More patients, improved purchasing by each, and patients that return more frequently are the goals of any practice and physical therapists can accomplish all three objectives by following a seven-step strategy designed to optimize the spending of each patient. Part two of Patient Value Optimization (PVO), explores the final three steps of the strategy.


Offer a core product/service

Identifying a core product isn’t as difficult as most therapists think. They already have one, but they’ve probably never really considered it in those terms. The core product of a physical therapy practice is its flagship service, but clinicians should be aware that there are three different levels to a product or service.

As defined by the concept’s creator, Philip Kotler, in his book “The Principle of Marketing,” there’s the core service, the actual service and an augmented service. It’s important to remember that people justify their purchases according to emotional criteria, whether it’s an hour long massage, a new car or their favorite laundry detergent. It plays a very real role when persuading individuals to become patients.

The core service isn’t a physical object that can be touched. A clinic’s core product represents the basic service, the benefit that patients derive from the service and what gives it value to them. An example would be therapeutic massage for relieving pain or stress. The actual service is the physical aspect – the massage session, and encompasses “packaging” the service in a way that encourages patients to try it.

The augmented portion of the service is “added value” for which patients are willing to pay extra – for instance, the ability to customize the service to meet the individual needs of the patient. If a clinician is offering therapeutic massage as their core service, it’s important to identify the reasons that patients are utilizing it, keeping in mind that patients make purchasing decisions based on emotional factors.

It’s critical for clinicians to over deliver in the lead magnet and tripwire portion of their strategy. Two successful interactions with a potential patient set the stage for the final phase of frequently returning patients. These are individuals who are actively seeking services and are willing to pay for them.

A mistake that many practitioners make is trying to utilize the core service as a stand-alone, basic service to monetize the clinic. The majority of businesses across multiple fields typically don’t realize a profit until they’re attained the final two states of the marketing strategy.

Today’s physical therapy clinics are wellness centers that offer a wide range of therapies and often incorporate complementary services. Massage, clinical Pilates, yoga, nutrition counseling, and acupuncture are just some of the services available in PT practices, along with aqua therapy classes for arthritis, all of which therapists can utilize as marketing tools.


Provide a profit maximizer

A profit maximizer is also known as the immediate upsell and while clinicians may balk at the term, it’s a tactic used by the most successful businesses in the world. For example, the core product of fast food restaurants is the burger, but they make little money from the purchase of a single burger.

It’s the fries, sodas, shakes and item bundling that creates profit. Other businesses maintain profitability through the warranty, installation and product support services they offer. Cross selling is another tactic businesses utilize to generate income. It involves selling another or complementary product/service with the original offer.

For physical therapists, that could mean a short nutritional counseling session or combining massage with health and wellness products. A great many physical therapy practices are offering concierge style services for a monthly or yearly fee. It’s very popular with patients who unconsciously equate it with VIP celebrity status.

Practices vary widely in their patient roster and rural clinics will treat a preponderance of patients in specific areas over those in urban locations. Clinicians must identify who their primary patients are, along with the services they most often use if they’re to utilize profit maximizers effectively.

Therapists can help narrow their target market by criteria ranging from age and gender to income bracket or the most over- or under-utilized services within the clinic. It’s also helpful to examine the competition, their services, and which are most requested or utilized.

Create a path of return

The end game of the return path is to generate frequent communication with patients who will come back repeatedly for services offered by the clinic. A return path is any tactic that brings patients back into the clinic. Thanks to the lead magnet within the PVO, practitioners have access to patients’ email information, providing the means to contact them and keep the practice in the forefront of their consciousness.

That information enables clinicians to use an extensive array of new lead magnets, tripwires, core offers and profit maximizers over time for continued marketing efforts. New offers can be provided to those who “bought in” the first time or bring the original offer back around for a second time to those who didn’t opt in the first time.

Other pathways for return visits include exit offers and loyalty programs, but nothing compares with a follow up email for results. Contacting the patient to thank them for their visit is a goodwill builder. They feel that they’re more than just a number and that the clinic cares about their wellbeing.

The patient value optimization process is typically utilized to garner new patients, but CEO and founder of Digital Marketer, Ryan Deiss, noted that many business owners invest so much time and effort acquiring new patients they overlook the opportunities available with existing patients.

The PVO process works equally well for that demographic and clinicians can use email to keep them informed of special offers that may interest them. It’s one of the reasons why obtaining email information is critical within the lead magnet phase of a PVO marketing strategy.

Patient value optimization is a multi-step strategy consisting of determining the product/service; selecting a target/traffic market; providing a lead magnet; implementing a tripwire; offering a core product; providing a profit maximizer; and creating a path of return for patients. It’s a system with immediate and long-term benefits for clinicians.

The system is equally applicable for practitioners who are launching a new service, product or complementary program. Clinic owners are being more creative than ever before in marketing their practices, combining proven therapeutic methods and techniques in unique ways that’s changing the way patients perceive physical therapy clinics.

Most individuals think of physical therapy as a treatment for patients who have been injured in an accident. Clinicians are helping to change that with a variety of physical therapies designed for cardiac and cancer patients, prenatal and postnatal therapy for women, and clinical Pilates and massage therapy to enhance sports performance.

Some clinics are even giving back to their communities and supporting their favorite causes by offering patients special discounts and assistance when they donate blood, adopt a pet, or volunteer their time. All of those options provide opportunities for incorporation in a PVO strategy.

A great many clinicians are feeling the effects of the Affordable Healthcare Act in an ever increasing influx of patients, while facing limitations on reimbursements. A PVO strategy provides clinicians of new and established clinics with the means to acquire and retain patients at every stage of their practice. Patient value optimization is a sustainable profitability path that positions practitioners for long-term success and provides lifetime patient value.