This is the most common question I get from patients, and often the way they will start the conversation this way when they call.
This is not their primary concern, but often one of their first questions. Patients often aren’t sure what else to ask.
Think about it for a second, how many times have you tried to find a physical therapy clinic for a friend or family member in another town. How did you choose? Did you look for signs that they provide a similar service to what you think is best? Do you think your friend or family member would know what to look for or which questions to ask to find the best fit?
It’s important to help guide the conversation, to ask engaging questions and show we care primarily about them as a person. We also want to give the patient a few opportunities to say “yes” and to give us permission to explain what we do and how we can help. This is how we will show value up front so when we come to the part of the conversation about insurance or payment, it is secondary to their understanding of our ability to care and nurture them back to health.
One key point here is that when selling a product or service, if someone has already answered “yes” in the conversation about their desires and needs, the are much more likely to say “yes” to your offer in the end.
It’s also important to reassure them that they have called the right place and that we treat this condition every day when you are sure that the patient is a good fit for your practice.
Consider this initial conversation with a patient:
“Hello, this is LeBauer Physical Therapy.”
Patient: “Hello. Do You Take My Insurance?”
Pause. Before you answer, what would happen if you just said “no”?
Would they hang up?
First, let’s get this conversation started off on the right foot. Introduce yourself and begin to engage a conversation.
“This is Dr. LeBauer speaking.”
“Whom am I speaking with?”
Try these engaging questions:
“Hi Mary, how did you hear about our practice?”
“What’s going on that you are looking for physical therapy?”
“Where does it hurt?”
“How long have you experienced this problem? What have you tried in the past to decrease the pain?”
“What are you unable to do because of this problem? Or, what are you unable to do as well as you would like because of this problem?”
What is motivating them to act?
We are trying to figure out what their motivation is for calling us now vs. 3 months ago.
Sometimes they need some prodding.
“Has something changed recently that you’ve now decided you need to look for a different solution or alternative?”
**Important** Reassure them that they’ve called the right place and let them know that you can help.
“We can definitely help you with that and we help people with this type of problem all the time.”
We want to know what they are expecting. This helps frame how we describe what we are providing so they can better understand how we are different than their other options.
“What is your understanding of what physical therapy can do for you?”
“What is your understanding of how physical therapy can help?”
Let them explain… sometimes it’s just “I think I’ll learn a few exercises” to “I expect a home exercise program and to receive xxxxx specialized treatment (Myofascial Release, Dry Needling, etc)”
Ask for Permission
“Is it OK with you if I describe a bit about what we do here at LeBauer Physical Therapy?”
The person will most likely answer “yes”.
Then take a few moments to describe what the patient will experience in your practice when they come in for an evaluation.
“Does this sound like what you are looking for?”
Usually the patient will also answer “yes.”
The Money question
“If we could solve this problem in the next few weeks, what value would that bring to your life?”
Reassure them: “This is something we see all the time in our clinic and I’m quite sure we can help you make some significant changes in what you are able to do.”
“Do you have any questions for me at this time?
“Would you like to go ahead and set up an appointment for an evaluation?”
Set them up with an appointment. Go over instructions for their initial visit.
Then explain what will occur during their initial evaluation, how often we typically see patients for this condition and then let them know what their financial responsibility will be at each visit.
Once you frame what they are investing in, tell them that almost all of our patients have insurance and that your clinic is out of network. Explain what it will cost for the initial evaluation and that we accept all forms of payment; cash, checks, credit cards, HSA/FSA cards and that we will provide them with a receipt with all the information they need to file a claim with their insurance company.
Your Goal is NOT to Schedule
The Goal is to Connect with the patient, show them the value you can provide to their life and that your primary motivation is to help them get better. When you do that scheduling will be the next logical step.
Quite often, the insurance issue will be an afterthought for them, and you will receive an email message like this:
“Dr. LeBauer, I must say that I was greatly impressed by your personal attention. It was so refreshing! I get so frustrated with the usual run around of talking to everyone in an office EXCEPT the actual practitioner! Thank you again!”
This feedback is from a patient who wanted to schedule an appointment as soon as she received her next disability check. She was happy to pay the full price I quoted her because she saw the value in the unique, personal care our physical therapy practice was going to provide her.
For some people, insurance, and not necessarily the price, will make or break their decision to schedule with you, and that’s fine. Many times if they choose to go elsewhere they’ll call back and tell you they should have come to see you originally.
I’ve refined my process of scheduling new patients by working with Paul Gough over the last 8 months, learning his “New Patient Accelerator Method,” and
I have had a huge increase in people who call my practice and convert to new patients. Just this one change has made a big impact on the numbers of patients I see each week.