Use the information you already have to reach out to clients and generate new business for your practice.

Most modern rehab facilities maintain patient databases and utilize practice management software on a daily basis. The trick is knowing how to put these data resources to use as marketing tools. To point you in the right direction, this roundtable Q&A provides valuable insight on this topic from Sharif Zeid, business director, MWTherapy; Jesse McFarland, director, digital marketing solutions, Net Health; Steven Presement, president, Practice Perfect EMR; Daniel Morrill, PT, DPT, CEO, TheraOffice; and Ryan White, marketing manager – podiatry, Weave.

What are some of the best ways that facilities can use their own data to support practice marketing?

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): In the world of marketing, useful data is invaluable. PT practices that have a well-maintained patient database and know exactly where their patients are coming from, why they are selecting their PT practice, and their patient satisfaction levels have a significant advantage over those that don’t. Taking this data together along with other metrics, PT practices can spend marketing dollars efficiently, identify opportunities, fend off competitors, and ultimately drive more patients, revenue, and profit. Trying to gather information about the local market will yield very generic data, at best, or, at worst, be impossible. It’s a must that PT practices keep clean data and use it to maximize success.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): A good PT marketing campaign starts with leveraging the value of your existing patient database. This approach allows you to launch a variety of email campaigns to keep your patients engaged and coming back, build your brand by generating positive reviews online using reputation management tactics, and/or help you gain customer intel for targeting future patients with a paid advertising campaign.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Clinics should be able to use their EMR systems to track the source of their referrals and report about return on investment, not simply which doctors are involved with which patients but actually how a patient first came to hear about the clinic. Was it your website, word of mouth, signage, or was it actually a physician, and how much revenue did the referrals represent? “Wow, look how much revenue the website is generating. We should pour more money into its development!” How do you know where to spend your marketing dollar without measuring your returns? Ideally, your EMR performs this analysis automatically.

Daniel Morrill (TheraOffice): Before you even look at data to support marketing efforts, I highly recommend answering three basic questions: How will time be dedicated? Who will help? What are the goals? It seems like a simple list of questions, but all too often, clinics spend time with marketing initiatives that begin strong and then fizzle out to other priorities and/or lack of time and resources. Marketing should be a priority in any business, especially in a competitive market, to gain attention. Next, start simple: Who is the client/patient (persona)? Where do they come from? How far are they willing to come to see us? Why do they want to see us? These are all great questions that can help you plan your marketing strategy. Many of these questions’ answers will be in the data from your practice management system. ZIP codes, referrals, diagnoses, age, insurance type, payor mix, etc, can all be accessed with reports and most likely exported to make a targeted marketing list. As you get more sophisticated, you can then look at visit stats, outcome measures, and satisfaction numbers to promote your business to patients and referrals.

Ryan White (Weave): Never underestimate the power of personalized, relevant marketing communication. Practices have the potential to make every patient communication impactful, personal, and in the preferred communication channel of the patient when they leverage the tools of their systems. Many of the software tools available make patient communication easier and more efficient, but it is still up to the practice to craft personalized communication that their patients will want to receive. And that all starts with how well the practice collects and utilizes patient stories and relevant data.

How does your software product support PT practice marketing, and how should clinics use it?

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): MWTherapy absolutely supports PT practice marketing. First, our system offers a way to capture key patient information quickly and efficiently including patient source, full contact information, and more. MWTherapy then provides useful reporting to take that information and turn it into useful reports, making it a cinch to identify top patient sources and even geographic areas. We then bring targeted marketing to your practice through our Engage module, which can deliver the right message to the right patient at the right time.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): Net Health’s Digital Marketing Solutions utilizes enterprise-level reputation management software to create a consistent and accurate online presence for your practice across the most important online directories, such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and 80+ others. By using our software solution, we can instantly update your information, optimize your listings, and drive 5-star reviews to make sure your practice is found online and chosen by new patients in your area.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Our application provides you with the data required to track return on investment for your marketing dollars, what’s working, what’s not. But, you can also use Practice Perfect to communicate tips, greetings, new products and services and even just check in with your patients using automated texting campaigns, based on triggers that you determine, even automatically texting those patients who have fallen off the map—and better still, the patients can even text back and engage in two-way communication without having to make a phone call. In a nutshell, you can fully automate your outreach.

Daniel Morrill (TheraOffice): The TheraOffice database contains hundreds of data points that can be cross-referenced to help support marketing initiatives. TheraOffice also has built-in functionality to engage patients as a simple way to understand the patient journey and assist in marketing efforts. Developing and organizing specific marketing lists should focus on patient lists, physician lists, company lists, or attorney lists. Consumers want a personalized message because they are always getting notifications. Sending an injured athlete information on your workers’ comp program should not be the header on the newsletters targeting an athletic population; however, that athlete may also be working in a high-risk industry and didn’t know you treat injured workers. Be creative, and it will help differentiate your clinic.

Ryan White (Weave): Weave provides the tools you need to make every patient interaction count—on one platform. From automated missed call texts and curbside check-in texts to collecting Google/Facebook reviews and payments via text, Weave makes customer communication easier and more efficient. In the words of a customer, “Weave has made communication with patients easier. Allowing my staff to communicate with people in a simpler way has made them more efficient.”

How well do most clinics use their practice’s software capabilities to support their marketing efforts? Is there room for improvement?

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): Many practices do a great job of leveraging their EMR to support their marketing efforts while others don’t. If your practice is already successful, then now may be an opportune time to consider new initiatives and expand the use of your EMR to take things to the next level. For practices that are struggling, a great idea is to start simple by ensuring you’re fully capturing patient information at intake so that you have their contact information to push marketing materials to them in future efforts. In either case, all practices need to continue innovating with respect to their marketing efforts to keep thriving.
Jesse McFarland (Net Health): Most practices do not utilize their own data for marketing or growing their business, nor do they know how. We find that using a marketing software that directly integrates with a clinic’s data, or working with an agency who can do this for you, is the best way for clinics to get the most out of a marketing campaign.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Quite frankly, most clinics not only don’t take the time to generate the EMR system reports to assist with marketing, but they don’t take time to enter the data, either. Without correct and thorough data entry, the resulting reports will be meaningless, and worse, potentially misleading. While clinic owners and administrators are typically very good at their craft, they are not trained as marketers and, as such, typically lack the expertise to really flourish in this role, which is why it’s never a bad thing to involve outside specialists when it comes to marketing.

Daniel Morrill (TheraOffice): Marketing takes dedication and consistency, so if the software can do some of the heavy lifting, then take advantage of it. Many of today’s EMR and PM systems have built-in functionality for surveys, NPS scoring, newsletters, automated website review collection, and testimonials. Talk to your software vendor and spend time understanding the cost and functionality. There are also simple, inexpensive ways to launch your marketing campaigns, especially on the digital side.

Looking ahead, what advantages will clinics that use data-driven marketing have over those that do not?

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): There’s no question, clinics that don’t utilize data-driven marketing will find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. Data-driven efforts empower practices to win referrals, retain patients, ensure patient satisfaction, and capture online reviews from happy patients. In this day and age, all practices can and should be able to achieve some level of data-driven marketing. COVID-19 exposed some trends, exacerbated some existing trends, and even created new trends. All of those trends point to an increasingly digital world (even if you thought that wasn’t possible). Practices that embrace those trends through data-driven marketing will have the best chance of coming out on top.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): Data-driven marketing is the best way to ensure a successful digital marketing campaign. This allows a practice to measure and optimize marketing strategies over time to make adjustments, improve performance, and generate a higher ROI. A clinic that utilizes data-driven marketing strategies is much more likely to see a better patient return rate and generate more revenue opportunities.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Clinics need every advantage they can get these days and, as with all industries, information is the key. Knowing where your patients are coming from, knowing your typical demographic, age, gender, types of injuries, knowing how successful you are through goal tracking and treatment length analysis, will only serve to elevate a clinic when promoting their services effectively to both the community and local physicians. If you truly understand your crowd, you can truly craft a more effective method using the right media—and track the results.

Daniel Morrill (TheraOffice): The digital world is tireless and relentless, and it is easy to get lost in the weeds. Start simple and take advantage of the data that is easy to retrieve and can be used in the most meaningful way to achieve your goals. The clinics that will always have the advantages are the clinics that understand the value they bring to their patients and their value to the communities they serve.

Ryan White (Weave): Patients’ preferences and expectations are constantly evolving. Practices searching for better approaches to meet their patients’ preferences and expectations are actively bringing modern solutions into their practices. Practices that continue to approach marketing and communication in the “same way as we have always done it” mentality will find it harder to connect with their current patients and continually drift further away from future potential patients. They will spend more effort on methods that are less efficient and do not provide the results they want. RM