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How To Optimize Your Physical Therapy Patient Funnel

The patient funnel for physical therapy comes with its own unique challenges and leaks. Here’s how to optimize your funnel to acquire and retain your patients.

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How To Optimize Your Physical Therapy Patient Funnel

Physical therapy practices that struggle with patient attrition or the securement of long-term patients could encounter potential leakage in their patient funnel. Fortunately, with the proper optimization practices, physical therapists can expand and retain their patient base and gain a higher Return On Investment (ROI) on marketing efforts for more overall profit.

Here's what physical therapy practices need to know about the patient recruitment funnel, including the unique challenges for PT patient funnel analysis and how to navigate each funnel stage best to drive patient acquisition and long-term patient retention efforts.

What is a Physical Therapy Patient Funnel?

A patient funnel is a healthcare term that describes prospective patients' journey from the initial awareness of your practice, through the consideration of other service providers, to the final attendance and payment of a service. It is also referred to as a patient recruitment funnel. The patient funnel includes three stages:

  1. Top of the Funnel – Awareness Stage
  2. Middle of the Funnel – Consideration Stage
  3. Bottom of the Funnel – Conversion Stage

What Is a Leaky Funnel?

When discussing the patient funnel, a 'leaky funnel' refers to gaps in the patient journey that allow new leads and potential referrals to fall through. Signs of a leaky patient funnel include a low patient lead-to-close rate, a significant amount of stalled patient opportunities, and many leads that were signed up for marketing materials but have yet to receive any.

A leaky patient funnel can dramatically impact operations for physical therapy practices. Marketing and outreach efforts return a much smaller ROI than anticipated, impacting the practice's overall reputation among local patients and reducing the patient base.

To avoid these complications, physical therapy professionals must take the time to complete a patient funnel analysis. A patient funnel analysis assesses all three stages of the funnel to identify areas of improvement. Because the PT patient funnel encompasses new leads, referral patients, and patients who have yet to complete a plan of care, knowledge of each funnel stage is critical.

Top of the Funnel

When conducting a patient funnel analysis, PTs must begin at the top of the funnel. As the widest part of the patient funnel, the top encompasses the initial stages of the patient journey and consists of the most number of leads. Patients in this phase may or may not be aware of your physical therapy practice or how they could potentially benefit from your practice services.

Frequent Issues

At the top of the funnel, physical therapy practices must implement marketing strategies to attract and maintain patient lead attention. However, since these individuals are not yet familiar with your brand, many marketing strategies have several unintended issues, like:

  • Marketing on the wrong platforms
  • Marketing to the wrong audience and not the target patient base
  • Overspending on marketing efforts with poor return-on-investment
  • Lacking the necessary processes to push leads through the next funnel stage

Marketing issues at the top of the funnel can significantly stall new patient leads, as all prospects must pass through this stage before becoming actual patients. Fortunately, there are a few best practices for physical therapy clinics to avoid these top-of-funnel roadblocks.

Solutions and Tips

At the top of your patient funnel, optimizing your marketing efforts is the key to initiating the patient lead. One of the best things you can do to support these efforts is to research and identify your target audience. You can identify your target audience by assessing your current patient pool and identifying which patient types work best for your practice in terms of profitability, productivity, and prognosis.

Use these details to frame your marketing strategy around common patient pain points and craft the ideal patient experience for your unique demographics. Pay close attention to the marketing materials created for this stage and focus on initial brand awareness and education through clear and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) on Google Ads and website content such as blogs.

Middle of the Funnel

Once your practice maintains the attention of a new lead, the potential patient shifts into the middle of the funnel. Leads in this funnel stage are now curious about your practice but have not yet converted into a patient. These leads may also include patient referrals. Such individuals are aware of your services but may still require additional information to make an actual appointment.

Frequent Issues

At the middle stage of the patient funnel, patient leads will need to be nurtured through effective engagement practices. As with initial marketing efforts, your patient-lead communication efforts may also encounter potential concerns that can make or break funnel success, including:

  • Negative and/or minimal presence of prior patient reviews
  • Inconsistent or delayed lead follow-ups and communication
  • Communication that comes off sales-y and off-putting to patient leads only seeking further information
  • Lead communication that is too vague, customers struggle to understand how your practice can help solve concerns

Inconsistent or poor communication will result in patient funnel leakage and leave a bad impression on potential clients. Changes will need to be made to maintain patient leads and referrals, practice reputation, and encouragement at the bottom of the patient funnel.

Solutions and Tips

When optimizing the middle portion of the patient funnel, practices must address both inbound and outbound communication efforts. Begin working on client testimonials by creating an effective system that encourages patients to leave reviews following their visits. Before moving forward with your services, these reviews will be some of the first details patients will research.

Next, segment your list of potential patients — including referrals — into various categories to enable more targeted marketing efforts, such as lead status or preferred services. Once you capture the attention of a lead and initiate communication, ensure that all messaging remains concise, engaging, and consistent with your brand voice to help leads gain trust in your practice.

Bottom of the Funnel

After successful marketing and communication efforts, a lead will finally land at the bottom of the patient funnel. Here is where a new lead or recurring patient is ready to book an appointment but wants a few more details on what exactly your practice and treatment services have to offer.

Frequent Issues

The final stage of the patient funnel requires physical therapists to round out communication efforts with more personal one-on-one discussions and clear value propositions to address any questions or concerns before booking an appointment. This bottom of the funnel often faces issues, including:

  • Not prompting a lead with the resources needed to book an appointment
  • Not enough trust in the practice to move forward with services
  • An overcomplicated conversion process
  • Dissatisfaction with customer service

With these issues lurking at the very bottom of the funnel before a successful conversion, it can be highly frustrating to have leakage at this stage after having made it this far. To alleviate barriers to conversion, physical therapists can introduce optimization tactics that combat these concerns.

Solutions and Tips

Physical therapy practices must further enhance communication efforts to reduce any final patient recruitment funnel concerns before a patient schedules an appointment. Offer multiple forms of communication, including website chat, phone, and email, to provide avenues for potential patients to have questions swiftly answered and appointments set promptly.

Likewise, develop an internal process that encourages continuous communication with potential patients, like an email drip campaign. End the campaign with enticing offers, like a complimentary service or branded swag. Remember to end all messaging with a clear call-to-action to simplify the process and direct the prospect in the right direction for how to become a new patient.

The Bottom Line: Optimize Your Patient Funnel

Without the proper optimization of your patient funnel, the risk of funnel leakage can quickly become a genuine concern that impacts practice success. From enhanced communication abilities to the knowledge of patient demographics, physical therapists need the right tools to optimize the patient funnel.

With MWTherapy's practice management tools, physical therapists can better nurture potential patient communications among operations to encourage successful lead conversions. To learn more about how MWTherapy can help optimize your patient funnel, reach out today to set up a demo.

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