When I first opened my practice, I was completely naive to the fact that patients wouldn’t just flock to me because I was a good, well-rounded physical therapist. Having ties in the community helps, but only goes so far if you don’t take advantage on everything there is to offer. Opening the doors on day one will be a million times better if you do a lot of preparation and have a nearly full schedule. How do you do that?
1. Educate the community. Sign up for speaking events that introduce yourself to your community. This can include free senior center talks, educational classes at local libraries or colleges, or support groups that are geared towards certain causes. Educating these folks on the benefits physical therapy can provide them is endless. It’s also great to set up a class in your office (or if you don’t have an office yet, at a local restaurant). When you provide food, they will come!
2. Make yourself known to referral sources. Get physician practices to know you slowly and trust you. If you walk into their office unannouced and expect referrals, it’s not going to happen. They are trusting you with their patients, with their reputation; they won’t just hand over referrals blindly. Get to know each doctor and their team. Find out their pains as a company, as a practice; and see how you can fit in to help them. For example, if their referral coordinator is bogged down with getting authorizations to send patients to a specialist, like physical therapy, help them. Do some of the leg work to make their jobs easier and the transfer easier. Provide their patients with valuble resources. Create informative brochures for the doctors to give to their patients. Topics such as ‘solutions for back pain’, diabetes, osteoarthritis, can all be beneficial for the doctor to hand out, and benefit you at the same time.
3. A strong internet presense. The web is where the majority of patients these days go to look for a physical therapist or to find out more about a practice they were referred to. If you are difficult to find or non-existant on the internet, you won’t make it. Search engine optimization is extremely important. If someone types in ‘physical therapist in Orlando’, you need to be on that first page of results. If you’re buried down on page 6, I can assure you that you won’t be getting any patients choosing to find a provider using this avenue.
I would love to hear tips from other private practice clinics as to the approaches that work for them. We want the physical therapy community to be connected and help each other and the profession grow.