Are you looking for new ways to grow your physical therapy practice and seem stuck on how to get more referrals and visits? Gaining new referrals is vital for the success of a physical therapy practice. Knowing and understanding how to gain these new referrals is going to help excel the growth of a physical therapy clinic. There are multiple ways to market your practice, so it is important that physical therapists understand the outlets and options that are available. Having more than one outlet and using different resources to market your practice is essential in gaining consistent referrals. Consistent PT referrals can increase financial stability and are a major contributor to overall growth and success. Below, we have come up with the ultimate list of different marketing tactics that your practice can use to get more physical therapy referrals.
How to Get More Physical Therapy Referrals
According to 2021 statistics, the average physical therapy clinic sees between 101-200 patients each week -- but a clinic's success hinges on its ability to establish a steady stream of new patient referrals. For practitioners and clinic managers, making the time to build out referral channels is well worth the energy, and the reward will be seen in a consistent patient load.
To help your clinic get started, we've compiled our list of top marketing tactics that can help gain new patient referrals, and grow your physical therapy clinic.
8 Marketing Tactics to Generate New PT Referrals
1. Attend professional healthcare networking events
Attending networking events is a great way to meet other healthcare and wellness professionals in your local area. Prior to attending these events it is important that physical therapists consider the patient population that they work with and seek professionals who work with the same target population. By doing so, you are laying the groundwork for two-way referrals and future referral partnerships. Referral partnerships are when providers with different backgrounds and specialities who treat the same target population work together as referral sources to one another. In this relationship, all parties benefit. You would receive new patients, and in the process, send new patient’s/client’s your partner’s way. The patients would be getting more comprehensive care and your clinic would be gaining new physical therapy referrals.
Contracts do not always have to exist in referral partnership, and some relationships can be more of ‘word of mouth’ depending on the type of partnership you want to have. Partnerships can also exist between a multitude of backgrounds and settings including athletic training, dietitians, orthopedic surgeons, wellness centers and gyms. Regardless of the type of partnership you have, it is a great opportunity to educate others on the services your practice offers. Physical therapists should continuously stay updated on websites and online platforms that are hosting events. Attending networking events to meet other healthcare professionals and gain partnerships is a great way to gain referrals and help your practice grow.
2. Make connections with local sports programs
As mentioned previously, your clinics’ target population will determine the different partnerships you will want to have. For physical therapists who primarily work with orthopedic and athletic populations forming relationships with local high school and college sports programs for referral partnerships. This type of partnership would not only be beneficial for the athlete who is getting treated by professionals at your clinic, but it is also beneficial as a community referral source for your clinic.
Physical therapists can offer sports clinics where they can educate the athletes on proper form, types of exercises best for their sport and answer any questions about training they may have while also treating any injuries the athletes have sustained. By doing so, this also allows them to show off their clinic and the skills of themselves and their colleagues.
Making these connections can potentially lead to future contracts with the local schools or even individual referrals with the athletes and/or their family members. These connections not only offer an additional referral source, but they show your community that your clinic cares about helping the youth excel at what they love by offering quality physical therapy.
3. Keep your physical therapy clinic’s website up to date
In today's digital world, frequently updating and maintaining your clinics websites is essential for the success of your clinic and can be a great way to increase physical therapy referrals. Your website should be user-friendly, with easy accessibility to information on the types of treatments and specialities your practice offers. It is also beneficial to have a strong and direct mission statement that highlights the best qualities of your clinic.
In addition to the mission statement, physical therapists should also think about including patient testimonials. Patient testimonials are a great way to stay connected with previous patients while also promoting your practice. By doing so, you allow the visitors to your websites to read about the experiences of previous patients. This will give them an additional insight on how great your practice is.
Lastly, giving people the opportunity to schedule appointments or message the provider for questions prior to making an appointment, allows physical therapists to connect with potential patients without making them go to the clinic. Being considerate of people's time and the efficiency of scheduling online may be the incentive that can result in increased patient referrals.
4. Add a Referral Form to your website
While building out your referral network, it's best practice to make it easy for other wellness professionals to refer to you -- and offering a referral form for your clinic is great way to accomplish this. A referral form is a form that another wellness professional can to complete on behalf of a patient they would like refer. The form can be submitted online or downloaded and dropped off/sent to wellness professionals and doctors in your referral network, so that they have it on-hand when seeing patients who may need a PT referral. This also gives people the chance to connect with the provider prior to having to schedule an appointment.
Information the can be included in a physical therapy referral form:
- Letterhead including clinic name, logo, and contact information (including fax number)
- Patient contact information
- Referring doctor's name, NPI number, and signature
- Patient diagnosis
- Date/Time of requested treatment date
- Requested physical therapy services
- Additional comments from the referring physician
- Instructions on how the referring provider can submit the referral (ie. via fax to the clinic's fax number)
5. Promote Direct Access options
According to the APTA, direct access is “the removal of the physician referral mandated by state law to access physical therapist services for evaluation and treatment.” This means that a person seeking physical therapy services can go directly to their physical therapists and begin their course of treatment without needing to see their primary care or any other type of physician. Keep in mind that there are many laws and restrictions utilizing direct access, and laws and regulations differ between states. It is important that physical therapists are informed of the laws/regulations and restrictions prior to utilizing direct access in their practice. If physical therapists are seeing patients through direct access it is important that they promote that on their websites, brochures and within their practice. People may not know that direct access is an option, and by spreading the word and advocating for your practice, you can get more physical therapy referrals and visits.
6. Educate your community on the benefits of physical therapy
It is important that physical therapists do not assume that their local community knows all of the benefits that physical therapy has to offer. Advocacy and education on physical therapy related topics such as the types of physical therapy specialties, services provided when you go to physical therapy and how physical therapy can impact a person's help can spread awareness and allow you to explain your practice and what you specifically offer.
Speaking at high schools, colleges, wellness centers and attending events like trade shows are all outlets for physical therapists to promote their practice and educate others about physical therapy. At these events physical therapists should have email sign-up lists as a way for you to capture leads and connect with people after the event. You can continually email p eople about future events and offers that your clinic may be having. It can also be beneficial to close out your talk with special offers and giveaways (ie. Therabands, t-shirts with your clinics logo, equipment, etc) to make your practice stand out. Cash-based practices may consider offering discounts as well. Educating people on your practice and the physical therapy profession may make people realize that they require physical therapy services.
7. Reconnect with past physical therapy patients
Staying connected with current and past patients can be very beneficial and add as an additional resource to gaining referrals. Sending newsletters via emails, checking in between treatment sessions not only shows that you care about them but will also remind them of your practice and what you offer. Patients who had positive experiences are most likely to refer your services to friends, colleagues and family members. Reaching out to them for testimonials to be posted on your website, social media and brochures can be a great way to convince leads why you are the right provider for them. Including positive “reviews'' from your past and current customers acts almost like a referral system on your website. Prospective clients are able to read concrete examples of how you’ve helped others with similar health and wellness goals and can relate to their experience.
Having past and current patients email friends and relatives about your clinic or even engage in your social media account can provide new physical therapy referrals. Clinics that are cash base may also think about setting up a referral type program that includes incentives for every referral that is made can also motivate patients to reach out to people they may know who need physical therapy services.
8. Leverage social media for cash-based referrals
Social media has become a major source of communication between professionals and their prospective patients. This outlet allows physical therapists to upload visuals such as pictures and videos as well as blogs to promote their practice. Physical therapists can also collaborate with other local wellness businesses and professionals to cross-promote both parties; a type of partnership referral source. Along with visual promotions on social media, physical therapists can also promote their virtual telehealth services through social media platforms. This can help acclimate new patients to online services and aid in expanding communication along different outlets. Directing effort towards your social media sites regularly will help your practice to gain a following and likely, new patients who want to seek you out because of your knowledgeability.
Clinics can also include traditional branded marketing collaterals to target patients who do not engage in social media. These include business cards, brochures, t-shirts and signs. Having patients help you promote your practice by giving them t-shirts is another way to show your patients you care while also targeting new physical therapy referrals.These traditional marketing strategies can be a great benefit to your practice and aid in increasing new referrals.
Healthie for Physical Therapy
Gaining new referrals is a key source of increasing the financial stability and success of your practice. Providing quality care taking time to promote your practice with these helpful tactics, will help ensure your practice and increase in annual new referrals. Healthie has a host of features available to help you track referral sources and build your network, all from within the platform.
- Intake Forms: Clients will automatically get intake forms sent to them upon signing up. Within Healthie, you can track the status of those forms and remind clients to fill them out. Additionally, add a field to your client forms to learn how they heard about your business and capture referral details.
- Referral Management Tool: Keep a detailed list of all referring providers in your network and their contact details, in addition to which clients they’ve referred.
- E-Fax: Follow-up with physicians, other healthcare providers, therapists, and hospitals by sending chart notes, lab reports, intake forms, and documents using your unique E-fax number, all through the platform.
- Reports: Export your referral list to share with your team. Or, import contacts into your Referral List by contacting the Healthie team. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our Support Team will assist you with the import.
- Forms Library: Healthie includes a professional library of forms and templates, including a Referral Form that can be leveraged by your clinic.
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