With 2012 now officially in the books, I hope you all have taken time to review your successes, mistakes, and the lessons you learned in the past year. As I looked back on what worked for my cash-based practice in 2012, there were a few learning experiences that I felt I should pass on here so my colleagues can benefit from them as well.

A Key to Accomplishing Goals

This year, I made the mistake I advise others to avoid … I did not regularly review my goals. I took the time to write them in detail, but I became so busy that I figured “Well, I’m so busy and things are obviously going well, so reviewing my goals can wait.” And wait they did, ’til late December when it was too late to execute on all the goals that went forgotten throughout the year.  There were a number of them I’m sure I would have accomplished if I had just reminded myself of them throughout the year. Completing certain video and website tasks, among other things, could have already been producing new referrals and income right now. What a shame. So in 2013, the first on my list of goals is to make time every week to review them all. I encourage you to do the same.

Physicians Who Will Refer to Out-of-Network PT Clinics

In the first two years of my practice, I didn’t bother marketing to Physicians because of my belief that they usually will not send patients to a PT who is completely out-of-network. I still feel that this holds true in most cases, but I did see a big jump this year in new patient referrals directly from Physicians. These came primarily from Doctors who perform prolotherapy and platelet-rich-plasma injections, and from a Cardiologist who’s wife and friends have had very good results with my treatments.

Prolotherapy injections are almost never covered by insurance so those patients are already accustomed to paying good amounts out of pocket to deal with their muculoskeletal issues. I really believe in these regenerative injection therapies as a complimentary treatment alongside what I do as a PT, so I refer patients to a couple Physicians in my area who perform them. There’s nothing like sending someone business to make them want to return the favor. So if you’re looking to increase your cash-based patient population, make sure you build relationships with Physicians in your area who themselves have a high percentage of self-pay patients (and don’t forget about “fee-for-service” or “concierge” Medical Practices).

The Power of Trust

Many of the patients sent by the Cardiologist did not know I was strictly cash-pay before they called to set up the eval, but the vast majority of them still decided to come in for treatment. Why? As we went into the topic of cost per session and the fact I don’t bill insurance, they almost all said something along the lines of, “Well, Dr _____ said that you would be able to help me more than anyone else, so I guess I’m gonna see you even though it costs so much more.” What this taught me is that I was underestimating the influence that a trusted Physician has with his/her patients.

Does this mean I’ll be visiting a bunch of Doctor’s offices with script pads and lunch for the staff? Of course not; but I will make more efforts to communicate the added value of my services to the doctors in the area about whom I consistently hear rave reviews. Their patients trust them and will pay more out of pocket for services if that Physician strongly recommends them.

I hope that 2012 was great for you and your practice and that 2013 is even better. What are some of the goals you have for your practice in 2013? Are any of them related to increasing your cash-pay patient population? 🙂

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