Memorial day weekend is going to be bittersweet.
On June 1st, all providers including physicians and physical therapists will see a 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements unless some lawmakers stand in the way.
This proposed cut is going to be devastating to providers.
If this happens, some doctors will have to drop Medicare patients.
The government, which is already facing a $1.4 trillion deficit this year, is attempting to cut costs.
Delaying these cuts (yet again) has been considered, but some call this approach a band-aid to a deeper problem – the high cost of healthcare.
“This annual agony must end,” said Lori Heim, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in a statement. “Postponing a permanent solution is false economy.”
What are the some of the solutions for physical therapists?
a) Focus on niche based physical therapy services and market intelligently to set yourself apart. A good starting point is to distribute FREE educational tools to the community, raising awareness and improving visibility of your practice. If doctors will not send you medical referrals (or if these referrals dwindle), the referrals must come from another source, such as the community and existing patients.
A good strategy is to market directly to the patient community, especially if you are in a state with direct access.
When done correctly, you can leverage this visibility in a systematic manner to appeal to gain recognition from MDs.
Tip – A simple idea is to put up a sign or banner at or near your clinic, in a location that has high foot traffic: “Do you suffer from pain? Walk in to see how we can help you get rid of it.”
Fax your evaluation findings to the MD and request a prescription. Depending on your relationship with the MD, it may even be possible to call the doctor’s office and ask for a prescription to cover the physical therapy plan of care.
b) If the MD is not open to sending the prescription, look at it as an opportunity for you to build a relationship with the doctor. Set up the appointment for the patient with the doctor. In this manner, you are actually referring a patient to the doctor! When you do something for someone, they usually want to do something back and this is called the law of reciprocity. Be persistent, and more referrals will come your way.
c) Use a combination of physician outreach and hand picked community events, combined with educational tools that you give away (a FREE book on Low Back Pain, for example) to build progressive awareness and familiarity with your practice. A good website that automates these processes is critical for this kind of outreach.
Never before in the history of our profession has it been more important to appeal to patients and the community more directly, and get physicians in the loop at the same time. An intelligent, effective marketing strategy that integrates community and local physicians is going to be integral to the survival of all physical therapy private practices.