A Guide to Patient Retention for Physical Therapists

Once you've got a patient, it's crucial that you keep that patient for the duration of their need both for their outcome and yours.

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Patient Retention Is More Important Than Ever

One of the most significant issues facing physical therapists and practice owners in 2020 is patient retention. How could this be when retaining patients in any physical therapy practice is good for business and successful treatment?The truth is, physical therapists are doing most things correctly when constructing a strong foundation of reliable patients. A bit of advice, polish, and trial and error will super glue that patient-provider relationship for years to come. Ahead, we'll explore why patient retention is so valuable in the first place, how to tip the scales in your favor, and what breeds loyalty in the long-haul.

What's Value of Retaining Patients?

Building a dedicated patient base is more efficient than one fueled by revenue from new patients. This statement seems like common knowledge, but some businesses miss their mark.Why is retention such a hot topic amongst physical therapists? Because the numbers are unbelievable at first glance.Physical therapists who keep familiar patients in their wheelhouse are saving thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours attempting to reconnect. Here are a few statistics on retention in general that drive the point home in a big way:

  • It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
  • Only 42% of companies can accurately measure a customer's lifetime value (CLV).
  • The probability of selling goods or services to an existing customer is 60-70% as opposed to new prospects—which predicts a 5-20% chance of a sale.
  • Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers.

These statistics are based on sales companies, but it's important to remember that physical therapists are also running a business where human tendencies come into play. And keeping patients invested in their treatment is not only financially lucrative but medically essential for their recovery.

Hospitality First

Business owners, approximately 89% in fact, agree that the customer (or patient) experience is paramount to running a successful business (or practice). And physical therapists deal with difficult patients daily—making a friendly approach one of the ways to differentiate yourself from every other clinic.Set a great first impression over the phone, upon entrance to the office, and throughout the first meeting. Reassure patients in their concerns and make homework assignments more intriguing. The success of homework assignments will not only help recovery but will generate momentum moving into the rest of their treatment.By making treatment plans transparent, collaborative with patients in mind, and feedback-infused, PTs can crush patient retention goals. People want to know everything possible about their care and, at times, want their physical therapists to show empathy. Even if this is the last patient of the day or the 1,000,000th lower back stabilization exercise, it needs to be the most important one. It's's easy to get lost in the loud hum of work and forget that patients are experiencing physical and mental hurdles.

Reducing Churn, Where Do I Start?

Churn is the rate at which patients stop seeing you as their physical therapist. When this happens, you have to rely on all of those harsh statistics that go hand-in-hand with finding new patients. Keeping what patients you have is not only cost-effective but works in your benefit by creating a valuable marketing outlet for services rendered.So let's look at a few methods to reduce churn in your physical therapy practice:


Education is one of the best ways you can keep patients involved with their treatment. Simply because results aren't automatic, and patients, after a few sessions, feel like they're ready to take on the world. By educating them on the importance of continued therapy—and let's face it—treatment in the first place, you can not only charge for more sessions but accomplish the ultimate goal, recovery.Along with education on the importance of treatment comes another critical conversation, the perceived value. Helping each patient understand the value of continued therapy will make them healthier and happier humans while simultaneously providing for the business.

Appointment Reminders

In a study published by the Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine, conclusive evidence was found that appointment reminders, in various forms, were useful on overall treatment adherence. If you want more patients to follow through with treatment plans, and ultimately become loyal to your practice, implement an appointment reminder system.

Clinical Excellence & Support

All of these tips are useless without follow through on treatment. Patients want to get better and know that they're in good hands. If the staff isn't ready for a specific challenge, then don't put patients in front of them. When physical therapists are itching for continued knowledge, patients plan on staying for a while.However, knowledge is half the battle when it comes to mastering clinical excellence. Supporting patients through treatment is a powerful statement. Some people need a crutch to lean on throughout therapy, especially if they're overcoming a traumatic or life-changing injury.

The Bottom Line

Retaining patients with the help of this guide should be easy for physical therapists who are studied, persistent, and adjust what they're doing to meet their patients'' needs. By implementing new systems and assessing the old ones in place, PTs can make an immediate impact on the patient experience, reducing churn and improving recovery.Practice owners who want to stress less, save time, and increase revenue should also check out MWtherapy's software. Improving the patient experience is easy when everything from scheduling to communication is built-in. Check out the products section and customize the software for your office's needs.

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