If you haven’t already used it, there is a fantastic Linked In group for Private PT Practice Owners that has a ton of great information and interaction. It was started by Nitin Chhoda PT, who many of you may have already heard of and learned from. If you haven’t, I encourage you to visit his site and start interacting with him.

I bring up this group because I was answering a question/concern of one of the members and realized it would make for a good blog post.

How do you make the jump to a cash physical therapy practice?

His statement went something along the lines of:

I would like to know how everyone is doing their marketing to drive the cash-paying patients to your practice, and how you compete with all the other clinics accepting all insurance plans. The cash-pay system sounds great, but taking the first step away from total insurance reliance is hard to do.

His hesitance and concern about stepping away from the insurance/medicare world is one I hear all the time. “Going cash-pay would be amazing, but what if it doesn’t work?!! What if I fail and go bankrupt?” Sound familiar? I’m am certainly not here to say that every PT Practice Owner who tries to add cash services or fully convert to private pay will be successful. Of course some will fail! However, I think more would be successful with it than many expect, and getting past some initial fears is often the first step on the path to this success.

Making a move toward a private-pay model

So let’s get back to the first part of his question … Based on all the blogs on this site and all the information in my cash-practice guidebook, the answer to “How do you market and compete…” is extremely long. But here was my response:

“You are not alone or unjustified in your concern about taking that first step away from insurance reimbursement. However, if you already have a profitable practice, you can take ‘baby steps’ without risking your bottom line. You can add treatment sessions to your day that are dedicated to cash-pay patients, and continue seeing the same number of insurance-based patients. Yes, it means longer days, but as you build your cash population, you can start to REPLACE insurance-based spots with cash-based ones.

Marketing a cash PT practice based on results and quality

As for how to market to this population, a detailed answer to that goes way beyond the space limitations of these forum posts. However, Thomas made a very good point above that if you provide great service, much of your business will come from word-of-mouth. And if you are completely cash-based (like Thomas and I are), you compete less with insurance-based practices than you think. Why? Because most of the prospective patients who are willing to pay out-of-pocket are quite different than those who would only go where they can use their insurance. In essence, you are targeting a very different market than insurance-based PT clinics. Sure, there is some cross-over, but not enough to be concerned about.

The way you compete with other clinics to attract those patients who would be willing to go either way is that you offer something significantly different. For me, it comes down to the results I get and the amount of time I spend with each patient. Having an hour one-on-one with your PT in every session is a rare thing, and is attractive to those patients who put a high priority on high-level performance and fast results (not necessarily just people with a big financial surplus). I just wrote an article on exactly this topic for the Private Practice Section magazine that will publish later this year, so keep an eye out for that if you’re a PPS member.

In an insurance-based clinic, the majority of your marketing is to referring Physicians. For me personally, I haven’t spent a dime or any significant time on marketing to Physicians. I do things to encourage word-of-mouth referrals, I do things to be found with internet searches, and I market to fitness and wellness professionals who have clientele I already know are willing to pay cash to feel and look better.”

If you already offer private-pay services at your PT clinic, what do you do to market these services and gain new clients?

Interested in the cash-based private practice model?

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