5 Strategies for Creating a Competitive Advantage for Your Clinic
There are most likely at least a few physical therapy clinics in your area, which means you are always working to gain a competitive advantage. In today’s changing healthcare environment and with an onset of baby boomers needing the majority of rehabilitation, the stakes are even higher. Baby boomers are not like the generation before them. They are using the internet to get their information and referrals, they are talking to friends and relatives about care and they have high expectations for the level of care they will receive.
Just providing high quality physical therapy doesn’t always cut it, especially when you take into account the changes in healthcare including the formation of Accountable Care Organizations due to the Affordable Care Act. So here are a few ideas to help you create a competitive advantage and how hydrotherapy can help:
1. Differentiation – The best way to create a competitive advantage is to differentiate yourself from the competition. This means offering services, care, environment, and/or experiences that your patients can not get at a neighboring facility. This could include offering multiple services in one location (chiropractic, massage, aquatic therapy, physical therapy, athletic training, etc), advanced technologies (see #2), superior care (red carpet service), “one-stop shopping” (on-site pharmacy, pre-hab, post-hab, wellness programs) or other amenities that make your facility stand out.
2. Innovation – As the generations age, the need to provide superior technology and foresight increases. Because of the accessibility to information, patients are beginning to expect nothing but the best. Staying informed of the latest research and providing cutting edge technologies and methodologies for physical therapy will keep your facility first in your prospective patients’ minds. A reputation for offering the latest advancements improves your organization’s credibility. Many senior living communities are finding that advertising that they have the same aquatic therapy technology that professional athletes and Olympians use has a significant impact on their referrals.
3. Customer Satisfaction – Keeping customers satisfied is an obvious way to gain a competitive advantage, but doing so is not always easy. There are many ways to delight customers including: friendly and helpful staff, easy billing and processing, successful results and comfortable methodologies. Warm water therapy is preferred by 4 out of 5 patients, according to a Texas A&M research study. The ability to move in a nearly pain-free and safe environment is encouraging to a patient, especially when progress on land is slower due to pain and the fear of re-injury. It also offers patients the ability to increase their strength and cardiovascular endurance even when they are unable to exercise on land.
4. Relevance – Providing services and information that are useful and relevant to your prospective customer base long before they are actually in need of rehabilitation or care will create a feeling of trust. There are many ways to be relevant to the residents of your community before they are ever looking for a place to rehab after a knee replacement or back surgery. A few ideas include: social media (suggest daily living tips and share useful health information to stay in front of them), wellness programs (offer services to those looking for an alternative to a gym membership to keep them healthy longer), nutrition services (show your desire to improve people’s lives) and updated website (keep information on your up-to-date with events, research and helpful news to give them a reason to keep coming to you).
5. Referrals – The best way to gain new patients is for them to be referred, either by a fellow patient or by their doctor/surgeon. Ideally, you offer such tremendous service that they can’t help but suggest that their friends or patients use your clinic. Realistically, even if people have a pleasant experience, they may not sing your praises to everyone they see. That doesn’t mean referrals are completely out of your control. When a patient has a great experience and recovery, kindly remind them to compliment their surgeon for a great surgery and mention the great rehabilitation they received at your clinic. Most people will gladly do so, and the doctors will quickly catch on that your clinic is benefiting their reputation too.
Standing out from the competition takes deliberate focus. Hopefully some of these ideas will help make you the clinic of choice in your area. If you’re looking for ways to make your aquatic therapy practice a success, watch the video “4 Steps to Aquatic Therapy Success”>>