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I heard a remarkable story from a PT practice owner recently. This owner took his practice from 40% utilization to more than 80% utilization in less than 4 months. His clinic revenue is up more than 60% from a year ago. He went from struggling to make payroll and not paying himself at all, to actively looking to hire another therapist and a PT assistant—all within 100 days.
If your utilization is 40, 50 or 60 percent, you’re experiencing a ton of uncertainty and unpredictability in patient flow and cash flow. You’re operating well below your clinic’s capacity. That’s putting your practice in limbo, along with your personal happiness and financial stability. You’re also not reaching the people right in your community who need your help.
This sums up what had been going on with this particular practice owner.
How did he turn things around? He started to automate his practice in ways he hadn’t before. He began to implement systems for scheduling, billing, and collections. He started tracking clinical and administrative performance and productivity. He began to apply quality control systems to his clinical work.
The result? More patients came to his clinic. And many more stayed in treatment, to complete their plans of care. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been talking this month about patient engagement. The stats on PT patient engagement are pretty dismal. Roughly two thirds of patients who begin a course of physical therapy don’t finish it. (And 9 out of 10 patients who need PT don’t even start.)
If you’re going to stay in business for the long term, provide for your family, and reach the people who need your service, you’ve got to build a practice that defies those numbers.
Automation gets you there. It put this PT owner well on his way, in under a single financial quarter.
Automation creates the organizational environment you need to elevate patient engagement. Systems reduce obstacles that get in the way of producing consistency and excellence from your clinical and administrative staff. They also provide new, more potent tools and information that you use to attract—and keep—more patients. Automation reduces worry and uncertainty, giving you and your team more time to focus on developing the meaningful relationships and exceptional experience that will drive more patients to your clinic, and keep them there.
4 ways automation boosts patient engagement
Patients get more of your time and attention
You’re delivering physical therapy services—but you’re in the business of relationships. To keep patients in our care, we must earn their trust and attachment, and give them a memorable, unique experience. When you streamline operations and improve efficiency, you reduce chaos and inconsistency behind the scenes. That gives you and your therapists valuable additional time to focus on establishing strong connections with your patients. Those relationships are at the heart of patient retention and referrals—the more you invest in the relationships, the greater your return in patient loyalty, commitment and word of mouth.
You avoid burnout
You can’t run a first-rate practice if you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, constantly struggling with negative emotions, feeling as though your business is a burden rather than an opportunity. Burnout doesn’t just slow you down and leave you feeling in a permanent hole. It also shows up in how you relate to patients, your referral partners and your staff. Building a systems-based PT practice is one way to avoid burnout.
You get to quantify—and share—your success
To reach the patients who need your help and convince them of the value of physical therapy, you need committed, motivated referral partners on your side. Your metrics are the most potent tool you have in showing those potential allies exactly what your practice delivers. Collecting and analyzing data on everything from patient retention, to clinical outcomes, to outgoing referrals help you tell the story of your practice value, with specific, objective numbers. And that helps you put together the coalition you need to improve those tough odds that we face in getting patients into PT, and seeing them through their treatment plans.
You reach out in the right ways to prospective patients
Do you know what messaging and methods work best to connect with potential patients? Most practice owners are improvising their marketing efforts. That’s an expensive gamble, when you consider all the patients you’re failing to connect with when outreach doesn’t work. Taking a systemic, data-based approach to marketing and communications shows you what tools and pathways really work to break through the information clutter and speak to the people you most want to reach.
To learn more about the systems that drive up patient visits and practice revenue, get my free guide, 5 Simple Ways to Increase Patient Visits (Without Spending a Dime!), with evidence-based strategies for elevating patient retention and the overall patient experience.
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