December 22, 2021 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

How Has the 2021 Healthcare Consumer Changed Physical Therapy Marketing?

Today’s healthcare consumers have drastically changed the physical therapy marketing landscape. Gone are the therapy patients who would prefer paper pamphlets or clinics solely relying on a doctor’s referrals — 2021 was the year of digital, and healthcare consumers took to the internet to find a doctor and attend telehealth physical therapy on their own terms.

So, it’s no wonder why the phrase ‘physical therapy marketing’ can send chills down a rehab clinician’s spine. With consumer trends favoring digital channels, it can be difficult to maintain the proper marketing efforts. Here’s a year-in-review of the four factors that have contributed to physical therapy consumer behavior, and what that means for your physical therapy marketing tactics.

1. Continued Adoption of Telehealth

The popularity of telehealth physical therapy has only continued to climb since the start of the pandemic. Findings of a 2021 Deloitte study on the impacts of COVID-19 on changing healthcare consumer preferences revealed that 44% of patients used telemedicine during lockdown, and 58% would increase telehealth physical therapy usage post-lockdown.¹

Of the patients who would prefer to continue with telehealth physical therapy, 77% cited saving time as a key reason for their preference.¹ Another 70% claimed they would prefer to continue pre-existing relationships with physicians by replacing in-person consultations with telemedicine.¹

When putting together your physical therapy marketing plan, try advertising your telehealth solutions as a time-saving alternative to outpatient physical therapy.

2. Ever-Present Pandemic Concerns

As new variants of the coronavirus continue to circle the globe, it’s to be expected that not every patient will feel secure returning to in-office settings. Some of the same reservations apply to clinics and hospital outpatient therapy settings as well. More than 90% of patients have expressed fear of visiting hospitals, and 50% are concerned about health management post-lockdown.¹

Though we’d all like to leave the fear of the pandemic behind us, these ever-present concerns should be subtly woven throughout your physical therapy marketing. Refer to how your rehab therapy practice adheres to safety precautions and COVID-19 protocols in your marketing materials, such as monthly newsletters or social media posts.

3. Rise of Digital Interaction

It’s not just Millennials who prefer to research and connect with rehab therapy providers online — even Baby Boomers have gotten in the habit of turning to digital channels for healthcare purposes. Today, 95% of patients consider online reviews to be an important factor in their decision-making process, with 40% of them refusing to visit physical therapy providers with poor reviews.²

With digital interaction on the rise, it goes without saying that online reputation management should be a key component of any physical therapy marketing plan. More than 90% of patients expect a response to their review within a week, so clinicians must make it a point to monitor online reviews across Google, Yelp, ZocDoc, and other sites where the business is listed.²

4. Preference for Human Connection

Though digital channels have certainly shined over the past two years, the 2021 healthcare consumer did increase the demand for connection following the previous years’ lockdowns. Of Deloitte respondents who were unwilling to pivot to physical therapy telehealth post-lockdown, 50% believed that consultations without in-person examinations would be ineffective.¹

While we know there’s no truth to that theory, it’s important to recognize that not every consumer will be a digital consumer and there’s still some hesitancy toward telehealth. Some individuals will still prefer to see their physical therapist in person, and chances are, they’d prefer some one-on-one attention as well. Emphasize friendly staff and relationship-building in your physical therapy marketing to appeal to this demographic.

Physical Therapy Marketing for Today’s Consumer

The times are changing and today’s healthcare consumer is changing, too. Now more than ever, physical therapists must look beyond healthcare analytics and electronic medical records to follow the evolution of today’s consumers. Fortunately, Net Health can help.

Our expert teams are here to help physical therapy organizations grow their practices with Patient Engagement Management solutions, so you can keep your focus where it counts the most — on your patients. Schedule a demo to learn more today.

6 Patient Engagement Strategies for Rehab Therapy Clinics

Actionable tactics your team can implement right away to stimulate patient engagement.


¹ Deloitte, “Changing Consumer Preferences Towards Health Care Services: The Impact of COVID-19,” Dec. 17, 2021.

² RepuGen, “RepuGen Patient Review Survey 2021,” Dec. 17, 2021.

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