Physical therapy is a highly competitive field. That’s why finding ways to stand out is so important. And when it comes to picking a profitable added income source, physical therapists must consider their approach.
“It’s important to find niche practices that other clinics may not have access to or training for,” says Bryan Lange, director of operations for physical therapy and sports medicine at EXOS. First, take the pulse of your region’s needs, then establish specializations based on them, and finally, get the word out.
Take these steps to find new income sources and ways of marketing them.
Find out what’s needed.
“You have to understand the community and what people like and need,” says Miranda Kelinske, director of implementation and clinical services for physical therapy and sports medicine at EXOS. You can start by finding out who lives in your community. Are there lots of families with young children? Or are singles and seniors more prevalent? When it comes to finding a specialization that’s worth the investment, these details matter.
Kelinske found her sweet spot on the diamond. “Youth baseball is huge in my area so I’ve expanded with education for baseball players and their parents,” she says. But while youth, high school, and college sports provide low-hanging fruit in some communities, it’s not the only opportunity.
In addition to local sports, physical therapists can find rewarding niche markets by considering a community’s main occupations and their practice’s physical location. For example, practices located near business parks or close to large corporate campuses may benefit from offering therapeutic massage or hand therapy. Or if your practice is near a gym or fitness studio, cater to their clientele with pain management services. And gaining clients could be as easy as setting up a free chair massage, but more on that later.
The more people see you, your employees, or even just your practice’s name, the more likely they are to seek your services.
Add complementary therapies.
Once you’ve determined who’s in your community and what they need, find a complementary therapy or specialization that suits them. The options are almost endless, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Sports therapy – Focused on injury prevention and rehabilitation in athletes of all levels.
- Enhanced performance – A post-rehabilitation program designed to help athletes ease back into their sport.
- Instrument-assisted, soft-tissue mobilization – A treatment technique used to reduce pain and improve range of motion and soft-tissue function after a sports injury or other conditions.
- Hand therapy – Focused on the evaluation and treatment of injuries and conditions in the shoulders, arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands, this specialization caters to a range of clients, from those recovering from hand surgery to industrial employees in need of healthy hand practices.
- Dry needling – A holistic technique for the treatment of pain, movement impairments, and myofascial pain that’s easy to seamlessly integrate within a broader suite of services.
- Cupping – The practice of reducing pain by creating suction on the skin using a glass, ceramic, bamboo, or plastic cup.
Providing a superior client experience increases client retention. And loyal clients are more likely to refer people for care.
Get the word out.
After committing to a specialization, getting the word out about your new offerings is essential. “Try to be as active in the community as you can,” Lange says. The more people see you, your employees, or even just your practice’s name, the more likely they are to seek your services. These techniques can help you get started.
Make yourself visible.
Marketing your niche via community events is one of the best ways to begin developing a presence. Secure a demo tent or table at local races for charity, sports expos, or youth athletic events. Or work with the human resources departments at businesses in your area to set up a table as an employee perk, become an offering through their employee wellness program, or showcase your practice during open enrollment. The more diverse the crowd, the better.
Build a medical referral network.
Establish a rapport with the medical providers in the area who have focuses close to yours. That might be anyone from an orthopedic surgeon to a gynecologist. “Develop relationships with the physician groups and family practice doctors throughout town,” Lange says. “This drives referral volume into your clinic.”
Combine specialty programs.
Bridging two programs provides a unique marketing opportunity. For example, combining rehabilitation and enhanced performance programs for athletes can help them fill the gap between injury and returning to play. “Some athletes aren’t ready to jump back in after finishing formal physical therapy,” Lange says. “Bridging the programs provides them with more supervised care in one place.”
Take a client-first approach.
Providing a superior client experience increases client retention. And loyal clients are more likely to refer people for care. “If someone has a really good experience, they’ll tell people,” Lange says. “And word-of-mouth is key, especially in smaller communities and practices. If you treat people well, you’ll find that patients will start funneling in.”
About the AuthorMore Content by Jennifer Chesak