Medical doctors specialize all the time… Orthopedic surgeons specialize is specific joints/body parts… Attorneys specialize… Real Estate agents specialize… Chefs specialize…
So why can’t Physical Therapists specialize? Before I go any further, I want to clarify that while I will be discussing Niche practice and specialization, I fully understand and agree that you have to keep your doors open for business and taking a wide variety of patients is critical to that success.
I will outline here how I think developing a Niche practice will make your practice more successful.
In this day in age, there are almost as many PT clinics out there as Starbucks or Fast food joints. How does a patient know the difference from one to the other? How does a patient know if Clinic A is better at something than Clinic B? How does a patient truly know what place is right for them. Personally I think these questions are difficult to answer, but with a few steps you can market your practice in a way that will give patients insight on what you are the best at what you do and why they should comes see you instead of Joe Therapist, DPT down the street.
There are many ways to do this, but one of the most successful ways is to develop a Niche program. In other words, a specialty that sets you apart from the rest. By developing a Niche specialty you will have the following opportunities:
1- Get patients in the door that might not have in the first place.
2- Once you have those patients in the door, they become a referral source for you. They can refer others that are searching for what you are offering and they also become a referral source for any patient that might need Physical Therapy in general.
3- Direct Access. Simply speaking, you get patients in the door before they enter into the system and before they have seen any other practitioner. This way you can help expedite the process by either treating them or referring them to the right professional.
4- Strengthen your already developed MD relationships. Now you have Direct Access patients who might need a PCP, or maybe you need to refer to an Orthopod for further testing. This is a way to get patients to someone you trust and make sure they get excellent care. This also will show your referral source that you trust them as well and value their opinion. HUGE.
5- Strengthen your other referral networks. Maybe the patient would benefit from seeing a Chiropractor, a Massage Therapist or maybe they need a Personal Trainer. Now you can refer there patients to the appropriate professional, again that you trust and know will do a great job.
6- Your patients will thank you. They will thank you for caring, they will thank you for helping them and they will thank you for taking them seriously. They will also thank you for not wasting their time and helping them get to the bottom of their issues sooner rather than later.
I take this philosophy as very much the philosophy of “Good to Great”, By Jim Collins. Don’t try to just be good at a lot of things, rather be great at one thing and then build it from there. Show the market place why you are the best at something and the rest will follow.
I hope this helps someone people think about some new marketing strategies and some new methods of how to get patients in the door. The old school model was to visit MD after MD after MD and hope that you were able to convert a few patients from those cold calls. The new school version is thinking outside the box and thinking like a professional. Show value in your skill set and show how you can bring value to your referral sources. In other words, work as a team.
Rick Daigle, PT, DPT