Here’s another short excerpt from my ever-growing cash practice guidebook on Cash-Based Physical Therapy. When I made my first post on The PT Project about a month ago, the book was 25 pages long. It’s now 50 pages long and growing thanks to the questions I’m getting from so many interested Physical Therapists. Many in our field are worried about the coming changes to our ability to make a good living and give quality patient care. Don’t worry! There’s hope!

Go beyond MD referrals to grow your private-pay practice

Make sure the Medical Doctors in your area like you, but do not rely on them to continue being your primary referral sources. Even if you get better results than most/all other PT practices in your area, Physicians are reluctant to send patients where they can’t use insurance. It’s nothing personal, they just know that most patients are adamant about using insurance. So you may ask, “If Physicians are not your primary referral source, who is?” The patients themselves are my primary referral source. Far more than anything else, word-of-mouth marketing brings me the most new patients.

When you live off word-of-mouth, make every patient a walking advertisement

I’m not saying that you need to annoyingly repeat “tell a friend!” to everyone that comes through your clinic. You need to tactfully cause word-of-mouth marketing to happen without always asking for it.

When I’m with a patient, I regularly ask about family and friends, and figure out what activities everyone is into. I listen to responses and ask for clarification or details in order to guide the conversation in the direction I want … in a direction that may lead to them bringing up an injury or pain someone else is dealing with.

Even if we’re doing a great job for a patient’s knee, they may not put together that we’re also really good with neck pain too. People are very accustomed to health care professionals being specialized in different parts of the body, and it’s your job (and livelihood) to let them know that you treat the entire body. Likewise, if you’re treating an athlete in a team sport, make sure you’re regularly asking how the team is doing and inquire if anyone is out due to injury. Give them (or their parents) a business card/brochure to give to any injured teammates. You’ll be surprised at how much business you can create by getting people to actively think about others in their life that may also benefit from your services.

There are many ways to generate new cash-paying patients aside from marketing to MDs. Since this seems to be an area of interest and concern, I’ll make sure to cover other forms of marketing for cash services in future posts.

Jarod Carter PT, DPT, MTC

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