The Get Physical Therapy Customers series is designed for outpatient therapy business owners and leaders. Over the next several weeks, we will explore strategies focused on your clinic’s most prized asset – its customers.
An Elusive Term
Value is a funny word. How often have you heard phrases like:
“We need to show our customers value.”
“Physical therapy brings value to the healthcare system.”
“Value is our number one selling proposition.”
What does value really mean? Most of the time, our use of the word isn’t inaccurate – we certainly do need to show customers value, physical therapists are most definitely a high-value piece of the healthcare puzzle, and value may or may not be your unique selling proposition.
But does value mean we are good at what we do? That our services are cheaper than surgery? That we go above and beyond with our customer service?
Yeah, kind of. But mostly, no.
Value is often misunderstood as a concept, loosely defined and broadly applicable. Used in this way, the concept becomes a misused and slightly reckless version of itself, dangerous to those who truly desire to compete successfully using value as the litmus.
Value is defined, rather specifically, as costs divided by benefits. The math is simple but the iterations are infinite. Value can be calculated by a customer in milliseconds, and it can also be the subject of weeks- or months-long deliberation. Customers do this by weighing the costs against the benefits of any consumer decision.
As business owners, we will be wise to use this calculation before our customers do, so that we can eek out every bit of value that may be on the table for our clientele.
Let’s dissect the equation a bit.
What are the costs associated with the care we deliver? Co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles? Sure, but that’s the equivalent of a letter grade “C” answer – the one you should hope your competitor uses.
What about the amount of time it takes out of your patients’ day to come to see you? The mental anguish of dealing with insurance EOBs? The frustration of dealing with traffic on the way to your clinic? These intangibles are all costs of care that enter the value equation and must be considered.
Now to the benefits. What are the benefits we offer our clients through physical therapy?
Functional outcome? Yeah, sure – but also the “C” grade answer. Functional outcomes are critical but guess what? Patients assume they will get better when they see us. And they also assume they will get better when they see your competitor. The benefits of your care can and should span far beyond the outcomes achieved.
How about the feeling they get when greeted by your friendly staff? The flexibility you provide with your financial policy? The convenient parking that is designated specifically for patients? These are all benefits that enter the value equation.
Assessing Your Value Equation
One exercise I recommend for private practice owners is to gather your staff together in front of a whiteboard and draw a horizontal line, splitting the board into an upper and lower half.
Ask your team to make a list of the costs of your care, and place this in the top half. Then repeat the exercise by listing the benefits you offer in the lower half. A good list may include dozens of costs and benefits, which all drive value for your customers.
Next, narrow each list to the top three drivers of costs and benefit, and draft 3-4 strategies you can employ which will maximize value for your customers by reducing their costs and increasing their benefits. You’ll be surprised at how engaging and insightful this exercise will be, finding myriad possibilities for exposing your clients to new sources of value, including hidden ones you may not have thought of previously.
Armed with this knowledge, hopefully, you have a better understanding of the meaning of value and will achieve a letter grade of “A+” when it comes to defining value for your practice and beating the competition.