How to Get More Physical Therapy Patients

It is common to set an artificial ceiling of patients in a PT practice. The “brick” can prevent you from getting more physical therapy patients. You could be missing an opportunity to add clinical staff because your growth appears to be stagnated, when its growth is simply being held down.

Barrier to Getting More Patients

Do you have a brick on your practice? Do you have something that kind of artificially stops its growth? Getting more physical therapy patients can be hindered by how you look at your practice. I’ll tell you a story that illustrates this.

I had a brick on my practice at one time. You know, you can have everybody looking busy. You have a lot going on, right. But we as PTs can’t see the patient who should be there but isn’t there because we’re already very busy. So in my practice a hundred years ago, I had a paper schedule. I had three therapists. I had three schedule book columns. What else did I need? Nothing more than that, right?

Who Controls Your PT Practice?

I got a phone call from the practice management consultant, who was helping me grow my practice. Here’s the conversation between me as the PT and her as consultant:

Consultant:  “Man, you guys are rocking it, you guys are so busy. You’ve really grown.”
PT: “Yeah, but I don’t think we can grow anymore.”
Consultant: “Why is that?”
PT: “Well, the schedule book is full”
Consultant: “Oh, well get a bigger book.”
PT: “What?”
Consultant repeats: “Get a bigger book; get a bigger book with more columns in it and then put names in those areas.”
PT: Right!? (Incredulously)
Consultant: “Wait a minute, Shawn; I just need to understand this; does a book control your practice or do you control your practice?”
PT: “I control my practice!”

Get a Bigger Schedule Book

So I went out to staples, office Depot or wherever, and I bought this huge book with nine columns on each page. And I laid it down in front of my receptionist Linda and she looks up at me and she says, “What are you doing? I can’t get anything else done.” I say, “What would you be doing that would be more important than filling this book?” And she just looked at me, rather glared at me and said, “I’ll fill your damn book.”

Well I guess that was good. I’m sorry that she was angry but she really couldn’t do anything else because the book was enormous and filling most of the desk.

So I reached the end of the week. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I always liked to see what Monday was going to look like for me. Sometimes it made me sick to my stomach because I knew Bob Smith was coming on Monday and I would have to deal with that.

Overfill the Schedule

But you know, I flipped the page in the schedule book to see what Monday looked like and all three of the physical therapists were completely filled. And in the fourth column there were four more patient names. I said, “Linda, what are these four people? Who are they going to see?” She said, “That’s not my problem. You told me to fill the book and I’m filling your damn book.”

That ended up being one of my most successful things ever in private practice. The receptionist took the brick off the practice. Everybody was busy, but she knew there were patients who needed to be seen. If she would have let the therapist’s schedule control it, we would have had these people waiting, missing appointments or coming in less frequently. She threw the patients into the schedule and gave me the problem of figuring out how we were going to get their physical therapy done. Well, it didn’t take me long to figure it out.

Get More Patients, Hire Another Physical Therapist

When you start noticing that you’re picking up about eight or 10 patient visits in your fourth column of the schedule, you’re going to hire a therapist because you know, there’s enough revenue there for that guy. So that would be what we would do. We brought in the fourth therapist, filled up that schedule and started throwing a couple of names into the fifth schedule column. We popped in another therapist and started to fill in the sixth schedule column. You get the idea, right?

We took the brick off the practice which allowed for some very stellar growth moving forward. We made that small change in how we scheduled but it had a significant impact on getting more patients for our PT practice. So I recommend that you take the brick off by opening extra spots in the schedule. Fill up each physical therapist’s schedule but you spill over with extra appointments. Never say “No” to a patient’s appointment. Thanks.

Shaun Kirk, MHS, PT, MTC
CEO – PT Practice Success

Need help with your practice? Schedule a free consultation with Shaun Kirk.