As a physical therapist, there are several things you can do to increase physical therapy referrals, the most important being consistency of contact with referral sources. Feel free to leave a comment, so I can respond, and write future blog posts geared to your specific needs.
Research the local physicians and their patient population
Groundwork is important. Referring doctors can be a great source for physical therapy referrals. Send out questionnaires to all referring doctors’ offices asking for feedback on what they expect from your office and whether you are meeting those expectations. You can send this out through mail, fax, or e-mail. Coach your staff so that they are able to provide the services and communications that the referring offices want from you. Use tools like customer satisfaction surveys and referral trackers to monitor the services offered by your office. Take note of the feedback received through the customer satisfaction surveys and incorporate the comments into improving your services. Implement referral trackers to track every new patient and find out how they came to know about your office. Data from referral trackers should be reported monthly so you know who your referrers are and you also know if a referrer stops sending you referrals.
Consistency of contact
The most sustainable way to boost physical therapy referrals is to maintain constant communication with your referrers. Get proactive and keep in touch with referring doctors. Either assign someone from your staff to call the referring doctors or hire marketing personnel to do this work for you. You need to convince the referring doctors that you are good enough for them to refer their patients to. Educate them about the latest physical therapy techniques through demonstrations.
Join the local chamber of commerce and become an active member
The local chamber of commerce is geared towards helping businesses promote themselves in the local community. Schedule a meeting with the chief of the local chamber, visit and introduce yourself. Offer to contribute articles and participate in chamber events like breakfast meetings. Provide ‘lunch and learn’ events once or twice a week for local businesses with 30 or more employees. Offer to conduct a ‘low back pain seminar’ or ‘how to exercise with diabetes’ seminar for the chapter. The chamber will promote this event to all businesses in the area. You can even ask for the names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of hundreds of local businesses (depending on the size of your chapter) and send out an email / regular mail campaign introducing yourself as a chapter member. Go the extra mile and offer to conduct a ‘mini-seminar’ for local businesses, if they can guarantee that 10 or more employees will be interested and confirmed for the event. Another step that works is volunteering to be an ‘ambassador’ for your chapter, which will allow you to welcome new businesses into the chapter by visiting them and providing an information kit.
Start a physical therapy blog with your practice name, link it to your website and provide valuable, consistent content for patients and visitors.
It’s easy and free to set up a blog, which is an online dairy of your daily activities. Short blogs, 100-150 words posted 2-3 times a week should be filled with relevant and useful information that will keep patients coming back to your blog for information on general health, physical therapy and injury prevention. Make comments on blogs of health clubs, fitness professionals and massage therapists, and build a relationship with other professionals. These professionals can then link back to your blog and drive traffic and prospects your way.
Provide patients with a regular newsletter via email / regular mail and to doctors via fax to build relationships.
We live in a world that is fast, impatient and overloaded with advertising and pitches to buy, buy, buy. There are lots of good ideas, but very little relationship building between the physical therapist and patient. Providing patients with a regular newsletter can establish you as an information provider and enhance credibility, which will, in the long run, promote your physical therapy practice. Send it out on a regular basis to educate patients and doctors about the latest in physical therapy, any new services that you are offering. I have personally designed and tested a marketing system for physical therapists in which a patient friendly newletter is written for therapists twice a month, and automatically sent out to patients. The website is http://www.therapynewsletter.com/index.html
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