Physical Therapists: Why Whining About Not Having Direct Access Is A Waste Of Time –
Innovation Strategies Overcome Restrictive Barriers
According to the APTA, 29 states in the US have restrictions on direct access, and the organization is determined to facilitate unrestricted access in all states by 2020. This is an important objective, especially for those practitioners who point to restrictions as an excuse for lack of control over the growth of their practice. We can all agree that direct access makes sense, but, are the restrictions really an obstacle to growth?
We don’t think so. In fact, the restrictions may be a powerful catalyst for practice innovation. We see it every day; faced with the frustration of being subject to referral patterns controlled by physicians, the entrepreneurial PT finds ways to innovate and set themselves apart from their competition.
Most successful innovations build on existing programs, products, and services incrementally. It may help to think of innovations in categories. You can use a simple tool like our Innovation Table to identify some possible categories for innovation. As a professional health care services provider, those categories could include:
1. Specialized Programs and Facilities
2. Quantifying Expected Results
3. Alliances and Joint Ventures
4. Value Added Services
5. Variety of Services
6. Patient Experience
The experienced practice innovator also knows that a valuable innovation has little impact if no one outside the practice knows about or understands it. As you can see from the case study below, it is important to communicate your innovations to BOTH referral sources and consumers. Today’s consumer is now having more and more influence on physicians and how they refer, regardless of the direct access status of your state.
If you provide a superior experience, and you continually look for ways to innovate your practice to stay ahead of your competition, and you can find ways to market and advertise that experience so the differences become instantly evident, then you will dominate your market – direct access or not.
Case Study – Actual Results – Innovation In The Trenches
Situation: An independently owned physical therapy practice needed more patient traffic to meet fixed overhead (This is an example of a simple innovation. Our next e Tip will explore a more complex one).
Innovation Strategy: Create a Back Pain Survival program including free educational materials and assessments. Setup an alliance with an experienced licensed massage therapist who provides free 30 minute massages in exchange for promoting the massage business.
Execution: Promote the Back Pain Survival program with targeted direct mail to consumers. Results tracked with unique URL, website analytics, and tracking phone number.
Results: An immediate 1233% increase in web traffic. 37 phone inquiries, 8 patient bookings*, and one documented new physician referral source**.
Thank you for reading,
David C. Steinberg
The PT Referral Machine
Questions or comments on the article above? Post them on our blog here: PTRMblog.com “From The Trenches”. We’d love to hear from you directly- email us at email@example.com or call 508-444-0056 in the US or 403-510-7051 in Canada.
*This case was in the state of NY, with provisionally restricted access. In restricted states, this type of Innovation Strategy requires a physician alliance.
**A consumer brought the direct mailer to a physician, and the physician’s office called to establish a referral relationship.