Picture this.

A patient comes to your clinic. They get treated and then they leave. It’s just another day in your clinic and ‘just another patient visit’ right?

Not quite, because there was an opportunity to make the seemingly mundane visit an unforgettable experience. (I’ll show you an example of a truly unforgettable experience at the end of this article – something so unforgettable that over 5 million people in one week agree with me).

In his book “Screw Business as Usual”, Sir Richard Branson talks about the importance of specific things you must do to exceed the ‘normal expectation’ of the client. Here’s an example. I recently flew Virgin Air (normally it’s always United) to San Diego and immediately noticed a few  things during the flight:

  • Every passenger (including coach) had a touch screen television monitor. This is not standard with most domestic airlines. The interior of the plane had purple lights, and the seats were a different color. It felt like being in a lounge in New York city.
  • This monitor not only allowed you to watch TV, it also allowed you to chat with other passengers (seated anywhere in the plane) and purchase food and beverages, and make your selections for complimentary beverages. None of the other domestic airlines I’ve flown work like this. This eliminates the need for the steward to say “What drink would you like?” to each person on the flight since he / she already knows what you want and just hands it to you. In addition, other passengers (who might be sleeping or resting during the flight) are not disturbed as the steward is speaking to other passengers or reaching over them. A subtle, but significant difference.
  • The “in flight safety instructions” which are usually boring (I tune out myself during these instructions on the runaway) were interesting, edgy and downright silly, but they got the attention of the passengers. The speaker starts by saying (and I am paraphrasing because I did not write this down)  “Listen, I know this is usually boring as hell, but let’s have some fun here and then I won’t bother you for the rest of the flight OK? All right, let’s get this over with…”

How does this apply to your physical therapy business? Well, for starters, reflect your personality in your interactions with your patient. If you and your staff members have a sense of humor and like to be playful and funny, don’t be scared to do it. It will NOT make you appear less professional, only more human and likeable.

This is the difference between a clinic that struggles to get patients and one that is bursting at the seams with a waiting list of patients and other clinicians dying to work at that clinic.

Put yourself in the patient’s shoes, one who is about to come to physical therapy for the first time. Some of the things that cause apprehension and stress for the patient include:

  • Will my insurance cover the visit?
  • Will I get an appointment as quickly as possible?
  • Will this be painful?
  • Will I be able to afford the copay?
  • How should I be dressed?
  • What paperwork do I need to carry with me?
  • Do I need a referral from my doctor?

Traditionally, all these questions are answered once a patient enters your clinic and interacts with the front desk or the physical therapist. But what if all these questions were answered way before that happens?

In order to create an unforgettable patient experience, you need to be able to address all these issues as quickly as possible. You can do so through your website, over the phone or using an informational brochure the moment the patient enters your clinic. Either way, you want to address the patient’s concerns and fears as quickly as possible and this is something most private practice owners neglect to do. This is part of what I call the ‘before’ patient experience.

Most private practice owners focus 95% of their time, energy and resources on the ‘during’ patient experience and the ‘after’ patient experience get’s 5% as an afterthought. The ‘before’ patient experience does not exist and is not planned.

Ideally, you need to plan the before, during and after patient experience equally, and create a streamlined, controlled experience for the patient. The best way to ‘kick this off’ is to create an experience that exceeds the expectations of the patient from day one.

Speaking of exceeding expectations, I came across something I can only describe in one word – unforgettable.

The video below demonstrates the importance of going above and beyond. It was, of all things, a proposal but it was one of the most ingenious I’ve ever seen.

Take a look at this video and you’ll see why creating an unforgettable experience for someone is only limited by your imagination. Who knows, the next time a patient has a birthday or an anniversary, this might encourage you and your staff to break into a song and dance.

Watch the video to see what I am talking about. This video was filmed May 23rd 2012 and it has been watched over thirty one million times as of this writing. A word of caution – it might make you laugh and cry at the same time. By the way, watch it in full screen to enjoy it to its fullest, you are likely to watch it more than once.

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