In the October 2011 issue of Impact magazine, WSPT’s Daniel Seidler discussed the importance of marketing for privately owned physical therapy practices. Impact is the monthly publication of the Private Practice Section of APTA, the American Physical Therapy Association. Impact offers members brief articles with practice development and management tips, useful internet links, updates on the Section, and current government affairs and reimbursement information. Articles are written by members of the Section, PPS staff experts in various areas of business development, management and growth.[i]
Daniel discusses how marketing is often a challenge for physical therapists: PTs are taught how to provide unique services to help patients achieve their wellness goals, but rarely are shown how to sell those services to the public. Knowing your market is the most effective way to resolve this dilemma.
When Daniel decided to begin an aquatic therapy program, he reached out to members of the community over the phone, face to face, and asked referring physicians directly what they thought patients of a Bronx aquatic therapy program would most benefit from: what chronic diseases were most prevalent? What did patients feel was holding them back from reaching physical therapy goals: too much pain, lack of mobility? Putting in the time getting to know his clientele allowed Daniel to make the best choice when choosing a pool for his facility. He chose the HydroWorx pool because it best incorporated all of the tools he would need to combat ailments he discovered were most common among his patients.
Now that the pool was installed, and existing patients’ curiosity was peaked, the challenge would become making WSPT known for its aquatic therapy program. How to do that? Certainly, tried and true methods such as personal relationships, flyers, mailings, customer referrals and tours, are all beneficial and effective when done well. However, genuinely attracting a wide variety of new patients takes initiative and creativity. Daniel put into place a phenomenal internet marketing campaign, making use of social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and creating a sophisticated website.
WSPT’s website provides interested consumers and current patients all of the information about the classes, memberships, and educational seminars that WSPT offers, as well as informative blogs.
When all of the pieces are put into place, it is important to stay focused on the ultimate goal: keeping customers happy. Patients coming for physical therapy are in pain, are not feeling their best, so it is important to create an atmosphere that is entirely satisfying. This means having a cheerful and excited staff to greet the patients, therapists who get to know the patient’s history and put great value into the progress and safety of a patient, and keeping the facility clean and welcoming. Encouraging feedback is an excellent way to keep a practice like WSPT new and innovative. If the big picture is growing with the community, it is difficult to not naturally seek out ways to improve. Patients attend physical therapy to learn how to be in their best shape; the facility they attend should strive to do so as well.
Questions for the Reader:
- How would you learn about your target demographic?
- What are some of the biggest challenges when coming up with new programs?
- As a physical therapy patient, how do you feel a practice can better meet your needs?
- What are some reasons a patient would cease therapy before his or her treatment is complete?
Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat. Most people would think that's all you need to do to train for a triathlon. You wouldn't be completely wrong if you did 2 sessions of each discipline every week for 3 months leading up to a race, but there is much more involved if you want to perform closer to your potential.
It all starts in the off-season. Before you begin ramping up to the mileage of a triathlon, whether it be a Sprint, Olympic, 1/2 Ironman, or Ironman, you need to have a base to launch from. The distances of an Olympic triathlon are a 0.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run. If you are striving to simply complete the 3-discipline race, you should be able to do at least 1/2 of each distance, and possibly have 1 of the 3 that you can confidently complete before serious training begins. More competitive racers should easily be able to get through all 3 distances seperately. Training will focus on bringing it all together and getting faster through the entire program.
Prior to specific training, a solid strengthening program will prepare the triathlete for all the challenges they'll face during the actual season. Key areas to train are the legs, upper back/shoulders, and of course the core. This doesn't leave much out and that's because triathlons are a true test of full-body fitness. Strengthening should focus on building a support system that will last through the rigors of training sessions, races, and a long season of both. The intensity and degree of off-season training depends on the athlete's goals and expectations for the upcoming season.
Some training programs that are extremely effective for triathlon training are:
- Calisthenics - push-ups, pull-ups, squats
Once the season begins, continue your strengthening program, but to a lesser degree. The goal should be to maintain your strength and reinforce the work you've done in the off-season. If you're not sure where to begin, join an off-season training program or work with a personal trainer with the specific objective of preparing to train for a triathlon or triathlon season.
Speakers at a Capitol Hill briefing outlined to members of Congress the value and importance of rehabilitation services. The briefing was sponsored by the APTA and hosted by members of the House Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus.
This is obviously a step in the right direction. I appreciate the efforts that the APTA is making to bring rehabilitation and PT into the national consciousness and the political conversation. As our role is so wide-ranging in the scope of health care, we need to continue to broaden the conversation on the national political level, the local level and the personal level.
So few people understand the knowledge and value of the average PT. More importantly, the role of physical therapists in the overall health of our population is underutilized and undervalued. PTs bring so much to the table, but we are minimized due to our lack of presence, limited funding, and minimal (but growing) political and marketing power.
Efforts like the one depicted above are small steps that eventually can lead to great strides. This article written by Dan and Chip Heath for Fast Company illustrates how persistence was so effective for Project ASSIST, an antismoking initiative - http://goo.gl/82r39
As long as leadership in the PT community
1. Recognizes what we bring to the table
2. Has a long-term view of PT becoming a dominant player in US healthcare
3. Gritty, persistent leadership,
then I am very hopeful about the future of our profession.
I'll continue to do my part on the local and personal level and I am willing and able to participate in any campaigns that meet the requirements I've specified above. I encourage anyone else who is passionate about helping people as a PT to do the same.