Why it matters to your practice.
By Sturdy McKee, PT, MPT
Only a small fraction of people who can benefit from the services of a physical therapist ever get to one. So, much is made of marketing and new patient acquisition. We go to great lengths to spread the word about the great things that physical therapists can do to ultimately attract more new patients. We enlist consultants, try advertising, post to social media, and we visit other providers. But did you know that your best and easiest source of new referrals may be right under your nose?
Many of us track where our new patients come from and how many come from each source. Do we consider how many ought to? Do we track how many leads, or people interested in our services, come via calls and online inquiries? Do we assess our efficiencies around converting someone looking for a solution into a happy, engaged customer? Do we know the value of each new patient to your practice? Does your staff know?
I am sharing some processes that you may wish to consider to better manage and convert the people already contacting your practice into engaged patients.
Step 1:Track your calls (and emails, online bookings, etc.).
Tracking the total number of incoming leads can give you a basis to measure the efficacy of marketing activities and new initiatives. For example, if you try a direct mailing to the neighborhood around your practice and see the same number of incoming leads during and following the mailing, was it effective? Do you need to change the recipients, the message, the artwork, or scrap it all together? The same is true of social media marketing and web traffic. The desired result is more leads who convert to more new patients. You can use a spreadsheet, shared document, or your electronic medical record (EMR), if this feature is offered. Tracking the leads generated can help you make better decisions around the efficacy of your current and future marketing strategy.
Step 2:Track your conversion rate.
Once you start tracking every incoming lead, all it takes to track conversion is to divide that number into the total number of new patients you see over a given time. This gives you a percentage to understand how effective your intake and scheduling process is. For example, if you received a total of 100 new patient inquiries in the month of July and saw 80 new patients, then your conversion rate is 80 percent. Expanding the time frame to a 3- or more month period will help smooth out any short-term variables impacting your schedule and give you a more realistic baseline from which to work.
A conversion rate of 80 percent may not be bad in your practice. But what happened to the other 20 people who contacted your practice and did not schedule? Did they receive services somewhere else, or not at all? Is there an opportunity for you to follow up and help them? Can you find out why they chose not to use your services? And if so, can that help you to modify your process and the conversations your team is having with those people contacting your practice? If you were able to better explain to them how you can help them, would 2, 3, or 4 of those 20 likely come to you? What is that worth to your practice, to your referring providers, and to those patients you could have helped?
There is often more to learn about your conversion rate. By following up with those people who chose not to schedule, you can start the conversation by telling them you just want to make sure they got taken care of. You are checking on their well-being. You may get an opportunity to share a bit about how a physical therapist can help them. You may be able to offer a couple of things they can try to manage their issue or prevent it from coming back. You can also ask about the conversation they had with their referring provider about their issue and the services you offer. This might give you an opportunity to have conversations with other providers to better explain how, as a physical therapist, you can help their patients.
Another approach to conversion rate is to look at it by referral source. Knowing that someone is sending you 10 new patient leads a month when only 4 are actually making the decision and commitment to use your services, means that you have a 40 percent conversion rate from that source. If you can compare that to other sources, say someone whose conversion rate is 90 percent, you may be able to figure out the differences between those leads, the conversation that provider is having with their patients around physical therapy, and whether they are actively promoting you as the best solution for their patients. You may be able to impact the quality of the conversation and the understanding and readiness of those people to schedule an evaluation. You may also be able to make more informed strategic decisions around where to place your future efforts.
Tracking your leads and conversion rate takes process implementation, discipline, and monitoring. But it does not add to your expenses. So, if you could turn this process into more new patients, and help more people, with your existing incoming leads, is it worth it? Further, by monitoring lead generation, you will be able to test and make better marketing decisions by figuring out what works, what does not, and what works but costs too much.
Next month, come back for a look into how to generate more new leads by better assessing your referral sources and how to prioritize your efforts in that area.
Sturdy McKee, PT, MPT, loves helping physical therapist practice owners achieve their goals. He is cofounder and chief executive officer of ScheduleDoc.co and San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy. He can be reached at Sturdy@ScheduleDoc.co or @Sturdy on Twitter.