Five Best Practices For Community Outreach for Physical Therapy Clinics

July 26, 2013
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In our recent study, we found that 96% of physical therapy clinics offer additional services beyond physical therapy. The most popular were the following:

In our recent study, we found that 96% of physical therapy clinics offer additional services beyond physical therapy. The most popular were the following:

community outreach

One clinic owner we spoke to said that his business didn’t become profitable until he started offering additional services. While this is definitely not true for everyone, we’ve seen a promising trend with physical therapists talking about how they can help manage the whole health of the individual, and this includes offering additional services. When we saw a post on Twitter advertising a minimalist running clinic at Sitka Physio & Wellness in Vancouver, BC, we thought we’d check it out, both for our own education — we’re all runners at Wellpepper and love learning how to improve — and of course for the blog.

Physical therapy clincs

Sitka Physio & Wellness Reception

Sitka Physio & Wellness is located in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which isn’t a typical location for a rehab center, but makes perfect sense for a wellness clinic, where hotel patrons and local business people might stop in. The clinic itself is beautiful: clean and airy, it definitely connotes health and wellness. We were positively greeted as soon as we came in. We’ve visited our fair share of clinics since starting Wellpepper, and this is definitely one you’d want to visit even if you weren’t injured.

The seminar itself, by physical therapist Elizabeth McLatchie, focused on basic education minimalist running. It was so full of great information that we’ve covered the content in a separate blog post. Many of the attendees were already familiar with Sitka Physio & Wellness from their weekly running club that Elizabeth mentioned. (Interestingly, and reflecting the demographics of runners, the audience was predominantly female.)

Selection of minimalist shoes

Selection of minimalist shoes

I talked to both Elizabeth and clinic owner Helen Ries after the session and learned that they offer these type of community outreach classes monthly. Elizabeth said that the physios all volunteer to do the sessions and she had to wait 8 months to get on the calendar because their were so many other sessions booked. She said she loves sharing her knowledge and would definitely volunteer to do more sessions. Upcoming sessions include Pilates for pelvic floor control and golf swing analysis.

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Some of the best practices we noted in the session:

  1. Elizabeth did a great job of providing examples and breaking down more complex concepts into something we could understand.
  2. The session was focused on preventing injuries, which changes the conversation that someone might have with their physical therapist, and enables the clinic to emphasize their wellness services.
  3. She engaged with the broader running community. The clinic featured shoes from local businesses that focus on the running community. This provides a potential symbiotic relationship: if a runner is looking for new shoes because of an injury or issue the store could refer this person back to Sitka, and of course, Sitka referred to these stores, as experts in shoe fitting.
  4. The session targeted an audience that needed to engage with physical therapy. Over 80% of serious runners will face injury at some point. Why not establish a relationship with them before they “need” you?
  5. Suggestions of how to further engage with your physical therapist, for example, for a gait analysis were presented within the context of the overall session. Elizabeth also recommended that if people were interested in what type of shoes might work for their running style that they consult their physical therapist. Both of these services furthered the idea that physical therapists are there to help you stay well, not just for episodic treatment.

Offering sessions like this are a great way to market your clinic and services: first you get people into the clinic, second you help educate them on the importance of proper movement, and third you can educate them on other services you might be able to offer them. We’d love to see more clinics offering these types of services, and you can bet that we’ll be back for more sessions at Sitka Physio and Wellness. Jacquie needs to fix her golf swing.