The Fit Factor
Promoting niche practices.
By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS
Defining and messaging physical therapy has long been a challenge for our profession. The overall understanding of the role and value of physical therapy in an orthopedic practice is improving; however, for the niche clinicians and practices, messaging the role of physical therapy continues to be challenging.
Here is what happens when a person searches common online resources for the term physical therapy.
From WebMD1: “Physical therapy is a type of treatment you may need when health problems make it hard to move around and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and may relieve pain. It also helps improve or restore your physical function and your fitness level.’’
From Wikipedia2: “a primary care specialty in western medicine that, by using mechanical force and movements [Bio-mechanics or Kinesiology], Manual therapy, exercise therapy, electrotherapy and various physical therapies who practice evidence based treatments, remediates impairments and promotes mobility, function, and quality of life through examination, diagnosis, prognosis, and physical intervention.”
From the APTA3: “Physical therapists (PTs) are highly- educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility— in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.”
Based on these descriptions, it’s understandable why people may question many of the physical therapy niche practices. “What can a physical therapist do for dizziness?” “How can a physical therapist help my golf swing?” “How can physical therapy possibly help with my pelvic pain?”
When it comes to promoting a niche practice, clinicians must be actively engaged in marketing to advocate and educate all of their stakeholders, who include current and former patients, the public, payers, referral sources, and other physical therapists.
The Fit Factor (http://privatepracticesection.org/fit-factor/) is a tool that can be easily incorporated into such a plan. The Fit Factor is an online survey people can do in the clinic or in their own home, assessing all aspects of physical health. Questions range from asking about a person’s exercise habits and their ability to participate in everyday leisure and sports activities; to questions related to pelvic health, posture, pain during breastfeeding; to interactive self-screening tests on balance, dizziness, strength, and flexibility. The result is a Fit Factor score of one of 6 levels of physical health. Educational videos provide a vast amount of information and tips including injury prevention, exercise, posture, avoiding pain, dizziness, pelvic health, dynamic warm-ups, and development of strength, flexibility, and balance.
For the niche practice, the Fit Factor can educate and increase the public’s knowledge and awareness of the elements of private practice physical therapy that a consumer may not know about, through engaging questions and valuable video content.
Consider these ideas on incorporating the Fit Factor into a niche marketing plan.
Add the online link: Simply add the Fit Factor image and link (available on the PPS website) to your practice’s e-newsletters, social media outlets, and website.
Have patients complete the Fit Factor: Incorporate the Fit Factor into your patient’s course of care and discuss the findings. This will add value to the services you provide and educate the patient further on the role of private practice physical therapy. Patients could complete this at home or at your clinic during their care.
Share the resource: Educate referral sources, health care providers, insurance companies, schools, community wellness programs, gyms, your staff, and other physical therapists about the Fit Factor, as a tool to educate on prevention and engage the public about their physical health. Educate these stakeholders on your niche practice to ensure they have a solution for the potential person who needs your services.
Maintain and foster relationships: Email the Fit Factor to former patients to maintain and further develop relationships. Engage with former patients about their results and discover opportunities for how you and your practice can continue to help them. Ask former patients to share the Fit Factor with their friends and family.
Increase engagement: Post specific Fit Factor questions related to a niche on social media sites. Include a link to a page within the Fit Factor. For example, “Are you able to maintain your balance while standing on one leg?”, “Can you walk and turn your head from side to side without losing your balance or feeling any dizziness?”, “Can you exercise, sneeze and/or cough without leaking urine?”
Follow PPS @MyPhysTherapist: PPS now continually posts new resources for members to use to promote their practices.4 Maybe there will be resources for your niche!
Finally, always assess how and why patients come to your practice so the effectiveness of your niche marketing plan can be measured and adjusted. Promoting your niche practice will help our profession on its journey to educate our communities on the role physical therapists play in health care.
1 www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/physical-therapytopic-overview. Accessed August 2017.
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_therapy. Accessed August 2017.
3 www.apta.org/AboutPTs. Accessed August 2017.
Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, is the chair of the PPS PR and Marketing Committee and chief executive officer of Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.