Metrics present clinicians with a method of measuring results for physical therapy marketing, but practitioners should understand the problem with metrics is that not all data is useful and the information that is available may be difficult to discern. When used or interpreted improperly, a physical therapy business will become less productive, effective and efficient.
There are two types of metrics – vanity and actionable – and four basic problems with them:
- They can’t and don’t measure everything
- They’re easily misinterpreted
- They can be manipulated
- They don’t tell clinicians what to do with the results
Metrics are employed to measure sales, delivery time and employee productivity. An example is in the fast food industry. Individuals are penalized for not meeting quotas. One way to manipulate the data is having customers pull ahead to a waiting area that’s out of line of the company’s counter. Customers may wait 10 minutes for their order to appear, but the counter shows the purchase was delivered in two minutes or less.
Metrics must meet three criteria to be useful in a physical therapy business plan. They must be actionable, accessible and audit-able. Actionable metrics provide information that can be acted upon that improves the ability to meet a practice’s goal.
An accessible metric is available to everyone, can be understood by anyone who needs it, and shows whether tangible progress is being made toward the end goal of profitability. That may include statistics to determine the predominant age of patients, retention or referral rates.
Audi-table metrics are able to demonstrate a positive impact on the clinic. They provide transparency and provide the data in a straightforward manner. Created with primary data, audit-able metrics don’t require multiple intermediate steps to arrive at the summary and can be easily verified.
Eric Ries, advisor to start-ups, companies and venture capital firms, noted that business owners need to remember that metrics provide reports on people and it’s also where most metric software packages fail. People are unpredictable, their needs change from day to day, and that inconsistency will cause fluctuations in metrics that can easily result in confusion for clinicians.
Relying on vanity metrics is a common mistake. Vanity metrics will show clinicians how many people are visiting their website, the number of downloads and registered users a practice has, but if those individuals aren’t making appointments and availing themselves of the clinic’s services, the practice isn’t improving profitability. They don’t provide clear or accurate information.
Page views, emails and downloads don’t equal sales. The data that owners of a physical therapy business should be concerned with are active users, the cost of new patient acquisition, engagement, and revenues. Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital noted in an interview on Founder Office Hours that the real data business owners need to track is retention and repeat usage.
Traffic is the most frequently used indicator for content marketing success, but it’s highly misleading. A website may report 1 million searches, but it could be a sign that the searcher isn’t obtaining the desired results or the site has a million individual searchers.
There’s no way to distinguish between low-quality and high-quality page views. The same is true of the number of email subscribers, who may be deleting the communication without opening it. Reaching a greater number of potential patients is beneficial for increasing patient numbers, but an email list isn’t the way to determine success.
Metrics Can Be Misleading
Any changes, adjustments or alterations to a physical therapy business plan must have the data to justify the actions taken, but marketing conclusion are often backed by information from metrics that don’t provide an accurate assessment. The metrics that clinicians use to determine success can actually mask a variety of potential problems.
An example would be a physical therapy business that uses customer satisfaction as its metric. If customer satisfaction rises, the practitioner automatically assumes that the business is growing as a result of his/her content creation or other efforts. An examination of customer retention shows that the clinic actually lost patients. The combination of information really shows that satisfaction increased when dissatisfied patients left the practice.
Relying on a single metric is detrimental, but practitioners should beware of utilizing too many metrics for physical therapy marketing. Too much information makes it very difficult to ascertain what’s effective, determine which metrics to use in combination to develop an accurate assessment, or even discern qualified leads.
Taking sign ups as an example, a single, standardized metric is needed and that requires sophisticated analytics and metric software of the type provided with In Touch EMR™. The customizable EMR software was developed by clinicians who are well aware of the specific tools needed for marketing physical therapy.
Metrics on social media pages can be especially misleading if taken as a sole representation of effectiveness. Fans, followers, likes and tweets don’t make a physical therapy business profitable. It can be the starting point for capturing leads, but unless those individuals are actually making an appointment at the clinic and becoming a paying patient, the numbers shouldn’t be utilized as a measure of success.
There are Limits
Metrics can’t measure everything. They provide data about quantity, but they’re imperfect and can’t provide information about quality, satisfaction, preferences and other subjective criteria. Patient decisions are colored by emotional responses. An alternative measurement option is to measure a clinic’s qualified leads and that doesn’t mean simply pulling a name from a list of newsletter subscribers.
The selected leads should be those that have demonstrated a sustained and ongoing interest in the clinic’s webinars, downloads, videos and content delivery. It does not include those who have shared their email information in exchange for a bonus or other premium.
In an article appearing on line at OnStartups, Ben Yoskovitz, author of “Lean Analytics,” advises business owners to determine where they’re going and how they want to get there before employing metrics. As the ability to track an ever increasing number of metrics becomes available, he said business owners need to define what it is they want to track if they’re to obtain the benefits and insights available with metrics.
An additional consideration is misinterpretation of metric data. It helps to have a background or some type of experience with statistical data, along with an understanding of how widely results can deviate depending on factors ranging from content, how it’s delivered, and the demographics of the recipient.
The overall patient experience is just as important as the treatment when marketing physical therapy. The things that make patients feel valued and contribute to return visits and word-of-mouth advertising can be hard to discern and metrics that are easiest to track don’t necessarily provide the most important information or may not be captured at all.
Metrics are an integral element in any physical therapy business plan, but it’s crucial that clinicians choose wisely when selecting the metrics they use and how they’re interpreted. Utilizing the wrong metrics will play havoc with the profitability of a physical therapy business and lead practitioners to make decisions that are ultimately detrimental to the clinic.
Metrics are a useful tool for physical therapy marketing as long as clinicians understand the drive behind vanity metrics. As a measurement, metrics can be misleading and they don’t measure everything, facts any physical therapy business owner would do well to keep in mind while marketing their practice.
For more information about In Touch EMR™ or to schedule a free demo, call (800)-421-8442.