A Changing Landscape

Physical therapy became more and more prevalent in the US in the early 20th century when they were still called "Reconstruction Aides" he…

Physical therapy became more and more prevalent in the US in the early 20th century when they were still called “Reconstruction Aides” helping injured WW1 soldiers. Back then their primary job was to restore physical function, but today the noble profession has vastly expanded into a wide range of specialties from cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation to woman’s health! The profession is still growing rapidly; the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 30% increase in PT employment from 2008 to 2012. No matter what specialty you serve, a physical therapist is an educator and vital resource to their patient. Physical therapists are inspiring healers who must put their patients on the path to a healthy lifestyle, educating patients on what options are out there by taking a total approach to physical condition and wellbeing.

Physical therapy and the landscape of healthcare  is changing. How therapists treat, bill, and receive patients are hot topics of change in the industry. Reimbursements for treatment have been consistently flat or dwindling in each state. Even with communities gathering and congressman and senators being lobbied too to overturn new third party reimbursements, corporate giants like Blue Cross haven’t flinched in altering their newly planned pay schedules.  This is leading to more and more Physical Therapists opening cash based practices. Although cash based practices are not very prevalent in the US, in Australia they make up for 90% of clinics. With all these changes in physical therapy the key ingredient to a successful practice will remain patient outcomes and building referral sources.

While the majority of Patients are currently referred to clinics by physicians, you will start to see a change in consumer behavior as the Connected Generation emerges to seek access to physical therapy and other providers.  The International Telecommunications Union reported in 2010 that 77.3% of US citizens use the internet, and that was two years ago. Today 92% of Internet users are using search engines and 75% of college graduates use them daily. Just the other day my own Mom just told me to Google something if I didn’t believe her; the same mom who still hasn’t mastered the art of the text message. With these statistics in mind it is imperative you being creating a dominant internet presence.

Maybe as little as optimizing your meta-tags and on site key words while using the best coding practices will get you on the first page of Google, but from their you need to mind your landing page. Keep it simple. Look at sites with a page Rank of 10, like Google and Facebook having a simple landing page with direct intentions of having you start a search or sign up. You want to keep your buttons large and visible with an attractive color contrast, allowing your visitor to effortlessly contact your clinic for an appointment by mobile phone or email. Having a video on your home page is a tremendous way to gain immediate recognition. Take this opportunity to brand your unmatched level of care and area of expertise while emotionally connecting to your community. Don’t let potential patients get way due to lack of an outstanding website.

The power of video is really overlooked. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of private clinics websites and networks websites and less than a handful are really outstanding. By using video on your site you can create a “vlog” where you can generate brand engagement from your community of patients. This is the holy grain of web 2.0 internet marketing, having your consumers engage in discussing your brand.  If you feel you don’t have the time or the resources to have your website developed and optimized or you’re satisfied with your website, consider investing some time into your social media marketing. 65% of internet users use social media.

Social media can be viewed as public press releases, used to engage your target market. Using social media you can voice your opinion and brand your clinics specialties while sparking viral and word of mouth marketing. You can even target local users within a desired area by following key words as they are being tweeted. Using automated preset tweets you can support your local teams and build awareness of what’s going on in your community. It’s simple to give Twitter access to your Facebook account if you would like to operate both sites through one user interface.

The times change and people innovate. Those who do not want to change with the times will be passed by those who do.  Those who become complacent with their practice will be passed by those who stay hungry and transform with technology. See the changes in healthcare coming, and welcome them with open arms, embracing the transformations with an open mind and hunger to keep moving forward.