Carol A. Wilcox
PREFERRED Therapy Providers, Inc.
Do you treat patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) or post-concussion as part of the services you offer in your physical therapy practice? Do you ever advise patients on brain injury awareness, rehabilitation and prevention? Are you looking for simple and effective ways to market your business to attract more patients who have this condition? Over 2 million people in the United States suffer from some form of a traumatic brain injury each year.
How many of them are you treating in your practice?
CONTROVERSY IN THE EVIDENCE RELATED TO THERAPY AND BRAIN INJURY
The question of whether or not therapy benefits the brain- injured patient remains controversial with payers resisting covering procedures under Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT). This is primarily due to a degree of variability in patient symptoms and the difficulty in obtaining conclusive scientific results. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), an advocate on the legislative level for physical therapy as part of the overall treatment of patients with mild traumatic brain injuries, provides consumers with articles on the best scientific evidence related to physical therapy treatment of MTBI. Additionally, there are opportunities for patients to challenge insurance denials if they should occur, said Brainline.
PATIENTS OFTEN UNAWARE OF SERVICES
In cases where a mild traumatic brain injury has occurred, once a patient leaves the hospital, many are unaware that outpatient rehabilitation services are even available. This is often due to patients who don’t describe or notice cognitive problems until they have left the hospital.
So, how do you attract patients who are unaware of the rehabilitation services available?
AWARENESS AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROMOTE YOUR PRACTICE
There is a tremendous opportunity to promote your therapy practice to mild traumatic brain injury patients and to promote brain injury prevention, regardless of whether insurance covers the procedure or not. It all begins with creating awareness and developing a multi-faceted approach to attract new patients and referrals. If your idea of promoting your practice is only waiting for a physician referral, you’re missing the potential patients that are unaware of the benefits of physical therapy for these conditions.
People are looking for solutions on how to prevent brain injuries; or if they already have a condition, they want to feel the best they possibly can. Position your practice as the experts and thought leaders who can educate and help them avoid an injury – or provide relief if a condition already exists.
THE FIRST STEP TO A STRATEGY
Choose an MTBI specialty and your value proposition (and stick with it). Don’t try to be all things to all people. Are you good at working with children who have suffered a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury? Do you have a passion for a particular sport and want to help keep athletes healthy? Are you adept at helping people who have suffered a stroke? Can you help patients who have suffered a concussion or mild brain injury from a car accident? Determine the type of brain injury therapy your practice excels at and develop a promotional marketing plan centered on it.
NEED A FEW SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS? START HERE:
- Education and Awareness – one of the best ways to promote your specialty is through community education and awareness and that means finding opportunities to talk about the problem you can solve along with providing tangible solutions.
- Provide free educational lectures. Locate opportunities to talk about mild traumatic brain injuries. For example, if your practice focuses on concussion prevention and management in high school sports, offer to speak to coaches, teachers or parents about sports safety and the signs of concussion. This generates positive exposure for your practice and keeps your services top of mind with your target market.
- Offer to do free assessments. Hand out a checklist with your business card attached of what to look for in a child who may have suffered a concussion.
- If your focus is working with veterans or members of law enforcement who have suffered from MTBI during combat, or while on duty, find local support groups and offer to do free mobility screenings or ask to be a speaker about MTBI at one of their meetings.
- Do Competitive Research – check out the websites of your competitors. How are they promoting their specialties? What organizations or associations do they participate in? Do they have a blog? What kinds of mild brain injury topics are they writing about? Are they on social media? What activities are they doing in their community to promote their specialties?
- Article writing and special reports – writing articles, blog posts or special reports on MTBI can generate long-term rewards. Publish your articles on your website and on social media. Create special reports that potential customers can download from your website. (To generate leads that you can market to, create a simple opt-in sign up form with name and email address). Become a guest writer for other blogs to further boost your clinic’s exposure.
- Marketing materials – Make sure your practice marketing materials look professional – everything from business cards to flyers and brochures. Have at least one marketing piece devoted exclusively to your MTBI specialty. Your marketing materials convey your practices’ image. Make sure they look good.
- Develop cash programs, services or packages. Once you have established your practice as an authority in your MTBI specialty, look for opportunities to attract patients for cash services. Some suggestions:
- Become a Sports Team Physical Therapist. Offer your services to a sports team to assess athletes with potential mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions.
- Become a consultant to other physical therapy practices on how to develop a successful mild traumatic brain injury program in their clinic.
- Develop a wellness program in your clinic. Offer a wellness maintenance program for your MTBI patients for a package price. This could include one-on-one therapy, group exercise programs, speech and occupational therapy programs or support groups. Make it easy for your prospective patients to get many of the services they need all in one place.
- Certification – Achieving certification makes you an authority. Depending upon your specialty, you may want to have certification as a Neurological Certified Specialist with APTA. Look for other certifications that you can use to promote your practice specialty.
- Network – Networking with healthcare professionals and associations can help with getting referrals. It can also help build your clinic’s reputation. LinkedIn is a great free resource to connect with colleagues, facilities and groups. Click here to learn more about how LinkedIn can help you grow your practice.
- Find your state Brain Injury Association chapter. Under Find BIA in Your State, find a list of brain injury support groups in your state. Offer to give your local chapter a complimentary talk on brain injury rehabilitation.
- To find Neurosurgery Specialists by state log onto Healthgrades and find doctors in your city and state by specialty. Build a list of potential contacts you can use to network with and to promote your MTBI specialty.
- Do a Google search for sports clubs (i.e. Soccer Clubs + Arizona) to find clubs and associations that you can network with.
There are many other ways to promote a practice specialty. If you have any comments on what has worked for you, let us know.
About the Author:
Carol A. Wilcox is the staff writer and head of marketing communications at PREFERRED Therapy Providers, Inc. You can reach Carol here.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.