Are you listening to understand or listening to answer?

Maitland was correct….everything is in listening.  He told us, “the patient will tell us what is wrong with them if we ask the right questions AND listen.  Unfortunately, we are usually too busy “telling” and talking over the listening part.

I just overhead 2 PTs trying (politely) to get a young, educated patient to give his pain measurement on a 0-10 scale AFTER the patient stated, “I look at my pain as Manageable OR Unmanageable, can’t we just use that?”…..

Listening is harder than talking……if not, why don’t we do more of it?  

SETH GODIN….The listener has nearly as big a responsibility as the speaker does, though. And yet, Google reports 4x as many matches for “how to speak” as “how to listen.” It’s not a passive act, not if you want to do it right.  If listening better leads to better speaking, then it becomes a competitive advantage.


Its Time

When I started this site and Blog the interest in conversations was high.  I found that only so much could be written and said until there was actual doing…. Mostly by me!

As I have continued to research and read more I have kicked up the Doing part with some good results!

Its time to start sharing these things again that I believe will move not only Physical Therapy Forward BUT Healthcare too!

I will begin to define more terms and set more context about how Conversations are The Cure For Healthcare

Conversations Are King (No Fear)

This Blog is typically about conversations…..conversations that ultimately lead to good things.  This is what occurred last week in the Big Easy, (or Big Hurt as I have renamed it) New Orleans during PPS 2013 Annual Conference.

 The Southern Hospitality and manners immediately rubbed off on the attendees.  The “Meet and Greets”, the bars, the clubs, the presentations, etc.   ALL these places had people talking to each other.  No one afraid to reach out a hand, introduce themselves and start a conversation.

The conversations at PPS followed a theme, “These people believe that THEY are the change!”  They believe that the power to make change is in their hands.  They knew that the conversations were not about agreeing with each other, they were about talking with others who believed, who knew they were the change.  There was no complaining about others, the phrases like “I have no control’, or the ‘only if……’ statements were not heard.  PPS attendees were not afraid to share or fearful of their ideas.  They had the conversations to inspire others.

 The following is a list ( I have forgotten some….) of the people I want to step off the cliff with………Those with No Fear!

Michael Eisenhart @mikeeisenhart      There were only two options with Mike, start with him or save to last.  This man is the most out of box thinking PT I have ever met!  We rarely talked about “PT”, we talked about entrepreneurs.  We talked about the entrepreneur mindset and what that means….. ( I’ve already emailed him twice while home less than 24hrs).  He wrote a great piece about a room full of people in NOLA

Jamey Schrier @jameyschrier    A PT who sees the Value in sharing what he has learned to help others.  Not afraid to talk about where he’s come from.

Ann Wendel @pranapt      A first time attendee who showed up with a checklist of people she wanted to meet.  She made sure she met them all plus more!  She loved to debrief at the end of the day and talk about her new connections and what she learned.  I then learned from that.

Sturdy Mckee @sturdy     Yes my biz partner.  I saw this self proclaimed (partial) introvert have deep, objective conversations with leaders on the national level.  He got them to truly consider and question the rhetoric and statements and non statements that occurred with CA this year and its Direct Access Bill.  These were not comfortable conversations, yet they were not personal or based in subjective matters.  It was impressive!

Jason Richardson @TNbackpain       Jason is the person responsible for putting together the room of people in Mike Eisenhart’s piece linked above…..that right there speaks volumes!  I will just add that Jason is always one of the first phone calls I make when I need input.  Y’ALL MUST MEET THIS MAN.

Quinn Worden @PTsareHeros      Look at the guy’s twitter handle!…he’s not a PT!  I have never met a better connector of people than Quinn.  Every time (not exaggerating) I see Quinn he introduces me to someone who will make a change.  Again in NOLA he did not disappoint.  Within 1 minute of seeing him on Wednesday he introduced me to Daryl.  Then when I woke up this AM, my first day back, Quinn had emailed us to make sure we had contact info.  All I can say is watch out world when Boston meets SF!  Quinn always brings the change!

Rynn and Scott @TeamTheraVid     Two guys who epitomize the entrepreneur spirit we need in the profession.  Not afraid to talk to everyone.  Ask lots of questions.  Process information.  Get their information from every source possible.  Meet these guys and you will see the future.

Jeff Hathaway @proactivept     No one is currently doing more to directly show our value to the insurance companies AND getting us paid for it!  Dont ask me, ask him!  You are gonna wanna know this guy sooner than later….and yes, thank me in advance.

Larry Benz @physicaltherapy      Try this next time you see or talk with Larry; lead with, “so what are you doing these days?”, then sit back and be ready to listen!  You wanna talk about making the future.  Believe we need more empathy in the profession?  He gathered all the research and made a course!  Believe PT education isn’t structured properly?!?!…I will let you follow up with him on that.  I highly recommend regular conversations with Larry.  I recommend breakfast with chicken and waffles.

The #pelvicmafia      Far too many to reference here, just search the hashtag on twitter and follow and engage every one of them!  This group is blazing their own trail and they will do it their way and succeed!  They don’t care how its been done in the past, they will do it in the way that it will get done.  And a side note, when the party is still going until 5AM…look around and see who’s still there………..

“In The End The Question Can Only Be Answered By Action”

All the above are about Action!

Conversations: How to connect with your potential new patients

The right words delivered by the right people. It’s the difference between a lasting connection and a bad impression, a life-long customer and a one-time sale, or no sale at all.

Read the opening statement again and think, “In my office, which employees have these conversations every day?  In most clinics, the answer is “Your front office staff.”  They are the people in the office having conversations everyday.  They are your point of first contact for your potential new patients.  Are you sure they know the words and conversations they need to have to make that customer an actual scheduled new patient?  If you want the opportunity to deliver on the outcomes you know you can produce, then that patient has to be scheduled first.

I was recently speaking to a Physical Therapist who manages an outpatient clinic in North Carolina.  We were talking about the need to have the front office dialed in on the value that the practice brings to the patients.  He followed back up with me a week later to share an experience.  A potential new patient had walked in to inquire about Physical Therapy.  The PT by coincidence happened to catch this potential patient (who had not scheduled) as she was heading out.  He engaged her in a conversation, he shared the fact that his clinic sees patients one on one with no double booking.  The women went back to the front desk and scheduled appointments.

Why was the new patient headed out the door?  The PT took full responsibility on our call and stated that his front office was not aware of the clinic’s Value Proposition.  The front office did not know what conversation needed to happen with potential new patients; therefore they did not give the potential new patient any reason to schedule her appointment in this office.  My follow up question to him,  “How many times a day does this happen?..on the phone?… or when you’re not catching them at the front door?”  How many times can your practice afford to have that happen?

To ensure that this conversation occurs successfully, First, you need to have your front office fully prepared to share your Value Proposition. Not quite sure what I’m talking about?  It’s all right here →  Next, you have to check and recheck that the conversation is happening.  For example, sit at the front desk for an hour or two and listen to the conversations.  Take my word, you will know exactly what’s going on just by listening to one side.  You say you don’t have the time to sit at the front desk?  Well how many patients are you willing to lose on the phone?  Make the time.

Let me know your thoughts, comments and ideas.



You Can Improve What You Measure……You are Measuring it Aren’t You?

If you wanted to grow your practice by 5 -10 more new patients a month how would you go about it?  Would you spend more money on marketing ideas?  Spend more time on marketing?  How would you measure the success?  Would you just measure it by new patients?

What if I told that you do not have to spend another penny to get those 5-10 new patients.  Those potential new patients have already called your office!   How do I know? The same way you should know, by tracking incoming calls!

When you spend more of your time and energy (not money) on lead conversion, your practice will grow.

When you track (measure) the calls coming into your office, then you have all the information you need to convert these phone calls into new patients.  The place to gather this information is on what I call the New Patient Call Log.  The New Patient Call Log is a place to gather data and start measuring multiples points that will help you add more new patients without spending a dime!   This Call Log can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or better yet, a Google Doc.  A Google Doc can be shared and viewed from multiple locations.

The information gathered on the Call Log is only slightly different than a regular patient intake form.  There are only two things to really keep in mind when setting up your Call Log.

1) Make it flow like a phone conversation so that the data points are easy to enter for the person taking the call.  For example, Patient name, phone number then DOB, etc.

2)  (KEY) you must ask two VERY important questions and the answers must get documented.  First, question is “who is the provider you saw?  Second, (AND MOST IMPORTANT) “who can we thank for recommending you to us?”   That second question alone will both drive and measure the success of your Marketing Program!……..By asking this one question you will know if it is a provider, a past patient, or current patient.  Or maybe it was the result of a High School Screening Program you did.  The point is you will have one column on the Call Log to gather all that data.   You will also learn what has been paying off for you on the Lead Generation/Marketing side.   You will be able to see if the callers are finding you because of your website, through certain providers, by the front desk at the provider’s office or through a community project.  All of this information will tell you where to spend your time and money.

So now you have multiple data points to measure the success of your lead generation.  You can track monthly calls.  That should be a steady or growing number.  You can track HOW people found you.  You can aggregate that monthly, quarterly, yearly to track your top sources of referrals.  You can then use as a measure of effectiveness of your lead generation program.  You can also use that column to reach out to providers and people as further marketing.

So get started measuring it, so that you can improve it!

Feel free to reach out to me below in the comments section or email me to follow up or for further clarifying questions.


Stay tuned for the next post when we discuss how to properly handle these phone calls.


Define some terms, Set some context

In order to truly have a two way conversation, there has to be a mutual understanding of words and phrases.  This post will focus on defining words and setting context for our Conversion conversations.

Lead Generation = the process of creating sales leads which might convert into a sale for the company.

In the context of your physical therapy practice,  your Marketing Plan plays the role of making people (sales  leads) aware of you and what you offer.  These leads may come from various sources or activities.  For example, these may be via the Internet, through calls, through advertisement, list purchase, direct marketing, through networking, direct mail, community involvement, word of mouth discussions, etc.  (We will delve into the Mindset of the Marketing Plan in the future.)

So with that said, a sales lead is a person that has the interest and authority to purchase your service (Physical Therapy).  A sales lead is the person calling your office with questions who has the ultimate goal of “Scheduling a Physical Therapy appointment”.

Now what happens at the time of the phone call, does this person schedule and show for their evaluation?  What happens or doesn’t happen on the phone call is now measured as Lead Conversion.

Lead Conversion = Person who made phone call to your office is scheduled and seen for a PT evaluation.

Lead Conversion is calculated as the number of new patients scheduled AND seen divided by total inquiry calls to your office.  For example, 100 phone calls come in to your office and 80 of the calls were scheduled and seen = 80% Conversion rate.

The last phrase we need to define for our discussion on Conversion is Schedule Ready Referral.  This phrase was first used by Jim Plymale, CEO of Clinicient.  We have had many conversations on the value of measuring Lead Conversion.

A Schedule Ready Referral is a sales lead who calls your office having already been sold on your Value.  This person will schedule with little to no discussion.  The number of calls who are a schedule ready referrals will be directly proportional to the work you do both with your internal and external marketing.

Now that we have defined Lead Generation, Lead Conversion and Schedule Ready Referral, we can begin to discuss ways to turn potential patients into scheduled patients.  We can then take it one step further and discuss how to make sure the scheduled patients consistently attend their appointments.


We all clear now?   EXCELLENT…… Feel free to post a question in the comment section, I will respond.



My name is Jerry Durham and I love the Conversion side of business!

There are many metrics that you probably track to measure the short and long term success of your practice. Though, one metric is the key to unlocking all of the rest, and that metric is New Patients Seen.   The new patient metric is the single most important measurement for your practice.  New patients drive your revenue and ultimately your profit!

How deep are you digging into this number though? What more can these New Patients tell me?

If you dig a little deeper and ask more questions of the data….and then ask yet more questions, then you will have the data to make your company MORE successful and MORE efficient.  Can you currently answer all the questions below?….you should be able to.  The data is already at your fingertips.

How are your New Patients finding you?…..really.

How many people called your office trying to schedule an evaluation? (Hint: more than you think)

How are the people who call your office but dont schedule finding you?

Why are people not scheduling with you when they call you?

What Providers are sending you patients?

Is your Marketing generating revenue?

 All these questions can be answered in one place at one time.

This all comes down to Referral Conversion Rate, or for short Conversion Rate.  Conversion Rate, simply put, is how many people who call your office turn into a New Patient seen.

If you only track the new patient seen in your practice, without tracking your Conversion Rate, you are missing a huge opportunity.  There is tremendous value in knowing how many potential new patients call your office everyday, and why they did or did not translate into scheduled visits.