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What is a Reactivation Strategy?

Reactivation strategies are systems to help a physical therapy clinic stay in touch with discharged patients. 

Depending on your patient demographic, discharged patients will likely need your services again in the future.

Developing a reactivation strategy can be as easy as sending out a monthly newsletter, or scheduling time to make monthly check-in calls with some of your favorite past patients. 

3 BEST Reactivation Strategies for Physical Therapy Clinics

Physical Therapy Reactivation Strategy #1

Check-in Telephone Calls

Can you imagine your surprise if you had a doctor call you 4 or 6 weeks after discharge to see how you are doing?

Depending on your physical therapy patient demographic, there are some conditions that often rear their ugly heads 4 to 6 weeks after discharge.

It wouldn’t surprise any of you that a patient will usually stop doing a prescribed home exercise program once the original symptoms have resolved. So if you have a patient that you enjoyed working with and who knows, likes, and trusts you and your team, it is a great reactivation strategy to call that patient 4 to 6 weeks after discharge to see how he is doing.

While this isn’t a sales call, you may decide that it is worth letting the patient know that it is common to experience a return of symptoms around this time and if he wants to return to the clinic for an update to his program and a couple of visits to get back to feeling his best you can get him on the schedule for tomorrow.

Physical Therapy Reactivation Strategy #2

Check-in Letters

I know many therapists, especially staff therapists, hate to feel like salespeople. They hate trying to sell appointments on the phone. So a great backdoor option is to send check-in letters to past patients.

Step 1 – Identify the best physical therapy patients for reactivation.

Not every patient is created equal. There are some patients who are not appropriate for reactivation. So the first thing I recommend is to create a list of all discharged patients in the past 12 months. 

Color code these patients with a green, yellow, and red system.

Green indicates a patient who you want back in the clinic.
Yello indicates a patient that you would accept back, but not be at the top of your list.
Red… well, that is self-explanatory.

Step 2 – Create a simple form letter saying something like:

“Hi [Patient Name,]

I was reviewing some old accounts and your name came up. It got me thinking about how well you were doing at discharge so I just wanted to drop a short note in the mail to say “Hi” and I would love for you to call our office if you have a moment and let me know how you are doing.”

Best wishes,

Tony Maritato, PT

Step 3 – Be ready to answer those calls.

A large percentage of these patients will call because these are the patients you hand-picked and were likely the patients who enjoyed therapy the most.

Many patients feel reluctant to return for therapy because they feel embarrassed that they stopped doing their home program. This call is your opportunity to extend an olive branch and let them know that it is totally normal for their symptoms to return and that getting back into therapy now rather than waiting another year will help improve the condition faster.


Physical Therapy Reactivation Strategy #3

Leverage the Power of Refunds

I teach a Medicare billing course and in it, I always say, “Patients would rather get a $32 refund than a $320 invoice.”

If you operate an efficient billing and over-the-counter collections system you should nearly never be sending invoices.

Sending a refund, no matter how small, is a great excuse to call past patients with a bit of great news.

“Hi Mary, this is Tony from physical therapy. I have some great news!!! The insurance actually paid more than expected. I have a $32 check here waiting for you. 

How have you been feeling?

You know, this is usually the time our patients start getting symptoms again. If you want, you can just swing by for a quick session to update your program and knockout those twinges and while you are here I can give you this check. 

Or, if you like I can just put the check in the mail and you can schedule if the symptoms get worse.”

Getting comfortable with these conversations is important. If your clinicians aren’t willing to do it, you should find an administrative person who enjoys engaging and chatting with past patients.

If you want to hear a different perspective on reactivation strategies listen to Practice Freedom U’s video: Reactivating Past Patients – What Most Practice Owners Miss