THE PRIVATE PRACTICE RESOURCE
REFERRALS AREN’T A RIGHT How to Effectively Communicate to Physicians
Physical therapy has come a long way as a profession that consumers can directly access for care. Today, it’s a regular occurrence for a patient to seek out PT on their own, something which would’ve been rare even a generation ago. Despite the increased awareness of physical therapy from patients, it’s still massively important for many practice owners to cultivate relationships with physicians in order to generate referrals. Doing so effectively can be a huge source of new patients. “IN AN IDEAL WORLD, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A PHYSICAL THERAPIST AND PHYSICIAN SHOULD BE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL FOR ALL THREE PARTIES: YOU, THE PHYSICIAN, AND THE PATIENTS ... IT’S UP TO YOU TO DEMONSTRATE THAT TO POTENTIAL REFERRAL SOURCES.” I would say most practice owners understand the vital nature of these relationships, but few have the tools and experience to go about developing them. Odds are you’ve never been trained or educated on how to sell your services to doctors — and make no mistake, generating referrals is a form of selling. That doesn’t mean it has to feel cheesy. After all, you can offer physicians and their patients great value. What it does mean is that you have to be persistent and persuasive. The majority of practice owners put in minimal effort to developing bonds with physicians but expect to reap results all the same. It just doesn’t work that way. If you’ve only ever spoken to a gatekeeper and dropped off a brochure, how likely do you think it is that a physician will become a referral source? If all you’ve done is shown up or called once, you’ve not really made an effort at all. The first step to generating a powerful referral relationship is getting an audience with the doctor. You probably already know that you can’t expect to speak to a physician the first time you visit their office. Being friendly to administrative staff goes a long way in this regard. If you need to do some gentle nudging, that’s
fine, but you should be more concerned with demonstrating you care than trying to steamroll your way into a meeting.
When you do have the chance to speak directly to a physician, it’s important to present your best self. The worst approach is to present yourself as what I like to call a physical pharmacist, “I’m located here, and I’m the best in the community at X, Y, and Z.” If you want to really resonate with a physician, you have to come prepared with clinical research and a convincing case for how physical therapy can help their patients. In an ideal world, the relationship between a physical therapist and physicians should be mutually beneficial for all three parties: you, the physician, and the patients. General practitioners and internists have little to no training on how to evaluate a musculoskeletal patient or when to refer them to a physical therapist. It’s up to you to demonstrate that to potential referral sources. It’s especially important to build these bridges now, at a time when both doctors and their patients are actively seeking out conservative treatment options that don’t involve surgery or opioids. Physicians want healthy, happy patients. You want the same thing. When you provide consistent clinical evidence of the value of working together to achieve this shared goal, you have a much greater chance of generating regular referrals. It’s also a good idea to send some patients the other way should a situation arise. You have to understand your value and know how to effectively present it. You can’t assume a physician already knows why they want to work with you. You have to communicate effectively and make a good impression. You will need to do it multiple times, but it’s very much worth the effort.
www.e-rehab.com | 760-929-9690 –Dr. David J. Straight
In today’s economy, the importance of online reviews is self- evident. A practice’s rating on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp have a huge impact on its reputation and ability to attract new patients. Contrary to what you may think, having unanimously perfect scores isn’t the most important aspect of online reviews. According to a study from Spiegel Research Center, a sprinkling of negative reviews can actually be beneficial for credibility. How you respond to those reviews can make a huge difference in the way prospective patients view you. You may have heard a horror story or two about business owners who like to get into it with reviewers online. There is no more rash decision you can make than getting into a digital shouting match with a patient. In his book “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers,” expert marketer Jay Baer writes that “Customer service is a spectator sport.” People will certainly take stock of how you respond and react to reviews. Responding to a negative review in a sympathetic, understanding manner won’t only build bridges between you and the aggrieved patient; it will also show everyone looking that you care about patient experience. When it comes to offering a meaningful response, there are a couple things you should always do. First, you need to be quick. “Interestingly, research shows that many people don’t even expect a response from a business (less than half),” says Daniel Lemin, senior strategist at Convince & Convert. “When they do expect a response, however, they have high hopes: they want answers within an hour.” A prompt response, then, can assuage the anger of expectant customers while pleasantly surprising those resigned to no response. Second, you need to be courteous, thoughtful, and understanding. It’s okay to share your side of the story, but you can never be argumentative. A positive interaction can lead a patient to remove or update their review, which can be a huge differentiator for your practice. Google has also revealed that responding proactively and regularly is good for your SEO ranking. When life gives you lemons, as the old saying goes, you make lemonade. When a patient gives you a bad review, make it into a positive conversation. If you need help with building and managing your practice’s online reputation, that’s E-Rehab’s specialty. Give us a call at 760-585-9097. A BAD REVIEW ISN’T A DEATH SENTENCE HOW TO RESPOND TO YOUR CRITICS IN A MEANINGFUL WAY
A HELPING HAND Why Business Leaders Need to Ask for Help
“Can you give me a hand?”
Asking for help is a simple request. Most people do it every day, whether they’re getting a second opinion on a paint color or asking a stranger to hold the elevator. Asking for help is important; the ability to work as a team is one of mankind’s greatest strengths. But if the act of asking for help is so essential in our lives, why do entrepreneurs have such a hard time with it? This struggle often comes from pride, the idea that if you admit you can’t do it all, then you can’t do anything. But this mindset often leads to ruin. In a survey by 99 Design, most entrepreneurs claimed the worst mistake they ever made wasn’t a poor financial decision or bad planning — it was simply not asking for help early in their careers. Having to ask for help isn’t a sign that you’re unable to achieve what you set out to do. In fact, when you ask for help in business, you may find you’re able to achieve more . This is because asking for help is a form of networking. You’re actively reaching out to experts, learning how other people solve problems, and broadening the awareness of your name and brand at the same time. If you struggle to ask others for help when you need it, start by changing your mindset. You don’t have to do it all; you’re just one person, and sometimes one person needs to delegate tasks to others to get more done. Asking for help is also easier when you know what you want to ask for. If you are overwhelmed by a big project, take a moment to write down your goals for that project, along with a list of action steps and resources needed to get there. Then think about who you can reach out to in order to tackle these steps. If you’re still uncomfortable with asking for help, make a point of helping others when you can. Being helpful changes the way you perceive receiving help and builds a positive reputation with others. When you are viewed as being helpful, other people want to help you in return. Asking for help means admitting you can’t do it all alone. But why should you have to? Doing it all alone can be pretty lonely, and asking for help means you have a team to support you wherever you go.
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HOW TO SPOT STRONG-ARM TACTICS Nefarious Means of Separating You From Your Money
After receiving phone calls from practice owners, the E-Rehab team was concerned. Before posting photos on our client sites, we ensure that no piece of intellectual property appears without proper credit or compensation going to the creator. “We researched the photo in question,” says David J. Straight of E-Rehab, “and we had secured permission well in advance of publication. The firm had no grounds to ask for compensation. They were simply trying to get a few quick bucks out of scared practice owners. My biggest fear is that one of our clients paid the money without contacting us first.” Two other common practices are for hucksters to call about your Google My Business account (Google listing) stating they are “Google representatives,” and to mail you a letter about the expiration of your domain name. These snake oil salesmen will tell you your listing is wrong or your domain is expiring soon. They suggest you need to claim, fix, or renew it or risk losing business or your domain name. David Straight advises, “If you ever get a call from someone saying they’re from Google or a letter stating your domain is going to expire, simply give us a call.” Spotting these hucksters and charlatans requires diligence and awareness. If you notice that the language and messaging of a page seems too good or too ridiculous to be true, then it probably is. You know those robocalls that claim your Social Security number has been suspended? Since that literally cannot happen, it’s easy to dismiss the call as nonsense. While most predatory marketing doesn’t stoop to quite this level and most contracts aren’t as rapacious as those for payday loans, it always pays to think critically about offers and threats alike.
Recently, E-Rehab had an experience that serves as a reminder that not everyone tries to make money using beneficial or legal means. Our practices began receiving letters from a law firm, Higbee & Associates, claiming that our clients had posted a photo on their websites that they didn’t have the rights for. The firm asked that our practices pay a certain amount to resolve the matter or face further legal action.
EXTRA TRAINING FOR YOU How to Avoid Claims Denials by Using a Foolproof Verification System During this E-Rehab members-only webinar, our special guests, Monty Miller and Michelle Hatten of Momentum Billing, will be sharing a unique verification system they’ve developed from their many years of PT insurance billing experience. Immediately after the webinar, you’ll be able to implement their foolproof way to verify insurance that will help you avoid payment delays and denials. FREE WEBINAR: Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 12:30 p.m. PST Register by going to L.PTClinic.com/31RgE9c.
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INSIDE The Importance of Physician Referrals
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Why Is It Hard to Ask for Help? Can Negative Reviews Be Positive?
Hucksters Come in Many Forms
Spotlight on Sue Nopar
Support Superstar at E-Rehab MEET SUE NOPAR A company is only as good as its customer support. Sue Nopar knows this fact well, and, as E-Rehab’s
client. She loves being able to work in a tight-knit team. “I love the small, family-like feel to our company,” she says. “It means a lot that our two owners are always available to talk, and that attitude spreads to our entire team.” Outside of work, Sue enjoy long walks. That may sound like a cliche, but Sue isn’t kidding around. She and her husband once walked the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile route across Spain. Speaking of her husband, he and Sue recently celebrated their 28th anniversary. They have two adult daughters whom Sue, in her characteristically humble style, describes as “pretty great.” One of Sue’s favorite quotes comes from the philosopher William James, who says, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” No wonder Sue likes this quote; she regularly makes a difference in the lives of her clients.
support team supervisor, it’s her job to help physical therapists all across the country get their questions answered and their digital presence in perfect shape.
Sue takes particular pride in her job because she has a personal interest in physical therapy. “I enjoy working to support physical therapists,” Sue says. “I have a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, but I also took all of the prerequisites needed to apply to PT school.” Given her background, Sue understands how important it is for practices to thrive and spread their services to the widest area possible.
Thank you, Sue, for all you do for E-Rehab and for all of the clients you help on a daily basis.
To achieve that goal, Sue trains the support team to be understanding, responsive, and invested in the success of every
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