Trust Me, I’m an Expert

Last night I attended a talk on trust between a panel of founders and designers from the startup websites AirBnB, Getaround, Facebook, Lyft and Postmates. Each one of these companies offer a product or service that require a large level of trust from users, like renting your house or car to a stranger online. Needless to say, these companies have spent extensive amounts of time working to gain confidence from their customers, some going as far as working to pass legislation to make their service safer.

Establishing trust from customers is an obstacle in many industries, Physical Therapy included. Attending a therapy session is a fairly intimate act, both physically and mentally for patients. Bedside manner, of course, plays a crucial roll in making a client feel comfortable. However, another important part of the equation is the patient’s trust in a PT’s ability to help heal them.

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How Visible Are You Online?

Think of the last new patient you treated- how did they find you? Chances are they probably searched for your services online. As practice management guru Dennis Bush points out in our PT TV episode on referrals, the majority of younger patients, who often do not have a primary care physician, are turning online to find healthcare providers. Even those patients who are referred by a doctor will do a quick Google search to size up their suggestion. And informed patients in direct access states are skipping the prescription all together and searching directly for you.

Needles to say social media has become a very important aspect of a successful PT career and practice. Social media platforms are increasingly powerful networking tools, giving you a tremendous opportunity to build your practice, source new patients, score your dream job and manage your online reputation. Here are some tips to help you boost your visibility and build brand and credibility

Be Alert. Be Proactive.

Ignorance isn’t bliss for PTs online. It is critical to pay attention to and improve how you are being represented online. Even if you are not very active on social media sites, content about you and your practice is likely on the internet. You can protect your reputation by ensuring that patients and doctors who search for you find good information rather than negative reviews and comments. Here’s how to get started:

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Guerrilla Marketing, a PT Perspective

The term guerrilla marketing was first coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 national best seller of the same name. The concept is so popular, Levinson has built his whole career around it, writing exclusively on this subject for the past 30 years. For good reason; Guerrilla Marketing is considered to be the best known marketing brand in history, was named one of the 100 best business books ever written, selling over 21 million copies. Levinson’s ideas have influenced marketing so much that his books have been translated in 62 languages and are required reading in MBA programs worldwide (I can attest to this).

Needless to say, in 2012, it has become a critical part of the advertising lexicon. While the method has clearly never gone out of fashion, with the explosion of social media, the spotlight has been on it again. With that in mind, I recently revisited my dusty copy looking for inspiration. What did I find? It turns out PTs might be some of the best candidates to become guerrilla marketers I can think of.

Guerrilla Meets The Tortoise and the Hare

Let’s start with guerrilla marketing lesson number one, “Marketing is every bit of contact your company has with anyone in the outside world. Every bit of contact.” This means your company name, website, branding, clinic location, voicemail message, staff, length of sessions, follow-up, growth plans, and so on. If you’re not a clinic owner, you’re not quite off the hook. Don’t forget you are a brand in and of yourself.  Your personal brand is much like a company and what the world sees whether it be online networking or looking for a new job.

On top of keeping all these elements in mind, Levision further stresses that “marketing is a process, not an event.” In the tradition of the childhood fable, slow and steady wins the race. A true guerrilla marketer, he says, knows that marketing has a beginning and a middle, but never an end.

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Debate: Measuring Patient Satisfaction

A staff member’s recent search for a local dentist got us thinking about patient satisfaction and, more importantly, how to define it. Unfamiliar with the area he took to the web in lieu of a word of mouth recommendation, relying on five stars from consumer rating sites, like 42% of consumers.

Patient satisfaction is a hot topic right now. Stage 2 of meaningful use requirements for Medicaid and Medicare incentives is beginning to tie patient satisfaction scores with hospital reimbursement and practitioners everywhere are vying to get patients in the door as wallets continue to get pinched.

Clearly, attracting and maintaining a strong client base is an essential part of owning and working in a clinic. However, this seems to be easier said than done

Sources of Data

Are sites like Yelp a reliable source for gauging patient satisfaction? Yes, it is important to monitor these sites for insights and reputation management, (in fact, based on its current growth rate, it’s predicted that in only 4 years everyone in the US will be using Yelp), but they are often critiqued for being extremely polar as only consumers that are ecstatic or irate normally make the effort to write reviews. This divide creates skewed data which may not be useful for internal measurement.

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