Your door is open. Patients are coming to your clinic and leaving with good outcomes, but what is your bottom line? Could you see more patients? How do patients find you? Is it the sign out front? Is it the referrals from the medical clinic down the street? Marketing is the key to your business success. Smart marketing ideas can bring more patients to your OT practice. First consider what’s working and build from there.
As ideas pop into your head, let’s write down a few details:
What can you offer patients?
- Specialty skills you and your staff offer (pediatrics, wound care, hand therapy, vestibular treatment)
- Special services (PCE physical capacity evaluations, lymphedema treatment, home health visits, wellness services, pool therapy)
- Group classes (arthritis care, Parkinson’s care)
What can you offer the community?
- Convenient location
- Extended clinic hours (early morning, evening or weekend appointments)
- Support for local projects or events
- Sponsor booth at local Health Fair
- Guest speaking at schools and senior centers
Who is your competition?
- Other Occupational Therapy clinics in local area
- Local hospital outpatient rehab services
- Orthopedic medical practices with inhouse OT’s
How to make your marketing budget go further?
- Use social media – Create a Facebook page, share informative ideas and links on Twitter, join Linkin to find other OT’s in your area
- Write a blog you can share with patients
- Offer to write an article for your paper
- Create a website for your OT clinic
Now it’s time to develop a plan. Feel free to be creative with your marketing plan. Send a note introducing yourself to local physicians, chiropractors, massage therapists, yoga instructors, athletic trainers and others who may have an interest in sending patients your way. Arrange a one-on-one lunch with those who appear to have practice styles compatible with yours. Introduce yourself to school counselors to offer your services for talks to students on career choices. Contact the director of your local senior center for talks or exercise classes. To help your therapy practice stand out, write an article for your local paper sharing advise on fall prevention.
Marketing in social media improves your access to the community and other health care providers. Current marketing strategy should include Social Media. It’s very simple to create business accounts on Twitter, Linked In,Facebook , and Pinterest to connect with other professionals and people in your area. These sites allow you to offer info and links to current healthcare ideas. To maintain your credibility, keep your content professional and educational….not personal. Another benefit of using social media is the zero to minimal cost to your budget. Always good for your bottom line.
Social media marketing should include a website for your occupational therapy practice. It can be as basic as a single web page introducing your abilities to the world. Down the road, expand your website to multiple web pages explaining your services, staff and perhaps even a blog. A blog offers the opportunity to provide info on educational topics relevant to your patients and the community. If directing a blog to your patients, write in terms that have meaning and are easily understood. A well-written blog gives you credibility to your followers (patients and others). Check out websites and blogs of local therapists to learn more about your competition – what services do they offer?
Reaching out to the community is a great way to market yourself and your therapy practice. Offering your expertise to schools and coaches provides opportunity for you to share your knowledge. It benefits student safety with information on conditioning, shoe wear, and concussion awareness. Volunteering at community events as charity fun runs, career fairs, and sports events helps people get to know you and what you can offer them. Offer community workshops on popular topics - living with arthritis, knee exercises, walk vs run options, life after joint replacement therapy.
Understanding the lifestyle in your area will help you determine practice hours. Is there a need to offer early or late day appointments? Is there a need for weekend appointments? Is there a week day less requested for patient visits? Clever marketing will convey your practice availability times and emphasize that “you are there for them.”
Saving the best for last….Word of Mouth….does more to market your practice than you think. Social media can be included as “word of mouth” marketing. Digital “Word of Mouth” marketing can make or break your therapy practice. If your patients have a good experience, it will build your business. They’ll tell their friends, who in turn recommend you to more friends. Doctors and other medical staff will do the same. Patient confidence is key to your success.
Now that you have a marketing plan, how do you know it’s working? To evaluate your success, consider your goals and ask for feedback. A few weeks after completing treatment, send a survey to your patient. Great opportunity to let them know you care about their progress and gather info about their experience with your practice at the same time.
Is your plan working? Set a timeline to re-assess the following at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year:
- New patients added
- Number of patient visits
- Compare marketing costs
- Track sources of referrals
- Types of treatment provided
Here is where a comprehensive EMR shows comes in handy. The best EMR software will allow you to track all the goals listed above and more as well as documenting patient treatment. Therapy EMR software should integrate patient records with appointment scheduling, insurance, PQRS and ICD-10 codes, exercise plans, referral sources, and treatment outcomes. A good EMR incorporates all the pieces of your practice into one place allowing you to quickly see if you are meeting your business goals. Tracking enables you to make adjustments to improve marketing efforts.
You are in charge. Decide what works for you. Create a marketing plan, but always be ready to make changes. Have fun with your marketing ideas. Quality patient care is always the primary goal, but creative marketing will have a positive impact on your practice and your bottom line.