Marketing programs are evolving with regard to who they target and how they deliver a therapy clinic’s message. Clinic managers can take advantage of the data they capture as part of routine operations to speak effectively to patients, prospects, and referral sources.

If you thought data-driven marketing was only for big therapy clinics, you thought wrong. The practice management software you are using at this very minute may have all the firepower necessary to support a cross-platform marketing campaign that zeroes in on the best clientele for your clinic. Even better, getting the polished look and deep reach of digital marketing might be easier than you think if you’re using your clinic’s software correctly. The secret to making this sort of program a success will include finding the right data, using it efficiently, and measuring the results.

Physical Therapy Products asked seven software experts to help clinic managers see the big picture and understand the possibilities of data-driven marketing. The valuable insight packed into this roundtable Q&A is provided by this select group: Jerry Henderson, PT, Vice President of Clinical Strategy, Clinicient; Nikki Rasmussen, PT, Cert MDT Clinical Lead, Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes (FOTO); Sharif Zeid, Business Director, MWTherapy; Jesse McFarland, Director, Digital Marketing Solutions, Net Health; Steven Presement, President, Practice Perfect EMR; Michael Huber, Marketing Manager, Raintree Systems Inc; Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, Founder and Chief Clinical Officer, WebPT.

What are some of the best ways that PT clinics can use their own data to support practice marketing?

Jerry Henderson (Clinicient): Patient, Physician, and Payor data can all be exported and used to develop custom marketing outreach campaigns. These tools are very effective when used as part of a systematic marketing process.

Nikki Rasmussen (FOTO): Increase patient direct access referrals. Healthcare consumers are more proactive than ever before when choosing a clinician, and they are selecting based on others’ reported experiences. You can also grow your online presence and position. Make it easy for patients to find you and know what to expect with Marketing Suite Platinum, including Reputation Management with Local Search.

Another thing is to obtain positive reviews from your patients—and lots of them. When patients have a good experience with treatment at your clinic, allow them to speak for themselves.

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): There are many ways that PT clinics can use their own data to support marketing. The heart of marketing is getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Clinics that are doing a good job at collecting data and tracking it will have a treasure trove of information to pull from. For example, it should be easy to determine where referrals are coming from and what marketing is and isn’t working. Another example is using practice data to determine the right geographic area to target based on current and past patients.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): A good PT marketing campaign starts with leveraging the value of your existing patient database. This approach allows you to launch a variety of email campaigns to keep your patients engaged and coming back, build your brand by generating positive reviews online using reputation management tactics, and/or help you gain customer intel for targeting future patients with a paid advertising campaign.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Clinics should be able to use their EMR systems to track the source of their referrals and report about return on investment, not simply which doctors are involved with which patients but actually how a patient first came to hear about the clinic. Was it your website, word of mouth, signage, or was it actually a physician, and how much revenue did the referrals represent? “Wow, look how much revenue the website is generating, we should pour more money into its development!” How do you know where to spend your marketing dollar without measuring your returns? Ideally, your EMR performs this analysis automatically.

Michael Huber (Raintree): One of the best ways that PT clinics can use their own data is to actually use that data in support of their marketing. As is often the case, businesses spend a lot of time and effort gathering contact information but spend very little effort actually putting the contact information to use. Practices should have at least a simple marketing plan for awareness, patient engagement, and patient reactivation, and new patient capture. They should review their data to see how it fits their marketing needs. Where it is lacking to support a specific aspect of their plan they can adjust their contact-capture process.

Heidi Jannenga (WebPT): Whether clinics are marketing to referral sources or patients, objective data that speaks to the quality of the clinical outcomes they achieve is a game changer. This is why it’s crucial for therapists to consistently complete—and track the results of—risk-adjusted outcome measurement tools that are widely used and understood across the entire healthcare community. The same goes for patient satisfaction and loyalty scores. We recommend that all clinics track patients’ Net Promoter Score (NPS) and use it to not only enhance their marketing collateral, but also identify the patients who are the most likely to leave positive online reviews.

How does your software product support PT practice marketing, and how should clinics use it?

Jerry Henderson (Clinicient): In addition to the data exports that may be used for more customized marketing, Clinicient provides a configurable, automated letter series that can be directed at clients or referring physicians. Patient Examples include welcome letters, orientation letters, and follow-up communications. Physician Examples include automated discharge summaries and reports about patients that have discontinued therapy.

Nikki Rasmussen (FOTO): With the FOTO Marketing Suite Platinum, clinic marketing is at your fingertips. Clinics can leverage outcomes data to get the word out, attract patients with real results, mitigate self-discharge, strengthen referral relationships, and get a leg up on payor negotiations.

Monthly NPS metrics are delivered to a designated recipient each month with the results filterable by organization, by clinic, or by clinician. Or, filter results by the number of closed episodes and see a breakdown of the average number of visits, the maximum number of visits, and minimum number of visits for each category of promoters, passives, or detractors.

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): MWTherapy makes PT marketing easy in three ways. First, MWTherapy makes it extremely easy to collect the right data: you can’t use data if you don’t have data. Second, MWTherapy provides the right reporting to help clinic owners make sense of all the raw data and turn into usable information. Our comprehensive reporting is powerful but easy to use so owners can take marketing action. Third, MWTherapy has built-in marketing tools so that clinics can do more right from our EMR. Our tools help you leverage tasks you’re already doing to drive marketing efforts in an all-in-one system.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): Net Health’s Digital Marketing Solutions utilizes enterprise-level reputation management software to create a consistent and accurate online presence for your practice across the most important online directories, such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and 80+ others. By using our software solution, we can instantly update your information, optimize your listings, and drive 5-star reviews to make sure your practice is found online and chosen by new patients in your area.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Our application provides you with the data required to track return on investment for your marketing dollars, what’s working, what’s not. But, you can also use Practice Perfect to communicate tips, greetings, new products and services and even just check in with your patients using automated texting campaigns, based on triggers that you determine, even automatically texting those patients who have fallen off the map—and better still, the patients can even text back and engage in two-way communication without having to make a phone call. In a nutshell, you can fully automate your outreach.

Michael Huber (Raintree): The Raintree EMR/Practice Management platform has built-in marketing and CRM tools to help you easily manage marketing campaigns with current and past patients. In addition, the flexibility of Raintree allows you to track data points that can help you better manage marketing campaigns and marketing channels. Raintree’s tools allow for easy automated and continuous campaigns using email and SMS text. The CRM aspects of Raintree allow contacts to added and hyper-targeted through built-in marketing campaign tools. This marketing functionality is built into the Raintree product and requires no interfaces or integrations.

Heidi Jannenga (WebPT): WebPT Reach offers robust marketing automation features that help clinics acquire, engage, and retain patients through consistent and highly targeted email, text, and mobile in-app messaging. Reach also includes features that enable practices to nurture prospective patients all the way through the marketing funnel—and convert them into appointments booked. To help increase clinics’ chances of being found by those patients, WebPT Local—our online listing and review management tool—helps practices optimize their online presence, improve search rankings, and respond to reviews. Finally, WebPT Outcomes allows clinics to track and visualize clinical performance—and thus, prove their value to patients and referral sources.

How well do most clinics use their practice’s software capabilities to support their marketing efforts? Is there room for improvement?

Jerry Henderson (Clinicient): Lots of room for improvement. The automated letter series and the ability to utilize patient, case, and referral source data for targeted marketing is underutilized.

Nikki Rasmussen (FOTO): There is so much new opportunity in this arena for the profession compared to the past. Electronic documentation, outcomes tools and direct access to care are the biggest drivers. Clinics have access to volumes of data, and marketing plans have evolved to promoting directly toward the community. In tandem with patients who are now more proactive in their decisions for care, marketing of therapy services today has a very different look. Every therapist believes in providing high-quality care, and having third-party data that backs it up and uses it effectively is powerful.

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): Many clinics do a great job with leveraging their software in a marketing context while others have room for improvement. Clinics that do a great job have taken the time to formulate a good marketing plan (doesn’t have to be too complicated) and then make sure to regularly track progress and make adjustments using reports from their software. Data plays a key role both in the creation of the plan as well as regular adjustments. Historical data should be used to determine what has been working in the past and inform where to go in the future (do more of what’s working or diversify). As marketing strategies are put in place, data will help clinics understand performance and inform changes.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): Most practices do not utilize their own data for marketing or growing their business, nor do they know how. We find that using a marketing software that directly integrates with a clinic’s data, or working with an agency who can do this for you, is the best way for clinics to get the most out of a marketing campaign.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Quite frankly, most clinics not only don’t take the time to generate the EMR system reports to assist with marketing, but they don’t take time to enter the data, either. Without correct and thorough data entry, the resulting reports will be meaningless, and worse, potentially misleading. While clinic owners and administrators are typically very good at their craft, they are not trained as marketers and, as such, typically lack the expertise to really flourish in this role, which is why it’s never a bad thing to involve outside specialists when it comes to marketing.

Michael Huber (Raintree): Many practices struggle with using their Practice Management data for their marketing because many platforms do not have good built-in tools. Often, practice owners need to rely on multiple systems to do email marketing, text marketing, etc. Most EMR/PM systems are not designed with marketing in mind so the tools and functionality are basic and limited; or require interfaces or integrations that can present their own set of problems. Because of this, there is often little to no automation in campaign management, and very little actual clinic data is used for marketing purposes. There is definitely room for improvement.

Heidi Jannenga (WebPT): Each year, 50% of Americans over the age of 18 develop a musculoskeletal injury that lasts longer than 3 months. In 2014, only about 10% of them—an estimated 12.2 million adults—used outpatient physical therapy services. Clearly, there is room for improvement on the marketing front across the entire rehab therapy industry. Additionally, in WebPT’s 2019 State of Rehab Therapy Report, we found that 35.4% of organizations surveyed leveraged their outcomes data for marketing purposes. Considering that the vast majority of organizations collect this data, we believe that percentage should be much higher.

Looking ahead, what advantages will clinics that use data-driven marketing have over those that do not?

Jerry Henderson (Clinicient): Marketing that is highly targeted is much more effective than generalized outreach. The ability to target marketing efforts at specific patient populations, referral sources, and payor sources helps you attract the patients that you want to serve.

Nikki Rasmussen (FOTO): Those who are using their clinical data to elevate their practice and promote it will likely be more successful on several fronts. More engaged patients, leaving more thoughtful reviews, lead to a larger network and presence in the community. We can’t ignore the reimbursement and referral side of things, either. Bringing data to the conversations with payors and provider groups is essential to relationship building as well. Clinics need to be able to demonstrate what sets them apart, and data is the most powerful way to do that in 2020 and beyond.

Sharif Zeid (MWTherapy): Without data, clinic owners are driving with no final destination. Clinics that use data will always have the upper hand over clinics that blindly market. This advantage will translate into more patients, better retention, and increased revenue. Data-driven marketing can also be crucial for clinics looking to offer more services or to open new locations. The important thing is that big-data and data-driven marketing isn’t just for large clinics. Any practice of any size can and should take advantage of data-driven marketing. A data-driven approach doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and it’s crucial to marketing success. MWTherapy can help clinics of any size with our comprehensive, all-in-one feature set.

Jesse McFarland (Net Health): Data-driven marketing is the best way to ensure a successful digital marketing campaign. This allows a practice to measure and optimize marketing strategies over time to make adjustments, improve performance, and generate a higher ROI. A clinic that utilizes data-driven marketing strategies is much more likely to see a better patient return rate and generate more revenue opportunities.

Steven Presement (Practice Perfect): Clinics need every advantage they can get these days and, as with all industries, information is the key. Knowing where your patients are coming from, knowing your typical demographic, age, gender, types of injuries, knowing how successful you are through goal tracking and treatment length analysis, will only serve to elevate a clinic when promoting their services effectively to both the community and local Physicians. If you truly understand your crowd, you can truly craft a more effective method using the right media—and track the results.

Michael Huber (Raintree): Clinics that use data-driven marketing strategies will more quickly recover from this current business environment of lockdowns and quarantine. Clinics will be better able to identify potential new patients or reactivate past patients. They will also be better able to build targeted marketing strategies that will support the growth of their practice. In general, their marketing results will be more consistent and more effective.

Heidi Jannenga (WebPT): Looking ahead—especially given the economic disruption caused by COVID-19—the competition for new patients will only intensify. Furthermore, considering that the vast majority of patients begin their search for healthcare providers online, having a strong online presence will be crucial for providers across all healthcare disciplines—rehab therapy included. Given the importance of online reviews, clinics that leverage data to amass a large quantity of high-quality reviews will have a major advantage. Finally, as health systems become more consolidated and referrals become more difficult to obtain, clinics that use objective outcomes data to strengthen their value proposition will have the most success. PTP