This article is part of the blog series:
Why is it worth investing in self-pay in physiotherapy right now?
Increase Physiotherapy Sales
Part 1 of 3: Is it even worth the investment in the current times?
How can I make digitalization and innovative concepts work for me? How can I increase my physical therapy sales and build a lucrative self-pay business despite staff shortages?
The short answer is: Yes, it’s worth it.
The long answer follows immediately. There have certainly been some positive developments in physiotherapy in recent years and months. Progress on issues such as digitalization, professional training and the introduction of various reforms is the right direction in this regard. For example, the new prescription of remedies or the Digital Care Act, (DVG): Digitale-Versorgung-Gesetz (Germany). However, they are far from sufficient to fully overcome the broad barriers.
That’s because physiotherapy continues to face growing problems in the primary care market, and has for several years. Apart from the dependence of the medical prescription practice and the legal cash system, this is above all the lack of specialists. Also, financial hurdles and perplexity with the topic of Physiotherapie turnover increase are no small tasks.
Economic practice management is possible in the long term only with an increased remuneration.
The WAT report 2020 (“Economic efficiency analysis of ambulatory therapy practices” – German: “Wirtschaftlichkeitsanalyse ambulanter Therapiepraxen“) provides clear facts. In the long term, it will only be possible to run a profitable practice if there is a significant increase in remuneration for the treatment of patients with statutory health insurance. Depending on the therapeutic products sector, this would have to amount to between 42% and 92%. In addition, the problems surrounding the omnipresent shortage of specialists in the more than 38,000 physiotherapy practices established in Germany in 2020 are also emphasized. As early as 2016, the German Federal Employment Agency included physical therapists in its “Skilled Worker Shortage Analysis” as an occupational group with a significant shortage of skilled workers.
To be profitable and to be able to increase physiotherapy sales, physiotherapists now have to offer additional services in their practices
“Due to the lack of resource employees, the growth opportunities for the business model of “classic” physiotherapy are often severely limited”, Sascha Tetzlaff, educational assistant and lecturer at the German University for Prevention and Health Management (DHfPG), states. This means that due to the lack of staff, many physiotherapy practices cannot afford to generate more revenue and grow purely through prescriptions. They have neither the time, nor the money, nor the manpower to accomplish more in the area of traditional physiotherapy than they already do.
The step into the second health care market is worthwhile
On the other hand, physiotherapists and practice owners are increasingly interested in entering the self-pay sector as entrepreneurs. And this step into the second health market is worthwhile.
The fact is that to be profitable and increase physiotherapy sales, physiotherapists now have to offer additional services in their practices. The integration of a self-payer area ensures that the practice can free itself from the pure dependence of doctors and insurance companies. Thus a larger, both temporal and financial clearance for the therapists can develop. In addition, the expanded range of services offers the possibility of retaining patients as customers in the long term as well as attracting new customers.
The expanded range of services in physiotherapy can not only relieve the therapists of time but also support them in terms of physical strain
Even in our discussions with various physiotherapists, the basic tenor is always the same. The self-payer sector in physiotherapy is worthwhile. With the independence of health insurances, a larger financial clearance goes along. This offers the possibility to plan and act in a more determined way and to increase the physiotherapy turnover. And that sustainably. Also, the factor of time plays a large role. Because without the prescriptions in the back remains more for the individual intensive support of the patients. This benefits not only the patients but also the therapists. And right now, there are unique opportunities.
As a result of the pandemic, digitization has already been deeply integrated into people’s everyday lives. Be it through online consultations or family meetings via video call, for example. This development is also evident in physiotherapy. Digitalization is advancing and the market for digital therapy services is growing rapidly. A wide variety of innovations can provide additional support to balance out the scarce resource of employees. This means that a smartly planned expanded range of physiotherapy services can now not only relieve therapists’ time constraints. Thanks to digitization, they can also be significantly supported in terms of physical stress.
Thanks to digitization: no longer having to repeatedly show each exercise in person and recover from strenuous, physical therapy sessions
This factor, for example, has also been a big component for physiotherapist Heike Schaible from Stuttgart in setting up her second self-pay area last year. With the help of the integration of the digital Pixformance training concept, she also wanted to do her employees a favor. The digital training station effectively supports the therapists in their patient care. This is achieved with the help of the virtual trainer, real-time corrections and training feedback. It also fills any gaps in staffing. This is because therapists no longer have to repeatedly demonstrate each exercise in person. In other words, they can take a break from the strenuous physical therapy sessions. In addition, other patients can be cared for while others continue to train independently on the exercise equipment.
Physiotherapist Axel-André Richter from the Richter & Lopez health practice in Mönchengladbach reported that he also uses the Pixformance station as a backup in case of illness so that the therapy session does not have to be cancelled. The flexibility gained also benefits the day-to-day running of the practice.
Increasing physiotherapy sales: Only a customized solution can lead to the success you are hoping for
However, even though there are many advantages, an investment must be a perfect fit with the daily routine of the practice, the staff and the patients. Therefore, it is essential to set up the self-pay area individually for own practice and the own team to be able to increase the physiotherapy turnover. Only a tailor-made solution can lead to the hoped-for high-turnover success. At this point, it is also important to introduce the (new) offers to the patients accordingly.
The clear communication of the extended offer plays an important role here
Patients must be made aware that there are additional physiotherapy options beyond the prescriptions, for which they must pay themselves. Accordingly, support in marketing and marketing the new offer to the own employees, but also the patients, is essential. Be it through info sheets, flyers, posters or newsletters. Only in such a way the offer can be understood as well as accepted and thus the Physiotherapy conversion increases.
The physiotherapist Heike Schaible has made it easier for her patients to understand and has relied on separate premises for her self-pay areas for this purpose. “The spatial separation now also makes the separation of services more apparent to patients.” In addition, innovative offerings can help here as well. Modern and new physiotherapy offerings make it possible to separate services from traditional prescriptions. Instead of a new massage practice that makes the difference difficult to see, digital offerings in the secondary healthcare market can highlight the new, expanded service. Moreover, these tend to arouse curiosity and attract a wide variety of target groups. In addition, they provide a unique selling point — even compared to other practices.
So one thing is certain: the self-pay sector offers many possibilities
Not only to increase physiotherapy sales. In addition to the independence of health insurance benefits, customer acquisition and customer loyalty, a digital offer can also provide significant relief for therapists right now. And thus for a more pleasant, more varied and stress-free working day. The acceptance of digital offerings on the part of employees, patients, but also practices, as well as the state of the art and the unique opportunities associated with it, are more lucrative than ever before. Studies also show: Acceptance of digital helpers is increasing. Concerns, on the other hand, are dwindling. Resulting from this: Curiosity and demand for digital offerings are also on the rise. Both the older and younger generations are more open to digital products than ever before. For physiotherapy, this is a great opportunity to use this now for itself and to enter the self-pay sector, and to be able to increase physiotherapy sales.