First, a bit of personal news … I got engaged!
And now for the post …
Spoiler alert: this is gonna be one that many may disagree with, and very rightfully so.
The first conversation that a prospective patient has with whoever is answering the phone at your practice is certainly a very important one. I’ve heard a lot of discussion about how to guide that conversation and even claims that it’s most ideal for the clinician to be the first one the patient speaks to. I would say it’s most ideal for scoring the business, but not necessarily ideal use of the clinician’s or business owner’s time.
Make sure you talk to the right people
Along those same lines, I’m often asked the question: “When a prospective patient calls [who doesn’t know you are out-of-network], how do you convince them to forgo using their insurance and pay privately to get your treatment?” I cover some of the main talking points in this post, but I’ve learned a few things since I started my practice and I would like to add this to the answer I gave in 2011 … I actually try to do very little “convincing” of patients who call without already having the idea that my services are worth paying more out of pocket than my insurance-based competition.
You will spin your wheels and get quite frustrated over time if you’re constantly dealing with these types of prospective patients who need to be convinced to go out-of-network to see you. Instead, I try to make sure that as few people with this mindset call as possible. I know that may sound crazy but I’d much rather have two conversations with people who understand the value of my treatments and are ready to book an eval before we even speak, than have 10 conversations with unsure people and be successful convincing 3-4 of them to book appointments.
Even though scenario #2 gets me more patients, I think it would wear me out over time and I’d rather focus my time on simply getting more of the scenario #1 people calling in the first place. I do this by posting my rates clearly online and explaining exactly why I charge what I do, and the added value I am able to provide by being completely out-of-network. Getting people to my website so that they can actually read those things and make the decision to call (or not call) has a lot to do with Blogging, Youtube, and Social Media. (*Note that many are also word-of-mouth referrals who go directly to my site to read about my practice before calling, or not calling)
Though it seems to work for some practices, I personally steer clear of doing free consultations just to get someone in the door. This approach actually generates a lot of business for some practices I know of, but I still don’t do it and here’s why: though it may earn me a few patients here and there I wouldn’t have had otherwise, I’d have to deal with plenty of people who just don’t have the mindset to pay more for a higher value service; and that is not the type of patient I (or anyone) should to be trying to attract to a cash-based practice.
This is all of course just my opinion and reflective of my own mindset about this business model, but I think you’ll be happier long term if you work harder on attracting people with the right mindset to your practice rather than convincing people to change their mindset about the value of top-notch healthcare and what they’re willing to pay for it.
Focus on the value of your physical therapy services
I’ve written and spoken numerous times about “value” and tried to compel those listening to consider the mindset they have about the value of physical therapy. However, the “value” topic is not limited simply to the value of good healthcare services. The stance I take above is reflective of the value I place on time.
Providing great treatment will not necessarily lead to private practice success on its own. Being a successful healthcare entrepreneur, and especially one that thrives in the niche cash-based realm, requires employing a wide variety of non-clinical business skills and tactics. Making sure you are using your time efficiently and effectively is one of those, and I would venture to say one of the most important ones.
Interested in the cash-based private practice model?
Focus your time on getting the right patients to call; NOT on convincing those with the wrong mindset. #CashPT [Click to Tweet]