000 by September 2013 as compared to $42,000 in the S&P 500. Needless to say, his value investment philosophy has made investors in his company a lot of money.
Warren Buffet is known worldwide for being a genius at value investing. Value investors buy securities that are currently undervalued by the market based on their intrinsic worth. Investopedia goes on to say “Buffet chooses stocks solely based on their overall potential as a company…Buffet seeks not capital gains but ownership in quality companies.”
Therapists regardless of their employment situation can learn a lesson or two from Mr. Buffet on value investing. All therapists need to take ownership of their own value regardless of their employment situation. You can do this by understanding patient’s hierarchy of values and a few simple business fundamentals.
Do you want to add a cash business to your practice that can generate enough dependable revenue to unchain you from insurance companies?
Then solve real problems for real people.
Chasing the latest treatments fads you’re not qualified to address will lead to nothing but dead-ends. I’m talking about “businesses” like acupuncture, Pilates, TRX bands or with products you don’t understand or personally care about.
You’ll want to add a cash business that engages your strongest interests and passions. But at the end of the day, that cash business needs to operate in a profitable niche where you’ll be able to help people overcome very specific challenges.
Narrowing your focus and building your knowledge in a specific area of cash practice may seem counterintuitive. But in a competitive marketplace vying for your patient’s attention, it’s the only way to rise above the competition.
Instead of developing a cash business that applies to a variety of patients. Why not be the go-to authority in a smaller slice of cash services pie that has been overlooked?
There is a competitive advantage to being a category authority where your extensive knowledge and expertise helps you get noticed. Getting noticed is half the battle in establishing a cash business at your clinic.
Once you’ve established yourself as an authority in a specific practice niche you can often expand your practice into other patient populations.