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How to Increase Physical Therapy Referrals – Top 5 PT Referral Program Ideas That You Should Try

Looking for ways how to get more patient referrals for your physical therapy clinic? In this blog post, we’ll share with you some tips on how to increase physical therapy referrals along with some referral program ideas that will inspire you into creating one of your own!

But before anything else, it’s important that you have a little background on what is a referral program and how it works.

What is a referral program?

A referral program is one of the marketing tactics that you can do to get more patients to your physical therapy clinic. It’s also referred to as referral marketing or word-of-mouth marketing where you convince your patients to recommend you to their network.

Here’s an example of a patient referral program from a physical therapy website:

Physical therapy referral program

Source: blueskypt.com

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Why do physical therapists need referrals?

Physical therapy patients of different ages

Referral programs are still effective in today’s time. In fact, having patient referral programs is already proven as one of the most effective marketing strategies because it helps you grow your revenue, is very influential in every consumer’s buying journey, helps improve customer acquisition, and is 2x to 10x more trusted by consumers when compared to paid advertising.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than are recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

-Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

How to increase physical therapy referrals

Physical therapist asking patients to refer their clinic to their friends

Now that you have a background on how referral programs work, here’s a list of things that could help you get successful physical therapy referrals:

1. Provide high-quality physical therapy services

69% of customers who have a positive experience with a company are more likely to recommend the brand to people they know. But before you search for individuals who may be interested in your physical therapy services, the individuals that should be on top of your list are your repeat customers.

Since they’ve already witnessed the quality of your rehabilitation procedures, and are satisfied with the treatment they’re getting, asking them wouldn’t be too hard. You can personally approach your patients or ask your receptionist to do it before your patients leave your clinic.

2. Simplify the referral process

Some people give up on a task if they find it too complicated. Your patients are probably busy with their daily lives which gives them insufficient time to do complex things. So, to make your referral program work for your patients, it should be easy for them to refer a friend, colleague, or family member.

For example, on your physical therapy website, you could design a page for your referral program where it briefly explains the benefits they’ll get after referring a friend (e.g. getting a discount or a gift coupon) and how it works.

Then, there underneath that, you can use a form where they can easily fill out the details needed such as that patient’s name, email address as well as the same details of the person he/she is referring to.

Take a look at this example of how the PT clinic briefly explained the benefits a person will get each time he/ she gets a successful patient referral:

Physical therapy patient referral program from a PT clinic

Source: orthopaedicsplus.com

3. Share your referral program on social media

Social media was made to build connections. Since most of your patients are probably on social media, why not use that opportunity to share your referral program with a wider audience?

Here are a few ideas on how to share your referral program on social media:

  • Write a post where you offer a free assessment to a random person who follows your physical therapy page and tags their friend in the comment section
  • Post a picture of the before and after of a patient’s recovery along with a caption that explains the condition and the treatment that was done to improve their condition (with their consent, of course)
  • Host a giveaway or a raffle where you give freebies to someone who gets the most number of successful referrals.

4. Expand your connections

Did you know that you can also maximize the reach of your physical therapy referral program by forming connections with various organizations in your community?

It can be through local employers, organizations in your community, radio stations, athletic stores, fitness gyms, sports clubs, and even educational institutions. Establishing a partnership with those mentioned is a great idea to boost the number of patient referrals you get in your physical therapy clinic as it brings you more business opportunities that are good for your business.

5. Get more reviews

Another way to get more patient referrals is by collecting reviews from your patients. Testimonials serve as an assurance to your potential patients that you are providing excellent physical therapy services. It gives them a positive impression of your brand. So, make sure to provide high-quality PT rehabilitation treatments to get tons of good reviews.

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6. Talk to your fellow physicians

There are instances where a patient’s condition doesn’t match a physician’s area of expertise. When situations like this happen, you could use a little help from your fellow healthcare professionals to be the first person they recommend to their patients who might be in need of physical therapy.

Here are a few things on how you can do it:

  • Visit your fellow physicians and let them know about the services you provide
  • Personally ask them to recommend you if they encounter a patient who needs physical therapy and does the same in return

To make sure that you are not violating any law while implementing your referral program, check out the AMA Code for Medical Ethics.

7. Write a script for requesting physical therapy patient referrals

It’s better to prepare a script on what you want to say when you’re personally asking for patient referrals than to create an impromptu speech that might cause you to miss out on the important parts that you want to tell your patients.

Here’s a sample template of a physical therapy patient referral script:

Establish a rapport with your patient. Then, when the opportunity comes tell them this:

“Hi [patient name],

We’re so happy that you’re satisfied with the improvements you got with your [condition]. We’re looking forward to providing the best services to individuals who might also be going through the same condition/difficulties you are experiencing. Do you have any person in mind that will benefit from our physical therapy services?”

If they answer “none,” it doesn’t mean you should stop there. You can use that opportunity to ask them a follow-up question or rephrase your question.

Something like:

“Do you have friends, colleagues, or family members who are also looking for non-surgical treatments to relieve their muscle or joint pains?”

From there, your patient will have some time to remember the people whom he or she had conversations with about that matter.

Once you’re done crafting your script, you or your receptionist should keep on practicing, and familiarize yourself with the script so that in the future, you no longer have to hold a script when asking for patient referrals.

Best practices for physical therapy patient referral scripts

  • Choose the right timing and ask the right people
    • The people you should ask are your repeat customers, individuals who seemed satisfied or happy before leaving your clinic.
  • Personalize your physical therapy patient referral request
  • Acknowledge the referrals you get from your patients
    • No matter how busy you are, always make time to thank your patients. Appreciating their efforts doesn’t only make them feel valued but will also have a positive impact on their relationship with your brand in the future.

Want to learn how to effectively manage your online reputation? Read our blog post on Reputation Management For Physical Therapists.

How to create a referral program

1. Identify your goal

    • The first step in creating a referral program is identifying the goal you want to achieve. Is it getting more new patients, increasing brand awareness, or exploring more business opportunities? At this point, you should be able to clearly state what your goal is so that at the end of your referral, you’ll know whether you’ve accomplished it or not.

2. Choose a patient referral request method

    • Is your receptionist good at convincing your patients verbally or do you prefer other methods like digital forms, shareable links, or flyers? Do you have the resources needed when requesting patient referrals?
    • Those are some of the things you should consider as you start crafting your patient referral program.

3. Write your referral script or choose a template

    • When asking for patient referrals, you can either come up with your own script or use templates that can be found online.

4. Choose your advocates

    • Your advocates could be your previous patients, current patients, or fellow physicians (e.g. general practitioners, orthopedic surgeons). These should be the ones who already have first-hand experience in your physical therapy services.

5. Decide the benefits of every successful patient referral

    • In this part, you’ll choose the reward you’ll give out for every successful patient referral. It could be clinic discounts (so they’ll visit your clinic again), gift coupons, or freebies that your physical therapy patients will find useful.

6. Choose a platform where you’ll host your referral program

    • Now that you have defined the benefits that your patients will be getting once they’ve successfully referred a patient to your physical therapy clinic, it’s time to choose a platform to host your referral program. To give you ideas, it could be through your social media posts, emails, digital ads, or on one of the landing pages on your physical therapy website.

7. Keep track of the results

    • Tracking the results of your referral program is very important because it gives you an idea of the individuals who are loyal to your brand and identify the areas that need to be improved.
    • To know if your physical therapy referral program is effective, here are a few ways how to monitor it:
      • manual tracking through Spreadsheet
      • use of Google Analytics
      • check the coupon codes used
      • add a “How did you hear about us?” in your form
      • you can also track the results of your referral programs through referral tracking software like Refersion, Advocately, and InviteReferrals.

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Physical Therapy Referral Program Ideas

To encourage more people to participate in your referral program, here’s a list of program ideas you can implement in your physical therapy practice:

1. Host a donation drive

One way to increase patient referrals is by getting your patients involved in doing good deeds for the community. In this type of referral program, you can choose any non-profit organization or individual in your area who needs help. It’s a win-win situation because more people are willing to help especially if it’s about doing good deeds for society, and in return, you have more new patients in your physical therapy clinic!

You just have to clearly state the guidelines if the proceeds will be donated to charity, non-profit organization, or let your patients choose a recipient. So, they’ll know where their contributions will be sent to.

Like in this example:

Physical therapy referral program proceeds will be donated to a chosen charity

Source: breakthroughpt.com

2. Incentivize through giveaways or raffle

Another way of capturing the interest of your prospective patients is through raffles or giveaways. People love getting freebies. If you have an item that will be helpful for your patients who are getting therapies from your PT clinic (e.g. resistance bands, weights, exercise balls) this could help boost their motivation to promote your brand to someone they know.

If you choose this type of reward for your referral program, here are a few things that you should consider:

  • Plan out the duration of your giveaway/ raffle
  • Briefly explain how people can participate
  • Decide how you’ll promote it
  • Choose the reward you’re planning to giveaway
  • Check to see if there are legal issues in promoting your physical therapy services

In this example, you can see that the physical therapy clinic indicated the mechanics for joining the referral program which will take place by hosting a raffle on Facebook:

Physical therapy raffle details for referring a friend

Physical therapy clinic raffle prize of a robot vacuum

3. Reward successful patient referrals with discounts or vouchers

Discounts and vouchers are some of the factors that drive your current patients to refer your physical therapy practice to someone whom they think needs your services. To make it more exciting, you can apply the double-sided referral program where both the referee and the referrer will receive rewards once they’ve completed the program.

Like in this example:

Referral discounts from a physical therapy clinic

Source: yourpainspecialist.com

4. Cash rewards

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. This is not legal advice. Laws vary state by state. To make sure that your referral program is not violating any law, check your state laws and medical board.

Referral program from PayPal

One example of a company that offers cash when you refer a friend is PayPal. Here’s how their referral program works: you send an invite to one of your friends who doesn’t have a PayPal account yet. Let them sign up and link their bank account. When your friend spends at least $5, both of you will receive $10 in return.

5. Seasonal campaigns

Another opportunity where you can offer your referral program is on special occasions like Christmas, New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, your brand’s anniversary, etc. What’s great about this type of program is that it’s a limited time offer which creates a sense of urgency for your patients to take any action before the deal ends.

Like this example from Mint mobile:

Brand anniversary referral program

What are the key metrics that measure the success of your patient referral program?

For you to know if your referral program is effective, here are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you should be closely monitoring:

1. Participation rate

  • The participation rate refers to the percentage of the number of people who participated in your referral program.

2. Referral conversion rate

  • The referral conversion rate tells you the percentage of the successful referrals you’ve received.
    • To calculate your referral program’s referral rate, divide the number of physical therapy referrals you get. Then, divide it by the total number of your patient bookings.

3. Reward attainability

  • This tells you the percentage of individuals who have fully completed the process of your referral program. If you know you have great incentives but no one is taking your offer, you might want to re-evaluate your program.

Key takeaway

Having a referral program is one of the best tactics to use especially if your goal is to improve your client base and get new patients. Just remember, to regularly monitor the progress of your referral programs and check patient referral laws in your area to make sure that you are getting good results without ruining your brand’s image.

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