CSM 2016: A Look Back

This post appeared originally on the Clinicient Blog.

It has taken a few weeks for me to settle back in and process all that I saw at #APTACSM.

While there, I was focused on building partnerships for my new company, ScheduleDoc, so observing the conference was not my sole priority this year. That being said, there was a lot to see and hear: from the new technology, to conversations with colleagues, I walked away buzzing with excitement for the physical therapy industry.

Everywhere I turned at CSM, I heard about considerable technology advancements. In conversations and exhibits, I saw new devices, apps and tools that make the lives of physical therapists easier and often improved the patient experience at the same time.

Cutting Edge Technology

  • Process automation was a particularly hot topic and showing real strides in innovation and industry adoption.
  • Exhibitors showed off their work on objective measures and outcomes that will further bolster the value physical therapists bring to patients and health care, beyond just patient self-reported outcomes.
  • The adoption of platforms to help spread the PT word was also evident. Whereas a couple of years ago I was on a Twitter panel extolling the virtues of using social media, this year there was organic uptake on social platforms, plus live podcasts happening throughout the event. The use of social media was definitely felt this year.

Engaged and Diverse Conversation

In addition to the expansion of social media participation, there was a breadth of experience and sharing at CSM that I have not witnessed before. The perspectives shared this year were new and varied and added much to the flavor and complexity of the conference. I felt there was less insularity and the inclusion of people from various professional backgrounds, along with patients, brought a broad range of ideas to CSM. This in turn showed remarkable progress in the selection of speakers, topics and ideas brought to the event.

Changing the System

Lastly, I was happy to see quite a bit more emphasis on selling the value that physical therapists bring to markets in which we have very little current penetration. The realization among the profession that we offer great value, both clinically and financially, to a broken system was evident in poster presentations, speaker panels, and conversations all around Anaheim.

Overall, there was progress, and significantly so, over past conferences. There’s a buzz around the value we bring, the tools we use, and the people we should be allying with to broaden our reach in health care in order to help more people. It was very encouraging and exciting to be a part of.

Check out more about CSM with the following tags: #APTACSM #CSM2016 #BizPT

Sturdy McKee is a Co-Founder of ScheduleDoc and Co-Founder & CEO of San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy. He can often be found @Sturdy.
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The #1 Question

When you start your practice, the biggest question is “How do I get new patients?”. It’s the same question as you add associates and staff. And it repeats when you are considering adding a new location.

There are a few things that can yield almost immediate results. So, why all the mystery?

Ask For Referrals
Ask your current happy patients. Ask people who have referred to you in the past. Ask anyone who says “Thank you” for sharing your professional advice. And when someone asks how your practice is going, you can answer, “It’s going well. But I can always use more referrals.”

Facilitate Referrals
If you are in a specialty practice, like a physical therapist or allergist, you can print referral pads and drop them at primary care doctors’ offices. That’s often where patients start their journey, so it’s a logical place to leverage for your practice. And primary care doctors are used to referring to specialists, so this is not something new to them. And if you’re nervous about starting here, drop in to a couple urgent care centers first. They are used to walk-ins and won’t get flustered or put you off do to a disruption in their workflow.

And if you’re a primary care physician going out on your own, swing by a few specialists and drop your business cards. Most are happy to talk to a colleague as long as they aren’t way behind with the patients in their office. And you might be surprised at the number of people in a specialist’s office who say they don’t have a primary care doctor.

Eliminate Obstacles
Make it easy for patients to find you and to schedule.

87% of Americans are online. Take out the 6.3% of Americans under 5 years old and that leaves almost everyone else. And for the past year >50% of searches are on mobile phones, according to Google. And since people are used to searching online for what they need, and more than half of searches are on phones, you must have a website. Add to it by listing your site at dmoz.org. It doesn’t take long and is a free and effective way to improve your search ranking.

On your website place your phone number (in text) at the top. That way people can touch it on their smart phones and call directly from your site.

Place a “Schedule Online” button next to your phone number. Do you really think all the searches are happening while there is someone at your front desk answering your phones? Especially if you are just starting, you might have a part-time person, or even be answering your own phones. People don’t want to wait until 9 am when the office opens the next day to book. And they don’t want to email a request where they have to ask for a day & time when you aren’t available anyway. They want to know what’s available, and they’re more likely to follow through with you and not call other offices if they find that available appointment on your schedule tomorrow. We all want everything now. And, of course, that’s something we, at ScheduleDoc, can help with and make easy for you and your patients.

Not sure of the results? We’ll guarantee them. All you have to do is a few things we suggest and if you don’t see a return on your investment in the first 4 months, we’ll refund your subscription. We eliminate the risk.

Still not sure? Jerry Durham of San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy has this to share.

“Since adding the “Schedule Online” button on our home page, we’ve scheduled 2-3 new patients each week via ScheduleDoc. And our current and returning patients love it, too. We’ve been getting about 2 return appointments every day! Patients love that they can go online and find our available appointments.”

But if for some crazy reason you don’t want to let us help you, make sure to get going with online scheduling with someone. It’s what patients want and it’s a big differentiator right now, as fewer than 1 in 5 practices offer online appointment search and booking of any kind.

So, call us at 570.575.4142. Or schedule a demo online. Yes, we drink our own Kool-Aid.

Or check us out at ScheduleDoc where you can provide your contact info, or email us at Aaron@ScheduleDoc.co to arrange a demo.

There is more here about new patient acquisition and how ScheduleDoc is working for one customer for those who want to learn more.

ScheduleDoc’s Value and ROI Calculation

Do you own a medical practice? ScheduleDoc can help you find more patients and provide great service to your current patients.

For Patients, ScheduleDoc is a convenient way to find medical appointments while avoiding waiting for someone to be able to answer your doctor’s phone. It makes doctors’ appointment search easy and convenient for patients anytime from anywhere, including on their tablets and mobile devices.

For Providers, ScheduleDoc is an easy and affordable way to fill your un-booked times and find more patients.

Following is an ROI calculation for a single doctor in private practice.

Use your own numbers to do a custom calculation or contact us and we will do this for you. For any practice and any specialty.

New Patient GrowthROI calculation at $798 for a single Physician.

  • Average collected per visit = $95.
  • 1 filled appointment per month = $1,140/year
  • % ROI ==> 43%
  • Average value per new physical therapy patient case = $950 (at $95/visit & 10 visits per case)
  • 1 new patient acquired per year
  • % ROI ==> 19%

If 3 new patients in a year and 2 visits filled each month, the annual ROI for a single therapist = 642% ROI.

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Sign up on ScheduleDoc! Or contact us at sturdy@ScheduleDoc.co or @ScheduleDoc on twitter.

Or if you want to see for yourself how easy it is to set up and use ScheduleDoc, visit the ScheduleDoc YouTube Channel.

 

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Creating an About Page for Your Business

An About Page is a great place to not just tell a chronological story but to really express your Why. About PagePeople are more attracted to you because of Why you do something than What you do. “We exist to improve the customer experience in health care” is far more compelling than “We provide online appointment search”, for example.

Don’t know about your Why yet? You can check out more about that from Simon Sinek. Or watch Simon’s TED talk. Or check out Lynne Cazaly’s graphic notes from Start With Why.
We think it will inspire you!

But getting that deep and pouring out your heart all of a sudden on a piece of paper – or worse, a screen – is daunting! A bit of structure may help.

So, you can ask yourself (and your business partners) the following questions. Writing out the answers and sharing them with someone who knows you can also help to gain some clarity in exploring your purpose and motivations in beginning your entrepreneurial journey. It might help to write down the first things that you think of and then set the answers aside for 2-3 days and revisit them. Sometimes this space and time helps us to peel back the onion a little more and add things that we earlier left out.

Questions
About you and your business:

  1. Why in the world did you decide to go out on your own? What motivated you to start your own business?
  2. When did you begin and what was happening in the industry at that time?
  3. What excites you and gets you out of bed in the morning?
  4. What do you do that doesn’t “feel” like work when you are working?
  5. What do you care about that you are not currently doing or wish you could do?
  6. Why did you spend so many years in school?
  7. What do you do that is “your way”, something unique or different about you & your practice?
  8. What makes you angry about health care or today’s industry?

About your customers:

  1. What problems do your customers and patients come to you to solve?
  2. What are their goals (beyond just treating this episode)?
  3. What do they want to change or improve in their lives that drove them to seek you out?
  4. What do they worry about?
  5. What doesn’t work in their lives if you can’t help them?
  6. What is the future you stand for on behalf of your customers and patients?

After you have thought about these questions, written down your answers and come back to those answers a few days later, it will be much easier to write a more narrative version for your About Page. Just write the answers out in paragraph format and then edit for readability and flow. Use words like “why”, “because”, “believe”, and “purpose”. It’s also okay to say what inspires you and what struggles you faced and currently face. Just try to remove negatives and keep your language positive and forward looking where changes are needed.

Don’t worry about anything being too strong, or too sappy, in the first version. Just write it out, make any changes you want and then read it out loud. Seriously. Do not skip this step. Read what you’ve written out loud and make sure it flows and connects with you emotionally. Then, after you’ve let this sit for a couple of days, share it with someone close to you, who knows you well, and ask them not only if they like it, but what’s missing. They just might surprise you.

And we know this is a project that takes about a week and may even get a little emotional. This is no quick fix, “3 easy steps” solution. We aren’t writing click-bait here. We’re asking you to open up and be vulnerable. We’re asking you to share Why you do what you do and what drives you, not just a list of services you offer. And that takes some thinking, feeling and courage. And we think if you use this and go through the steps, that you just might be surprised, and even pleased, with the end result and have something you will be proud to publish on your website.

Request a ScheduleDoc Demo using ScheduleDoc!

Are We Asking the Right Questions?

In a world where the customer (patient) experience is becoming increasingly emphasized and relevant and where more doctors are paying attention and looking to make improvements, it is important to ask ourselves if we are asking the right questions.

If your practice has a patient satisfaction survey, have you read the questions? Are they the “right” questions? Are they questions of “hygiene”, i.e. was the clinic clean, did the person at the front desk smile, etc? Or are they questions that let the customer tell you how they felt and how your team could do a better job?

While procedural questions may be important in certain contexts, how a customer feels about their interaction with you and your team, and whether they would recommend your practice to their family, friends and colleagues are generally far more important. Does your survey ask something along the lines of “How could we improve our service?” or “How could we do a better job?”

And yes, we said “feel”. People make decisions largely based on how they feel and then justify with facts, data and logic. We tend to want to show them data and use facts to recommend ourselves to them and their circles. But how they feel about the overall interaction they have experienced with your practice is far more likely to guide their decisions around compliance with their plan of care, whether they return, and whether they recommend your practice to their friends, family and colleagues.

A “best practice”, and there is usually more than one “best” way, is to use the Net Promoter® Score (NPS) and then follow up with those people who score you below a 9. Yes, 9. On a 0-10 point scale, you are looking for 9s and 10s. Those are your promoters, our raving fans. Those are the people likely to recommend you. So, having someone on your team call each and every person who gives you a score below a 9 is a great way to learn what your customers want and how you can improve their experience.

The way to approach them and the question to ask those who gave you an 8 or below, is “Thank you very much for providing us feedback. How could we have done better?” And let them talk. Allow them to finish, pause, continue, without interruption. If there is something you can solve, ASK them if they would like you to solve that for them. Don’t just volunteer the solution(s). Ask them. This is a great way to improve your own listening and to verify that you heard what is important to them. It will also verify that what they have told you is really the issue. And if there is nothing for you to solve right now, thank them for their candor and honesty and let them know that they have been heard. Sometimes that is the most important thing you can do.

Here is more information on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and the NPS Napkin Video that is a must watch!
And another great article on asking effective questions around customer service and the customer experience.

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3 Simple Tips to Improve Your Website

courtesy of ScheduleDoc

We hate lists that don’t follow through on their promise. So here are 3, numbered even, simple tips to improve your website. Download this. Save it. Share it. And let us know if you have any questions or we can help in any way. Email

  1. Place your phone number at the top. Top right is preferred and in text. Don’t hide it in the footer or put in only on the contact us page. Though we offer online appointment search, we know many people are used to calling. And when they are referred to you by another provider and look you up on their mobile on the way to their car, they can simply touch the number and call right then. This makes it easier for new patients and existing ones to reach you quickly and easily.
  2. Put the name of your practice in the text up top. You can include “Welcome to SportsMed Orthopedic Group! At SportsMed Orthopedic Group you will find that we value…” Or “Carmel Valley Pediatrics is internationally recognized in the treatment of…” Though there are many fancy and complicated (often expensive) ways to improve your search rankings, placing the name of your practice, location and the type of information people search for in the text of your home and about us pages will still help search engines and improve your website traffic.
  3. Add a call to action!
    Like a Phone Number to call: First step! Call 415.593.2532 now…
    Or
    A button to click
    Schedule Now ButtonJust make sure to add a link to the button, sometimes as easy as right clicking and entering the link.
    But let your visitor know what action you want them to take and make it easy! It’s fine to give choices, but keep it clean and simple, and don’t give zero choices…

Request a ScheduleDoc Demo using ScheduleDoc!

Interested in learning more? Want help signing up your practice? Or just want to know when the next blog entry is posted? Sign up below. We won’t spam you.

What Do Patients Want?

Desire-700x325“The rung of a ladder was never to meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.” Thomas Huxley

According to research from The PwC Health Research Institute in 2012, consumers expect the same amenities and customer services from their health-care providers that they do from hotels, banks, airlines, restaurants, and retailers. Are we offering them those services?

There is a real evolution happening in health care and many providers are simply not seeing it. When was the last time you actually visited a colleague’s office or clinic? How about 5 or 10 colleagues? If they are down the hall, that doesn’t really count. The point is there are many things that individual practices are doing to improve the patient experience, and many of those things are not being shared.

Have you ever approached your office as if you were a patient? Try walking in through the front door and look at you entry, carpet, signs, waiting areas and front desk and think about the impression your next new patient is likely to get of you and your practice. There are likely a few things you can improve that cost no money and little effort, and that will have a positive impact on your patients’ perceptions. Remember, smiling at the front desk is free, and is grossly undervalued by those of us in the office every day.

Another thing to consider is your patients’ experience before they ever get to your office. What does your website look like? Is it clean and easy to navigate? Do you have a way for new and current patients to request an appointment with you, especially when the office is closed? Is your phone number prominently displayed (with area code) in the upper right corner so they can easily call or touch your number on their mobile phone? More and more people are searching and briefly looking at websites upon being referred to you in order to validate the decision to come see you. Make it easy on them by putting your phone number on display, and an option to request an appointment during hours when there is no one at your office to answer your phones.

Other amenities you might consider are online bill pay, a map link or google map embedded image, and a way to email your office without feeling like they are passing through airport security. Patients are remarkably respectful of provider emails in most cases. Those practices who have their providers’ emails posted on their sites occasionally deal with spam, but seldom with problems with real people emailing them anything abusive or inappropriate.

Patients want access, kindness and to get better when they are ill or hurt. But most importantly they want to know you and your entire team care, and that they matter. Letting them know they do could be as simple as smiling and listening.


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Here are some more items from a 2012 article about what patients want according to Dr. Detsky in JAMA. Specifically…

  • Restoring health when ill – They want to get better. Not so much prevent illness, thought education seems to be important.
  • Timeliness – They do not want to wait for access to health care.
  • Kindness – They want to be treated like they matter and are important. A smile and listening go a very long way.
  • Hope and certainty – They want to be given options and understand what to expect, even in dire situations.
  • Continuity, choice, coordination – They want the same provider or team to help them.
  • Private room – They want this in the hospital, but also want privacy in their out-patient interactions, though the severity and stigma around different issues may influence this.
  • Low out-of-pocket costs – The questions as asked result in consumers saying they want low costs, but ultimately they want value. If the care they are seeking is considered a commodity, then cost is a larger factor than if they believe they are receiving superior value.
  • The best medicine – Back to value. They the best, most appropriate care by the best trained provider. They are not looking for statistics in this case, but for stories from other patients and clinicians they trust.
  • Medications and surgery – They want a magic pill. Surgeries fall into this category of perception with patients often not understanding what is required following surgery to realize a full recovery.