Let The Internet Supplement Your Physician Referrals?

Savvy Physical Therapists are on the lookout for new and innovative ways to market their practice and grow referrals.  Guest Blogger Nitin Chhoda, P.T.,  provides quick tips on how the internet can play a greater role in your marketing strategy.

Physical Therapy Marketing using the Internet


Nitin Chhoda, P.T.


When I consult with clients, I get the same question over and over again. How can I increase the number of patient referrals, by reaching the patient community?


There is no doubt that physician referrals are the backbone of a successful physical therapy private practice, but tapping the vast, underutilized patient community for direct access and internal referrals is a growing part of the business of physical therapy.


The cultivation of successful patient relationship goes through four stages. A ‘first date’ phase, where the individual surveying your clinic is nothing more than a prospect. With the right type of information and motivation, the prospect picks up the phone and calls your clinic.


At this stage, assuming that the call is handled correctly, the prospect is converted into a potential patient. When this individual comes into the clinic for their first appointment, they officially become a patient. When this patient complete their plan of care and go form, the physical therapist must now build a consistent, long-term relationship with HIM / her, nurturing it over a period of time. This transforms the patient into a powerful referral source.


The easiest and fastest way to communicate with patients and build a relationship with them is by using e-mails and phone calls. Write a patient friendly newsletter, and send it via e-mail to patients, physicians and the local media on the first and the third Monday of every month.  Why Monday?  Why twice a month?  On Monday, people are more likely to check the e-mail and respond to offers or information. The middle of the workweek is a bad time to communicate and provide information, because people are more involved with getting things done. By the time the weekend comes along, the only thoughts on everybody’s minds are the weekend, family and household chores.


Communicating via an e-mail newsletter twice a month has been shown to be the right frequency to remain in people’s minds without overdoing it. If you e-mail somebody once a month, it’s not very frequent. It is very likely that the prospect will forget about you or tune you out. The key is to provide the readers with easy to understand, valuable, relevant, practical tips they can use right away.


Unlike regular mail, which can be lost or thrown away, an e-mail newsletter generally stays in the recipient’s e-mail inbox and can be saved for later viewing, leading to a referral or an appointment to your clinic. An e-mail newsletter that provides a “refer a friend” module can be even more powerful because your patient can instantly refer you and your newsletter to some of their friends by entering their friends’ e-mail addresses. The result? One more potential patient or referral source added to your extensively growing e-mail database.


Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of e-mail marketing and use it to consistently communicate with my clients and patients. Almost everybody has an e-mail account these days. E-mail marketing is the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to promote your name in the local community.


Sending your e-mail newsletter to journalists in local newspapers is a great way to get instant media publicity. Public relations and community services that receive your newsletter will set their sights on your clinic as a provider. In many cases, they may contact you for interviews and opinions about wellness and physical therapy. This is instant, free promotion of your clinic in the local community.. Whether it is standard care or a niche program, the public will look to you as a source of meaningful information and seek your services for physical ailments. Media publicity can pave the way for community events / screenings. Patients you see at such events will want to work with you, because you are already an established expert in their eyes. They will seek a referral from their physician and actively cultivate a new referral source for you – all you have to do is render your services and maintain constant contact with the patient after discharge.


The way you communicate with patients sets the tone for a relationship that will build your practice. Leverage the contact information of your patients by giving them what they need and building a reputation in the process. Remember, you are not being a salesman, but rather a valued and respected content provider. Somewhere along the way, you will become the number one choice for physical therapy and attain a position of prominence in your community.


Nitin Chhoda, P.T., is a physical therapy private practice expert and provides an automatic physical therapy marketing newsletter system with a $1 trial at http://www.therapynewsletter.com and also writes a business building blog for physical therapists at http://www.nitin360.com

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