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Clinical Solutions Blog

What I learned from 60 clinic owners (at a sold out workshop) about patient engagement

Posted by Rick Lau on Mar 21, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Patient Engagement Rick Lau.jpg

I recently ran a vancouver workshop that was a huge success. In fact, it was sold out!

We did have a limit of 60 clinic owners attending and we had more than 20 clinic owners on our waiting list. The workshop was about keeping more patients (patient engagement) and getting more patients (with digital marketing).

My goal with these workshops is to help each clinic owners make an additional $10,000 per month. At the recent workshop, we had so much interaction, interest and questions that we ended up going well over the 2.5 hour planned workshop, finishing up beyond 10 pm!

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with all the awesome clinic owners from a wide variety of niches - pediatric, neuro, sports, rehab - from small clinics through to large multidisciplinary clinics.

This business workshop was sponsored by Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia (PABC). Since the workshop was split into two sections, what I’m about to share today is part one (patient engagement strategies), then coming up soon I’ll share part two (easy digital marketing tactics). 

Today you’ll learn:

  • How to work smarter rather than harder
  • Why 20% of patients drop off after just 3 visits and how to fix it
  • How fixing patient engagement will boost your revenues by 30%
  • 7 practical tips to get started with increasing your patient engagement

Yes, we’ve got a ton of great stuff to cover. So, let’s get down to business...

Working hard to reap the benefits and rewards

Every entrepreneur has their struggles in business, including myself.

I came from a family that had nothing. Growing up, my parents were entrepreneurial and extremely hard working. They owned a Chinese restaurant and I learned the value of hard work from them.

But, they weren’t really smart business people. They worked their butts off, did everything themselves and though they made great money in the beginning, toward the end they ran out of energy and the business kept going downhill to competitors and to the changing marketing conditions.

Eventually, they ended up being so frustrated that they sold the business for next to nothing and were left with no financial security to keep them going in retirement. Not to mention, they ended up with a whole range of health conditions, shearly from working so hard.

Like I said, they weren’t really smart business people. Working hard is one thing, but being smart in business is more important.

Although I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur myself, I swore I’d be smarter about it. I didn’t want to end up in that situation and I was sure there was a way I wouldn’t.

It turns out there is... systems and teams!

From building a network of over 100 clinics, to being the CEO of Clinic Supplies Canada and the founder of CallHero, along with being an active blog contributor, and a speaker at national conferences - I’m proud to say I did breakthrough to become a smart healthcare entrepreneur.

Most importantly, serving clinic owners is my passion and I want to share what I’ve learned to help YOU succeed!


Discover 19 Killer Secrets to Getting an Endless Flow of
Doctor Referrals To Your Physiotherapy Clinic 




Your major goal as a clinic owner

Before we move into some practical tips on getting more patients, I want you to realize your major goal: You need to look at your clinic like renovating your house.

Adding that kitchen or that basement suite that generates income, will increase the value of your house when you sell it later. It’s the same principle for your clinic.

You must continue to invest in your business with systems and upgrades so you can sell your business in 10 years for the price it’s worth - for the amount of hours, effort and energy you’ve put into it.

You want to sell it so you can retire comfortably and continue to live a life you enjoy. One where you can even enjoy regular trips to the Greek islands, the Bahamas, or any location of your choice.

Being a successful entrepreneur all begins with your mindset.

Get yourself in an industrial mindset ready to continually build your empire - the smart way…

Everybody wants MORE new patients

At the workshop I asked everybody who wants MORE new patients. Of course, 90% of the participants raised their hands and the answer was an overwhelming YES. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want more new patients.

Yet, when I showed the attending clinic owners the statistic that 20% of patients drop off after just 3 visits, they looked (and listened) with surprise.

Yes, the reality is that your patients are more loyal to their hairdresser than they are to you and that is a BIG problem, big!

Chances are you already have enough patients but their engagement is poor and the patient is discharging before they graduate from their treatment plan.

Here’s the thing: If you get your patient engagement right, you can increase your revenue by 30%.

Yep, a whopping 30%!

So if your clinic is doing $500K in revenues, that's an extra $150K. If you are doing $1M, that's an extra $300K.

Thankfully, increasing your patient engagement is not as difficult as you think.

My good friend Jerry Durham, who owns 3 clinics in the USA and is a big clinic owner influencer with over 10,000 twitter followers taught me alot about patient engagement.    

Patient engagement = patient experience

Jerry Durham, Owner San Francisco Sport & Spine


Most clinic owners think that money is the patient’s biggest obstacle, but this is not the case. Patients want (and need) your help to guide the way and show them you’re the best choice - constantly. There’s a lot of noise in the marketplace - a lot. It’s very easy for patients to get distracted and follow the next shiny object in their immediate vision or scope. Imagine the patient needing help with their back pain - they’re in pain and they want a fast solution. They see the latest clinic, back support or gizmo promising to fix their back pain, so they jump on board - even if it means discharging from your treatment before it’s complete.

You need to focus on engaging the patient and holding their attention through the entire patient experience.

Here are a few tips to boost your patient experience

#1: Start measuring your leaky patient experience funnel

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. ~ Peter Drucker.

Most clinics have no idea what the patient experience funnel is, let alone being able to measure and manage it.

Quite simply, it’s the lifecycle of a patient from the time the patient finds you online, to you answer phones, do an assessment, providing treatment, graduating from their treatment plan, giving you a google review or referral - rinse and repeat.  Notice this whole cycle starts all over again?

You need to measure each stage of the patient experience funnel so you know what is leaking and needs to be fixed.  

Patient Funnel.png


#2: Create a culture of accountability

Company culture is everything. And as the clinic owner, you need to create a culture that focuses on the patients as people. One that really cares about them.  One that wants patients to graduate from their treatment plans and NOT have patients self discharge and give you a bad online review. 

Think about WHO first; then what.

This philosophy goes for thinking of the patient as a person first. But even more important, as a clinic owner, this starts with hiring the right team.

When you build the right culture from the bottom up, you embed the right attitudes and beliefs into the company - a culture that always has the patient experience at the front of mind.

As a clinic owner, culture starts with you so learn how to be a strong and positive leader, communicate effectively and constantly build your relationship skills.

#3: Train your clinicians how to do the perfect assessment

Don’t just leave the whole assessment process to chance. You need to think about the patient experience from start to finish and design the entire assessment process; then train your staff on delivering a kickass assessment through role play.

Here’s a few key tips for designing a kickass assessment:

  • Focus more time on “connecting"
  • Give patients instant pain relief (like a chiropractor)
  • Every patient MUST get a treatment plan
  • Patient MUST sign off on treatment plan
  • Walk patients to the front and tell them to pre-book for the entire plan of care

#4: Call patients the next day after assessment

Your patient process must include a call back to patients the very next day after their assessment - for both new and existing patients. Not a call from the front desk but from the clinicians directly to their patients.

You want to stand out and show you really care. This itself creates an incredible patient experience.

Ask yourself: Is your patient experience good enough to pay cash for the therapy (no insurance)?

Doing callbacks will set you apart from the crowd.

#5: Call your patients BEFORE the assessment

You can take this level of engagement one step further and have the clinicians call the patients before the assessment.

Think of it from the patient's point of view (especially new patients). Imagine getting that call and first being able to connect with your clinician. They would have less fear and already feel welcomed and comfortable coming into the clinic.

Or if you’re an existing patient, having your clinician follow up to see if you’re feeling okay - what a nice surprise. Someone actually cares! A little extra attention goes a long way to providing a positive patient experience.


#6: Call patients who self discharge

Don’t just let patients fall off the radar never to be seen again. Follow up!  Check out this article I recently wrote

Why Do Patients Self Discharge From Treatment and What To Do About It?

But again, not the front desk, the clinicians. Have the clinicians call back their patients and follow up on why they have self discharged. Ask them: “Are you now 100%?”

Most likely the answer is no, and by simply calling them back, you’ll be surprised that many of them will rebook.

#7: Create a new patient VIP welcome line

First impressions are critical, and we only get a few seconds before a patient decides on their commitment level.

New patients should always be a priority. So at the front desk, create an area with clear signage for “new patient VIP line” - a place at the counter where they can line up and get paid attention to, fast.

You can even go so far as to giving them a new patient welcome bag - a bag that contains common exercise program, fridge magnet, a heat pack or some pain relief gel - something that makes them feel welcomed and valuable. The point is, go out of your way to impress new patients.

And of course, don’t get slack with existing patients either or you’ll lose them.

Remember, all this stuff can be systemized!

And it’s all about getting started with the right mindset. Look at your clinic like renovating your house. All of these things you do are adding value to your clinic, they all increase the value of your clinic, both now, and if you want to sell your clinic later down the track.


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Related Articles 

Don’t risk getting a patient lawsuit: Tips to protect your clinic

Why Do Patients Self Discharge From Treatment and What To Do About It?

How to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Boost Your Referrals

Boost Your Patient Engagement With This Metric

Patient Engagement: The 8 Steps to a Kickass Assessment


Topics: Patient Engagement

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