6 Ways Your Physical Therapy Practice Can Make a Good First Impression
The first impression. Just how important is that initial impression of your physical therapy practice to potential referring health care professionals and the patients they may send you?
We’ve all heard that first impressions are important and can probably think of a lasting first impression in our own lives. But does this really apply to your physical therapy practice? Research continues to affirm just how essential these first encounters can be.
Vivian Zayas, a professor of psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, found that we continue to be influenced by a person’s initial appearance in a photograph even after interacting with them face-to-face. She and her colleagues discovered that the first impressions we make just by viewing a person’s photo predict how we feel about that person, even if an in-person interaction doesn’t occur for another 6 months.
Don’t take your first impression with referring providers, and their patients, for granted. It matters. Whatever impression you make the first time is very often the one that lasts.
Here are some practical tips you can implement to help make those first impressions ones that will build your practice.
1. Say “Thank you”
Your referring providers are busy, but no one is too busy to appreciate a “thank you.” We recommend that therapists call the referring provider and, if you can’t speak with them directly, at least leave a thank-you voice mail. A good message is upbeat, shows your appreciation and shares your commitment to providing the best treatment to the patient.
Feel free to mention anything specific and encouraging, such as this being a common treatment plan for you, your office’s experience with such patients, or any new developments in this type of injury or illness. This reinforces the idea that the referring professional has made the right decision in sending the patient to you, and it makes a lasting impression.
If you don’t want to make a call, or tire of leaving voice messages, a thank-you note sent along with the treatment plan is a great idea. It’s likely to be received by the referring professional—and it too makes a lasting impression.
Regardless of how you do it, be sure to show your appreciation for each referral.
2. Make a positive impact on the patient immediately
Naturally, patients’ first impressions of your practice matter too. The way in which new patients are greeted when they call will not only influence them but will also influence the health care practitioner who referred them, when word of a positive—or negative—experience gets back to that practice. We can’t stress enough just how critical it is that everyone on your staff answer the phone in a polite, friendly, professional manner. If not, that first phone call may be as far as that referral relationship goes.
Bonus tip: When you speak to the patient, address them by name. As Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” This shows that you care about the patient and gives you a tone of warmth and compassion. It’s one of those little things that goes a long way.
3. Keep making a great impression with a physical therapy newsletter
What about health care practitioners who haven’t referred patients to you … yet? Many of these professionals may have no existing impression of your practice. With a referral-generating newsletter program, you can ensure that you make a great first impression on new prospects. And you’ll continue to make a positive impact on practices already familiar with you and those who have worked with you before. Update on Physical Therapy is a professional, targeted way to communicate with orthopedists, athletic trainers, family physicians, occupational health specialists, sports medicine specialists, podiatrists, pediatricians and other health care providers.
A high-quality educational newsletter creates an outstanding first impression for those not yet acquainted with your practice. You’ll convey the fact that you’re on the leading edge of physical therapy because your practice is providing timely and informative articles. These newsletters will remind your colleagues to reach out to you when it’s time to refer a patient to a physical therapist they can trust.
A quality newsletter marketing program is highly effective in keeping your practice top-of-mind. A top-quality, relevant newsletter reminds lapsed referral sources that you’re the physical therapist they can trust in your community. Informative articles featuring developments and updates in physical therapy serve as reminders to referring professionals of the many ways your practice can support their patients.
4. The message from the outside
How does your practice office look from the exterior? If the referring health care provider has never seen your practice, what does the exterior say? Does it convey care and professionalism and indicate a thriving practice? No referring professional wants to send a patient to a building that’s not inviting from the outside. If the impression you make on the outside is lacking, you’ll surely miss out on opportunities to get patients inside.
5. First impressions of the office
You wouldn’t want to eat dinner at a restaurant that didn’t look clean or well managed. The same is true of your physical therapy reception area. It must be neat and clean and should reflect your practice’s image. If you cater to local athletes, your practice should have that feel. Since many of your patients will have some form of physical disability, your reception area should make them feel comfortable and at ease.
Whatever impression you want to make, carefully consider how it comes across, keeping in mind that all-important first impression.
6. Shaping the first impression
You can make a powerful impression by displaying clippings from local newspapers or websites that feature your practice, awards for community engagement and notes from very happy patients. This sends a message to new patients and referral sources that your practice is trustworthy, professional and respectable.
Start building that great first impression today!
To get started building meaningful relationships with referring providers while subtly and professionally drawing attention back to your practice as the expert in your field, download WPI Communications’ special report The Complete Guide to Newsletter Marketing for Your Physical Therapy Practice.
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