Even if you’ve got a booked schedule, you still understand the importance of physical therapy referrals. A patient referral can come from multiple channels, including current or past patients, physician referral programs, sports leadership teams, or marketing campaigns.

Regardless of their source, physical therapy referrals offer a low-cost way to expand your network and guide new patients down the road to recovery. Generating a PT referral can take a substantial amount of resources, though. Further, while your referral efforts will snowball with time, you still have to market your physical therapy services through traditional channels.

Fortunately, you can quickly develop your physical therapy referrals program using a few tried-and-true tips and tricks for manual therapy professionals. Read on for everything you need to know about generating physical therapy referrals and encouraging each patient to share their positive experiences with friends, family members, and colleagues, courtesy of our team at Weave.

1. Understand The Types of Injuries That Need a Physical Therapist Referral

Before we dive into the ins and outs of patient referrals, let’s first consider the types of injuries that need a physical therapist referral. Some injuries clear up on their own without any manual therapy. However, every physical therapist knows that some injuries, such as musculoskeletal injuries, tend to devolve without physical therapy services.

As a result, many patients require a doctor’s referral, especially if they don’t qualify for direct-access physical therapy. That said, early treatment by licensed physical therapists can result in fewer visits, less pain medication, and faster recovery for conditions such as:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Sports injuries
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Lymphedema
  • Range of motion (ROM) issues
  • Chronic pain

To streamline your referral process, you can target offices that diagnose relevant injuries, such as an orthopedic practice, or partner with a sports medicine group.

2. Ensure that your patient referral program is effective

Is your patient referral program effective? A seamless patient referral reward program and efficient referral management process can significantly bolster your efforts, especially if you’ve just begun to target patient referrals while growing your practice.

If your existing patients or primary care provider partners provide patient referrals, they’ve already taken an extra step to share their experience. After they make a referral, it’s up to you to ensure that your new patients enjoy effortless onboarding. At the same time, you and your staff should carefully track and monitor your patient reward program to encourage your existing patients to make more referrals and send more new patients through your doors.

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3. Get more physical therapy referrals from cross-industry alliances

Cross-industry alliances, or professional relationships with another medical practice, referring person, or research program, can simplify your referral process. For example, if you partner with a family medicine practice, the medical staff at the office will refer new patients to your physical therapy services.

Cross-industry alliances are crucial for both physical therapists and their client base for one major reason: many people don’t have direct access to a physical therapy practice. Even major healthcare providers, such as UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, or Anthem, may limit their enrollees to certain in-network practices.

Aligning yourself with a third-party medical staff can make finding patients whose insurance will cover your services easier. You may also consider for-profit physical therapy referrals for even more patients. In a for-profit partnership, a referring medical staff, doctor, or another third party will work with you to expand your practice through exclusive referrals. Then, they will receive a percentage of the revenue generated by referred patients.

4. Manage your online reviews

Did you know that your online reviews can drive new patients through your doors – or drive them away before they ever speak to you or your staff? Understanding the importance of online reviews can change your entire approach toward your business, resulting in a customer-centric culture and a staff that understands the impact of even a single rave review.

Luckily, you can monitor your online reputation and stay one step ahead of reviewer feedback by managing your online reviews on various platforms, including your Google My Business profile, Google Maps, Facebook, and Twitter. Alongside managing your brand reputation, online reviews can help you understand where your practice can improve.

At the same time, displaying client reviews on social media platforms or your website can help new patients know what to expect before, during, and after an appointment.

5. Encourage word-of-mouth marketing

Despite the rapid growth of social media marketing and user-generated content, word-of-mouth marketing is still critical for small businesses. A word-of-mouth (WOM) referral may have even more impact than a digital marketing campaign, simply because referral marketing comes from a trusted source.

You can encourage your customers to engage in word-of-mouth marketing in person and on social media by incorporating incentives or prizes into your word-of-mouth marketing strategy, such as a discount for every new lead that books an appointment. On the other hand, you could raffle off prizes for customers who participate in your word-of-mouth marketing campaign.

6. Partner with doctors who can refer patients to physical therapy

As mentioned above, partnering with physicals who can refer patients to physical therapy can provide an added boost to your patient referral program. Many potential clients don’t have physical therapy direct access, which means they must go through a primary care physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant to get a PT referral.

By working with an orthopedic or podiatric medicine office, you’ll expand your network to include patients who need a quick patient referral so they can begin the road to recovery through physical therapy treatment. In addition, you’ll reduce the amount of time you and your physical therapist assistant spend on outreach, resulting in a streamlined, efficient approach to care.

7. Get physical therapy patients without referral

Until now, we’ve focused on getting new patients through a customer or physician referral. However, you may be able to market directly to new patients, depending on your state’s physical therapy direct access law.

When patients qualify for physical therapy without a referral, they can enjoy fewer visits, faster physical therapy visits, fewer overall treatment sessions, and better outcomes due to the reduced downtime between a physician referral and physical therapist evaluation.

To target patients who qualify for physical therapy without referral, begin by understanding your state ordinances. Then, you can turn to automated customer communication platforms like Weave, social media, radio, and other marketing channels to share more about your practice and the improved functional outcomes experienced by previous patients.

8. Develop physical therapy referral guidelines

Establishing physical therapy referral guidelines for your physical therapy practice may seem like an unnecessary step, but think again. Doing so can improve physical therapy care and result in better outcomes by ensuring that each patient receives the physical therapy intervention.

Develop physical therapy referral guidelines to suit a variety of referrers, including athletic trainers, physicians, and other professionals qualified to refer patients for physical therapy care. In addition, set separete guidelines for patients who need a referral for a licensed physical therapist and those who can simply book an appointment.

9. Leverage therapist referrals to show good patient management skills

Many physical therapists don’t realize how therapist referrals can show good patient management skills. However, consistent patient referrals indicate quality health care, trusting relationships, and a level of professionalism, which eases the stress and apprehension that comes with individual therapy appointments.

As a result, patients receive the care they need to restore their health while partnering with your practice to succeed in their treatment.

10. Create a physical therapy referral form for easy onboarding

Finally, work with your staff and a referring physician to create a physical therapy referral form. A physical therapy referral form streamlines the information transfer and patient onboarding processes by synthesizing relevant details about rehabilitation, treatment options, medical history, and current medications.

In addition, the new patient forms help clients understand what to expect and provide answers to common questions, such as:

  • Will my insurance pay for physical therapy?
  • Who should I contact if I have questions about patient billing or medical records?
  • What should I wear to my physical therapy appointment?

You and your referring physician partners can coordinate patient care by creating a standard occupational therapy referral form. Further, you can discuss additional therapy services, such as aquatic therapy, sports medicine, or hand therapy, resulting in a closed-loop approach to rehabilitative therapy.

Schedule your free demo to ask Weave how you can generate more physical therapy referrals.