Consider these steps for managing your marketing and public relations information.
By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS
No matter what the size of your physical therapy practice, we all strive for our marketing and public relations plan to attract and retain patients. In addition we want to ensure that the money, effort, and time invested on marketing and public relations is spent wisely. Whether using a spreadsheet, customer relationship management (CRM), or a practice management system, practices must determine what information to gather and how to manage this effectively and efficiently. Consider these suggestions when determining how and what information to manage related to your marketing and public relations efforts.
1. Track interactions with referral sources. Record meetings, correspondence, and any other interactions that you have with referral sources and their staff. Assess referral patterns to determine what strategies are effective for each referral source.
2. Manage relationship development information. Building relationships is essential in any marketing campaign. Document information for future use to foster these relationships. For example: “Last time we spoke you mentioned referring patients for low back pain. What kind of feedback have you had from these patients?” Additional information such as time and days people are in the office, optimal hours to speak with those making referrals, whether calling first is more effective, will ensure you spend time wisely if you decide to spend time on the road visiting practices.
3. Know why patients come to you. Establish a system in your practice to record and manage information related to why new patients chose you. Options include check boxes on registration forms, administrative or clinical staff questioning the patient, or emailed surveys. Classify patients into meaningful categories for your practice. These may include: referred or recommended from physician, other health care provider, employer, or insurance company; word of mouth from a friend or staff member; social media; or an online search. A standardized methodology for collecting and managing this information allows a practice to measure the effectiveness of direct marketing, social media outreach, online presence, and campaigns to promote word-of-mouth referrals.
4. Know why patients come back to you. All practices rely on new patients as well as returning patients. Managing information as to why patients return to you provides important data for your practice on the value of newsletters, postdischarge programs, follow-up calls to past patients, and other relationship-building strategies.
5. Track new patient type. Rolling out a new occupational health program? Then it is important to know the number of new patients that are receiving workers’ compensation before, during, and after the rollout. Sending out a press release on the effectiveness of physical therapy for low back pain? Then information on the diagnosis of new patients is important. Diagnosis, payer, age, employer, town—obviously there is an unlimited amount of information that can be collected from patients. Choose what is important for your practice.
We live in an era of potential information overload! Take the time to truly determine what information is necessary for you to gather, what will allow you to measure the effectiveness of marketing and public relations activities. Next, choose a system to manage this information. The return on your investment, in time, for developing such a system to manage information will be invaluable as you assess the effectiveness of your marketing and public relations campaign.
Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, 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.