Weave’s Industry Expert Blog Series
Over the last decade, the patient communication options available to physical therapy practices have expanded in several notable ways.
However, that doesn’t mean every PT clinic is adopting these tools and applying them to their incoming and outgoing communication. Plenty of clinics continue to stick with traditional approaches, meaning they rely almost exclusively on landline phones, mailers, and outdated software to keep in touch with their clients.
That’s a shame, because according to a survey conducted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, physical therapy outpatient clinics deal with a 10% no-show rate.¹ Not all PT clinics are happy with this level of miscommunication. Physical therapists searching for better approaches to communicating with their patients are actively bringing modern solutions into their practices.
Meet Dr. David Butler
At Weave, we’re interested in physical therapy clinics that are willing to broaden the horizons of how they handle business. To find out how physical therapists are implementing new communication tools in their offices, we reached out to Dr. David Butler, a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Align Therapy in Lehi, UT.²
Dr. Butler earned his doctorate from the University of Northern Arizona in 2007, then returned home to Utah to pursue his career as a physical therapist. He practiced in outpatient and home health settings for eight years before getting “the wild idea to start [his] own practice” in 2015. Align Therapy specializes in treating patients with scoliosis and spinal deformities.
“I wanted to deliver better care to fewer patients,” says Dr. Butler. “In physical therapy, burnout is a real thing.”
Dr. Butler’s clinic employs three other therapists and nine total staff members. They aim to provide their patients with high quality treatment. In a week, Align Therapy handles 110 visits that usually last between 45 and 60 minutes.
Over his fourteen years practicing as a physical therapist, Dr. Butler has witnessed a whole spectrum of communication styles. One of the reasons he started Align Therapy was to allow himself and his team to go beyond the old-school mindset and explore ways to optimize and automate patient communication.
“I wanted to deliver better care to fewer patients,” says Dr. Butler. “In physical therapy, burnout is a real thing.” To discover how to achieve this better life for himself, his patients, and his employees, Dr. Butler heeded the advice of industry experts like Paul Gough³ and began adopting more innovative communication solutions at his practice. "We have been using Weave as our office phone system for about 3 years now and we love it! It integrates seamlessly with our software and constantly updates. We use the text feature all day long. Patients love being able to text back and not have to answer a phone call. I highly recommend this system "-Barb Paz
Weave Helps Streamline Business Communication
"We have been using Weave as our office phone system for about 3 years now and we love it! It integrates seamlessly with our software and constantly updates. We use the text feature all day long. Patients love being able to text back and not have to answer a phone call. I highly recommend this system "-Barb Paz
Missed Call Texts
One of the first tools Align Therapy tried out with its patients was business texting. Prior to running his own clinic, Dr. Butler had mainly relied on phone calls for connecting with clients. He was eager to see how texting would impact his new practice’s communication.
Missed call texts are a key part of an effective text outreach. When practice phones are busy, callers receive a text automatically, informing them that your clinic will get back to them as soon as possible. Missed call texts work for offices around the clock, automatically going out to callers who are trying to reach your clinic after hours as well. This sort of engagement is vital in a world where 80% of callers never leave a voicemail.4
“We’ve had more revenue based on converting leads that we might not have had before.”
Dr. Butler says “it’s those missed opportunities to convert a lead” that he wanted to go after with a text platform. By utilizing Weave Messages, his team has been able to reduce the number of those missed opportunities at his practice.
“We’ve had more revenue based on converting leads that we might not have had before,” says Dr. Butler. An important aspect of missed call texts is that they let patients and prospective clients start a two-way conversation with your office staff. This type of engagement reduces the amount of callers that fall by the wayside.
Automated missed call texts aren’t the only way to text with patients. Consistently sending appointment reminders to your clients is another great method for improving your patient communication and cutting your no-show rate down to size.
“My office staff spends six minutes in the morning sending out our reminder texts for the next day, but it’s all from the same number and it’s two-way texting,” says Dr. Butler. Previously, Align Therapy’s texts were from random phone numbers that confused patients. With Weave, Dr. Butler’s staff is able to quickly compose their reminders for the day and send them all from their main office number.
“My office staff spends six minutes in the morning sending out our reminder texts for the next day, but it’s all from the same number and it’s two-way texting,” says Dr. Butler.
Texted appointment reminders help physical therapists increase the amount of patients that complete their full course of care. Only 35% of physical therapy clients fully adhere to their rehabilitation plans, so any tool that gets patients through their entire course of care is essential to boosting results and productivity.5
Because of Align Therapy’s expertise in treatments for scoliosis and spinal deformities, patients travel to their clinic from all over Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Dr. Butler began to look into the communication possibilities available via telehealth. He was initially skeptical.
“When telehealth came up during the pandemic, I thought physical therapy can’t be done telehealth-wise,” says Dr. Butler. The clinic decided to try out a telehealth option anyway, and soon discovered it to be a viable option for patients in remote locations. For instance, Dr. Butler started seeing a patient from West Virginia last year.
“The rubber hits the road with physical therapy patients at home.”
Although the patients of Align Therapy can’t get hands-on instruction via telehealth, they’re able to receive guidance and instruction that would be much harder to understand over the phone. Dr. Butler claims that “the rubber hits the road with physical therapy patients at home.” In today’s world of remote care, telehealth is a tool for ensuring that physical therapy clients are going through their rehab plan correctly at home.
In the near future, Align Therapy is strongly considering opening a second location. As part of its marketing strategy, the clinic has built its reputation by establishing good relationships with scoliosis surgeons, developing original content on its website, and being active on various social media accounts.
In addition, Dr. Butler has his staff regularly send out online review requests by text after visits. While 48% of Align Therapy’s referrals come from their repeat customers, 34% of their new patients come from online sources. Amassing positive reviews on popular review sites like Google and Facebook boosts a PT clinic’s visibility and reaches more potential clients.
Since 90% of consumers now read online reviews before visiting a business, it’s crucial that your PT clinic consistently request reviews from its current patients.6 Dr. Butler holds friendly contests for his staff to encourage them to be active about requesting online reviews. He understands the importance of reviews to online visibility, and says that Weave Reviews makes the whole process “nice and easy.”
Weave allows PT clinics to monitor their online reviews with an easy-to-use interface. This interface lets offices keep tabs on prominent review sites, like Google and Facebook. When patients post new reviews to popular sites, your practice is immediately notified and is able to respond accordingly.
Patient Communication with Weave
Dr. Butler has seen the way clinics communicate with their patients evolve throughout his fourteen years as a practicing physical therapist. Starting in 2015, his own practice has gone through a series of updates to its patient communication strategy.
“Weave has made communication with patients easier,” says Dr. Butler. “Allowing my staff to communicate with people in a simpler way has made them more efficient.”
First, Align Therapy adopted a professional email marketing tool. They then chose to implement business texting with their clients. After that, Dr. Butler had some website automation set up to improve lead generation. Finally, two years ago, Align Therapy started using Weave.
“Weave has made communication with patients easier,” says Dr. Butler. “Allowing my staff to communicate with people in a simpler way has made them more efficient, and if they’re more efficient, they can take things off my plate.”