Building Physical Therapy Referral Networks That Work
Unlike other health care professionals, physical therapists can’t rely on annual checkups for revenue. While the relationships they can build with patients can be longer, more personal and more rewarding than are those between patients and their general practitioner or their dentist, physical therapy patients only show up in times of need. While some patients remain with a therapist for the rest of their lives, most complete their course of treatment and move on.
Regardless of the circumstances, physical therapists cannot afford to leave any avenue for finding potential patients to go unexplored. The most effective route to finding patients is through a strong referral network, and the best way to build that network is with a targeted newsletter campaign.
The first part of building a successful referral-generating newsletter strategy is to identify the best possible sources. Medical professionals are the most natural targets for referrals. Family physicians, orthopedists, podiatrists, sports medicine specialists and pediatricians, among others, make for easy and willing connections, but there are many others worth making:
- Personal trainers are natural referral sources because they are often the first to notice when a person needs professional help.
- Occupational health specialists can be of great help because they are able to identify large groups of workers who are suffering physical ailments that stem from challenging conditions in their workplace.
- Talk to patients about those who referred them to you. Those sources and others in their profession should be looked upon as potential targets for your newsletters.
The second part of building a profitable network is to understand your area of service. It is a waste of time and effort to market to people outside your area of influence. If you work in a heavily populated region and you have many competitors nearby, concentrate your efforts on your local market, and don’t waste time marketing to people dozens of miles away. They are unlikely to make the long trip just to see you, no matter how much better you might be than their nearest alternative. On the other hand, if you are in a loosely populated area, you need to expand your reach as widely as possible.
WPI Communications offers a service called EZ Lists that will allow you to build a map of potential referral sources according to your geographical preferences and most desired medical specialties. Consultations are also available to help build a list of nonmedical professionals.
People trust their doctors and their trainers more than they trust the yellow pages or insurance-generated lists of in-network specialists. Build trust with trusted professionals, and their patients and clients will put that trust in you.
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