physical therapy patient retention and referrals

How to Improve Patient Retention and Referrals at Your Private Practice


What is more important for your physical therapy clinic: patient retention or patient referrals? Spoiler alert: Both!

But did you know that it takes five times more effort to acquire a new patient than it does to keep an existing one happy and coming back? And just by increasing patient retention rates 5%, you can increase profits by 25% to 95%, according to research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company.

So, what does that mean? When you move from thinking of your business as a funnel (the buyer’s journey ends after the sale) to thinking of it as a flywheel (the buyer’s journey continues to gain momentum after the sale), you see the value in patient retention. If you create an optimal experience for your existing patients, they’ll help you bring in referrals naturally, continuously feeding your patient pool and requiring less marketing work and investments from you.

Tips to improve physical therapy patient retention and referrals:


First Impressions are Everything

We know the importance of first impressions in other areas of life, like a job interview. When thinking about your patient retention strategy, start with the first impression.

How do you make a great first impression? It’s more than a clean, welcoming practice space (though, that’s important). Your patients will usually get the first impression of your practice over the phone or on your physical therapy website. For best results:

  • Ensure your physical therapy website design is modern, informative, and user-friendly. A patient seeking care is going to want a simple scheduling process. They’re also going to expect the navigation to make sense and be easy to use.
  • Encourage your staff to be happy and polite when they answer the phone. Talking to a short or rude staff member is going to sour the relationship before it starts.
  • This one is a given, but be sure that your physical therapy practice space is clean, well organized and welcoming. 

Set Clear Expectations for Patients

Setting expectations is the best way to create happy patients. 

Your patients look to you for guidance for their plan of care. Setting reasonable outcomes will help ensure you can meet them despite the many variables involved – plus, it will give your patients smart achievable goals to work toward. It is always better to meet a series of smaller goals than to fail to meet a large goal.

Create Trust with Patients

Setting and meeting expectations will help you establish trust with your patients. Let them know you care about them by practicing active listening and always keeping your word. Do what you say you’re going to do, on time. 

When you keep this end of the bargain, your patients will be excited to give referrals and keep coming back when they know they’ve found a practice where they aren’t just another number – but instead, a person your team genuinely cares about.

Educate Your Clients

When it comes to physical therapy patient retention, education is key. A confused and scared patient isn’t going to be as satisfied as one who understands their diagnosis, possible outcomes, and their own role in therapy.

The more you arm your patients with knowledge, the more they will trust you,  which leads to more physical therapy patient referrals.

Automate What You Can

Take some work out of the hands of your staff and patients alike by using automation. Automated marketing messages will help keep your brand in the mind of your patients as they go through their day-to-day. 

Automation can also help provide faster, better care which leads to a “wow” experience. 

Use automation to:

  • Send text and email appointment reminders
  • Send relevant information and education materials to patients
  • Follow up after appointments to check in with your patient

Provide Superior Care

If you follow the above steps, you’ll already be on your way to providing superior care. Your staff is the final piece of the puzzle. 

As a leader, you must provide continuing education opportunities for your staff to help them deliver better care and increase their satisfaction as a team member. You can uncover any places that care may be lacking by surveying your patients. Based on their feedback, create a plan to improve and then inform the patient when you employ it. 

When you display your dedication to superior care to your patients, they’ll be excited to grow with your practice.

If your patient retention isn’t what it could be, let MEG Business help! Learn more about our certification programs to train your staff on patient retention strategies and more!

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