Physical Therapy Patient Referrals: 5 Metrics You Should Be Tracking

Physical therapy referrals can greatly impact your business. Learn how to increase physical therapy referrals & the advantages of tracking these metrics.

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Patient Pipeline is Crucial to a Successful Practice

For physical therapy practices that strive to bring in more patients and build a more reputable operation, learning how to gain more physical therapy referrals is one of the best places to start. Unfortunately, how to increase physical therapy referrals isn’t a subject that’s taught while obtaining your PT licensure; instead, gaining referrals is often learned through experience. If you’re unsure how to increase physical therapy referrals at your practice, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top implementation tips and the five metrics to track to ramp up referrals.

Tips for Marketing Your PT Practice to Physicians

While many states offer direct access to physical therapy, meaning a patient can access PT services without a referral, many insurance companies still require a referral from a healthcare provider for services rendered to be covered by an insurance policy. For this reason, nurturing a strong relationship with local physicians is crucial to any referral marketing plan. To reap the benefits of a physical therapy referral, namely obtaining a new patient and a revenue stream, you must do more than hand out a physical therapy referral form. Consider the following best practices for marketing your PT practice to nearby physicians.

Educate Nearby Physicians About Physical Therapy

While most primary care physicians generally understand the physical therapy space, a referral to a trusted physical therapist is often the second or third option in a patient’s plan of care, not the first. To help encourage physician recommendations, PTs must educate physicians on why physical therapy treatment should always be viewed as a preferred option in a patient’s treatment plan, not a backup plan. Physician education can be done in person or through social media, where physical therapists can share practice newsletters or informative articles. PTs should routinely make an effort to connect with nearby physicians on Facebook or LinkedIn to familiarize themselves with potential referral sources. If you choose to network in person, bring along sample physical therapy referral forms and advise of any physical therapy referral guidelines, so physicians feel comfortable with your clinic.

Share and Discuss Industry Insights

No matter the type of physician, all medical professionals appreciate relevant health care industry data. From 2022 Medicare physical therapy caps to updated HIPAA guidelines, with new industry topics arising every year, physical therapists should take the time to routinely share relevant data from leading sources, such as the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). To help showcase the power of physical therapy referrals, gather recent research that speaks to how physical therapy can reduce recovery times and medical costs and even limit the use of addictive prescription opioids. Combine your research in a physical brochure or digital PDF to easily share the benefits of physical therapy services, such as optimal functional outcomes, with physicians.

Market Your Physical Therapy Specialties

Physical therapists can offer multiple types of services that may interest referring physicians. If your practice offers any physical therapy specialties, such as pediatric, orthopedic, or sports clinical expertise, it’s important to market these focuses to relevant physicians in your area. Marketing your practice’s distinct specialties is a great way to stand out among the professional community and attract the attention of physicians who may relate to that specific area of focus.

Encourage Patient Care Collaboration by Sharing Testimonials

While sporadic patient referrals are welcome, most practices prefer physical therapy referrals to flow in consistently. To motivate physicians to continue sending patients your way, encourage patient care collaboration by sharing recent referral testimonials. In this way, you demonstrate to physicians that you both win with a successful physical therapy referral. When a referred patient provides a positive PT testimonial, remember to share these details with the physician by formally reaching out and thanking them for their collaboration. Doing so will demonstrate success on behalf of the physician and physical therapist and even act as an excellent marketing point for both if looking to promote patient success on their websites.

5 PT Referral Metrics You Should Be Tracking

Referrals may increase when you market your PT practice; however, the work doesn’t end here. Physical therapy practices must track various referral metrics to maintain strong referral rates. The following five metrics allow PT professionals to effectively identify and manage operational concerns that could affect referral and practice success.

1. Patient Conversion Rate

When a physical therapy referral is given to a patient, only they can decide to move forward and schedule an appointment with your practice. The rate of patients who convert and make an appointment is a critical metric that must be documented each time a new patient is secured. The ratio of which appointments are made versus the number of referrals given is an excellent data point to share with referring physicians that also helps identify internal operational flaws.

2. Cancellation/No-Show Percentage

Even after successfully securing a referral appointment, physical therapists must also understand how many referred patients cancel or are no-shows at their appointment. This vital metric to keep an eye on helps assess administrative practices, like confirming appointments the day prior and following up on a missed appointment, to understand better why the patient missed the visit. With this data, practices can make operational adjustments to support lower cancellation rates.

3. Average Visits Per Discharged Case

Once a referred patient begins visiting your PT practice for treatment services, you must track the number of visits it takes from the time of their initial evaluation to achieve a positive outcome. Understanding the average number of visits for varying condition types helps physical therapists better anticipate practice needs for further referral while informing physicians on general treatment expectations. From staffing to equipment needs, averaging the number of patient visits you can expect over time can support smooth operations for understanding when you should ramp up referral efforts.

4. Average Profit/Loss

A physical therapy practice must measure profit and loss to determine if the revenue from patient referrals is greater than any profit lost. No-shows, cancellations, and failed customer conversion are all metrics that practice owners can use to identify profit loss. Calculating these amounts and comparing them to the current monthly average profit amounts can help practices identify areas of revenue leakage that could deter ultimate practice growth.

5. Referral Source

Lastly, one of the most critical metrics a practice can track when assessing physical therapy referral success is the actual source of the referral. Whether your patient was referred to your practice by an outside physician, or they are a direct access patient referred by an industry partner or current patient, be sure to document who specifically sent this referral your way. Comprehending which referral sources are most successful month-over-month helps PT practices better target their collaboration efforts to help support continuous referral success rates with each referral source.

Bottom Line: Increase Your PT Office Efficiency & Gain More PT Referrals

A physical therapy practice cannot rely on outside physicians to bolster strong referral conversion rates. Once a physician makes a referral for physical therapy, the PT practice must maintain efficient administrative practices by recording these various metrics. Fortunately, with the right physical therapy technology, professionals can better track their referral metrics to support strong ongoing physician referral conversion rates and overall practice success. MWTherapy’s robust physical therapy software offers numerous capabilities, from billing management to scheduling reminders, to support your referral potential. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn more about how MWTherapy can help you gain more PT referrals.

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