Getting patients to refer is going to be one of the BIG topics of discussion at the 2018 Private Practice Summit Event. With less than three months to go before the event, I thought it best to cover the topic in a little more detail, and also show you a video with some inspiring quotes from some of the speakers.
Patients – Your Sales Force?
Every single patient matters, since they have a large circle of influence and know a lot of potential patients and even doctors.
Imagine having an army of patients singing your praises every single day. Envision a band of raving fans, walking, talking human billboards who promote your practice at every social occasion they attend. A social sales force that transforms the image of your business from obscurity to stardom. The presence of such team members can transform your practice, while their absence can sink it. A tribe of raving patients is possible and takes months of planning and effort. The results are worth their weight in gold.
The problem happens when we let this slip, and lose contact with patients. The real asset of a physical therapy private practice is its relationship to past and present patients. The ability to engage, captivate and influence the patients healthcare decisions with email, phone, regular mail contact is a priceless asset.
The Mistake We Make
It is important to treat your patients as a gated community. Imagine yourself as a farmer guarding a herd of cows. As a therapist, never ever take your patients for granted and surround them with a wall of information and credibility describing your practice. In a competitive economy coupled with declining reimbursement rates, many businesses and professionals are standing by to steer patients in a different direction away from your practice. A patients’ attention should be treated as solid gold. Conversely, patients who are made to feel unimportant or under-appreciated may be lured away from your clinic.
Creating a sense of tremendous value with patients begins with personal contact and is reinforced with alternative modes of communication, spread strategically throughout the year.
What is the single biggest reason we lose patients?
We don’t stay in touch with them.
A word of caution: not more than two weeks should go by without a communication point with each patient. This allows the patient to subconsciously associate with you and build trust in you. Regular ‘communication points’ help foster quality of service, proximity of location, consumers’ preferences and the referral generation of that particular patient. The most preferable form of contact is a personal phone call from the therapist to the patient. This is ideal during birthdays, wedding anniversaries and major holidays. An email/postcard can also be followed up with a phone call or vise versa.
Go the extra mile. Call the patient or send a hand-written postcard. This allows the patient to hear the words you speak and manually open the packages you send, creating a better social connection.
If you believe you cannot write or do not know what to say, then think again. There are only four key pieces of information you need to provide your patients during each communication point.
1. who you are (an introduction or a reminder)
2. what you can do to help them
3. why they should listen to you
4. how they can be helped by you (contact information)
For example, ‘Hello this is Mark from ABC physical therapy. I have exciting news for you today. For a limited time, we are reopening our low-back pain prevention workshop to a handful of people. This will teach you some insider strategies to take care of your lower back. To register before spots fill out, please call 555-423-1234 or email email@example.com.’
When you set up a patient-centric communication point like this, the patient recognizes your sincerity, effort and energy involved. Regardless of the mode of delivery (email, regular mail, phone call), patients will now look forward to receiving communication from you. Not only will they read the email (instead of deleting it), they will forward it to their friends and function as human billboards for your private practice.
A successful physical therapy practice identifies, obtains and nurtures its past and present patients. It is time for everyone to start doing the same in their practice.